3 MLB Teams Helped The Most By The Expanded Playoff

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A MLB logo is seen before a game between the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 22, 2022 in Anaheim, California.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

 

In their latest collective bargaining agreement, MLB and the Players Association agreed to expand the playoffs.

This decision added another Wild Card team into the mix in both leagues, meaning three teams that aren’t divisional winners can now make it.

It was a major change, encouraging borderline MLB playoff teams to push a little harder to make it.

Now, with the All-Star break approaching, it’s becoming clear who may benefit the most from this.

Here are three teams that may be very thankful for the expanded playoff picture.

 

3. Seattle Mariners

The Seattle Mariners have not made it to the playoffs since 2001, when they won 116 games.

Last year, with a 90-72 record, the team came up just a couple games short of the second Wild Card spot.

Now, they are in a similar position again as they sit in a tight race to make the final playoff spot.

However, with the expanded MLB playoffs this season, there is a better chance for the Mariners to make that spot.

The Mariners are led by rookie sensation Julio Rodriguez who has lived up to the hype so far, along with first baseman Ty France who has quite become one of the league’s best at the position.

Their pitching staff has also quietly put together a good season, led by veteran Robbie Ray and sophomore arm Logan Gilbert.

With all of this, the Mariners are shaping into a playoff team.

It is no secret that the AL East is strong this year, and are strong candidates to fill all three of the Wild Card spots.

Despite this, the faltering Toronto Blue Jays have made a potential Mariners playoff run to be more likely.

Expect the Mariners to be fighting for that final spot come October.

 

2. St. Louis Cardinals

As of today, the St. Louis Cardinals sit in second place in the NL Central.

They also find themselves situated in the third Wild Card spot.

Considering how weak their division is, and the strength of some other Wild Card contenders, the Cardinals could find themselves in the same spot come October.

The Cardinals are the definition of a “middle of the pack” team.

They are led by some standout superstars in Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, but lack the strong depth that other top NL teams have.

That is most evident in their pitching staff, where some arms have had stellar years but it gets weaker the deeper you go.

With it seeming that it is just a two-team battle with teams in other divisions, the Cardinals will just have to beat out other third-place teams for the final spot.

Of course, they could jump past the Milwaukee Brewers if they get hot at the right time.

However, it seems increasingly likely that the second-place NL Central team could be the third Wild Card spot.

And, with the big names the Cardinals have, making it in with the third Wild Card spot may be all they need to make a run.

 

1. Baltimore Orioles

Call me crazy, but if anyone even considered the Baltimore Orioles for a playoff at the start of the year they would’ve been banned from sports.

However, we are a week from the All-Star Game and need to have this conversation.

There is something about the Orioles.

They have been injected with the youth of Adley Rutschman and have gotten hot, winning eight straight games and being just a game shy of .500.

Granted, that stretch hasn’t come against the best teams, but there is reason to be hopeful.

The biggest thing for the Orioles is the trade deadline.

While some have floated Trey Mancini‘s name around as a trade piece, the Orioles should consider becoming buyers if they continue playing well.

Another thing in the Orioles’ favor is also their biggest negative: being in the AL East.

They will be facing off against the best division in the sport a lot over the final months.

If they can carry the momentum, it could be easy for them to jump other teams that are in the Wild Card race.

Is it likely?

Probably not.

Is it crazy?

Absolutely.

But there is a world where the Orioles could sneak into the playoffs, all thanks to the expanded format.





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