Battle for the MLB Postseason: Tight Races in the AL East, West, and NL Central

by Dan Charapp ’25 on November 12, 2023


The temperatures are falling, the leaves are changing, and the MLB Postseason is coming upon us. The final weeks of the regular season are underway, and while teams like the Braves and Dodgers have locked up their divisions, there are plenty of divisional races and wild card berths that could come down to the final days of the season.

The AL West is easily the closest race right now, with the top three teams all within one game of each other. Bruce Bochy and the Texas Rangers led the division for most of the season but have recently been passed by the reigning World Series Champions, the Houston Astros. The Astros had a relatively slow start to the season but have heated up following the All-Star Break, acquiring Justin Verlander and Kendall Graveman at the trade deadline. The Seattle Mariners had a very rough first half, looking almost dead in the water by July. However, they have completely turned around since the All-Star Break, having two eight-game winning streaks in the month of August while centerfielder Julio Rodriguez continues to impress.

The Baltimore Orioles are currently leading the AL East, with the Tampa Bay Rays only 2.5 games back. The Orioles have been one of the most impressive teams this year, winning over 90 games and holding the AL’s best record after a multi-season rebuild. While the Orioles were projected to improve this season, they have significantly outperformed expectations through strong hitting from players like Anthony Santander and Adley Rutschman. The Rays started out hot with a record-tying 13 game win streak to open the season, but have cooled down since then, with the Orioles dethroning them for much of the second half. The Blue Jays are a long shot to win the division at this point, as they are behind the Orioles by double-digit games, but they still have a strong chance of clinching a wild card spot. Toronto has been an inconsistent team throughout the year, going on impressive winning streaks only to lose to mediocre opponents. Meanwhile, the Red Sox and the Yankees are practically out of postseason contention at this point, with New York having one of their most disappointing seasons in decades.

Despite being one of the weakest divisions last season, the NL Central has been more competitive in recent months, with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs in a close race for first place. The Brewers were inconsistent in the beginning of the season but have increased their odds of making the postseason significantly over the past couple months. The Chicago Cubs were originally planning on tanking at the trade deadline, but changed their minds at the last minute when the team went on an eight-game win streak in late July. Since then, they have stayed very close to the Brewers for the top spot in the division. Even if they can’t win the division, the Cubs have a very strong chance of making a wild card appearance. The Reds were one of the hottest teams in the league early in the summer with Elly De La Cruz making his major league debut. However, they fizzled out significantly in August and are now seven games behind the Brewers.

Outside of these divisions, the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, and Miami Marlins are still in the hunt for NL wild card spots. The AL wild card is more set-in-stone, with only the AL East and West having teams within reasonable distance of a berth.