Now that Detroit has gotten around to actually sealing up the division (and the playoff berth that comes along with that), we can discuss actual Division Series scenarios without feeling like we’re going to jinx the whole thing (not that we believe in that sort of thing, however).
Here’s what we know: the Tigers will be the third seed in the American League and will begin the ALDS with two games at home – Saturday and Sunday. The list of possible first round opponents still includes: the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, and Oakland Athletics. The Tigers will play either the AL East winner or AL West winner – whichever ends up with the worse record.
The Rangers and Yankees currently each lead their division with 93 wins apiece. The Orioles and Athletics both trail by a single game. The Rangers and A’s are playing a head-to-head series, so the current standings will prevent that race from ending in a tie; the Orioles and Yankees could still very well tie, which would mean a Game 163 tiebreaker to determine who’s the division winner and who’s the Wild Card participant.
Here are the tie-break scenarios that would determine seeding should the division winners end up with identical records. Since the division winners will both automatically qualify for the ALDS, no extra game will be played to break the tie.
New York and Texas: the current division leaders seven times this year, with the Yankees holding a 4-3 advantage. If they end up as the division winners, then New York will be declared the number one seed, and Texas will travel to Detroit to begin the ALDS.
New York and Oakland: Should the Athletics pass the Rangers in the West and end the season in a tie with the Yankees, the Athletics would be declared the number one seed. They played the season series to a 5-5 split, but Oakland finished the year with a better record versus their division (the second tie breaker). Under this scenario Detroit would play New York in the ALDS for the second straight year.
Baltimore and Texas: Baltimore has to win out to make this a possibility (and have the Yankees lose a game or two), but even if they were to do that, they wouldn’t hold the advantage over Texas. Baltimore dropped the season series 5-2, so they would head to Detroit while Texas would face the Wild Card winner.
Baltimore and Oakland: They’re both trailing in their respective divisions, but it still remains possible that they could end up tied atop the American League. Should this happen, Oakland would be declared the top seed due to their 5-4 head-to-head mark, so Baltimore would end up as Detroit’s opponent.
Of course, the tiebreakers may not be necessary. Any of these four teams still have the chance to win the American League outright, so any could be named either the number one or number two seed in the American League (with the Tigers facing the two seed).