What it would take for the Indians to make the playoffs (September 20th Edition)

Andrew Burton

An update of a post done at the beginning of September detailing what needed to happen for the Indians to make the playoffs. Have things changed for the better or for the worse?

So a couple weeks ago, when the Tribe's playoff chances looked at best iffy, I put together a scenario in which the Indians make the playoffs with a 90-72 record. As of today, not only is that scenario still valid, but it's looking increasingly possible that the Indians could actually host the Wild Card game. As of September 5th, here's what the Wild Card standings looked like:

American League Wild Card Standings

W L PCT GB STRK
Oakland 80 59 .575 0 Won 1
Tampa Bay 77 61 .557 2.5 Won 2
New York 75 64 .539 5 Won 3
Cleveland 74 65 .532 6 Won 2
Baltimore 73 65 .528 6.5 Lost 2
Kansas City 72 67 .517 8 Lost 1

(updated 9.5.2013 at 6:46 AM EDT)

You can see the scenario assumptions and reality here (thanks to playdoh). It's updated through last night's games.

I still think that the Indians need to win 90 games to guarantee a playoff spot without a tiebreaker game, but I also think that 89 or even 88 wins could keep them playing past September 29th. Here's the standings as of today:


American League Wild Card Standings

W L PCT GB STRK
Tampa Bay 83 69 .546 0 Lost 1
Texas 83 69 .546 0 Won 1
Cleveland 83 70 .542 0.5 Won 1
Baltimore 81 71 .532 2 Lost 1
Kansas City 80 72 .526 3 Won 1
New York 80 73 .522 3.5 Lost 1

(updated 9.20.2013 at 10:11 AM EDT)


The Indians are in a much better situation thanks to not only taking care of business themselves, but also due to the Rays and Rangers going into tailspins in September. The last time I did this was by looking at the best-case scenario, but now the scenarios in which the Indians make the playoffs are likely to happen. On September 5th, the Rangers were tied with the A's for the AL West lead with a 80-59 record. Since then, they've gone an amazing 3-10, and the Indians have gained 5.5 games in the standings in just 15 days. The Indians have also gained 3.0 games on Tampa Bay. They've also passed the Yankees, who have gone 5-9 since September 5th.

But there's still 9 games left to play, so there's some work left to do. Here's some different scenarios in which the Indians gain the first Wild Card , the second Wild Card, a tiebreaker game, several tiebreaker games, or completely miss the playoffs.

Let's start with the best-case scenario:

Scenario 1: Cleveland gets first Wild Card spot, hosts Wild Card game

Cleveland (current record: 83-70)

  • Houston (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Chicago White Sox (Sep 24-25) 2-0
  • @Minnesota (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 90-72 (7-2)

This is unchanged from the scenario on September 5th

Tampa Bay (current record: 83-69)

  • Baltimore (Sep 20-21) 2-2
  • @New York Yankees (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • @Toronto (Sep 27-29) 2-1

Final record: 89-73 (6-4)

The Indians still need some help, but not nearly as much help as two weeks ago.

Texas (current record: 83-69)

  • @Kansas City (Sep 20-22) 1-2
  • Houston (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • LA Angels (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-73 (5-5)

We'll be Royals fans this weekend, as the Indians still need some help to pass the Rangers

Baltimore (current record 81-71)

  • @Tampa Bay (Sep 20-23) 2-2
  • Toronto (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • Boston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 88-74 (7-3)

If the Orioles go 4-0 or 3-1 against the Rays, then they have a good shot (as their only remaining games are home against Toronto and a Boston club preparing for the ALDS), but a split or worse would pretty much take them out of contention.

Kansas City (current record 80-72)

  • Texas (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • @Seattle (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • @Chicago White Sox (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 87-75 (7-3)

The Royals have to sweep the Rangers this weekend to have any shot.

New York (current record record 80-73)

  • San Francisco (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Tampa Bay (Sep 24-26) 1-2
  • @Houston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 86-76 (6-3)

The Yankees are effectively out of the race with one more loss. Yeah, I'm totally bummed about that.

Scenario 1 standings

  • Cleveland 90-72 - hosts Wild Card game
  • Tampa Bay 89-73 - second Wild Card spot (@Cleveland)
  • Texas 88-74
  • Baltimore 88-74
  • Kansas City 87-75
  • New York 86-76

Scenario 2: Cleveland gets second wild card spot

Cleveland (current record: 83-70)

  • Houston (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Chicago White Sox (Sep 24-25)1-1
  • @Minnesota (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 89-73 (6-3)

Tampa Bay (current record: 83-69)

  • Baltimore (Sep 20-21) 2-2
  • @New York Yankees (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • @Toronto (Sep 27-29) 2-1

Final record: 89-73 (6-4)

Texas (current record: 83-69)

  • @Kansas City (Sep 20-22) 1-2
  • Houston (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • LA Angels (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-74 (5-5)

Baltimore (current record 81-71)

  • @Tampa Bay (Sep 20-23) 2-2
  • Toronto (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • Boston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 88-74 (7-3)

Kansas City (current record 80-72)

  • Texas (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • @Seattle (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • @Chicago White Sox (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 87-75 (7-3)

New York (current record record 80-73)

  • San Francisco (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Tampa Bay (Sep 24-26) 1-2
  • @Houston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 86-76 (6-3)

