Path to the AL wild card

Breaking down scenarios that lead each AL contender to the playoffs

Updated: September 16, 2013, 1:44 PM ET
By Dan Szymborski | ESPN Insider

With two weeks left in the season, the identities of most of the playoff teams have been determined. We know pretty clearly who five of the six division winners. In the division most up for grabs, the NL Central, all three teams in competition are overwhelmingly likely to make the postseason.

That leaves the AL wild-card spots, a jamboree of six teams within four games of each other, and for four of the six teams, there will be no playoffs.

To get an idea on the odds of each team being victorious, I simulated the final stretch of the season a million times using the ZiPS projection system and a Monte Carlo simulator. This takes into consideration the actual schedule remaining, the healthy and active rosters, and the pitcher versus pitcher matchups.

Each team has a realistic scenario that gets it into the playoffs, but some paths are easier than others, and I've demonstrated how each team's playoff odds will change depending how they perform over the next few days.

The key numbers for the AL wild card are 88 and 89. In a million simulations, teams with 87-75 records made the playoffs 13.8 percent of the time, 88-74 teams made it 40.2 percent of the time, and most 89-73 teams made the playoffs, 79.4 percent of the time. So keep that in mind as we go through these scenarios.


Texas Rangers | 81-67, -- games behind
Schedule strength: .480
Playoff probability: 68.3 percent