In the wild-card era, 66 percent of all teams that have had the best record in their league on any day from May 1 onward have made the playoffs. When the Rays tied the Angels on May 13 for best AL record, it marked the earliest time in the wild-card era that all the teams leading a league after May 1 could not make the playoffs (the other two teams are the A’s and Red Sox; because of division alignment, they can’t all make it). It’s shaping up to be quite a wild year.
Here are the numbers for teams with the best record on or past a certain date and the odds that they made the playoffs in the wild-card era. The seven teams that would be involved in the odds this year are the four AL teams mentioned, plus the Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Cubs. Of course, this is descriptive and not predictive of any chances at October ball, but hopefully it gives some perspective. (I used June 1 for 1995, since it was a month into the shortened season.)
May 1: 66 percent (57/87) May 15: 71 percent (54/76) Today: 74 percent (53/72) June 1: 75 percent (49/65) June 15: 80 percent (48/60) July 1: 81 percent (47/58) July 15: 84 percent (45/54) Aug. 1: 90 percent (45/50) Aug. 15: 93 percent (42/45) Sept. 1: 98 percent (39/41)
Of the 11 after July 1, 5 of those were last year – the Tigers in the AL and the Brewers, Dodgers, Padres, and Mets in the NL. If the Mets hadn’t set the record for latest collapse from best record (9/17) to missing the playoffs since 1995, the Padres (9/1) would have.
Whatever team from the AL doesn’t make it (assuming only one) would be the tenth AL team in the list. The NL has 21.