The MLB regular season is almost over, with less than three weeks left in the season, and there are still some playoff races (especially in the National League) that could come down to the wire.
Even though the bulk of teams around the league are out of contention, they still have something to play for: spoiler. Some groups are embracing that whole vibe better than others, and are proving they could be a force to be reckoned with next year as well.
4. Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels didn't hang around in the AL West as long as we thought they would when the season started, but they've won eight of their last 12 games, including two against the Houston Astros. The biggest reason is the fact that a "healthy" Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout have been monsters at the plate. Ohtani needing Tommy John surgery is concerning, but if he's able to hit when he recovers, this guy could be an MVP candidate next year with his bat alone.
3. New York Mets
The New York Mets have been a laughing stock for much of this season, in part because they can't score runs and help Jacob deGrom win games while possessing an historic 1.71 ERA.
However, they've won three consecutive series, including against playoff hopefuls in the Phillies and Dodgers, and they are simply more competitive. If you are the Braves and Phillies, specifically, you don't want any part of deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler. Health is a big reason this team never capitalized on that 11-1 start to the season, but if this rotation remains intact, they could quickly turns things around in 2019.
Also, Amed Rosario's last month has been...for real. He's hit over .330. Don't say we didn't warn you.
2. Cincinnati Reds
The NL Central race might come down to which team can muster up enough to beat the Cincinnati Reds (perhaps one of the NL Wild Cards, too). Just ask the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 1-6 against the Reds this year, stealing a win in only their most recent contest.
They can mash with the best of them, with Joey Votto, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez leading the way. Their young pitching is hit or miss, but they have a solid bullpen with Raisel Iglesias. There's plenty to be optimistic about under Jim Riggleman.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have to wish they were in the National League this year. At 80-65 following Wednesday's action, the Rays would be tied for first in the NL West and just 1.5 games back in the NL East. They have quietly been a really good team this year after a brutal start, and you can thank the "opener" for this success. They find ways to score runs and their entire pitching staff has embraced this philosophy. What batter would want to face four different pitchers in the same game? Not me.
Plus, Blake Snell's your freaking Cy Young. End of discussion.