Do We Already Know This Year’s MLB Playoff Teams? | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com
The Memorial Day weekend has come and gone, giving Major League Baseball teams their first chance to assess themselves against their division rivals and the rest of their league. With 1/3 of the 2021 schedule in the record books, it’s also time to take our first look at the standings with one question in mind: Do we already know this year’s MLB playoff teams?
We begin in the American League where the East has Boston and Tampa Bay setting the pace with the league’s two best record as they duel for the division’s top spot. The Central Division leader is in Chicago, with the AL’s third-best record. This comes despite talk that White Sox manager Tony La Russa has earned little to no trust from his players because of strange in-game decision and a lack of understandings of some new rules.
In the West, Oakland has found a home atop the division despite looking for a new city to call home in places ranging from Las Vegas to Portland. With only four teams surpassing 30 wins before the end of May, however, every divisional race is tight, with the East, Central and West all seeing at least two teams within four games of first place.
Like the American League East, the National League West appears to be where the senior circuit’s best teams reside. Setting the pace in the West is the San Diego Padres, followed by the surprising San Francisco Giants who have slipped into second place ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The NL Central is lead by St. Louis and the East by the banged-up New York Mets, who have seen almost everyone on their roster visit the injured list at some point over the season’s first two months. Nevertheless, the Orange and Blue have the biggest lead of any NL division leader reached Memorial Day with the only above .500 record in the East. The Giants and Dodgers would be the two NL Wild-Card teams if the season had already ended, with only the Central’s Cubs and Brewers within four games of a playoff berth.
It is too easy to say a team that has experienced a no-hitter twice already this season won’t make the playoffs, but with the strength and depth of the Chicago White Sox roster, it is hard to image that Cleveland has enough offensive firepower to keep pace with the Southsiders. This, barring more senior moments from Tony La Russa, that the AL Central will be won by the White Sox.
In the West, Houston, the only team with a positive run differential in the division, does have the offense to make a playoff push. That, along with being closer to a Wild-Card spot than the A’s for the division lead means that the entire American League will need to keep an eye on the Astros, and not just because they are still facing the boos from the sign-stealing scandal.
In the East, the darlings of Major League Baseball continue to deny the odds, their attendance and their payroll by leading their division. Tampa, has already proven they know how to joust with the big boys from Boston and New York, which over a long season, can prove to go a long way towards winning the marathon, something Tampa Bay knows how to do.
In the National League, the trio of West teams have been hot most of the season and are not likely to cool off as the summer heat arrives; and in the Central, their trio of plus .500 teams are finally starting to show midseason improvement, giving the Wild-Card race as many as six teams battling for division titles and postseason spots.
As for the East, despite tying nearly half their 40-man roster behind their backs, this division is the Mets to lose; and with new owner Steve Cohen willing to spend money for the cause and their starters either hurt or slumping, the arrows are only pointing up in New York for at least one team to be a division winner, with the Mets the current front runners to do just that in 2021.
Without making a move for more starting pitching, the American League team in the most danger of falling out of their current playoff position is the New York Yankees. With teams like Houston and Toronto keeping them in their sights, and the Blue Jays having head-to-head matchups, the Pinstripes don’t have a roster that can make it through a full season without having too many bad streaks. Which is something that this year will be too much to overcome and cost them a playoff berth.
In the National League the Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers will duel as they always do for the Central; however, their division will only produce one playoff team as the three-team deep West will provide their own winner and both Wild-Card spots this year. Thus, leaving the Mets able to use the next few months to get healthy, get their roster in order, and get ready to battle the Padres, Giants or Dodgers in their NLDS matchup. With whoever comes from the West among favorites to run the table and reach the World Series.
What we do know already is that at least ten MLB teams are already waving the white flag on the 2021 season, a sad commentary, but one all too common for leagues that have over expanded and thinned out their talent pool. Now, as the the other 2/3 of the season begins, who struggles and who adds distance between themselves and their competition remains to be seen; that as the trade market heats up and we discover who is all-in with a trade, and who wants to role the dice with what they have on their roster already. Right now, almost every one of MLB playoff spots is accounted for, but we have a long way to go, giving teams willing to make a move the time they need to step up and move up. Who will that be … stay tuned!
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Do We Already Know This Year’s MLB Playoff Teams? | TooAthletic.com
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