Analyzing division races, wild card standings and the playoff picture three months into the season

Manny Machado
Jun 25, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) is congratulated in the dugout after receiving an award in recognition of reaching 1500 career hits before the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

With the MLB All-Star Game quickly approaching, it’s time to take a serious look at the MLB playoff picture in 2022.

Obviously, the MLB playoff picture right now is still a little cluttered. With the extra wild card spots in each league, 23 of the 30 teams are within 10 games of a playoff spot.

MLB playoff picture 2022

Even looking at the latest power rankings of MLB postseason odds, it’s still unclear how the MLB postseason bracket will look in October.

Nevertheless, we still wanted to take a closer look at how the MLB playoff picture in 2022 looks at the midway point of the season.

American League Playoff race

AL East

Early July is too early to declare a division winner, but it’s safe to give the AL East to the Yankees. They jumped out ahead of the pack early and have had a double-digit lead atop the division for most of the season.

The Bronx Bombers have plenty of sluggers with Aaron Judge having an MVP-caliber season and the rotation looking sharp. They’ve also been close to unbeatable at home for most of the year. It’s not that the other teams in the division aren’t good, it’s more that there are three other quality teams, almost making it harder for any of them to make a serious push to catch the Yanks.

AL Central

This division is shaping up to be a three-team race. The Twins have had the edge for most of the season and should be considered the favorites at the moment. However, Minnesota’s rotation is hurting with Chris Paddack, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak, and Bailey Ober all on the IL, most out for the long haul.

That could help get the Guardians and White Sox within striking distance. Cleveland has had some hot streaks thus far, keeping the Guardians close.


Meanwhile, the White Sox have been one of the more disappointing teams in baseball this year. But they’ve also had to persevere through some injuries and Lucas Giolito not looking like himself. If the White Sox can get healthy, they have the pieces to make a run and repeat as division champs, especially since the rotation outside of Giolito has been solid.

AL West

Much like the Yankees in the East, the Astros are running away with the AL West.

Houston has won this division four times in the last five years, so this is nothing new. Whether the Astros can match up against the Yankees is another question, but they are a safe bet to cruise to another AL West title.

While the Yankees have three quality teams hoping to catch them, nobody else in the AL West can seem to get above .500 and stay there, especially after the Angels had that terrible losing streak in June. In other words, this division is a runaway for the Astros.

AL Wild Card

While there are three Wild Card spots in each league this season, the MLB playoff picture in 2022 could get a little murky. That being said, it wouldn’t be a shock to see all three of those spots in the American League go to teams from the AL East.

It’s not a tough argument that the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays are the best teams in the American League outside of the Yankees and Astros. All three of those teams have rosters that one can envision reaching the playoffs.

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves because all three have questions to answer. All three have been streaky at times with Toronto and Tampa failing to reach expectations whereas Boston only got hot in late June after a sluggish start to the season.

Plus, the Guardians and White Sox are closer to Wild Card spots than they are to Minnesota, so they are very much involved. Likewise, the Mariners, Rangers, and Angels are all within striking distance of a Wild Card spot. Texas, in particular, is a team to watch because the Rangers have rebounded after a terrible April. Likewise, the Angels looked good until the middle of June and have more than enough star power to get themselves back into the Wild Card race during the second half of the season.

National League Playoff race

NL East

The Mets have been in first place for most of the season, but this race is far from over. After all, the Mets spent more than three months in first place last year, only to let that lead slip away.

The difference this season is the Mets were 50-30 over their first 80 games of the season, and that was with eight total starts from Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom.

They’ve been the best team in the division and now they will likely have two of the best pitchers in baseball in their rotation during the second half of the season. Of course, the Braves had a great second half last year and aren’t likely to go down without a fight. Based on Atlanta’s red-hot June, the Braves have the pieces to string wins together and overtake the Mets if things don’t go as planned for New York.

NL Central

It’s easy to call this the worst division in baseball with the Pirates, Cubs, and Reds all out of contention. But that doesn’t mean the Brewers and Cardinals can’t have a compelling race for the division crown.

Milwaukee has been able to hold off St. Louis thus far, but the Cardinals aren’t likely to slip too far behind. The Cards have the MVP front-runner in Paul Goldschmidt and a great supporting cast that includes Nolan Arenado.

In fact, St. Louis has scored more runs and conceded fewer runs than Milwaukee has to this point in the season. The Brew Crew surely has an edge in the bullpen, although this isn’t the same Milwaukee rotation we’ve seen in recent years. Of course, the Cards have rotation questions of their own outside of Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright. The bottom line is this race is too close to call and could be until late September.

NL West

The Dodgers saw their run of eight-straight division titles end last year, but they remain favorites to take the NL West this year. With San Francisco’s rough patch in late June and early July, the Giants are potentially out of the division race given how good the Dodgers and Padres have been.

Likewise, San Diego has run into some trouble in late June and early July, although the Padres are very much in touch.

Much like the Dodgers, the Padres have been able to consistently win on the road this year, which means they should be able to stay close all season.

Granted, the Dodgers still have a leg up because their rotation has been good and the addition of Freddie Freeman has helped to make up for some shortcomings elsewhere in the lineup. But it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Dodgers will finish atop the division, even if that’s still the most likely scenario.

NL Wild Card

Just like the American League, the extra Wild Card spots will make the MLB playoff picture in 2022 a little more complicated in the National League.

Since the Padres and Braves have managed to stay close in their divisions, they have also jumped to the top of the Wild Card standings. That should have Atlanta and San Diego positioned to claim a playoff spot, even if they don’t win their division. That also gives the Mets and Dodgers a fallback option. But that only accounts for four of the six playoff spots in the National League.

At the moment, the Cardinals are holding the final Wild Card spot, which bodes well for St. Louis if they can’t overtake Milwaukee. But that final berth is likely to get complicated because the Phillies are right there. The Giants are also close despite their recent struggles.

With Miami’s excellent pitching staff, the Marlins are the type of team that could make a run during the second half and get in a position to claim a Wild Card spot. Even Arizona and Colorado can’t be ruled out just yet. However, there should at least be four or five teams in contention for the final Wild Card spot in the National League, and that’s if the Mets, Dodgers, Braves, and Padres continue to separate from the pack.

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About Bryan Zarpentine 273 Articles
Bryan Zarpentine is a freelance writer and editor with most of his work focusing on the world of sports. He is a 2008 graduate of Syracuse University and still resides in upstate New York.

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