MLB Power Rankings: Which playoff races have the most potential to heat up in September?

We’ve made it, gang. There is only one month remaining in the MLB regular season. A lot of the playoff races seem like a foregone conclusion — and, to be clear, some are — but let’s take a look back at last season to see how things can turn. 

Here are where some of the races stood heading into September last season and where then ended up. 

AL West

The Astros only had a 1 1/2 game lead over the Athletics. They would end up cruising to a six-game cushion. 

NL East

The Braves had just a two-game lead over the Phillies with the Nationals 7 1/2 games out. The Braves would end up winning by eight games … over the Nats. The Phillies ended up 10 games back. 

NL West

I had actually forgotten until this exercise, but would you believe the Diamondbacks had a one-game lead last year at this time? The Dodgers were one back and the Rockies were 1 1/2 back. Hell, the Giants at 6 1/2 back were within striking distance. We’d end up getting a one-game playoff here between the Dodgers and Rockies with the Dodgers (again) winning the division. The D-Backs ended up 9 1/2 back with the Giants a whopping 18 1/2 out. 

NL Central

The Cubs had a 3 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals and four-game lead over the Brewers. The Cubs and Brewers would end the official regular season tied with 95 wins and the Cardinals were seven games back. The Brewers won the one-game playoff, but, man, look at how much things turned in September in this one. Let’s make sure to apply that when looking at this year’s NL Central race and realize that neither the Cubs nor Brewers are out of it yet.

NL wild card

When the calendar turned last year, the three best NL records were in the Central. The third-place Brewers were the second wild card and had a 2 1/2 game lead over the Dodgers. The Rockies were three out, tied with the Phillies. The Cubs and Rockies would square off in the game, with the Cardinals and Diamondbacks falling out of playoff spots completely. 

Apply of this to 2019 and we could see some things turn. 

The NL Central is far from over with the Cubs and Cardinals having seven head-to-heads left, which also means we can’t yet count out the Brewers. The Nationals and Braves also have seven head-to-head matchups yet, which means we can’t yet give up on the NL East race. The Twins and Indians have six games left, so the AL Central is still very much up for grabs. There’s been some separation in the NL wild card race, but we’ve seen crazier things than someone from the group of the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mets or even Giants to take out either the Cubs or Nats (or Braves … or Cardinals … see above!) for a spot. Don’t you dare sleep on the Red Sox in the AL wild card. Again, see everything that went down last year. 

We’ve got a month left. It might seem like that isn’t much, but a ton can happen in one month. Buckle up. It’s gonna be a bumpy one. 

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