This time next week, we'll be headlong into the 2018 postseason, a free-for-all that as of today only 11 teams still have a chance to take part in. Either the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers or Rockies will join the other 19 in getting a head start on their hot stove plans.
It was not that long ago that the field of postseason hopefuls was considerably larger. Based on simulations, there were 20 teams that at some point after the All-Star break harbored at least a 1-in-10 chance at playing on into October. That means, if we subtract those 11 squads still playing for something, there are nine hopefuls who have fallen short. They are:
Obviously some of those near misses are nearer than others, but this is still an interesting class of teams. The narrative is just a little bit different for all of them. Whether it's an impatient fan base (Pittsburgh, Seattle), a closing window (Arizona, Los Angeles), free-agent uncertainty (Washington), the specter of a possible rebuild (San Francisco) or a sense that the best is yet to come (Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Philadelphia), these teams typify what it means to be in baseball's middle class. That is, the next move is crucial.
Let's consider some key decisions that lie ahead for 2018's class of also-rans.