Despite the addition of the extra wild card, there is still a 67% chance that your team, the one that you've spent countless thousands in merchandise on, won't be going to the playoffs. I've heard rumor that when Bud Selig eventually retires, giving in to the demonic force that feeds on his large intestine, every team will be a playoff team, and eight of them World Series champs. Until then however, just who the hell are you supposed to cling to for excitement over the next six weeks while your team prepares for their winter break? And sure, watching fringey prospects get tricked by their veteran counterparts is fun, but human beings need the sense of adventure and competition, to stay alive.
Fortunately, we at the Platoon Advantage have outlined the 13 teams most likely to reach postseason soil, giving you the full rundown on everything you'll need to assimilate into the fanbase. That includes which players a casual fan would gravitate to, the ones that'll let you blend in at that sports bar that requires you to carry a knife, a fun fact to recite when stuck in line for the bathroom, and the secret code needed to access all those exclusive parties where the players' wives hang out.
So Marlins, Astros, White Sox, Blue Jays etc, etc, etc, etc fans, this is where you start your transformation. At least until next year.
Boston Red Sox
Current Record: 74-54, 1st Place
Player You Could Love: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia
Player You Should Love: Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes
Strangest Line: Daniel Nava: .295/.381/.435, 10 HR. From a guy who was cut from his college team.
Secret Code: "Baseball's lost its way, man. It's not as simple and beautiful as it was in 2007."
Recommended for: Those who enjoy Narragansett beer. Or Steve Buckley.
Current Record: 74-52, 1st Place
Players You Could Love: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Justin Verlander
Players You Should Love: Don Kelly, Drew Smiley
Strangest Line: Max Scherzer, 18-1. Also, sit on this one: Since 2009, Miguel Cabrera has hit at least .324. He's averaging 37 HR a year with a 1.025 OPS over that time frame. While amazing, even with Albert Pujols' two underwhelming Angels seasons, he has a career 1.008 OPS.
Secret Code: "If you enter the clubhouse at night, when everyone's gone, you may just be lucky enough to see a golem wandering around, made of Jim Leyland's cigarette butts."
Recommended For: Big, beefy guys who like to watch big, beefy guys. Also, pitching enthusiasts.
Current Record: 74-53, 1st Place
Players You Could Love: Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish
Players You Should Love: Ian Kinsler (what with those perfectly bloused socks), Craig Gentry
Strangest Line: Since 2010, Adrian Beltre is averaging .316/.359/.552 with 30 HR and 96 RBI. In his four years with Seattle, Beltre hit .266/.317/.442 with 21 HR.
Secret Code: "Rusty Greer was here."
Recommended for: Best friends who do everything together.
Tampa Bay Rays
Current Record: 72-53, 2nd Place
Players You Could Love: Evan Longoria, David Price
Players You Should Love: Super Sam Fuld, Jose Molina
Strangest Line: Matt Moore (14-3, 3.41 ERA) and Jeremy Hellickson (10-6, 4.91) have the same fWAR: 1.8. That'll teach you to look at the surface numbers.
Secret Code: "Home runs that get caught in the catwalk are just MORE fun than normal home runs."
Recommended For: Introverts, money managers, and those with inferioirity complexes.
Current Record: 71-55, 2nd Place
Players You Could Love: Yoenis Cespedes, and, uhh…
Players You Should Love: Josh Donaldson, Eric Sogard, Brandon Moss (this team is basically made of players you should love)
Strangest Line: Josh Donaldson, 27 years old, .296/.376/.478 17 HR. Or, a near copy of David Wright.
(image via Eric Sogard's Glasses)
Recommended for: Men and women with amusing facial hair.
Current Record: 69-58, 2nd Place
Players You Could Love: Carlos Santana, Justin Masterson
Players You Should Love: Jason Kipnis, Yan Gomes
Strangest Line: Michael Bourn had an 81% stolen base success rate before this year, averaging 39 steals a season. This year, he's stolen 17 (a career low), and has only been successful 65% of the time. Also, Yan Gomes has an .846 OPS and has a higher fWAR than Carlos Santana
Secret Code: "Go Joe Charboneau."
Recommended for: People who don't like being racist, so they simply call the team "Those Cleveland Baseballers."
Current Record: 68-58, 3rd Place
Players You Could Love: Chris Davis, Manny Machado
Players You Should Love: Steve Pearce (maybe that's a personal thing), Nate Mclouth
Strangest Line: Danny Valencia: .216/.256/.500 in 78 PA.
Secret Code: "I heard that Earl Weaver once ate so many crab cakes, the city of Baltimore experienced a shortage lasting four years."
Recommended for: People who didn't 'get' The Wire.
Current Record: 77-49, 1st Place
Players You Could Love: Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel
Players You Should Love: Evan Gattis, Andrelton Simmons
Strangest Line: Dan Uggla: .186/.307/.389. BJ Upton: .186/.269/.299. This is a first place team.
Secret Code: "All hail Steve Avery, protector of our hearts and souls."
Recommended for: Scratch off lottery ticket winners.
Current Record: 74-52, 1st Place
Players You Could Love: Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez
Players You Should Love: Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano
Strangest Line: Pirates are second in the league in runs allowed per game with 3.50. Francisco Liriano is agruably having his best season ever (14-5, 2.53 ERA, 9.4 K/9).
Secret Code: "Clint Hurdle's grotesquely swollen head."
Recommended For: Those whose favorite movie is Blue Valentine.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Current Record: 74-52, 1st Place
Players You Could Love: Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Magic Johnson
Players You Should Love: Nick Punto, AJ Ellis
Strangest Line: Juan Uribe is currently hitting .283/.340/.420 with a 114 OPS+. That would be the second best of his career, this also coming after two years when his OPS was .557 and .542, respectively. The Dodgers also have the same record as the Pirates. Think on that.
Secret Code: "Doctors once found a half dozen Farm John's hot dogs in my anal cavity."
Recommended for: Celebrity attaches.
St. Louis Cardinals
Current Record: 73-53, 2nd Place
Players You Could Love: Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina
Players You Should Love: Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams
Strangest Line: With RISP, the team hits .328/.404/.455, or are collectively a group of Joe Mauers. With no one on, they hit .238/.297/.360, or Vernon Wells.
Secret Code: "Brendan Ryan and Skip Schumaker were the greatest double play combo, bar none, ever."
Recommended for: Don Draper-style traditionalists.
Current Record: 72-55, 3rd Place
Players You Could Love: Joey Votto, Aroldis Chapman
Players You Should Love: Corky Miller, Jack Hannahan
Strangest Line: Joey Votto is on pace to lead the league in walks for the third straight year. Barry Bonds once lead the league for five consecutive years, 12 in total. Also, JJ Hoover and Sam LeCure are both walking 3.4 batters per nine innings and striking out 9.9 per while giving up 0.8 HRs. I just like that kind of fearful symmetry.
Secret Code: "Joey Votto's getting blotto on Homer Bailey's Irish Cream. If he gets too Corked, he'll have to take a Leake."
Recommended For: Those with effusive hand gestures.
Current Record: 65-60, 2nd Place
Players You Could Love: Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin
Players You Should Love: Willie Bloomquist, Josh Collmenter, Brandon McCarthy
Strangest Line: While, Patrick Corbin's 2.45 ERA was pretty unexpected, Gerardo Parra has the most fielding runs above average of his career with 16.4. Sadly, he's given back a lot of that value by getting caught stealing in 10 of his 19 attempts.
Secret Code: "Greg Colbrunn for President."
Recommended for: Those under the cloud of valley fever.