As we mentioned in our discussion of 2012 World Series Tickets, the playoff race currently includes two-thirds of Major League Baseball teams. It’s rare to have so many teams with realistic playoff dreams this late in the season, but the new MLB Wild Card playoff rules have created an extra spot in the post season and a hot pursuit of the chance to host a 2012 Divisional Series game.

National League Pennant Chase

The long-laughable Washington Nationals have seen their dynamic pitching staff and opportunistic offense lead them to the head of the pack in the NL East a year earlier than many expected. Rising star Bryce Harper has made a  strong impact on the nation’s capital since arriving in the big leagues. Their recent stand against the Atlanta Braves is a testament to their 2012 MLB postseason aspirations, and it makes the impending shutdown of Stephen Strasburg‘s season to protect his surgically repaired elbow an exciting topic of debate.

Another long-suffering team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, have been led by MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen and an overachieving pitching staff to a neck-and-neck race with the Cincinnati Reds. While the Reds currently lead by a half game, the teams face each other nine more times – including the final three days of the regular season – and Pirates’ fans expectations have jumped from merely a winning record to qualifying for the 2012 MLB postseason, ending a 20-year drought. These two teams cannot forget that the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals are looming five games back.

The San Francisco Giants recently overtook their hated rivals, the LA Dodgers, to lead the NL West. The Dodgers also sit on the outside of the 2012 MLB Wild Card race, a half game back of the Pirates and Braves. The Cardinals, Mets and Diamondbacks are all within five games of the last playoff spots, so every night in the next few weeks will feature a matchup of teams trying to make a move in the 2012 MLB Playoffs. The competition in the National League Division and Wild Card races is as hot as ever.

photo via et6nation.comAmerican League Playoff Race

Two of the three division leaders have a comfortable six-game lead at this point in the year, with annual powers Texas and the New York Yankees marching toward the 2012 playoff games many expected of them at the beginning of the season.

The AL Central, however, is more tightly contested, with the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox and surprising Cleveland Indians trading the lead throughout the season. Detroit’s weekend sweep of Chicago featured both dominant pitching performances and powerful offensive swagger, vaulting the Tigers ahead of the White Sox.

The AL Wild Card race currently has eight teams within four games of the two spots; the LA Angels of Anaheim, surging Oakland Athletics and the now-slipping Baltimore Orioles are locked in a three-way tie at the top for the two spots. The Angels are in the middle of a surge fueled by superstar Albert Pujols, phenom Mike Trout and All Star Mark Trumbo and are focused on closing the gap in the West with the Rangers. Even though some of these teams are likely to fade out of the picture, the current level of competition has fans in many cities excited and hopeful for the chance to buy 2012 MLB Playoff tickets.

2012 Major League Baseball Playoff Ticket Prices

It will be another month or so before teams can feel more confident about their places in the 2012 MLB Playoff race, but it’s never too early to start keeping an eye on the playoff ticket prices in your hometown. Teams securing a Division title are guaranteed a place in the best-of-five Divisional Series and at least one home playoff game.

Keep your eye on SeatGeek for down-to-the wire analysis of 2012 MLB Playoff Ticket prices and one-stop shopping for premier seats and the best values from the most popular ticket listings. Stick with SeatGeek ticket search and you won’t strike out in the playoffs. If you have any questions about Major League Baseball 2012 Playoff tickets, feel free to contact us on Twitter @SeatGeek.