Why May 1 is MLB's new postseason marker date

May 1, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA;  Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan (38) celebrates with
May 1, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Cleveland Guardians left fielder Steven Kwan (38) celebrates with / Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I have tentatively great news for fans of the Guardians, Cubs, Brewers, Royals and Reds. As surprising as it is, your teams are in playoff position as of May 1, which means they’ll be playing meaningful ball in October. Probably.

The end of the first full month of play is gaining legitimacy as a marker for eventual postseason qualification. Over the last 10 full seasons, 66 of 104 teams that were in playoff position at the conclusion of play on May 1 – that’s nearly two-thirds -- actually made it to the finish line.

Last season, nine of the 12 teams in playoff position after games of May 1 – all but the Pirates, Mets and Angels – played serious ball in October.

Last year only the Blue Jays, Phillies and Marlins -- among eventual postseason teams -- were non-qualifiers as of May 1.

May 1 is turning out to be a lot stronger marker for postseason qualification than a long-accepted standard, the previous season’s postseason teams. Setting aside 2020, only half of the previous season’s postseason teams for the past 10 seasons returned to October the following season.

Set aside the game’s three perennials, the Astros, Dodgers and Braves, and only 33 of 82 of the previous season’s postseason lineup --- that’s just 40 percent -- returned to the playoffs one season later.  

Why May 1st is becoming an impressive predictor for MLB Playoffs

Obviously, success through May 1 falls short of being a guarantee. Although the Reds (16-15, .516) are currently in the National League’s final playoff position, their lead is only a half game over the Mets and Washington Nationals (both 15-15).

Beyond that, only the Marlins and Rockies are more than five games off the NL postseason pace.

On the American League side, the Tigers and Red Sox share a grip on the final postseason spot, both at 18-13 (.581). But only the White Sox, Astros and Angels are more than five games behind that final postseason spot, and few are those who think the Astros incapable of making up that margin over the season’s five months.

There's no saving grace to the Chicago Cubs' bullpen (calltothepen.com)