Rangers
Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Adley Rutschman is greeted in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run off Houston Astros starting pitcher Framber Valdez in the second inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in Baltimore. Orioles' James McCann scored on the home run. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

American League Taking Shape as October Nears

The MLB postseason draws nearer every day as October is under two months away. This is the time where teams typically carve themselves out as division leaders, wild card factors or done for the year. This year is different for the American League. Each division leader is on pace for 70+ wins. Meanwhile, every second place team is under five games back and will land around the 70-win mark as well.

In a league race as tough as this one, it could all come down to the last few series of the regular season.

Division Frontrunners

The Baltimore Orioles lead the American League and have already reached 70 wins. They came out hot and have held firm on the AL East nearly all season. They’re led by star talent Adley Rutschman and a batting order that is fierce from top to bottom. The pitching rotation and bullpen has been nails as well. After a lull in mid-July, they added St. Louis ace Jack Flaherty and seemingly returned to peak form. With the Tampa Bay Rays directly behind them, the Orioles will need to keep it up.

The Rangers sit in first in the AL West but know the Houston Astros are coming. The Rangers have held a lead thanks to some injuries as well as the explosion of offense from Adolis Garcia and a solid rotation. Adding Max Scherzer in the deadline fills in for the injured Jacob deGrom and makes Texas extremely dangerous. However, as the Astros get healthy and hot, the Rangers need to kick it into another gear.

Falling behind, but still leading their division, are the Minnesota Twins. They sit atop the AL Central with the lowest win total among division leaders. Minnesota still holds the largest division lead at 4.5 games and play in a division that’s out of the wild card picture. There’s a playoff spot with the Twins’ name on it; it all comes down to what they can do once they’re in.

Wild Card X-Factors

A division lead is nice, but there’s a case to be made for a playoff run from any of the current wild card teams. The Rays, Astros and Toronto Blue Jays are all still playing for first, but are entirely capable of making noise from the wild card spots.

The Rays sit two games behind Baltimore and are seemingly heating up post All-Star break. The Astros are nearing full health and feature one of the most destructive batting orders in the league. They also just brought back former championship ace Justin Verlander. He’ll cause big problems for other teams if he comes into form late. Toronto’s power lineup can never be counted out and will come out battle-tested by the ruthless eastern division.

Also hanging on the cusp of a wild card spot are the Seattle Mariners. The young and talented roster led by Julio Rodriguez is losing grip on a playoff chance, but the door isn’t closed. They can work out a postseason appearance if they get hot right now.

Better Luck Next Year

The rest of the league is quickly fading away and focusing on another sweepstake: The race for American League darling Shohei Ohtani. The Angels have him now, but will need to convince him of change after another year of postseason failure. The Yankees and Red Sox, as well as Seattle if it stays put, have all been mentioned in free agency rumors. Cleveland sits in the middle — seemingly out of the playoff race, but not in a position to make a huge splash.

The rest of the AL is nearing the bottom of the league and won’t make any noise until future seasons.

The AL is in a tight race for the finish line and looks to be the league to watch heading into October and beyond.

About Jackson Castellano

Jackson Castellano is a third-year Sports Media Journalism student at the University of Florida.

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