So Many Teams Still In The Mix For MLB Playoffs As Second Half Begins

↵This baseball season is still completely up for grabs. Of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, there are only 13 with losing records heading into the second half of the season. What that really means, on the positive side of the standings side, is that there are 17 teams with winning records. A winning record doesn't always mean contention, but this season, that certainly seems to be the case. ↵

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↵Check out the updated World Series Odds for every team. ↵

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↵Heading into the second half, no division leader has an advantage of more than 4.5 games. In four of the six divisions, there are at least three teams within five games of having the lead. ↵

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↵And that's not even mentioning the Wild Card race. In the American League there are currently three teams – Tampa Bay, Boston and Detroit – within five games of the Wild Card lead. In the National League there are six teams within just two games of the extra playoff berth. Per John Schlegel at MLB: ↵

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↵⇥"I'd say if you're in a contending position when you get to the break," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, whose club is one game behind the surging Reds, "that's kind of what you go to Spring Training saying: 'Hey, if we can do this, it's been a good first half.'" ↵
↵So, yes, it's been a good first half for more than half the league. But it can't be a good second half for all 17 teams that currently think they have a chance. Having a winning record is great, but getting to the playoffs is really all that should matter to a team that's in contention at the break. Simple math would indicate that more than half the teams who still have a shot will end the season disappointed (as only eight teams get a chance in the playoffs). ↵

↵The other issue: With so many teams still seemingly in contention – of any team in contention, Boston, Anaheim and Philadelphia are the furthest back from their respective division leads, and would you count any of them out – are there any major pieces left to pick up for a playoff run? ↵

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↵With 17 potential buyers, are there enough sellers for teams to add that one piece? Cliff Lee was already shipped to Texas. The Braves have started to tweak their infield with, let's face it, spare parts. ↵

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↵There is such a finite number of true impact players on the block that some divisions could come down to who gets the likes of Roy Oswalt. Rumors have not included a ton of big names recently, with the likes of Kansas City's David DeJesus being one of the big potential "gets" (note: he could really help a contending team and deserves the chance at a playoff run) to put a team over the top. ↵

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↵Things could obviously change if the Brewers decide to unload Prince Fielder, or the Nats part with Adam Dunn. MLB Trade Rumors has a detailed rundown of the available first basemen and while the list has big names like Lance Berkman and Derrek Lee, is there anyone whose price tag currently matches his production? ↵

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↵The key for some teams looking to make that late playoff push could be getting their own players back. The Red Sox and Phillies seem to be having a competition to tally up the most missed games by starters this season. Can either team hang in the division race long enough to reap the benefits of finally getting healthy? Can, in fact, either team ever get healthy? ↵

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↵No matter how they do it, most of the league can still look at getting better this season rather than already focusing on the future. Last season, there were two divisions decided by fewer than six games. In 2008, there were four decided by three games or fewer. Which type of finish are we headed for in 2010? Can a handful of teams break away from the pack, or are we looking at a crazy last few months? Unless you're a fan of one of the teams currently leading their division, root for chaos. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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