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2022 MLB Power Rankings: Magic Numbers

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With about two weeks left in the regular season, two teams have clinched their division. That means four divisions are still up for grabs. Who will slam the door and book home playoff games? Let’s check it out.

All magic numbers are accurate as of the morning of September 20.

AL East: New York Yankees (11)

The Yankees have held serve in the AL East in the last 10 games, watching days go off the calendar as the Toronto Blue Jays have not trimmed the lead. With 16 to play for the Yankees, they have a 5.5-game lead over Toronto and a 6.5-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees and Blue Jays play three more times, but the rest of New York’s schedule is against non-playoff teams. If they just play .500 ball in the last 16 games, the Blue Jays would have to win at least 13 of their last 15 games.

AL Central: Cleveland Guardians (12)

With 15 games left for all involved teams, the Guardians hold a four-game lead over the Chicago White Sox and a seven-game lead over the Minnesota Twins. The Twins’ season is over in any practicality, but the Guardians and White Sox have a crucial three-game set in Chicago this week. Cleveland winning the series would almost certainly end the division race. Even winning one of three games would give the White Sox an uphill fight.

AL West: Houston Astros (1*)

The Astros have officially clinched the AL West because they hold the tiebreaker over the Seattle Mariners, but they could end with identical 97-65 records if the Astros lose 14 games in a row and the Mariners win 16 in a row. Houston has now won five division crowns in six seasons.

For the top seed in the American League, the Astros have an eight-game lead over the Yankees. The Yankees are nine back in the win column, and the Astros won the tiebreaker, so the Yankees would need to play perfect baseball to make it close. If the Astros go 7-7 in their next 14, they would clinch home-field through the AL playoffs.

NL East: New York Mets (14)

The Mets have clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2016, but they are in a dogfight for the NL East. The Atlanta Braves are one game back as both teams are hitting a late-season stride. In all likelihood, the division will come down to three games in Atlanta in the penultimate series of the season. If the Mets take one of three, they will clinch the tiebreaker and have a de facto 0.5-game advantage. Both teams have workable schedules, so the final series could be a showdown between 100-win teams.

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NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (7)

The Cardinals have all but locked up the NL Central as the Milwaukee Brewers are fading. St. Louis has opened an 8.5-game lead with 14 games left for them (15 for Milwaukee). The Cardinals play their next six games against playoff teams before heading to Milwaukee, but they end the season with a double-dose of Pittsburgh. Splitting the series in Milwaukee would clinch the head-to-head tiebreaker.

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (Clinched)

The Dodgers have now won nine division titles in 10 years. In 2021, the San Francisco Giants beat them out by one game, but the Dodgers exacted their revenge in the NLDS. The Dodgers have their sights on their franchise record for wins (106) and winning percentage in a full season (.682).

The Dodgers have a 9.5-game cushion over the Mets for the top seed in the NL. With just 29 games left combined, the Dodgers have a magic number of six. Similarly, the Dodgers have a magic number of 10 for the best record in MLB and home-field advantage in the World Series.

main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.

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