X factors for playoff contenders

The key elements for eight teams on the edge of the postseason chase

Updated: August 7, 2013, 12:57 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | ESPN Insider

Joey VottoAndy Lyons/Getty ImagesJoey Votto has batted with runners in scoring position only 26 percent of the time this season.

The July 31 trade deadline is a week in the rearview mirror and the Biogenesis suspensions have been announced, so with the exception of the generally minor August trades, most organizations have all the ammunition that they're going to get to fight off the competition. Absent any true miracles or disasters, the majority of teams generally have some idea if they'll be playing October baseball or not.

However, there remains a middle tier of teams whose playoff hopes remain very much up in the air. As of this morning, the ZiPS projection system sees seven teams with playoff odds of greater than 90 percent, which means a playoff spot is nearly guaranteed: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay. 

Assuming no 2011 Red Sox-type embarrassments, that leaves eight teams with playoff odds of greater than 5 percent and less than 90 that are on the bubble fighting for three playoff spots. If you had to boil each of these eight teams' outlook to one key factor to look out for the next seven weeks, what would it be? Let's take a look.