One more week to go in the season, and most teams have six games left to play. In addition, five of the 10 postseason spots have been wrapped up, and four remaining spots are close to being wrapped up. The only real mysteries are the American League wild-card teams and the National League seeding.
While many favorites have faded and been eliminated from the playoff chase—like the Boston Red Sox—others are hanging on by a thread at this point (looking at you, Chicago Cubs). Meanwhile, upstarts like Oakland and Tampa Bay are in the middle of October chases, even if it is a futile enterprise.
Next week, we will wrap up with our individual team MVPs, but this week, it’s a glance at (at least) one reason why each team has ended up where it is in the standings. Enjoy!
Note: Current records through Sunday, September 22, are included, as well as the previous ranking from last time.
- Houston Astros (102-54, 1): The Astros need home-field advantage for the postseason as they have won 60 games this year in Houston. That’s an astounding number, in truth. This team will be hard to beat in the playoffs.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (100-56, 2): The Dodgers themselves wracked up 59 victories at home in Chavez Ravine this year. We maybe headed for a rematch of the 2017 World Series this October.
- New York Yankees (102-55, 3): With a 26-10 record combined against its two closest followers in the AL East, New York ran away with a division despite a lot of injuries in 2019. The Yankees are just 18-18 in one-run games, by the way.
- Oakland Athletics (94-62, 4): The A’s have 43 second-half victories this season, playing ball at a .672 clip since the All-Star break. Oakland also was 12-13 combined against the Astros and the Yankees, so potential playoff matchups may be toss-ups.
- Minnesota Twins (96-60, 6): Fifty-six first-half victories got the Twinkies off to a fast start, and they’ve played well enough in the second half to maintain a relatively comfortable AL Central Division lead.
- Tampa Bay Rays (92-64, 7): The Rays have 45 wins at home and 47 wins on the road, which is pretty good balance for team playing in front of the smallest crowds in the AL on a regular basis.
- Washington Nationals (85-69, 5): With that 19-7 record in August, scoring 180 runs in the process, the Nats pushed themselves right into NL wild-card contention. Without that stretch of hot play, Washington barely has been above .500 this season.
- Atlanta Braves (96-61, 8): A 28-15 record in one-run games, as well as a 20-8 record in June and a 19-9 record in August, have propelled the Braves to a second-straight NL East Division crown. Only 12 more to go to tie the franchise record!
- St. Louis Cardinals (89-67, 9): Winning at a .662 clip in the second half has put the Cards back into a familiar spot in the NL Central. Remember, this is a team that reached October baseball in 12 of 16 years from 2000-2015.
- Cleveland Indians (92-64, 13): In June and July combined, the Tribe posted a 35-15 record to rise well above .500 and stay there for the rest of the season, despite major setbacks to its projected pitching rotation this year.
- Chicago Cubs (82-74, 12): A leaky bullpen has led to an 18-27 record in one-run games, and that puts a dent in any team’s playoff chances, no matter how talented the roster. The dynasty never happened at Wrigley, did it?
- Boston Red Sox (81-74, 10): A sub-.500 record in the second half (32-33) has buried the defending champions and their quest for consecutive titles for the first time since 1916. It’s not easy to do it twice in a row these days.
- New York Mets (81-74, 14): After an ugly first half that ended with a 40-50 mark, the Mets have played .631 baseball in the second half to make a run at the NL wild card, although it looks like they will come up short in that quest.
- Milwaukee Brewers (86-70, 16): Winners of 17 games in 21 chances this month, the Brew Crew is making the late charge at a playoff spot. The NL Central Division is still in play, too, even without the team’s injured best player (Christian Yelich).
- Arizona Diamondbacks (80-76, 11): Like the Cubbies, a bad one-run game record has hurt the D’backs all year. Despite outscoring opponents by a total of 64 runs this season, Arizona is just 21-26 in the close games that come to define a team.
- Philadelphia Phillies (79-75, 17): How the Phils posted a losing record against the Marlins is a good mystery worth trying to solve. Miami beat Philadelphia nine times in 16 games this year, effectively keeping the Phillies out of the postseason.
- Cincinnati Reds (73-83, 15): Despite being outscored by just two runs overall in 2019, the Reds have posted a 24-32 mark in one-run games so far. If you can’t win the close ones, you’re not going to win enough to make the playoffs.
- San Francisco Giants (75-81, 20): After posting a 41-48 record in the first half, the Giants briefly went on a tear in July, winning 19 of 25 games to briefly pose as pretenders for the postseason. An 11-16 August quickly killed that pipe dream.
- Los Angeles Angels (70-86, 18): A 25-40 mark in the second half ruined any chance the Halos had of celebrating the life of deceased pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who died on July 1. Sort of ruins the Angels in the Outfield idea, sadly, doesn’t it?
- Texas Rangers (75-81, 21): After surprisingly contending for the first three months of the season, the Rangers won just eight of 24 games in July to disappear from the AL wild-card chase. Overall, a .409 winning percentage in the second half is bad.
- San Diego Padres (70-86, 19): The same thing happened to the Padres, going from a promising first half to an 8-16 mark in July—and now a 7-14 record in September. These slides, after a spending spree in the offseason, cost the manager his job.
- Colorado Rockies (67-89, 23): Stop us if you’ve heard this one before … the Rox averaged 14 wins per month in the first half of the season, but they’ve managed fewer than eight victories per month in the second half of the year.
- Seattle Mariners (66-90, 24): After a promising start to the season, the Mariners won just seven games out of 28 in the month of May, and it’s been all downhill since then, really. Seattle has rallied for nine wins in 19 games this September, however.
- Toronto Blue Jays (63-93, 25): The same thing happened to the Blue Jays as the Mariners. A 7-21 record in May killed the season very early, and despite an influx of young talent for the roster, it’s been a long summer up north.
- Chicago White Sox (68-87, 26): The ChiSox were close to .500 at the All-Star break, but a 26-43 mark since then has relegated the South Side to another October-less season. The last postseason for Chicago was in 2008.
- Pittsburgh Pirates (65-91, 22): These teams seem to be grouped in pairs. Just like the White Sox, the Pirates played solid in the first half before a second-half slide (21-46) made the organization re-think its strategies for 2020 and beyond.
- Miami Marlins (54-101, 27): This is the first of four teams that was never really in contention at all in 2019. The Fish started out 8-21, and it hasn’t really gotten any better for them since then. June (13-14) was the team’s best month of the year.
- Kansas City Royals (57-100, 28): It was a 9-20 start in Kansas City for a team that recently won two straight AL pennants (2014-2015) and came oh-so-close to winning back-to-back Series. Oh, how fortunes can change so quickly!
- Baltimore Orioles (51-105, 29): Somehow, these birds played .500 ball in July (12-12), although the rest of the season has seen them grounded a lot more often. They lost 115 games last year, so this is an improvement, really.
- Detroit Tigers (46-109, 30): Can you remember when the Tigers were 13-14 at the end of April? No one knew this train wreck was coming, did they? Detroit was a combined 10-40 in June and July.
Come back most Mondays to check out our MLB power rankings!