With the All-Star Game and its many festivities in the rearview mirror (Jaone Soto!), MLB can now focus on the stretch run — and all the playoff races that come with it. So with some help from our forecasting model, let’s explore the burning questions that will be answered heading into October baseball.

Who will win in the toss-up divisions?

According to our forecast model, three divisions — American League East (led by the New York Yankees), AL West (Houston Astros) and National League West (Los Angeles Dodgers) — are already locked in, each with leaders. 95 percent probability or better of winning. But the other three are very close to being a toss-up.

Who has the edge in MLB’s closest divisional races?

Key statistics, strength of schedule, and division title probabilities for teams with a 1 percent or better chance in groups with less than a 95 percent probability of the leader

team Vikram Run diff /g WAR/162 Hello the past the future division %
White socks 46-46 -0.15 27.5 1527 5 30 46%
twins 50-44 +0.30 39.1 1515 30 13 36
Protector 46-44 +0.06 33.3 1497 18 19 18
team Vikram Run diff /g WAR/162 Hello the past the future division %
Brewers 50-43 +0.27 38.8 1530 24 25 55%
Cardinals 50-44 +0.69 46.3 1515 20 29 44
team Vikram Run diff /g WAR/162 Hello the past the future division %
Mets 58-35 +0.89 47.5 1549 10 21 59%
brave 56-38 +0.77 49.3 1559 28 11 36
Phillies 49-43 +0.67 42.9 1537 3 27 5

Strength of schedule is based on the average elo of past or future opponents, adjusted for starting pitcher quality.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs

In the group’s closest race, no AL Central team has even a 50 percent chance of winning the division. (The Chicago White Sox lead with a 46 percent chance.) Minnesota has been in first place for most of the season, but both of its chasers have gained ground in recent weeks as the Twins are just 3-7 in their last 10 games. All-Star Break. There are plenty of ways to handicap this battle for the rest of the season, but a lot depends on whether you favor a team with great 2022 stats but a tougher future schedule (Minnesota); Injury-plagued preseason favorite with weak stats but easiest remaining schedule in baseball (Chicago); Or funny, young upstarts (Cleveland) are sitting in. Although our model has a slim edge over White Sox, the uncertainty in this segment is high.

Elsewhere, the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are once again locked in a tight race for the NL Central crown. Milwaukee currently holds a half-game lead over the Redbirds, and our model slightly favors the Brewers because they have a higher Elo rating — a residual, at least in part, of their status as preseason favorites. However, several other factors tilt in the Cardinals’ favor, including more wins per game than replacements, more runs And Allowed less per game, and an easier remaining schedule. The Brewers’ winning formula is dangerous if their pitching staff can get healthy and return to its former levels of dominance — Corbin Burns anyway (he’s a beast) — but the Cards also bring some serious star power.

Finally, the New York Mets have a 59 percent chance of winning the NL East, compared to 36 percent for the four-time defending champion Atlanta Braves and 5 percent for the Philadelphia Phillies. For observers waiting for the customary Mets implosion, it hasn’t happened yet, with New York holding its own over the past month (17-13 in its past 30 games). Based on run differential or WAR, it’s hard to say for sure whether the Mets or Braves have been better so far this season. Meanwhile, another complicating factor is coming soon: New York and (especially) Philadelphia will make their schedules easier, while Atlanta’s schedule will be more difficult.

Will the Mariners finally make the postseason? Will the White Sox, Red Sox and Giants miss out?

Of course, division races don’t matter when we look ahead to the postseason. With MLB expanding the playoff field from 10 to 12 teams for the 2022 season, they’re less important than ever. That gives wild-card teams a chance to sneak in the back door — and there are plenty of sleeper candidates right now.

Surveying the wild-card field

2022 MLB wild-card status for teams with at least a 1 percent probability of making the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight’s forecasting model

team Vikram behind the game Make a wild card make the playoffs
rays 51-41 +1.5 68% 69%
sailor 51-42 +1.0 66 70
Blue Jays 50-43 68 69
Red Sox 48-45 2.0 43 43
Protector 46-44 2.5 11 29
White socks 46-46 3.5 15 61
Orioles 46-46 3.5 5 5
Rangers 41-49 7.5 2 2
angel 39-53 10.5 2 2
team Vikram Behind Gms Make a wild card make the playoffs
brave 56-38 +6.0 59% 95%
Padres 52-42 +2.0 68 70
Phillies* 49-43 61 66
cardinal* 50-44 16 61
veteran 48-43 0.5 38 38
Marlins 43-48 5.5 3 3

*The Cardinals and Phillies are tied for the NL’s third wild-card spot.

Source: ESPN

In the AL, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the talented Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays sitting among the wild card favorites, even if Toronto gave Fire manager Charlie Montoyo an inconsistent first half last week. But one playoff hopeful counts as a surprise: the streaking Seattle Mariners, who emerged from the All-Star break as MLB’s hottest team with a 14-game winning streak. Seattle was in the mix to make the playoffs last season and end the franchise’s two-decade postseason drought, but it turned out to be mostly a magic trick of close wins and comebacks. Many signs point to a regression in 2022 — but instead, the team posted a winning percentage on par with last season and has the fundamental stats to back it up this time around. Because of that — and an easier-looking schedule in the second half — our model thinks Seattle has a good chance to fend off wild-card opponents and secure its first playoff berth since 2001.

In the NL, the Braves are good bets to earn a wild-card bid, even if their chase against the Mets falls short. Likewise, the San Diego Padres are in a strong position for the wild card despite having little chance of catching the Dodgers for the division crown. And the Phillies’ recent strong spell of play (18 wins in their past 30 games) has given them a slight edge in playoff chances over the Cardinals, as the two teams sit tied coming out of the break. These two teams serve as an interesting exercise in contrasting playoff paths: while Philadelphia has a slim chance of winning the NL East, St. Louis’ entry into the postseason will likely come via the NL Central title and not the wild card. Conditional on not winning their division, the Cardinals have just a 29 percent chance of earning a wild-card berth.

One final way is that the Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants — the three best teams in 2021 — are currently out of wild-card positioning, each with less than a 50 percent chance of making the postseason. By not winning their division. All three clubs have a wealth of talent, but due to a combination of injuries and underperformance, have not quite lived up to expectations in 2022. While there’s still time for that to change before the season ends — especially in a very winnable division for Chicago — there’s a strong chance at least one of those three teams will miss the playoffs, if not more.

Check out our latest MLB Predictions.