In this first round, the teams will play just three games, and in all three games the higher seed will be the home team, meaning that even if they play in a neutral site, they’ll get to bat last. The Rays, A’s, White Sox and Twins are likely to be those home teams, but their exact seeding is still a jumble.
The top three spots will go do the division winners in order of record. The Rays and A’s have a 3.5 and 6 game lead on their divisions respectively, so they’re both heavy favorites to end up with one of the top three spots.
The Twins and White Sox are one game apart and face each other this week. Whichever team wins the Al Central will get one of the top three spots. The other team will likely get the fourth spot, which will belong to the second place team with the best record.
Beyond that, it’s too early to call the order of the top three spots. All of those teams are within a game of each other with two weeks left to play. Of the four teams, it looks like the White Sox have the toughest schedule, but they also control their own destiny with 8 games versus AL Central rivals Minnesota and Cleveland.
The four teams who will be the “road” teams are likewise mostly determined, and their seeds are a little more clear. After being swept by the Twins this weekend, Cleveland looks to be the third place finisher in the AL Central. They’ll be the seventh or eighth seed unless they make up a lot of ground versus the White Sox when they play them in a four-game set the final week of the season.
The Yankees and Blue Jays are a half game apart for second place in the AL East, and still play each other another seven times this year. The winner will likely end up in the fifth spot and the loser will end up in the seventh or eighth spot, depending on how Cleveland finishes.
Finally, it looks like Houston has the sixth spot to themselves. They are the second best team in the AL West, but have a .500 record, meaning they’ll likely be the worst second place team.
If the playoffs started today, the Twins would be seeded fourth and play the fifth place seed, which would be the Blue Jays. But both teams could be in a very different situation by the end of the week, as the Twins face the White Sox and the Blue Jays face the Yankees.
Speaking of the Yankees, if you think this is looking a lot like the Twins could end up facing them again in the first round of the playoffs – well, that’s because it could certainly happen. It’ll likely be one of four teams, they’re one of those four teams, and if you have any history with Minnesota sports, that seems like the obvious conclusion. But more objectively, it just about a 25% chance.