This has been not your average year in the MLB. A 60 game season starting in July, along with a 16 team playoff could stir some unexpected playoff teams. A team like the 6-8 Rangers could potentially be a four seed in a very weak division, while a team like the 7-7 Orioles might not make the cut in a more competitive division.
For those who don't know, the MLB's new playoff format will include each division winner and runner up as the 1-3 and 4-6 seed, while the 7-8 seeds are based on their record with no strings attached.
Eight Seed: Detroit Tigers
As a biased Tigers fan, I'm the first to admit that we have had a relatively easy schedule. Playing the Royals, and sweeping the Pirates was definitely a confidence booster, but we are yet to play a valid MLB offense and pitching in one game. In our next series against the White Sox, our game will be put to the test on all aspects. Our lineup has had a lot of pleasant surprises like JaCoby Jones, Austin Romine, and C.J. Cron offensively, and Spencer Turnbull along with the entire bullpen defensively.
Seven Seed: Chicago White Sox
Despite all the great offseason signings they have made the last offseason, I don't see them placing second in the division. There biggest competition would be the Indians, whom they have lost two out of the past three against. However, the White Sox could go on a run once they return to full health. As of now, Tim Anderson, Nick Madrigal, and Edwin Encarnción are all out. That being said, they still have a very good lineup featuring Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert, and José Abreu. Their recent pick-ups have been playing well to such as Yasmani Grandal and Dallas Keuchel.
Six Seed: Houston Astros
On one hand, a team of Jose Altuve, George Springer, Carlos Correa, Michael Brantley, and Alex Bregman should be well above .500. On the other hand, playing baseball without knowing the pitch each time is pretty damn hard, and since the majority of these players haven't done that the past few years it might be difficult to adjust to it. However, in an extremely weak division, the Rangers and Angels shouldn't really pose a threat to them. Carlos Correa and Michael Brantley still seem intact as a baseball player, but Springer, Altuve, and Bregman have been struggling mightily. Their pitching is still good despite the injured Justin Verlander. Framber Valdez has been pitching well, along with Zack Greinke and Cristian Javier.
Five Seed: Tampa Bay Rays
Luckily for the Rays, they are in one of the worst divisions in baseball. After last year's fluke, they seem to be an average team. Brad Lowe has been playing very well for them, but besides that, this new playoff format really benefits them. Their pitching hasn't been outstanding either. Not much to say about the Rays other than that, I do think they will get better over time though and maybe finish over .500, but not by much.
Four Seed: Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians also benefit from the new playoff picture. Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber lead a very strong pitching rotation, and their offense is lead by César Hernandez and José Ramírez. Francisco Lindor's poor play hasn't affected them yet, but long term I think if he keeps this up it could cost Cleveland a few games compared to if he was playing like last year. Even though I see the Twins winning the division, Cleveland could give them a run for their money.
Three Seed: Minnesota Twins
Now, for the fourth AL Central team for me to cover we have last, but certainly not least, the Minnesota Twins. The Twins just have a great team, the 40-year old Nelson Cruz has been playing out of his mind, while other players like Marwin Gonzalez and Jorge Polanco have been a fantastic supporting cast. Kenta Maeda has pitched well, but José Berríos needs to step it up a bit.
Two Seed: Oakland A's
The A's have been playing phenomenal this season. Starting 12-4 we could see a 35+ win season out of them. Chris Bassitt, Frankie Montas, and Jesus Luzardo all have an ERA under 3.00 and Bassist and Montas have an ERA below 2.00. Their hitting averages have been below average for sure, but it hasn't affected them at all. However, their BA leader in Ramón Laureano has been suspended for eight games for starting a brawl after being hit by two pitches.
One Seed: New York Yankees
For this, I don't even need to explain my self. It's hard to think of a team that puts up a fight. As of now, they have DJ LeMahieu who is almost hitting .400 1/5 through the season. Gio Urshela is hitting .313, and Aaron Judge leads the league in home runs and RBI's. Gerritt Cole and Chad Green lead the pitching crew and have a great supporting cast in Jonathan Loaisiga and Adam Ottavino. The Yankees at this point are the front-runners to take the pennant and the WS in my eyes.
Thanks for reading, if you think I missed a team, and I will be doing an NL version of this in the near future.