With the obvious caveat that it is only August 8 and all sorts of lunatic business can go down in the baseball season's final 52 days, it is looking increasingly clear what the playoff matchups in the American League are going to be.

Whoever wins the American League West, whether it is the A's or the Angels, is likely to have the best record in the league, earning home-field advantage and an opening-round game against the wild card game winner. (There's a chance Baltimore, five games behind Oakland right now, could catch them, but it's very unlikely.) That means one ALDS matchup is almost certainly going to be the AL East winner vs. the AL Central winner, or, if you trust Baseball Prospectus' Playoff Odds Report, Baltimore (73.8 percent chance of winning the division) vs. Detroit (78.2 percent). Which leaves the A's or Angels in position to face the winner of the one-game wild card playoff, featuring the second wild card likely marching into Oakland or Anaheim. Which is exciting just to think about.

Because when you look at the four most likely teams to earn that second wild card spot, every single one of them is a crazy story. Every single one of them is unlikely, or a breakthrough for a long-suffering franchise, or both. Seeing Detroit, or Anaheim, or Oakland in the playoffs isn't a surprise. Seeing any of those four teams currently battling for the second wild card is surreal. We can argue whether or not the second wild-card actually counts as making the playoffs -- for a few of these teams, it would be thoroughly depressing if their playoff droughts ended with a quiet 6-1 loss while the Rally Monkey screeches -- but good luck telling their fans that. Barring a sudden explosion from Cleveland or Tampa Bay -- and baseball writer Joe Sheehan has convincingly argued that the Rays are still in this -- one of these four teams is going to be the second wild-card, and it's going to be amazing.

Kansas City Royals

Current status: Second wild card, 2 ½ games behind Detroit in AL Central

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 34.3 percent

Before we get too carried away, it's worth noting that the Royals aren't out of the Central race yet. (The AL Central is the second-closest division race in baseball, behind the super-tight NL Central.) They're only 2 ½ back, and they still have six games against the Tigers left. They also have one of the easiest schedules in baseball down the stretch: After a tough seven-game homestand against San Francisco and Oakland, they've got 22 games left against the Rockies, Rangers, Twins and White Sox. (Along with four against fellow wild card rival New York.)

What the Royals have going for them is their pitching -- particularly their dominant bullpen and the emergence of the long-awaited Danny Duffy as a potential second ace -- and the fact that they're red-hot right now. They've won four in a row and seven of eight, and if you're near Kansas City right now (and why wouldn't you be?), you need to get to Kauffman this weekend for what should be as roaring a crowd as they've had in years.

The last time the Royals played in a postseason game was October 1985; currently, 26 of the 40 players on the Royals' 40-man roster were not born the last time the Royals made the playoffs. Every single MLB team has made the playoffs since the Royals have made the playoffs. If the Royals make the playoffs -- even if it's just one afternoon in Anaheim -- it will feel like the earth's tectonic plates have shifted. It's surreal to even imagine it. And they're as close as they've been in two decades.

Seattle Mariners

Current status: ½ game behind Kansas City for second wild card, 10 games behind Oakland in AL West

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 26.3 percent

The Mariners are the only team, save the Nationals (who have been around for a decade), that has never made the World Series. There's something sad about that: Even with some historically dominant teams, they've never quite had the baseball world's full attention. There's a bleak nobility to that.

This franchise is an awkward duck, a team with an embattled general manager trying to hang onto his job and a basic baseball moral quandary at its center: Should it go all in for this slender playoff run, or continue to build for a future its GM might not be around for? Like the Royals, the Mariners can't hit -- Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager are the only real bats -- but its pitching is so remarkable that it almost doesn't matter. As FanGraphs pointed out on Thursday, "for 59 games, basically, the Mariners have been preventing runs as if every game was nine innings of Clayton Kershaw." That's scary to face in October no matter how they get in.

Seattle fans have been in a defensive crouch for a few years, reasonably so, but this is still a great baseball town when everything's rolling right. And say what you will about how far back the Mariners are in the AL West, but one of the main reasons for Oakland and Anaheim to claw each other's eyes out to win that division is making sure they avoid Felix Hernandez in that wild-card game, assuming Seattle gets lucky enough to align their rotation that way in a race that will come down to the final day. That might be the most exciting wild-card-game scenario on the board: Felix Hernandez, at last getting the platform he has so long deserved.

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39-year-old Hiroki Kuroda is the only survivor from the Yankees' Opening Day rotation. (Getty Images)

New York Yankees

Current status: ½ game behind Kansas City for second wild card, 5 games behind Baltimore in AL East

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 25.3 percent

Obviously, there's nothing "breakthrough" about the Yankees making the playoffs -- last season was the second year they'd missed the postseason since 1993 -- but it sure would feel that way with this team. It's really sort of ludicrous that this Yankees team has a chance at the wild card.

Look at it. The lineup has had only one consistent hitter all season (Brett Gardner, who, sort of ridiculously, is clearly the Yankees' best player) and currently has no one under the age of 30 (with two guys over 40). The rotation has been decimated by injuries, with the five best arms on the staff all on the DL. The defense has to deal with the (understandable, but still self-inflicted) handicap of playing arguably the team's fifth-best defensive shortstop at shortstop every game. And here they are, right in it, even taking three-out-of-four from the Tigers, a team stacking talent and spending like the Yankees are supposed to be doing.

Also, is it just me, or is this current Yankees incarnation strangely likable? Gardner is exactly the sort of player the Yankees have traded away in the past, new rotation stable Brandon McCarthy is as accessible a player as MLB has had in years, and even Jeter haters are coming out in droves to say goodbye to him. Joe Girardi has taken an undermanned, bombarded roster and kept it afloat; it is possible he is a wizard, or at least some sort of ancient alchemist. If this Yankees team wins the wild-card, they will somehow be the scrappy underdog who clawed their way in with less talent than everybody else. Now that's surreal.

Toronto Blue Jays

Current status: ½ game behind Kansas City for second wild card, 5 games behind Baltimore in AL East

Baseball Prospectus playoff odds: 28.7 percent

Last year was supposed to be the year the Blue Jays finally made their move, but when it imploded on them, it was easy to forget they still had a ton of talent. They've reminded everyone, sort of, this season, and before a recent rough patch, they looked to have the inside track in this wild card race.

This is the one wild card team that can hit, particularly with the presence of Jose Bautista and with Edwin Encarnacion coming back next week, and in a league that sort of can't hit at all anymore, it's always nice to have a team that's pretending it's still 2000. And like the Royals, the Blue Jays haven't made the playoffs since they last won the World Series, back in 1993. With the Red Sox likely to bounce back after a down year and the Yankees surely set to reload again, this might be the last window for the Jays.

No matter what happens, the second wild card team is going to be one whose fans will be flabbergasted and elated to have them there. None of these teams would sniff the playoffs otherwise, and now there is not only hope, there is jubilation. There are plenty of arguments to be made against the wild card game, but I can't help but think that's the best, and perhaps definitive, argument for it. I'd love to see any of these teams in the playoffs. Now we get to.