With a little more than one month to go in the 2017 regular season, the AL wild-card race has emerged as the most interesting postseason race in baseball. Five of the six division races are separated by at least five games, and the NL wild-card race is heating up, though it's not quite neck-and-neck yet. There is limited excitement out there.

In the AL, the top four wild-card hopefuls are now separated by only three games in the loss column. The Orioles erased a 6-2 deficit to beat the fading Mariners (BAL 8, SEA 7) on Wednesday thanks to Jonathan Schoop, who plated the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth. It was his 99th RBI of the season and it gave the O's their seventh straight win.

While that was going on in Camden Yards, the Yankees were busy getting swept by the Indians in a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon (CLE 2, NYY 1; CLE 9, NYY 4). The O's, who looked to be on their way out of the race a week ago, made up three games in the wild-card race in three days. They got hot while the Yankees ran cold.

Here are the updated AL wild card standings:


Run Differential

Games Back

















Not exactly a race between juggernauts here -- the Yankees lead the wild-card race and are on pace for 86 wins -- but it's a race nonetheless. Four teams within three games in the loss column? That's pretty much all a chaos-loving baseball fan could hope for heading into September. 

Keep in mind three other teams (RangersRays, Mariners) are within six games of the Yankees in the loss column, so they're not out of it either. For all intents and purposes though, this is starting to look like a four-team race, with the Yankees and Twins trying to hold off the Angels and Orioles.

Here are their remaining strength of schedules:

  • Angels: .517 opponent's winning percentage the rest of the season
  • Orioles: .531
  • Twins: .488
  • Yankees: .499

Any team can beat any other team on any given night in this game, though looking at those numbers, you'd much rather be the Twins than the Orioles. The O's have a bunch of games remaining with the Red Sox and Yankees. The Twinkies will get to beat up on the White Sox -- they hammered Chicago on Wednesday (MIN 11, CWS 1) -- and Tigers. Such is life with the unbalanced schedule.

Unfortunately these four teams don't have many head-to-head games remaining this season. Those are the most exciting games, the head-to-heads. The Angels will not play the Orioles, Twins, or Yankees. The Orioles and Twins won't play each other either. There are only 10 head-to-head games remaining between four clubs:

  • September 4-6: Yankees at Orioles (three games)
  • September 14-17: Orioles at Yankees (four games)
  • September 18-20: Twins at Yankees (three games)

That's a favorable schedule if you're the Yankees. They have a chance to control their own destiny with 10 games against direct wild card competitors. The O's get seven games against one of the teams they're chasing in the standings as well. 

You don't want to have to rely on other teams to help you out. You'd like to be able to handle business yourself with wins in head-to-head games. The Angels are stuck asking for help; the other AL wild card hopefuls less so.

Given the way things have gone this year, chances are the AL wild-card race will look very different in about a week. The Orioles are hot right now and the Yankees are cold. Next week some other team will be hot and another will be cold. That's usually how it works. Right now though, it seems this is morphing into a four-team race for the two AL wild card spots. And the longer it stays a four-team race, the more exciting it'll be.