The Twins entered last night with 19 games left in the season. In 19 games, anything can happen. In 19 games, the best team in baseball can go 3-16. That’s not hyperbole; it is currently happening this very minute and thank you Los Angeles Dodgers for proving the point. Nineteen games is a small sample size and nothing needs to make sense anymore. So let’s try to make some sense of it.(All records below are before yesterday's games. I need to get some sleep.)
In the five years in which there has been a second Wild Card, that second team in the AL has won between 86 games (2015) and 93 games (2012). This year may set a new low, with 85 wins looking like a very real possibility. By taking a look at the schedules of the AL Wild Card’s top four contenders, one can get a little perspective on the path each team must travel to advance to the postseason.
The Los Angeles Angels (73-70) have a very tough 19-game schedule ahead of them with only four games versus also-rans and NINE versus the best teams in the AL. The easiest path to 85 wins includes:
- taking five of the nine games versus the division leaders Houston and Cleveland,
- winning four of six in their two series against Seattle and Texas and
- taking three of four games versus the White Sox.
The Texas Rangers (72-71) have a little easier 19-game finishing leg, with seven games against non-contender Oakland. But they need 13 wins, which looks like:
- Taking two of three in their showdown at home versus Houston
- Winning six of nine games they have versus other AL Wild Card teams
- Capturing five of those seven games they have versus Oakland.
The Kansas City Royals (71-72) have the easiest 19-game stretch left, but also the fewest wins of the four, so they need to find 14 wins in their last 19 games to get to 85. Let’s see if we can get them there:
- Take two of four versus the Indians this weekend.
- Win eight of 11 games they have versus the White Sox, Detroit and Toronto.
- Beat the Yankees in their makeup game on the 25th.
- Take two of three against the Diamondbacks in the last series of the year.
The Rest – The Orioles, Mariners and Rays all entered last night’s games with as many wins as the Royals, but with fewer games to play. To get to 85 wins, the Orioles and Seattle would need to finish 14-4, and the Rays would need to finish 14-3.
Summary: The baseball gods humble those that dismiss the absurd, but that’s a tall order for teams that haven’t played .500 ball through 140+ games.
Finally we get to the Minnesota Twins, who have 74 wins and perhaps the easiest schedule. Of their remaining 19 games, 13 are against second-division teams. To go 11-8 down the stretch, this seems reasonable:
- Win four of six this week versus the Padres and Blue Jays
- Win five of 10 on their upcoming road trip to Cleveland (one of three?), Detroit (three of four?), and Yankees Stadium (one of three?).
- Take two of three versus Detroit in the final home series of the year.
But with 19 games left, baseball doesn’t need to make sense. To steal a quote from our boy Forrest, "Baseball is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get."
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