We're closing in on the halfway point of the season, and the Rays, Rangers and Diamondbacks are still taking the majors by storm. Each team sits at the top of its division, ahead of historic powerhouses such as the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers.
Yes, there's still a lot of time left in the regular season and a lot can change in three-plus months, but the playoff field has begun to take shape. So, let's take a look at the top postseason contenders and what has put them in a potential position to play in October.
We'll look at the 13 teams that, entering Sunday, had at least a 50% chance of making the postseason, according to the playoff odds at FanGraphs.
Tier I: 70% or better playoff odds
Tampa Bay Rays (99.3%)
- Biggest strength: Offensive depth
The Rays lead the American League in home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, adjusted OPS and stolen bases — and they're doing it with production from everyone. The only regulars with a below-average OPS are the two catchers and second baseman Brandon Lowe, who is on the injured list. Yandy Diaz has been the anchor with a wRC+ (weighted runs created, which adjusts for home park) that ranks third in the majors behind only Shohei Ohtani and Yordan Alvarez, and teammate Randy Arozarena also ranks in the top 10.
Even more impressively, as a team the Rays are at 128 wRC+. The five highest team totals since the divisional era began in 1969 (not including 2020):
2019 Houston Astros: 124
2017 Houston Astros: 121
1976 Cincinnati Reds: 120
1982 Milwaukee Brewers: 120
2003 Boston Red Sox: 120
Four of those five teams reached the World Series, with the Red Sox losing in the ALCS.
Can they keep it up? Probably not. If you look at those above lineups, they're full of Hall of Famers and MVP candidates: The Astros had Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and George Springer and added Alvarez in 2019; the famous Big Red Machine had Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Pete Rose and George Foster; the Brewers had Robin Yount and Paul Molitor; the Red Sox had David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. The Rays don't have anyone with the type of résumé those players had.