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Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

People like to say once we get past Memorial Day, we can start seriously looking at which teams are going to be contenders and which will fall out of the race. Sure, there have been collapses and surges, but those cases (hello 2019 Nationals) are outliers. We generally have a good idea by now which teams are good, which are bad and which look in between. 

In glancing around the landscape of the playoff picture right now, I get the feeling that we have a chance to see a first this season: 

A playoff team with a losing record. 

The worst record in a full season to make the postseason is 82-80. The 2005 Padres pulled it off as NL West champs. The 1973 Mets were 82-79 and somehow that was good enough to win a six-team division. Expanding the playoffs to include three division winners and three wild cards in each league means it's probably inevitable that we'll eventually see a sub-.500 team make the playoffs. 

The best chance this season seems to the final NL Wild Card, but the AL West champ and final AL Wild Card are also looking like contenders at this dubious distinction. There just aren't that many teams definitely clear of .500 right now. 

AL West

The Astros got off to an awful start to the season while the Rangers are badly struggling right now, just having snapped a six-game losing streak on Sunday. Both of last season's ALCS combatants are below .500, but they each have a realistic shot to win the division since the Mariners are only three games above .500. All three contending teams here have enough talent to get to, say, 90 wins, but they've all shown enough warts through two months of the season to believe it's going to be a grind to get into the mid-80s for any of them. 

AL Wild Card

Entering Tuesday, the third AL Wild Card is being held by the Minnesota Twins. They are five games over .500. What if they falter, though? Next up are the 27-27 Red Sox with the Rays and Tigers right behind. Do you trust anyone from that bunch to definitely have a winning record? I sure don't.

After the Yankees, Orioles, Guardians and Royals, the AL is a total mess with Twins teetering between good and bad, depending seemingly on what week it is. And I'd be willing to listen to an argument that either the Guardians or Royals will fall a bit, even though it's looking less likely by the day. 

At a bare minimum, there's a chance at least one playoff team struggles to get to the 82-win threshold. Over on the NL side, we can say the same.

NL Wild Card

The Phillies and Dodgers are sure bets to end the season with well over 90 wins. The Braves have long felt like it and despite injuries to their MVP and potential Cy Young winner, they still have enough for us to believe they will safely be a playoff team. The Brewers have been going very well and sit comfortably above .500, too. 

That's it. 

The Cubs have basically fallen apart since a 17-9 start. The Padres and Giants are now over .500, but barely. The Diamondbacks have been banged up and disappointing. The Cardinals are hot right now, but got off to a terrible start that triggered talk of a rebuild. The Pirates show bright spots and then fall apart. The Reds have been bad for most of the year. 

Again, this league will have six playoff teams, but only four have really looked worthy all year. 

Basically, we're two months into the season and there are eight teams that feel like safe bets to be contenders. We need at least 12. Dubious history is on the table. 

Biggest Movers
9 Cardinals
8 Rangers
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Phillies They were getting mentioned in the same breath as the 2001 Mariners, but then went into Colorado and lost a series to the hapless Rockies. Baseball strikes again! -- 48-24
2 Yankees It's really hard to wrap my head around YANKEES ownership already talking like a middle-market team who may not be able to afford to keep their own superstar. Pathetic, Hal. 1 50-24
3 Guardians After showing the Twins who's boss, the Guardians ripped through inferior opponents the next week, just like winners do. They are here to stay. 3 44-25
4 Orioles The Orioles were finally swept in a three-game, regular-season series for the first time since 2022. They responded like winners respond, by winning four straight against an inferior foe. -- 47-24
5 Dodgers Overall an amazing team, but they've had stretches of seven losses in nine games and now a five-game losing streak. 3 45-29
6 Royals Just about the only thing they don't do well is hit home runs, but they stack up doubles and triples. What a well-rounded and fun ballclub. 1 41-32
7 Braves I'm just absolutely devastated for Ronald Acuña Jr. Two ACL tears in a four-season span is horrible luck. 2 39-31
8 Brewers On Dec. 12, 2022, the Braves traded for A's catcher Sean Murphy. The Brewers were looped in to make it a three-team trade. William Contreras is going to end up with the best career from that deal. It might not even be close. -- 42-30
9 Twins Hey, good teams beat up on bad teams, but it's jarring to see the Twins' splits based on opponent's record. They are 19-7 against teams under .500. 3 40-32
10 Mariners OK, Julio. We're past Memorial Day. Time for the power to tick up and the strikeouts to tick down. Right? Please? 1 43-31
11 Padres I guess the silver lining to the Xander Bogaerts injury is he wasn't hitting anyway. Still, they'll need a lot more from Manny Machado moving forward (and more from Fernando Tatis Jr., too, really). 2 37-39
12 Giants They were awfully close to a 10-game winning streak, but still: A lot of good baseball coming from this group right now. 6 36-37
13 Red Sox The masterful work they've gotten from the rotation is one of the brightest surprises this season. Tanner Houck is a legitimate Cy Young candidate! 3 38-35
14 Astros My hunch here is the Rangers and Mariners will deeply regret not playing better ball while the Astros were toiling away at 12-24. 1 33-39
15 Cardinals And here they come. Since bottoming out on May 11 at 15-24, the Cardinals have been one of baseball's best teams. 9 36-35
16 Cubs The offense is just absolutely pitiful right now and they can't point to injuries. This has happened after the returns of Cody Bellinger and Seiya Suzuki and it continued with the returns of Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner. They are just bad right now. 5 34-39
17 Rays The Rays got hot last week and then returned home for a difficult but workable homestand. And they were crushed by the Red Sox and Royals. 7 34-38
18 Tigers Do the rest of the Tigers hate Reese Olson or something? You don't often see a starter with a 1.92 ERA have a 1-5 record. 1 34-38
19 Diamondbacks Winning a series in Dodger Stadium immediately preceded losing a home series to the Marlins and that obviously makes no sense, other than ... baseball! -- 35-37
20 Pirates The Pirates' 11 blown saves are tied for the MLB lead. That has got to be cleaned up. -- 35-37
21 Reds The Reds haven't been fully healthy all season, but they should have been better than this all along. Perhaps sweeping the Dodgers is them getting on track. It happened in June last year. 2 34-38
22 Rangers They might be pretty well buried in any other division. Everyone else in the AL West is allowing the champs to hang around. Maybe they can pull a 2021 Braves? 8 33-39
23 Blue Jays If things continue on this path, they need to seriously consider some major organizational changes. It just ain't working. 2 35-37
24 Nationals I have run out of hope with Joey Gallo. He was so good in stretches, despite the high strikeout totals and low batting average. He racked up 4.2 WAR with the Rangers in 95 games in 2021 before he was traded to the Yankees. Once he was traded, though, he just fell apart and has never recovered. 1 35-36
25 Mets Remember that stretch where they were not only competent, but good? They won 12 of 15! That's a distant memory now. 3 34-37
26 Marlins They've won nine of their last 14. 3 23-49
27 Athletics The A's are one of the most entertaining bad teams since they hit bombs, don't generally pitch well, but have a lights-out closer. -- 26-48
28 Angels The Halos took four of six in the state of Texas, but then ran into the Guardians buzzsaw. 2 29-43
29 Rockies You know I love using "Road Rockies" and last week was a perfect summary. They lost a road series to the A's and then won a series at home against the best team in baseball. 1 25-47
30 White Sox Worst record in baseball. Road record worse than the Rockies. Terrible at home. The White Sox are nothing if not consistent. -- 19-54