In case you missed it, over at MLB Daily Dish they’re doing a weekly playoff odds tracker that posts on Friday each week. As of this past Friday, the Mariners’ chances stood at 73.4%, also known as the highest percentage not owned by a team not named the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, or Cleveland, who are all in the upper 90s by dint of being very good (the first four) or fortunate enough to play in the smoking crater of the AL Central. After splitting the series with Boston, that number jumped to a robust 78.8% at Fangraphs, also known as basically a B, guess we earned that new Switch after all, pay up.
There’s some real elementary school science fair map of the Earth’s layers stuff here, with the Big Four all up at the top and then the Sadness Layer deep beneath the Earth’s crust. You can see two early favorites taking a nosedive in the navy squiggle of the Twins and the Blue Jays with wings clipped, and then the DRAMATIC REVERSAL OF FORTUNE between the surging Mariners and the swooning Angels.
Coming into the series against the Los Angeles Angels of Disneyland-Adjacent, the Mariners’ odds to reach the postseason stood at a mere 56.5%, with the Angels close on their heels at just over 30%. After defeating Mike Trout and the Mike Trout Players in a series sweep, however, the Angels have fallen all the way down to 12.6%. Getting Andrelton Simmons back will boost Anaheim’s anemic offense, but yesterday Oakland walked off an Angels lineup that included Simmons in a game where Andrew Heaney went eight innings of three-run ball. This is important because right now, the division-rival Angels are the only team in the AL that poses any meaningful threat to the Mariners’ playoff hopes. No other team in the AL outside of the Big Four (and the Mariners, of course) currently has a double-digit chance of making the playoffs, other than Anaheim. The shoulda-been-a-contender Twins have been passed by scrappy division foe Detroit in the standings, and the AL East is a William Hogarth engraving called The Divisions of the Riche and Poore come to life. All the Mariners have to do is fight through this next road trip against two of the toughest teams in baseball, take some games against the lowly Orioles, and they can head to the All-Star Break well-positioned for the post-season.
Most importantly, the Mariners are in this position because they did what they were supposed to do: they won out against lesser competition over late May/June and built themselves a cushion that will hopefully give them some breathing room while facing down the buzzsaw of the Yanks/Red Sox. Meanwhile, the Astros get to pummel the soft underbelly of the hapless Royals some more. At this point, the wisest course of action is probably to keep a steely eye fixed on that second Wild Card, and to root for Anaheim and Oakland to beat each other up as much as possible, keeping each of them safely mired a handful of games back of the Mariners, as those two teams have the next-highest percentage chance of making the post-season. Keep an eye on the trending Blue Jays, who play the Angels in a four-game series this next week and are coming off a sweep of the Nationals.
We’re about a month away from the All-Star Break. There’s still plenty of time for things to go sideways for any of these teams, but it’s not early anymore. Give in to the lure of having the At-Bat app open all day, every day. These are times to be treasured.