clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Who’s in and who’s out of the MLB postseason?

New, comments

The 10-team playoff field is set!

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

An exciting part of September baseball is watching teams clinch their berths in the postseason and seeing the stories of the playoffs begin to form throughout the month.

Another fun part, for the more cynical among us, involves watching as teams officially get mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, with not even a whiff of Wild Card chances. More and more of which are revealing themselves as days pass on the final march to October.

Here is a breakdown of the teams that made it to October, and those on the outside looking in, as it happened.

Teams who have clinched a postseason berth

Red Sox

The Red Sox are officially the first team to clinch a postseason berth after earning their 99th win of the season way back on September 11. Nine days later they clinched the AL East with a win over in rival New York. No Red Sox team has ever won more games than the 2018 squad.

Indians

For a third straight season, Cleveland is the AL Central champion, and the first MLB team to clinch its division in 2018, wrapping things up on Sept. 15. The Indians are the cream of an otherwise rancid crop in the AL Central, with Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber and the gang putting up stellar seasons to lead Cleveland into October again.

Astros

The defending World Series champions might be headed for another division title, but first things first they clinched at least a playoff berth with their 96th win. They need just four wins in their final nine games for a second straight 100-win campaign.

Braves

Atlanta is back in the playoffs for the first time in five years, winning the NL East behind a bevy of young talent led by 20-year-old star Ronald Acuña Jr., along with infielders Ozzie Albies, Johan Camargo and Dansby Swanson, all 24 or younger. Freddie Freeman was is usual productive self, and the Braves also got a resurgent year out of outfielder Nick Markakis, an All-Star for the first time at 34. With five of the 10 youngest players in baseball the future is bright in Atlanta, and the present is pretty good, too.

Yankees

New York clinched a Wild Card berth on Saturday with an 11-inning win at home, their 95th of the season. The Yankees rallied from Wild Card position last year to within one win of the World Series, and with Aaron Judge back from injury to bolster a scary lineup New York will try to one-up that this October.

Athletics

Oakland was under .500 in mid-June but caught fire since, riding a patchwork pitching staff, stellar defense from third baseman Matt Chapman and friends, plus the exploits of MLB home run leader Khris Davis. The A’s are back in the postseason for the first time since 2014. The A’s will play the Yankees in New York in the AL Wild Card Game on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Brewers

Milwaukee’s late surge included a sweep in St. Louis, and their win on Wednesday night punched the Brewers’ ticket to October, with at least a Wild Card berth. But they are still in a battle with ...

Cubs

The loss by St. Louis also clinched a playoff spot for the Cubs, who own a half-game lead over the Brewers with four days left in the season. Whether Chicago can win their third straight NL Central crown remains to be seen but the Cubs are in the playoffs in some capacity at least.

Rockies

Colorado is in the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time in franchise history, clinching a playoff berth on Friday night with the Rockies’ eighth straight victory. Colorado can clinch their first division win in team history as early as Sunday.

Dodgers

Heavy favorites to win the division before the season the Dodgers’ ride to the postseason was bumpier than in recent years. They clinched a playoff spot on the penultimate day of the regular season, and the NL West will be decided on Sunday.

Teams mathematically eliminated from the postseason

Orioles

The Orioles were always going to be in this section, we knew from the beginning of the season that they would be bad. Maybe we didn’t know they’d be more than 50 games back of the division lead bad but they weren’t playoff bound from the start. Rough times in Baltimore.

Royals

Also rough times in Kansas City, although at least the Royals tried a little more than the Orioles in the offseason. It wasn’t to be though, and they barely contended before falling into the Lost Season bin.

Padres

The Padres definitely tried, signing Eric Hosmer in free agency and trying to put a contender together in the potentially wide open NL West. Even though four of the five teams in the division were in the race past the halfway point of the season, San Diego pretty much never was.

Rangers

Even with the added push of motivation that is Adrian Beltre’s potential last year in baseball, Texas couldn’t get to the postseason. They’ll hope he comes back for one more try next season, but in the meantime they’ll have to settle for Joey Gallo crushing baseballs but no postseason appearance.

White Sox

At least White Sox fans got to see Michael Kopech pitch? An Eloy Jimenez sighting, and a playoff spot, will have to wait for next year though.

Tigers

Most Tigers fans could have predicted this at the beginning of the season, but here it is anyway. The team is in a fallow period but hopefully they’ll start spending again soon. Otherwise, another year of this looks likely. The AL Central was woeful but not even the low bar to win the division was enough for the Tigers to make it in.

