Four fringe playoff contenders

The Orioles, Indians, Blue Jays and A's are hanging around despite flaws

Updated: July 9, 2012, 4:40 PM ET
By Paul Swydan | FanGraphs
Jose Bautista Abelimages/Getty ImagesJose Bautista and the Blue Jays can rake, but their pitching may be too wrecked for October.

Entering the All-Star break, 11 of the 14 teams in the American League are either holding down playoff spots or are within 2½ games of one. Four of those 11 teams are the Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics, which rank 11th, 15th, 18th and 19th, respectively, in this week's ESPN Power Rankings. While many of their AL rivals have distinct profiles and strategies, it's more difficult to evaluate these four clubs.

The Orioles have been fun to follow, and if the season ended today, Baltimore would find itself as the beneficiary of the additional wild-card slot. New general manager Dan Duquette has not been shy in wanting to improve his roster. This weekend brought rumors that Baltimore is interested in Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke.

On the other hand, the team has had a hard time maintaining its hot start.