The leaves are falling, Halloween is around the corner, and the MLB playoffs are officially upon us. After 162 games, eight teams have separated themselves from the pack and emerged as World Series contenders. Two divisions and both wild cards needed that 162nd game to decide the winner, but our matchups are now set for October baseball.
The MLB postseason is truly one of the best, because unlike football and basketball where the best team usually wins, time and time again we see instances of a wild card or underdog team making a run to the World Series (’08 Rays, ’07 Rockies, ’03 Marlins). There is not a more exciting moment in baseball than the bottom of the 9th inning of an elimination game, where the true character of a team is tested.
- Outdoor October baseball in Minnesota.
- The core 4 Yanks (Rivera, Jeter, Pettite & Posada) going for rings on a second hand.
- The Phillies attempting to make the World Series for the 3rd consecutive year.
- Bobby Cox’s final post-season.
So many great story lines and so much baseball left to play. And with that, I give all you SAB followers a taste of what’s to come this October:
Here are my rankings of the Postseason 8:
- Philadelphia Phillies – Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt aka H2O (the first release of this new nickname) – A match-up problem for anyone they face. The Phillies have both experience and depth, and have a great chance to repeat as champions of the National League.
- Tampa Bay Rays – You know the pitching will be there, but this team will go as far as their bats take them. The Rays have played consistently throughout the season despite the lack of support from the hometown fans. Look for Carl Crawford, BJ Upton and Evan Longoria to step up this October.
- New York Yankees – Struggling as of late, but October in the Bronx is a magical place. The veterans must continue to lead and use their experience as they face an unfamiliar situation as the American League Wild Card team. Jeter batted a career low .270 this season, but it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We all know what the captain is capable of in October.
- San Francisco Giants – This team has the 2nd best pitching staff in the playoffs, and has been playing great in the last month of the season. Jonathan Sanchez may be the key for this team, as he has delivered time and time again for the Giants in big games. I’m curious to see how rookie Buster Posey reacts to his first postseason.
- Minnesota Twins – The Twins are a different team with Justin Morneau. Minnesota has had the central locked up for a while now, so it will be interesting to see how they come out in game 1 tonight; especially with the recent struggles of Francisco Liriano. New Target Field should be electric tonight.
- Cincinnati Reds – This could be the sleeper of all postseason teams. The Reds, after not making the playoffs in over a decade, have been leading their division for virtually the entire season. Not much playoff experience on this roster, but look for Scott Rolen to take the responsibility of clubhouse leader.
- Texas Rangers – With Josh Hamilton’s injury, Cliff Lee is the only thing keeping Rangers fans optimistic. Lee has the ability to win 2 games in a 5 game series, but how they get that other win over a great Rays team remains a big question mark.
- Atlanta Braves – With yet another playoff berth, Bobby Cox has cemented himself as one of baseball’s greatest managers. Nobody picked the young Braves prior to the season, but they proved doubters wrong. With Martin Prado and Chipper Jones out, though, there is just not enough power at the plate to find success.
Phillies over Reds in 4
Giants over Braves in 5
Rays over Rangers in 4
Yankees over Twins in 4
Giants over Phillies in 7
Yankees over Rays in 6
Giants over Yankees in 7