PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 07: Francisco Lindor #12 of the New York Mets looks on from the dugout before the start of Game Two of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 7, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The MLB playoff picture is coming into focus with magic numbers dwindling down by the day.

There are four weeks left in the MLB season and with that, the haves and the have-nots in the playoff picture have been fairly well established. But the playoff seeding is far from decided in either league.

In the American League as of this publication on Thursday morning on September 8, the division leaders are the New York Yankees in the AL East, the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Central, and the Houston Astros in the AL West. Here are the respective division leads:

  • AL West: Astros lead the Mariners by 11 games
  • AL Central: Guardians lead the Twins and White Sox by 2 games
  • AL East: Yankees lead the Rays by 5 games

In the Wild Card picture, the Rays and Mariners are in a virtual tie for the first AL Wild Card spot and the Blue Jays have the third Wild Card spot. Here are the AL Wild Card standings:

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Baltimore Orioles (-4.5 games)
  5. Minnesota Twins (-7.5 games)

In the National League entering Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers have sealed their division fates. In the NL East, the Braves and Mets are in a tie for first place. Here are their respective division leads:

  • NL West: Dodgers lead Padres by 19 games
  • NL Central: Cardinals lead Brewers by 9.5 games
  • NL East: Mets lead Braves by .5 games

In the Wild Card picture, the Braves and Mets have an 10+ game lead on the Phillies and Padres, who are in a virtual tie for the second and third Wild Card spots. The Brewers are the only other team within reach. Here are the NL Wild Card standings:

  1. Atlanta Braves/New York Mets
  2. Philadelphia Phillies
  3. San Diego Padres
  4. Milwaukee Brewers (-4)

Of the teams in playoff contention, here they are by the strength of their remaining schedule from weakest to strongest.

  • Mets (3 vs. ATL, 3 vs. MIL)
  • Mariners (3 vs. ATL, 2 vs. SD, 1 vs. CWS)
  • Cardinals (3 vs. LAD, 3 vs. SD, 4 vs. MIL)
  • White Sox (1 vs. SEA, 3 vs. SD, 4 vs. CLE, 6 vs. MIN)
  • Guardians (3 vs. TB, 8 vs. MIN, 6 vs. CWS)
  • Twins (3 vs. NYY, 8 vs. CLE, 6 vs. CWS)
  • Astros (6 vs. TB, 3 vs. PHI, 4 vs. BAL)
  • Braves (3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. SEA, 7 vs. PHI)
  • Phillies (3 vs. HOU, 7 vs. ATL, 2 vs. TOR)
  • Brewers (3 vs. NYM, 3 vs. NYY, 4 vs. STL)
  • Dodgers (3 vs. STL, 6 vs. SD)
  • Yankees (15th-hardest/easiest schedule in the sport) (3 each vs. TB, TOR, BAL, MIL, MIN)
  • Orioles (4 vs. HOU, 3 vs. NYY, 7 vs. TOR)
  • Blue Jays (3 vs. NYY, 9 vs. TB, 2 vs. PHI, 7 vs. BAL)
  • Padres (6 vs. LAD, 3 vs. STL, 2 vs. SEA, 3 vs. CWS)
  • Rays (6 vs. HOU, 3 vs. NYY, 9 vs. TOR, 3 vs. CLE)

What is a MLB magic number?

Each MLB team has a “magic number” for the playoffs. It is the number of games needed until a team clinches a playoff spot or their division. For each win the team has, one number is knocked off. For each loss that their opponent in the Wild Card and/or division has, one number is also knocked off.

For example, if the Yankees and Rays face each other and the Yankees (who are in first place while the Rays are in second place) win over the Rays, two numbers are knocked off the magic number.

In American League, here are the magic numbers for each team involved in the playoffs.

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