The 2013 season will end Sunday for two-thirds of big league teams, and a majority of those have been out of the playoff race for quite some time. For rebuilding clubs or teams with seasons that didn't go as they had planned, the past few months have been about playing for pride.
Managers will motivate their players to continue working hard by talking about ending the season on a high note. That way, when everyone reports to spring training the next year, they feel good about how they finished strong the season before.
This year, there are three teams that are going to miss the playoffs but are certainly ending on a high note: the Los Angeles Angels, Kansas City Royals, and Washington Nationals. Each came into the season with postseason aspirations but has fallen short of the mark because of a poor first-half performance. Since the trade deadline, though, all three have taken off (see table to the right).
If these teams had played all season like they have the past two months, the Nationals would have won the NL East and the Royals and Angels would be in serious wild-card contention. For the final 60 games of the season, these teams have played as if they belong in the postseason. But will it help them in 2014? Probably not.