Could 2016 have been the start of a less exciting brand of MLB, with haves and have-nots so clearly established by the All-Star break that the second half of the season is more or less meaningless for determining postseason participants? During the first four seasons of the current 10-team playoff format (2012-2015), 11 teams that would have been out of the playoffs at the All-Star break secured a postseason berth by the end of the regular season, with the yearly results being evenly distributed.
In 2016, that all changed. Every team that was in playoff position at last year's All-Star break made the postseason. Sure, there was some shuffling of seeds as the Orioles and Giants dropped from division leaders to wild cards, but the "Hunt for October" drama all but disappeared from the second half of the season.
On the surface, there might not be much drama this year, either. At least half the division races are over, five of the divisions have the preseason favorite in front, and for someone to crash the National League wild-card party right now, they would need to make up at least a 7.5-game deficit. Only the American League wild-card race has obvious drama.
Still, we're in the business of looking ahead and digging beneath the surface of win-loss records for clues, so I'm going to take a crack at projecting which of today's division and wild-card leaders won't retain their playoff standing when the season ends. Chicago Cubs fans may want to avert their eyes.
Here's a projection of the National League's potential playoff participants, in order of their current win percentage: