It seems the general consensus among baseball fans is the additional wild card in each league will greatly effect the postseason race this season.
I’m not so certain it will.
The baseball standings come July 4th has long remained a fairly good indicator of which teams will make the postseason come season’s end.
The Tampa Bay Rays, for example, were the only team last year to make the postseason despite being outside first or second place in its division on July 4th. The Rays were in third place behind Boston and trailed the division leading Yankees by 4-games.
Now, of the 12 teams in either first or second place on Independence Day 2011, only five failed to make October baseball (Indians, Angels, Red Sox, Braves & Giants).
But had the extra wild card system been in place last year, as it is this season, Boston and Atlanta would’ve made the postseason (albeit at the expense of baseball’s greatest finish to the regular season).
That would’ve left but three teams who were well positioned for postseason play on July 4th (Indians, Angels & Giants) on the outside looking in.
So taking a look at the 2012 standings can we still say with good certainty which teams will be playing in the postseason as we’ve reached our Nation’s birthday?
Of course, we’ve yet to see how the additional wild cards will effect the July 31 trade deadline–if it does at all. On one hand, more teams should feel they’re in the postseason hunt. On the other, that could also lessen the chances of blockbuster deals going down.
My prediction is the standings will hold steady through the end of the season. We may see current third place contenders Tampa Bay, Detroit & St. Louis make a push for the postseason, but otherwise, what we see on July 4th is what we’ll get on October 4th.