Entering play on Monday, five AL teams are at least 20 games under .500, with the Tigers leading the way at 43 games under the treading-water mark (yikes!). All told, those five teams — Detroit, Baltimore, Kansas City, Toronto and Seattle — are a combined 155 games under .500 on the season (yikes, again!). It’s ugly, no doubt. But for teams aiming for October games and October seeding, it’s an opportunity. Somebody’s got to collect all those wins being offered up by teams (well, front offices) not trying as hard as possible to win games in the 2019 season, right? 30-16 (.652) — 2019 Red Sox vs. five worst AL teams38-11 (.776) — 2018 Red Sox vs. eight MLB teams with 95-plus losses29-39 (.427) — 2019 Red Sox vs. everyone else70-43 (.619) — 2018 Red Sox vs. everyone elseI’m not sure this says anything ground-breaking. The numbers show the 2019 Red Sox are worse against the bad teams and worse against the good teams. But you already knew that. So which contenders are doing the best job of that? Let’s take a look.MORE: Here’s how to watch “ChangeUp,” an MLB whiparound show, for free on DAZNFor this little exercise, we’re only looking at the six AL teams with a realistic shot at the playoffs at the moment: New York, Houston, Minnesota, Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Oakland. And sorry, but at 14.5 games back in the AL East and 6.5 back of the second AL wild-card, the Red Sox (and their eight-game skid) don’t have a realistic shot. It’s not impossible, of course, but I don’t think anyone would call it realistic, as in likely. More on them in a moment. Let’s start by looking at how those six playoff-caliber teams have done against the five teams in the 20-or-more-under club. 1. Astros, 21-4 (.840)2-1 vs. BAL, 3-0 vs. DET, 2-1 vs. KC, 12-1 vs. SEA, 2-1 vs. TOR2. Indians, 37-12 (.755)4-3 vs. BAL, 12-1 vs. DET, 10-6 vs. KC, 5-1 vs. SEA, 6-1 vs. TOR3. Twins, 30-11 (.750)6-0 vs. BAL, 6-3 vs. DET, 9-3 vs. KC, 5-2 vs. SEA, 4-3 vs. TOR4. Yankees, 25-10 (.714)10-2 vs. BAL, 1-2 vs. DET, 5-2 vs. KC, 3-1 vs. SEA, 6-3 vs. TOR5. Rays, 21-10 (.677)8-4 vs. BAL, 2-1 vs. DET, 4-3 vs. KC, 7-2 vs. TOR (haven’t played Seattle)6. A’s, 17-14 (.548)6-1 vs. BAL, 3-0 vs. DET, 8-7 vs. SEA, 0-6 vs. TOR (haven’t played Kansas City)The first thing that jumps out is Houston, right? I mean, wow. The Astros have had the fewest opportunities against the bottom five, but they’ve taken care of business in a big way — 21 wins in 25 opportunities — and, folks, that’s how you win divisions and secure home-field advantage in October. You know how you always hear the saying, “It might not feel as important, but a win in April counts the same in the standings as one in September?” Well, friends, a win against the Tigers counts the same in the standings as one against the Yankees. To borrow one of my favorite baseball sayings, they’re all line drives in the box score.MORE: Astros, Yankees swap spots in latest SN MLB Power RankingsThen, it’s hard to ignore the direct AL West contrast between the Astros’ success and the A’s struggle against those bottom-dwellers. Oakland’s only 17-14 against those teams, including 0-6 against a Toronto team that will haunt them if they miss October (the A’s were outscored 36-13 in those six losses). Let’s take a way-too-obvious look at how those games have impacted the division standings. Here’s the AL West at the moment … 1. Astros, 73-40 (.646) —2. A’s, 64-48 (.571), 8.5 backAnd here are the records for those two teams when you take out the games against the 20-and-under bunch. 1. Astros, 52-36 (.590) —2. A’s, 47-34 (.580), 1.5 backThat’s quite a different story, isn’t it? And, though I know A’s fans aren’t going to like this, the difference is even more stark in the AL wild-card chase. Here’s how it stands right now …1. Indians, 66-45 (.595) — first WC2. Rays, 65-48 (.575) — second WC (two games back of first WC)3. A’s, 64-48 (.571) — 0.5 game back of second WC, 2.5 back of first WCBut if you take away the gotta-win games against the five aforementioned teams? 1. A’s, 47-34 (.580) — first WC2. Rays, 44-38 (.537) — second WC (3.5 back of first WC)3. Indians, 29-33 (.468) — 5 games back of second, 8.5 back of first WCIf the A’s had, to this point, performed in a fashion similar to the other AL playoff contenders — the other five have an average .740 winning percentage against the bottom five teams, the A’s are at .548 — Oakland would not only be closer to the A’s in the AL West, but the Bay Area would have at least one team solidly in a wild-card spot at the moment. Oh, and by this point it’s clear that Cleveland’s playoff hopes are built almost exclusively on the beating those also-rans, right? The club is 25 games over .500 against those five and four games under .500 against everyone else. The Indians have played 49 games against that group, easily the most of any of the contenders (Minnesota is second, at 41), and that .755 winning percentage is second to the Astros.Cleveland was 29-29 entering June, and Terry Francona’s squad has the best record in baseball since then, at 38-16. Of the 54 games in that span, though, only 12 of them have come against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today (they’re 6-6 vs. the Twins, Yankees and Astros). What does that mean? Don’t try and make it more than this: Cleveland is winning the games it should win, and that’s a very good way to reach October. Probably should have thrown this up there earlier, but here’s a look at the current overall records for the top six teams in the AL …1. Yankees, 72-39 (.649), —2. Astros, 73-40 (.646), —3. Twins, 69-42 (.622), 3 back4. Indians, 66-45 (.595), 6 back5. Rays, 65-48 (.575), 8 back, 6. A’s, 64-48 (.571), 8.5 backAnd here are the records for those six teams against everyone EXCEPT the bottom five. 1. Yankees, 47-29 (.618)2. Astros, 52-36 (.590), 1 back3. A’s, 47-34 (.580), 2.5 back4. Twins, 39-31 (.557), 5 back5. Rays, 44-38 (.537), 6 back6. Indians, 29-33 (.468), 11 backFinally, let’s look at the Red Sox, the 2018 World Series champs who brought back pretty much everyone of significance but now are very much in danger of missing the postseason. Boston’s had plenty of opportunities against the bottom five (46 games), and the results have been OK, at best (30-16).Instead of comparing the Red Sox to the other 2019 contenders, let’s compare this year’s team to last year’s team. Last year, we did a similar exercise — using the eight teams in MLB that lost at least 95 games — and though it’s not a direct correlation, it’s still a look at how Boston fared against the teams that struggled to win games.