Oakland A’s better off as third seed in playoffs

With eight teams reaching the playoffs in each league, the Oakland A’s might find an easier path as the third seed in the American League.

The Oakland A’s find themselves in a battle for the first overall seed in the American League. The Rays, White Sox, and A’s are all clustered within a game of each other, fighting to see which team will end up with the best record in the American League.

In theory, that top seed should be a coveted spot. They would face the eighth seed, which should be the weakest team in the postseason. At least, that is how this should work based on the idea that the top two teams in each division reach the playoffs.

But that may not be the case. The seventh overall seed currently belongs to the Cleveland Indians, whose rotation is one of the more formidable in the game. The eighth seed belongs to the New York Yankees, who are starting to get pieces back on offense. Both teams are dangerous draws for the top two seeds.

Then there is the sixth seed – the Houston Astros. Heading into action Sunday night, the Astros were 23-23, just 2.5 games up on the Mariners for second place in the AL West. They had lost eight of their last ten games, and were six games behind the A’s for the division.

Houston is also still banged up. Five pitchers, including Justin Verlander and Roberto Osuna, are on the Injured List. While Verlander is trying to return, he will not have enough time to get stretched out. The Astros also rank ninth in the American League with .739 OPS – the lineup may be healthy, but they are not banging the ball quite as hard as in past years.

Meanwhile, the A’s have had a great deal of success against the Astros this season. Oakland has gone 7-3 this year against Houston, scoring 38 runs while allowing just 24 runs. While the A’s may be banged up as well, with Matt Chapman being lost for the year, they are still in better shape than Houston.

But that injury could work to their advantage. The A’s could find themselves losing a couple of games down the stretch that pushes them out of the race for the top seed. With the West essentially locked up, the A’s can start resting players during their grueling march to end the season.

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The Oakland A’s may be better off with the third seed in the American League. It would seem to be their easiest path to advance in the postseason.