Which contenders have the toughest path to the playoffs? 10 ways the MLB schedule could rock the races

The seven worst teams in baseball went 1-6 on Sunday and were outscored by a combined 17 runs. This was no surprise. Since Aug. 1, when all the players dealt at the trade deadline had joined their new teams, the Magnificently Bad Seven -- the Arizona Diamondbacks, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs, Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals -- have gone 20-76 with a minus-262 run differential.

The gap between those teams and the 16 that still harbor genuine playoff hopes is somewhere between cavernous and interplanetary. And it may mean the difference between a team making the postseason and spending October lamenting its misfortune. While teams aren't crowned or defrocked on a schedule alone, its impact on the pennant race will be palpable -- and in some cases, very apparent as the season enters its final quarter.

The most fortunate team will play more than half its remaining games against the 7½ teams that constitute the dregs of Major League Baseball. (Yes, that is correct: 7½ -- the additional half being the Colorado Rockies when they're on the road, where they're 14-45, which, extrapolated over a full season, works out to 38-124 over a full year.) The unfortunate will spend the final month of the season without a single such game.

Here are 10 observations about the remaining calendar and the sort of effect it could have in a world of only 10 playoff spots for 16 contenders.