Postseason scenarios: What needs to happen for the Cleveland Indians to come out on top in the wacky AL Wild Card race

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The American League Wild Card scenarios are one big twisted pretzel between Los Angeles, Houston, Minnesota and the Indians, and the Angels have taken the lead in the race for the second Wild Card with seven straight wins, including one over the A’s on Tuesday night. The Indians are five games back with seven to play, and our elimination number is 2 — any combination of two Indians losses and Angels or Astros wins will knock us out.

BUT! We’re not out yet, so let’s delve back into what could happen.

The most games we can win this year is 84. If any team vying for the second spot wins 85 games, we’re mathematically out of it. But…..there’s many things that can happen. We try and explain here– excitedly, because this is fun. This is the third straight year we’ve contended into the final week of the season, so we’re old, wily vets at this by now.

First, if we are a half game behind any team or teams for the second spot after play on Sunday, Oct. 4, we will play our makeup game against the Tigers on Monday, Oct. 5 (rainout from Sept. 12).

So, if we play eight games, here is what we can do and everyone else can do — with Los Angeles and Houston at 83 wins, we have to at least go 6-1.

  • If we go 7-0, and finish 84-78:
    • Houston can go 1-3 vs. Seattle and Arizona
    • Los Angeles can go 1-4 vs. Oakland and Texas
    • Minnesota can go 3-3
  • If we go 6-1 and finish 83-79:
    • Houston would have to go 0-5
    • Los Angeles would have to go 0-5
    • Minnesota would have to go 2-4

Here’s where things get wacky. If we’re tied with one other team for the second spot:

  • After playing makeup game vs. Detroit on Monday, we’d play a tiebreak on Tuesday.
    • If that tiebreak is against the Angels or Astros, we would host at Progressive Field.
    • If that tiebreak is against the Twins, we would play at Target Field in Minnesota

If we were to win our makeup game on Oct. 5 to get us into a three-way tie for the second Wild Card spot, the three teams then would be given A, B and C designations. Details:

  • Determining A, B, C Designations in Three-Team Tiebreakers (When Three Clubs Do Not Have Identical Records Against One Another)
  • If Club 1 has a better record against Clubs 2 and 3, and Club 2 has a better record against Club 3, then Club 1 chooses its designation, followed by Club 2.
  • If Club 1 has a better record against Clubs 2 and 3, and Club 2 and 3 have identical records against one another, then Club 1 chooses its designation. Clubs 2 and 3 would follow the two-Club tiebreak rules to break their tie to pick the next designation.
  • If Club 1 and 2 have identical records against one another, but each has a better record against Club 3, then Clubs 1 and 2 would follow the two-Club tiebreak rules to break their tie to pick the first designation.
  • If Club 1 has a better record against Club 2, Club 2 has a better record against Club 3, and Club 3 has a better record against Club 1; OR Club 1 has a better record against Club 2, Club 2 and 3 have identical records against one another and Club 3 has a better record against Club 1; OR Club 1 and 2 have identical records against one another, Club 1 has a better record against Club 3 and Club 2 and 3 have identical records against one another, then:
    • a. The Clubs will be ranked by their overall winning percentage amongst the other Clubs combined. The Club with the highest overall winning percentage in that group chooses its designation, followed by the team with the next highest overall winning percentage.
    • b. If two of the Clubs have identical winning percentages, then they would follow the two-Club tiebreak rules to break their tie to pick their designation.
    • c. If all three teams have identical winning percentages, then the tiebreak rules above (No. 1) for three clubs having identical records against one another should be followed.

If we win our makeup game on Oct. 5 to put us into a THREE-WAY TIE for the second AL Wild Card spot … well, let’s just hope that doesn’t happen. Our heads hurt.

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