The Rangers have three games to go in the regular season, all in Oakland against the A's. Here's a rundown as to what the possible playoff scenarios are for Texas.
First, a look at the standings and the coming week:
AL West Standings
AL Central Standings
AL East Standings
American League Wild Card Standings
|New York||92||67||.578||0||Won 1|
|Tampa Bay||88||71||.553||4||Lost 2|
|Los Angeles||88||71||.553||4||Lost 1|
|Kansas City||71||88||.446||21||Lost 1|
(updated 10.1.2012 at 10:15 AM CDT)
The Rangers currently have the best record in the A.L., one game ahead of New York and Baltimore.
New York has three games at home against Boston.
Baltimore has three games at Tampa.
The Angels have three games at Seattle.
The Tigers have three games at Kansas City.
The White Sox have three games at Cleveland.
At this point, while Chicago, Tampa and Anaheim are not technically eliminated, for practical purposes, we can disregard them. Chicago needs to sweep, and for Detroit to be swept, to force a one game playoff for the A.L. Central. Tampa and Anaheim are both in a situation where they would need to sweep, and Oakland would need to be swept, to force a one game playoff to see who is in the Wild Card playoff game.
So I think we can largely disregard them, and focus on the five teams who are, absent a Black Swan scenario, going to be in the playoffs: New York, Baltimore, Texas, Oakland, and Detroit.
In addition, Detroit cannot end up with a better record than the winners of the A.L. East and the A.L. West, so Detroit (or Chicago, if there's a miracle) will be the #3 seed, regardless.
Also, the Rangers and the A's cannot end the 162 game season in a tie for first place in the A.L. West, so there will be no Game 163 to determine the winner of the West.
Here's how the Rangers' playoff situation would play out for each of the four possible outcomes of their series with Oakland:
Scenario #1 -- Texas sweeps Oakland
This is easy -- if Texas sweeps Oakland, no matter what happens elsewhere, they win the A.L. West, they are the #1 seed in the A.L., and they play the winner of the Wild Card game in the ALDS. Their first game would be on the road -- either in Oakland, in Baltimore, or in New York -- on Sunday, October 7.
Scenario #2 -- Texas wins two of three games against Oakland
If the Rangers win two of three in Oakland, then the Rangers win the A.L. West. The Rangers would also be the #1 seed if the Yankees do not sweep Boston, regardless of what Baltimore does, because the Rangers won their season series with Baltimore, but lost it with New York. As such, the Rangers would start their ALDS by playing on the road -- either in Oakland, in Baltimore, or in New York -- on Sunday, October 7.
If the Yankees were to sweep Boston, then the Rangers would play in Detroit on Saturday, October 6.
Scenario #3 -- Texas wins one of three games against Oakland
If the Rangers win one of three in Oakland, then the Rangers win the A.L. West. The Rangers would also be the #1 seed if the Yankees get swept by Boston or lose two of three against Boston, and if Baltimore does not sweep in Tampa, because the Rangers won their season series with Baltimore, but lost it with New York.
Again, if they are the #1 seed, the Rangers would start their ALDS by playing on the road -- either in Oakland, in Baltimore, or in New York -- on Sunday, October 7.
If they are the #2 seed, then the Rangers would play in Detroit on Saturday, October 6.
Scenario #4 -- Texas is swept by Oakland
This is the disaster scenario. If the A's sweep the Rangers, then Texas will have a one game playoff against either New York or Baltimore for the Wild Card. If the Yankees are the Wild Card team, then unless they got swept by Boston, the Rangers would play the Yankees in New York. If Baltimore is the Wild Card team, then the Rangers would play in Baltimore if Baltimore took two of three or swept Tampa. Otherwise, the Wild Card game would be in Texas.
The A's split their season series with the Yankees, and won their season series with Baltimore. If the A's sweep, they end up with 94 wins. Baltimore would have to sweep the Rays to end up as the #1 seed if they won the A.L. East in that scenario. I'm not sure who the #1 seed would be if the Yankees won the A.L. East by taking two of three against Boston. If the Yankees sweep Boston, then Oakland would be the #2 seed. If they lose two of three or are swept, and Baltimore doesn't sweep the Rays, then Oakland is the #1 seed.
Which would mean that, if the Rangers won their Wild Card Game, their reward would be a five game series against Oakland.
Either way, if Texas is in the Wild Card Game, and if they win it, they will start the ALDS at home on Sunday, October 7.