Marlins

Given the new ownership’s rocky first offseason, which involved gutting payroll and trading away arguably the best outfield in baseball, the expectations in Miami were super low. At 56-84, the Marlins can avoid 100 losses by winning at least seven of their final 22 games, so that would be some sort of silver lining at least.

Reds

With Los Angeles (78-65) and St. Louis (79-64) meeting for four games next weekend, the second NL Wild Card spot is guaranteed at least 81 wins. That’s too rich for Cincinnati, who entered Sunday with 82 losses. Run prevention was the killer again for the Reds, dead last in the National League in allowing over five runs per game, ensuring a fifth straight losing campaign.

Blue Jays

Another team who were basically out of the postseason as soon as the season got rolling. With the Red Sox and Yankees all but locking up the top two spots in the division from the jump, Toronto didn’t have much of a chance to make the postseason even if they were good. Which they were not. They also didn’t call up Vlad Guerrero, Jr. despite multiple chances so we’re not not happy about them falling short of the postseason. Justice for Vlad.

Twins

After becoming the first team ever to make the playoffs one year after losing 100 games, Minnesota fell back to Earth this season. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton were young pillars of a productive Twins lineup in 2017, especially in the second half. But 2018 has been disastrous for both, with each optioned to the minors, plus Buxton not getting called up in September so the Twins could game the system and get an extra year before he qualifies for free agency down the road.

Angels

Mike Trout is still Mike Trout, and Shohei Ohtani has been amazing both at the plate and on the mound. But not much else went right for the Angels in 2018, including Ohtani tearing his UCL and needing Tommy John surgery. Injuries on the pitching staff were killers, putting a damper on the postseason hopes in Anaheim.

Giants

The Giants seemingly did everything right at the beginning of the year. They had a solid rotation in place. They traded for Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria to boost their offense without having to give up anything backbreaking in return. And yet injuries and an underperforming offense has them here. Years like this happen, and what’s important is that this proves the binding pact they made with the devil for Even Year Bullshit is beatable.

Mets

Raise your hand if you’re surprised. Okay, put your hands down you clearly haven’t been paying attention. The Mets had a promising first month and then were either a farce or a train wreck the rest of the season depending on what day it was. So, a normal year for New York then. It’s unfortunate, and Jacob deGrom and the fans in Queens have our sympathy, but in no way is this shocking.

Nationals

Washington got one of the best seasons ever from a 19-year-old from outfielder Juan Soto, Max Scherzer had what in a normal, non-deGromian season probably would have netted him a third consecutive Cy Young Award, and Bryce Harper hit 34 home runs. Yet the Nationals have languished around .500 all year with a roster much more talented than that. Sure there were injuries to Adam Eaton, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg and Sean Dootlittle. But it is still stunning how terribly Washington squandered what should have been another playoff year. I guess Dusty Baker, who was let go after two division-winning seasons, wasn’t the problem after all.

Mariners

Seattle got off to a tremendous start and were even in first place in the AL West as late as June. A tremendous record in one-run games kept the Mariners afloat for a while despite being outscored on the season, but in the end Houston and Oakland rose to the top and left Seattle on the outside looking in for a 17th consecutive postseason.

Phillies

The emergence of Aaron Nola as an ace, and the signings of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana helped accelerate the rebuild for the Phillies, who spent 39 days in first place under first-year manager Gabe Kapler, including as late as August. But 23 losses in 33 games torpedoed Philadelphia’s chances, and they were eliminated with a week to go in the season.

Pirates

Preseason expectations were low for Pittsburgh, who started out hot and were leading a packed NL Central as late as May 17. But the Pirates found there level soon after, spending the majority of the season flirting with .500, a middling team in just about every aspect.

Diamondbacks

Arizona was in first place in the National League West at the start of September, but just about everything went wrong for the Diamondbacks in September. No NL team allowed more runs than Arizona in the final month, and 17 losses in 22 games sent the D-backs packing with a week still to go in the season.

Rays

They gave it their best shot until the very end, bullpenning and all, but Tampa Bay was eliminated from the postseason with a loss to the Yankees at home on Tuesday night. Their slim chances at the second Wild Card spot are officially snuffed out, and they’ll have to give it another go in the same top heavy AL East next season.

Cardinals

St. Louis rallied from mediocrity under Mike Matheny to contenders under new manager Mike Shildt, who took over at the helm a game before the All-Star break. But a slump over the final two weeks proved too much for the Cardinals to overcome. They were the last team eliminated.