Royals

Breaking down the American League Wild Card race

Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon made sure that Fox Sports Kansas City’s Joel Goldberg got the brunt of the Salvador Perez’s postgame splash after a 10-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
Kansas City Royals left fielder Alex Gordon made sure that Fox Sports Kansas City’s Joel Goldberg got the brunt of the Salvador Perez’s postgame splash after a 10-0 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday. jsleezer@kcstar.com

So what do you think?

Can the Royals pull this off? Can they make it back to the playoffs for a third straight season?

If so, it won’t be easy. The Royals are in third place in the American League Central, eight games behind the Cleveland Indians. The race for one of the two Wild Card spots is populated by seven teams that are either in now or no more than four games behind the leaders. The Toronto Blue Jays are the East leaders and could eventually fall back into the Wild Card fun.

Because the Royals are closer to a Wild Card spot, here is a look at those seven teams currently battling for the two playoff spots. This focuses on how each team got to this spot and what things look like from here to the end of the season. For fun, I asked the Magic 8 ball to weigh in.

Boston Red Sox

Record: 69-54, first place in Wild Card standings.

Runs scored: 677. Runs allowed: 561.

Playoff odds: 91.5 percent (FanGraphs), 89.4 percent (Baseball Prospectus).

Home record: 38-27. Road record: 31-27.

First-half record: 49-38. Second-half record: 20-16.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 23.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 16.

The Skinny: It seems likely that the Red Sox will be in the playoffs as either the East Division champs or a wild card. They are 5 1/2 games ahead of the Royals, but the teams play a three-game series starting Friday.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “It is certain.”

Baltimore Orioles

Record: 67-54, second place in Wild Card standings.

Runs scored: 579. Runs allowed: 561.

Playoff odds: 36.9 percent (FanGraphs); 28.4 percent (Baseball Prospectus)

Home record: 40-22. Road record: 27-34.

First-half record: 51-36. Second-half record: 16-20.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 29.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 10.

The Skinny: Baltimore has lost 9 of its last 14 games and has allowed five or more runs in nine of its last 10 games. With one of the toughest remaining schedules among the contenders, the Orioles’ current playoff spot is tenuous.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “Better not tell you now.”

Seattle Mariners

Record: 66-57, 1 game behind in Wild Card standings

Runs scored: 579. Runs allowed: 528.

Playoff odds: 46.2 percent (Baseball Propsectus), 41.3 percent (FanGraphs).

Home record: 35-26. Road record: 31-31.

First-half record: 45-44. Second-half record: 21-13.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 19.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 20.

The Skinny: Seattle is playing well (14-6 record in August), and its stretch to end the season looks favorable. The last 10 games are against the Twins, Astros and A’s. The Mariners could be a tough team to climb over for a playoff spot.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “Outlook not so good.”

Detroit Tigers

Record: 65-59, 2 1/2 games behind in Wild Card standings.

Runs scored: 571. Runs allowed: 562

Playoff odds: 26.9 percent (Baseball Prospectus), 26.6 percent (FanGraphs).

Home record: 35-26. Road record: 30-33.

First-half record: 46-43. Second-half record: 19-16.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 16.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 22.

The Skinny: The Royals face the Tigers six more times and can do some damage to their division rival. On paper, Detroit has the easiest remaining schedule and should be in the hunt until the end.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “Ask again later.”

Royals

Record: 64-60, 3 1/2 games behind in Wild Card standings.

Runs scored: 495. Runs allowed: 518.

Playoff odds: 5.7 percent (Baseball Prospectus), 4.5 percent (FanGraphs).

Home record: 40-21. Road record: 24-39.

First-half record: 45-43. Second-half record: 19-17.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 17.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 21.

The Skinny: If the Royals play as well the next two weeks as they have the previous two, they’ll be sitting pretty. That’s easier said than done, of course. The next six games are on the road against teams with winning records (at Miami, Boston), and 9 of their next 12 are against teams they are battling for a playoff spot. This stretch should determine their fate.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “Signs point to yes.”

Houston Astros

Record: 64-60, 3 1/2 games behind in Wild Card standings.

Runs scored: 569. Runs allowed: 523.

Playoff odds: 15.8 percent (Baseball Propsectus), 13.6 percent (FanGraphs).

Home record: 34-28. Road record: 30-32.

First-half record: 48-41. Second-half record: 16-19.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 22.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 16.

The Skinny: The Astros were red-hot from the end of May until early July and it seemed as if they were poised to make a run at the division title. They’ve cooled off, and their schedule is rough until mid-September. However, they end with seven games against the Angels, three against A’s and three against the Mariners and could make a late push.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “Outlook good.”

New York Yankees

Record: 63-60, 4 games behind in Wild Card standings

Runs scored: 510. Runs allowed: 539

Playoff odds: 4.4 percent (Baseball Prospectus), 4.1 percent (FanGraphs).

Home record: 35-27. Road record: 28-33.

First-half record: 44-44. Second-half record: 19-16.

Games remaining vs. teams with a winning record: 32.

Games remaining vs. teams with a losing record: 7.

The Skinny: The Yankees have a bigger mountain to climb than the Royals, and three of the teams in front of them are in their own division (Toronto is leading the division). And 32 of their remaining 39 games are against teams above .500. It doesn’t look good.

Magic 8 Ball Says: “It is certain.”

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

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