With just under 40 games remaining in the season, the Baltimore Orioles have continued to widen their margin over the rest of the AL East. Now up seven and a half games over the New York Yankees, the Orioles are also just 1.5 games behind the Oakland A’s for the second best record in all of baseball.
The Orioles have a three game cushion over the scorching hot Kansas City Royals for the number two seed in the AL playoffs. Likewise, the O’s are just two games behind the now first place Angels for the top seed in the playoffs. While the top spot would be quite a reward for the Orioles’ great season, they would actually put themselves in a better position were they to remain in the number two spot.
Think about it, if the Orioles were to overtake the Angels (or Athletics) for the number one seed, that would mean they would play the winner of the wild-card game. In a normal season, the wild-card play in game features a team who just was not able to win their division, but still possesses a good record, and a team that just managed to squeeze in to the postseason.
This year however, the wild card game will feature the team who doesn’t win the AL West (Angels or Athletics) and most likely either the Tigers or the Mariners, with the Yankees trailing both teams by three games. That means that both the Tigers and Athletics, two teams who made the most noise at the trade deadline to go all in for the postseason, would have to play each other to even get into the playoffs.
Given this information it is clear to see why the Orioles would benefit for being the number two seed. While Kansas City has been by far the hottest team in baseball the last two weeks, I know I would be much more comfortable with the O’s playing the Royals as opposed to either the Angels, Athletics, or Tigers in the ALDS.
Another part to the story is that the Orioles have struggled against both Oakland and Detroit. Winning just one game against Detroit and losing both series against Oakland, the O’s would benefit greatly from not having to see either team in the playoffs. However, the Orioles are playing much better baseball since they last played both teams and would have a challenging series against either.
On the bright side, the Orioles have looked great against the Angels, taking four out of six against Anaheim this season. This is good news because if the Orioles can avoid playing any of those teams in the first round, they face an opponent whom they have had success against in the ALCS.
All in all, things need to be taken care of first and the Orioles have to maintain their division lead for the next month and a half. From there, just the O’s being in the postseason is exciting enough and no matter who they face they have as good of a chance as anybody in the entire postseason and knowing Buck Showalter, the O’s will not take it easy through the rest of the season to finish intentionally as the number two seed.