AL Standings
New York Yankees' Kyle Higashioka, right, celebrates with Aaron Judge as he returns to the dugout after hitting a solo home run off Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Tyler Beede during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, July 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

AL Pennant Race Through the Fourth of July

The AL Pennant race has started to heat up as we move through July 4 weekend and towards the All-Star break.

The New York Yankees and Houston Astros have continued their season-long dominance, and sit in the top two spots in the MLB overall standings, hinting towards a phenomenal pennant race down the stretch.

AL East

No other division in the AL has two teams over a .500 win percentage.

The AL East has four.

That sums up the powerful AL East division that stacks at the top of the AL standings.

The New York Yankees continue their historic start to the season, with the very solid Tampa Bay Rays (14 GB), Boston Red Sox (14 GB), and Toronto Blue Jays (14.5 GB) all trailing the division leaders by significant margins despite each being at least 7 games above .500.

The Yankees’ Aaron Judge was the first AL player to secure an All-Star spot, leading the entire league in votes. With 10 games to play before the break and 30 home runs, Judge looks to help the Yankees take the leap back to the World Series for the first time since 2009.

With the addition of another Wild Card team in the 2022 playoffs, the AL East is on track to see four contenders in the playoff field come October.

Even the fifth-place Baltimore Orioles are strong in the standings. At a 39-44 record, the Orioles have a better record than any other fifth-place or fourth-place team in all of MLB.

AL Central

The AL Central leader Minnesota Twins (47-38) have the worst record of any division leader in baseball and are trailed closely by the Cleveland Guardians (4.5 GB) and Chicago White Sox (5.5 GB).

Luis Arraez, the Minnesota Twins’ talented first baseman leads MLB in batting average at .354, which he hopes to continue into the second half of the year to propel the Twins forward.

With only 18 divisional games left to play this year, the Twins will need to be particularly strong outside of the division as well in order to hold off the rest of the AL Central.

The Chicago White Sox, who entered the season as the favorite to win the AL Central, currently sit third in the division but still have over 30 division games on the schedule to make up ground.

With the rate at which the AL East is playing, only the winner of the AL Central will earn a spot in the playoffs, which makes the race for the division even more interesting into the break.

AL West

The Houston Astros also hold a very comfortable division lead, sitting 13 games ahead of the second-place Seattle Mariners.

The AL West is the only division in baseball to feature only one team above the .500 win percentage mark. Not to mention, it also includes the team with the worst record in baseball, the Oakland Athletics.

Yordan Alvarez has led the show in Houston, leading the team in batting average, home runs, RBIs, and OPS. Combine that with the dynamic play of seasoned veterans Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, the Astros once again sit towards the peak of the AL.

The Astros arise as one of the top teams in the league and sit side-by-side with the Yankees as favorites to win the pennant.

If the Season Ended Today

With roughly three months still to play, it seems inevitable that the standings will face a serious mix-up. Nonetheless, it only seems right to think about what the playoffs would look like on the AL side if the season ended today.

#1 Seed: New York Yankees

#2 Seed: Houston Astros

#3 Seed: Minnesota Twins

#4 Seed: Tampa Bay Rays

#5 Seed: Boston Red Sox

#6 Seed: Toronto Blue Jays

With the new MLB playoff format, the Twins would play the Blue Jays in a three-game Wild Card series, while the Rays and Red Sox would battle in a three-game series of their own.

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. Starting in the Fall 2023 semester, Matt has served as a sports coordinator with WRUF. He also participates in sports broadcasting, providing play-by-play for a variety of Gators sports.

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