MLB: Who’s in Line for Wildcard Entry in the American League?
With the 2017 season heading quickly to the playoffs, it’s time to take a look at some more potential wildcard contenders this year. The closest race at this time is in the American League, with eight teams within reaching distance of the second wildcard slot.We’ve taken a look at each of these teams, ranking them in terms of the most likely to secure a playoffs campaign this year.
Who’s in Line for Wildcard Entry:
1. Los Angeles Angels
This Angels team is one that has excellent advantages in both speed and defense. Even with an underperforming batting side, they’re still our most likely team to secure a playoffs spot on this list.They’re at the top of the majors in terms of stealing bases, and all of their star outfielders are in the top 20th percentile for success rate on steals. Mike Trout is the best batter on this team, but the problem with that is he’s also carrying the players around him. This could leave the Angels vulnerable if they do actually get their wildcard position.
2. Minnesota Twins
The twins are experts at reaching base, with a .333 on-base percentage for this year. It’s the best percentage that you’ll find with any team on this list, and it’s one of the key reasons why we rank them right behind the angels in the race for the second wildcard slot.This team does have a weakness though, and it’s in pitching. They lost some talent in trades recently, and their current rotation doesn’t cut it with the very best teams in the MLB. Their star closer Brandon Kintzler being traded out to the Washington Nationals is not helping their pitching success, so other players like Jose Berrios will need to raise their game if the Twins are going to make it through to the next stage of the season.
3. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are an aging team that have near exhausted the longevity of their current lineup. They’re likely going to lose a lot of their veteran talent to free agency signings after this season, so this may be their best shot at a playoff position for a long time. The team has World Series experience and that’s the biggest strength that they have so far. Players like Alex Gordon and Alcides Escobar are proving to be strong assets to the team, and new signing Melky Cabrera is also having an impact. The Royals are quite a distance from both the Twins and the Angels in terms of their wildcard chances, but they’re still an outside threat and bettors and fans will be watching them closely in the coming days.
4. Seattle Mariners
An excellent fielding sign that has a weak starting rotation, the Seattle Mariners are the next likely on this list of teams that could make the second AL wildcard slot in 2017. They’re ranked first in the AL for defensive efficiency, and players like Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano are largely to thank for their stats in that area. The problem for the mariners at this time is that their ideal starting pitchers are out of play on injuries, and they’re left to make do with what they can get out of Yovani Gallardo and Ariel Miranda.It has been 15 years since the Mariners last secured a placement in the playoffs, and with James Paxton still recovering from injury it will be impressive if they’re able to get there this season.
5. Texas Rangers
The Rangers make up the second half of this list with teams that are still mathematically in contention, but still don’t have high odds of securing a wildcard. The Rangers do have a strong runs average per game, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way that this team hits. Unfortunately, they lose what they gain by having a near bottom of the AL record in saves, and the very worst save conversion rate.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have a great pitching rotation which has carried them throughout this season. Like many of the teams in the MLB the rotation can still be improved with returns from injury, and the team will be hoping that Alex Cobb will be able to get back to the diamond sooner rather than later. Matt Andriese is another team asset that is currently recovering from injury, but he should be back into play by the end of the month, or at the beginning of September.What works against their excellent starting rotation is their lack of run scoring. They’re below the league average and something will have to change quickly if they want to be the second slot wildcard entry this year.
7. Toronto Blue Jays
Are the Blue Jays going to be in a wildcard slot? Not likely! However, they’re still in mathematical contention, so let’s take a look at what they have to offer. They’ve got an excellent combination with Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. Between them they have had 53 home runs as of August 21, and that’s an advantage that many other teams would have been able to turn into better results. Unfortunately, the Blue Jays just aren’t the best when it comes to fielding and they’re right at the bottom of this group in fielding efficiency.In 2015 this team made the playoffs after a drought that lasted two decades, but fans and bettors should not get their hopes up or take a risk on picking them for a wildcard slot this year.
8. Baltimore Orioles
How does a team with one of the best home run statistics in the AL end up at the bottom of a second wildcard slot list? It all comes down to their starting rotation… Their ERA is dismal and is right at the bottom of the AL. While they’re a longshot for a second slot wildcard position, they did impress at the start of August with a winning streak that lasted for five games. They have the potential to surprise us, but the chances are slim and would make for extremely risky betting.
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