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The Baseball Report: A.L. Playoff Field Is Set, Betts Leads MVP Race

Ryan Mayer

Just a few days remain in the 2018 MLB season, and the American League playoff field is now locked in.

With the Oakland Athletics' 7-3 win over the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays' 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees, the five-team field was officially set. The A's partied hard, having clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2014, while attention now turns to the likely playoff matchups set to start next week.

The Houston Astros are 4.5 games up on the A's in the American League West, so, barring a massive collapse, the 'Stros look to be locked in to the two-seed hosting the Central Division champion Cleveland Indians. The Astros hold a 4-3 advantage in the season series between the two teams, taking two of three at home and splitting four games in Cleveland.

In the other half of the bracket, the Boston Red Sox, fresh off winning their franchise-record 106th game this season await the winner of the Wild Card play-in game. That game will feature the aforementioned A's facing off with the New York Yankees, though the location is yet to be determined. The Yankees currently lead the A's by 1.5 games in the race for the top Wild Card spot and, therefore, the race for home-field advantage in the game. The Yanks would likely prefer to have the game in their home park, as they took two out of three from the A's earlier this season at home, whereas they lost two of three out by the bay.

For the Red Sox, they get to comfortably watch and see which team will come to Fenway, and they do so with the league's leading candidate for the MVP award. Outfielder Mookie Betts has had a truly special season, leading the league in batting average entering Tuesday night's games at .343 and posting 10.7 WAR by Baseball Reference's system. Betts' teammate, J.D. Martinez made a solid push, but Betts' fielding sets him apart, as he rates first among outfielders in Fangraphs' UZR rating at 14.8.

While the A.L. is set, both playoff and likely awards-wise (Blake Snell would appear to be the Cy Young leader), the N.L. is much more unsettled. For more, check out the video above.

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