Scenario 2 standings

  • Tampa Bay 89-73 - first Wild Card spot (because of 4-2 head-to-head record vs Cleveland)
  • Cleveland 89-73 - second Wild Card spot (@Tampa Bay)
  • Texas 88-74
  • Baltimore 88-74
  • Kansas City 87-75
  • New York 86-76

Scenario 3: Cleveland plays tiebreaker game for second Wild Card spot

Cleveland (current record: 83-70)

  • Houston (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Chicago White Sox (Sep 24-25)1-1
  • @Minnesota (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-74 (5-4)

Tampa Bay (current record: 83-69)

  • Baltimore (Sep 20-21) 3-1
  • @New York Yankees (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • @Toronto (Sep 27-29) 2-1

Final record: 90-72 (7-3)

Texas (current record: 83-69)

  • @Kansas City (Sep 20-22) 1-2
  • Houston (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • LA Angels (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-74 (5-5)

Baltimore (current record 81-71)

  • @Tampa Bay (Sep 20-23) 1-3
  • Toronto (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • Boston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 87-75 (6-4)

Kansas City (current record 80-72)

  • Texas (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • @Seattle (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • @Chicago White Sox (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 87-75 (7-3)

New York (current record record 80-73)

  • San Francisco (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Tampa Bay (Sep 24-26) 1-2
  • @Houston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 86-76 (6-3)

Scenario 3 standings

  • Tampa Bay 90-72 - first Wild Card spot
  • Cleveland 88-73 - hosts tiebreaker game for second Wild Card spot
  • Texas 88-74 - @Cleveland for tiebreaker game for second Wild Card spot
  • Baltimore 87-75
  • Kansas City 87-75
  • New York 86-76

Scenario 4: Cleveland plays multiple tiebreaker games for second Wild Card spot

Cleveland (current record: 83-70)

  • Houston (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Chicago White Sox (Sep 24-25)1-1
  • @Minnesota (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-74 (5-4)

Tampa Bay (current record: 83-69)

  • Baltimore (Sep 20-21) 2-2
  • @New York Yankees (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • @Toronto (Sep 27-29) 2-1

Final record: 89-73 (6-4)

Texas (current record: 83-69)

  • @Kansas City (Sep 20-22) 1-2
  • Houston (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • LA Angels (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-74 (5-5)

Baltimore (current record 81-71)

  • @Tampa Bay (Sep 20-23) 2-2
  • Toronto (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • Boston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 88-74 (7-3)

Kansas City (current record 80-72)

  • Texas (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • @Seattle (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • @Chicago White Sox (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 87-75 (7-3)

New York (current record record 80-73)

  • San Francisco (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Tampa Bay (Sep 24-26) 1-2
  • @Houston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 86-76 (6-3)

Scenario 3 standings

  • Tampa Bay 89-73 - first Wild Card spot
  • Cleveland 88-74 - plays TEX/BAL winner for tiebreaker for second Wild Card spot
  • Baltimore 88-74 - hosts TEX for tiebreaker Game 1
  • Texas 88-74 - @BAL for tiebreaker Game 1
  • Kansas City 87-75
  • New York 86-76

There's a chance that Kansas City would get to 88 wins as well, which would create a 4-way tiebreaker.

Scenario 5: Cleveland misses playoffs entirely

Cleveland (current record: 83-70)

  • Houston (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Chicago White Sox (Sep 24-25)1-1
  • @Minnesota (Sep 26-29) 1-3

Final record: 87-75 (4-5)

Tampa Bay (current record: 83-69)

  • Baltimore (Sep 20-21) 3-1
  • @New York Yankees (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • @Toronto (Sep 27-29) 2-1

Final record: 90-72 (7-3)

Texas (current record: 83-69)

  • @Kansas City (Sep 20-22) 1-2
  • Houston (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • LA Angels (Sep 26-29) 2-2

Final record: 88-74 (5-5)

Baltimore (current record 81-71)

  • @Tampa Bay (Sep 20-23) 1-3
  • Toronto (Sep 24-26) 2-1
  • Boston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 87-75 (6-4)

Kansas City (current record 80-72)

  • Texas (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • @Seattle (Sep 23-25) 2-1
  • @Chicago White Sox (Sep 26-29) 3-1

Final record: 87-75 (7-3)

New York (current record record 80-73)

  • San Francisco (Sep 20-22) 2-1
  • Tampa Bay (Sep 24-26) 1-2
  • @Houston (Sep 27-29) 3-0

Final record: 86-76 (6-3)

  • Tampa Bay 90-72 - first Wild Card spot
  • Texas 88-74 second Wild Card spot
  • Baltimore 87-75
  • Cleveland 87-75
  • Kansas City 87-75
  • New York 86-76

Now these scenarios do not capture the complete range of possibilities, such as Kansas City or Baltimore running the table, or Texas or Tampa Bay collapsing, as that would make for a very long post. The above scenarios are in my opinion the most likely possibilities.

The takeaway:

  • 90 wins (7-2) will almost certainly guarantee a playoff spot, and perhaps the hosting the Wild Card game
  • 89 wins (6-3)  will likely get the Indians into the playoffs without a tiebreaker game
  • 88 wins (5-4) will likely mean either the Indians play a tiebreaker or miss the playoffs entirely
  • 87 wins (4-5) or fewer will likely mean the Indians miss the playoffs
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