So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance
Minnesota’s strong start to the shortened season greatly increased the club’s chances of qualifying for the postseason, especially considering the newly implemented expanded playoff format. The Twins are currently the seventh overall seed in the American League, but they have over a 90% chance of making the playoffs with the second highest change of winning one of the two wild card spots.
Looking around the division and its looking increasingly likely that the AL Central will have three playoff teams and there is an outside chance at four clubs qualifying. Chicago and Cleveland have been back and forth at the top of the AL Central, but each club has over a 98% chance of making the playoffs. Tampa Bay and Oakland, the AL’s top-two teams, have the best odds to make the postseason tournament.
Looking in the Rearview Mirror
Behind the Twins in the AL standings are a group of teams that wouldn’t have even thought about being in playoff position under the old format. Toronto has a good young core of players, but they are a few years away from being strong contenders. That being said, they have an over .500 record and they a greater than 60% chance qualifying for the postseason.
Another AL Central foe, the Tigers, sit behind the Blue Jays in the American League standings. Minnesota has had its fair share of trouble with the Tigers this season and now the Motor City Kitties head to Minneapolis for five games this weekend. Detroit is the final AL team with a record above .500 so the Twins would have to fall behind the Tigers to be out of playoff contention.
At season’s start, Minnesota had the easiest strength of schedule compared to team’s records from last year. Obviously, the AL Central has been much more competitive than originally thought. Cleveland has the easiest strength of schedule (.479 winning %) among the contended AL Central teams. Chicago (.496) and Minnesota (.499) have nearly identical strength of schedules the rest of the way. The Tigers (.508) have the third hardest remaining schedule in the league.
If the playoffs started today, the Twins would play a three-game series in Oakland to decided who makes it out of the first round. For a healthy Twins team, that would be a series the team could win. The A’s have also been off the field all week after someone in their organization tested positive for the coronavirus so they are going to be playing catch-up to get all 60-games played before season’s end.
Houston trails Oakland by a handful of games in the AL West race so there is a possibility the Twins could end up heading to Texas. There’s also a chance the AL Central winner (Chicago or Cleveland) ends up with the number two overall seed and that could result in an intriguing match-up for the Twins. Luckily, the Yankees are in second place in the AL East, so a match-up with the Bronx Bombers is unlikely at this point.
Realistically, everything is going to come down to a short three-game series at the start of the playoffs. The Twins haven’t won a single playoff game since 2004 and they haven’t won a playoff series since defeating Oakland back in 2002. It’s a weird season and the playoff race is only going to make it weirder.
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