With the 2016 MLB regular season winding down to an end soon, the race for the two American League wild card berths remains very much in question. Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Seattle and the Yankees are all in the hunt. The question for today’s roundtable: which two AL teams claim the wild card spots?
Bobby Farris, Campus Correspondent
As much as I would love to say the New York Yankees, I just cannot see that happening. So, to start, I will go with the first wild card spot which I think will be held by Houston. Houston does not have to play any playoff team in their final stretch and will be sparked by their MVP candidate in Jose Altuve and his young core of teammates. The last spot I think will be handed over to Toronto. Toronto has pretty much been first or second all year and although they have a somewhat difficult schedule to end the year, I think their depth and staying-power will keep them in the wild card.
Rachel Schaefer, Campus Correspondent
The AL East is ridiculous. Assuming that the Red Sox stay the division leaders, I think Toronto and Baltimore will remain the two wild card teams. Josh Donaldson is having a great season and helping the Blue Jays forward. They haven’t been playing as well recently, but they’re still a top contender. As for the Orioles, with a closer like Zach Britton, they stand a pretty good shot. This guy doesn’t blow saves. He barely gives up runs (current ERA: 0.59). How often do we get to consider a closer for the Cy Young? Britton is having an amazing season, and his contributions will propel the Orioles into the postseason.
Michael Logan, Campus Correspondent
At this point, I believe that the Blue Jays are a lock for the top wild card spot. They do not have a simple schedule, but they have ample talent. Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion have had stellar seasons, while J.A. Happ has been a pleasant surprise with 19 wins. For me, it comes down to the Tigers and the Orioles for the second spot.The Tigers have a solid rotation led by Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer. Also, their lineup includes one of the greatest hitters of all time, Miguel Cabrera. The Orioles 13th ranked offense will not be enough to outlast the Tigers, and in the end, it will be Detroit that raises the wild card banner.
Dylan Barrett, Campus Correspondent
Coming off of a devastating weekend in Boston, it’s tough to pick the Yankees to finish anywhere near the playoffs. But, with seven games remaining against the current wild holders, the Blue Jays and Orioles, they could squeak in. They would have to win nearly all of their games, but on the back of sudden rookie of the year candidate Gary Sanchez (17 home runs in 42 games), it is possible. The Astros should make a strong push for a spot too with such an easy schedule the rest of the way, specifically seven games with the lowly Angels. As a young team with players like Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa, they will play with fire down the stretch. It’s unlikely, but in my world, it will be another Yankees vs. Astros wild-card game.
Chris Hanna, Staff Writer
Inspired by the play of rookie sensation Gary Sanchez, the New York Yankees made quite the playoff push over the last month. Now at 3.5 games back with 12 games to play, it is almost safe to say the Yankees will not make the playoffs, barring a few miracles in their favor.
With that said, the top wild card spot will most likely go to the Toronto Blue Jays who have a game on the Baltimore Orioles for the second spot, and another 1.5 games on the Tigers, who are third in the wild card. The Jays are led by reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson and veteran Edwin Encarnacion, along with the king of bat flips, José Bautista.
After the Blue Jays, the wildcard picture gets really murky. With four teams within 3.5 games of one another, the second spot could really go to anyone. However, the aforementioned Yankees are likely out of it. As are the Seattle Mariners, who are currently 3.0 games back. Of the remaining three teams in the hunt, I believe the Orioles will claim the second wild card spot on the back of their batting prowess, highlighted by Manny Machado and Mark Trumbo among others.