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The AL Wild Card Race is the Best in Baseball: So Who Takes it?

The AL Wild Card Race is the Best in Baseball: So Who Takes it?

With ten teams within 6.5 games of each other, the AL Wild Card race is shaping out to be the best in baseball. How will each team in the race fare, and what should be their concerns down the stretch?

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays are quietly one of the best teams in the AL. Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Cobb combine for a formidable trio atop their starting rotation. Tampa Bay’s offense has produced the fifth most home runs in baseball behind guys like Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson. Though they are not flashy, the Rays are a solid group that should hang around for the remainder of the season.

Confidence Meter: 6

New York Yankees

General Manager Brian Cashman should be applauded for bringing Todd Frazier, David Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle to the Bronx as the trade addresses some major needs without giving up too much. It hurts to give up 2016 first round pick Blake Rutherford, but the Yankees outfield of the future was already looking crowded. With this move, the Yankees will look to play the sort of game the Kansas City Royals rode to a World Series championship in 2015- try to get ahead early and shorten the game to 6 innings with a rock star bullpen. Time will tell if this strategy pays off.

Confidence Meter: 5

Minnesota Twins

The Twins have been a nice story to this point and they do have some intriguing young talent in Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Jose Berrios. But they are not equipped to compete in a pennant race this season. Both in the lineup and the starting rotation, there is simply not enough depth. Look for the Twins to fade down the stretch as teams with more established stars gain positioning on them for a Wild Card spot.

Confidence Meter: 2

Seattle Mariners

Eventually a core of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager has to win something, right? If the Mariners are ever going to accomplish something with this group, 2017 has to be the year. Anything short of a playoff berth is a failure for Seattle, who needs to seriously consider tearing down the roster if they flounder down the stretch. Today’s acquisition of David Phelps from the Miami Marlins definitely reinforces a bullpen that has performed well of late, but for the Mariners to keep knocking on the door, General Manager Jerry Dipoto will have to explore more options to improve this club.

Confidence Meter: 7

Kansas City Royals

So much for selling. As of July 19th, the Royals are just 3 games out of the second Wild Card. Kansas City clearly has a winning pedigree and has held on to the majority of the position players that carried the team to a title in 2015. Suddenly, the Royals are a sexy choice to make the postseason. If they can get steady solid pitching through August and September the Royals are more than capable of making the playoffs and wreaking some havoc on the rest of the American League.

Confidence Meter: 6

Texas Rangers

Like the Royals, the Rangers have a knack for winning. And also like the Royals, the Rangers are sneakily hanging around the playoff race. The Texas offense is good for the 4th most home runs and 9th most runs scored in all of baseball. This makes up for a pitching staff that has accounted for the 15th best ERA in the game, the definition of mediocre. Although it still doesn’t feel like the Rangers are a postseason team, it wouldn’t surprise any baseball fans to see them around come October. After all, Mike Napoli has been to the playoffs in 5 of his last 6 seasons.

Confidence Meter: 4

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Somehow, the Angels actually played better with Mike Trout sidelined for seven weeks, hanging around the Wild Card race despite having any expectations. And now that he’s returned, it would be awesome to see Trout carry this lowly team to the playoffs. It’s every baseball diehard’s wish to watch Trout play postseason baseball, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards this year. It’s a miracle that the Angels are as close as they are at the moment and even though Trout may be able to keep the Angels hanging around, this team simply does not have enough talent to surpass the teams ahead of them in the standings.

Confidence Meter: 2

Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are in full fledged sell mode. With the market for bullpen pieces looking solid for sellers, the Orioles are open to trading Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton. Opposing teams will also likely check in on star third baseman Manny Machado, who is struggling this season with a .239/.307/.445 slash line, by far the worst of his career. Baltimore is dealing with a systemic problem in which they have repeatedly failed to develop good starting pitchers in the minor leagues. This has manifested on the Major League level as the O’s are now dealing with the consequences. The easiest way to replenish their system? Sell, sell, sell.

Confidence Meter: 2

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