Playoffs Teams of the MLB Rankings (Ranking at Half) (Preseason Ranking)
1. St. Louis Cardinals (1) (3) – I don’t know how they keep doing it – they just win. Their best pitcher went down for the year after a handful of starts, but will somehow miraculously return to the team in a relief role for playoffs! As a Mets fan having Wainwright in the bullpen is scarier than seeing him as a starter. Their star veteran OF didn’t play for most of the year and when he did play he was subpar. They gave up winless wonder Shelby Miller for a RF that never broke out offensively, but his defense remained among the best in the game. They keep pulling these random OF prospects out of nowhere who produce! Piscotty was their #1 ranked prospect heading into the season, but who the heck are Pham and Gruchck? They’re doing just as well! Jon Lackey, really?!! He’s never been this good ever and now he’s their Game 1 starter. A winning season, sure, playoffs, a stretch, but to win 100 games in the toughest division amid a sea of crucial injuries! Black devil magic is the only explanation! They lost Yadier Molina and Carlos Martinez right before the playoffs, and every baseball fan outside of St. Louis should be rooting for the Cubs, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go deep into the playoffs, again. Somehow. I can’t think of a single candidate for MVP, Cy Young, or ROY on the MLB leading 100 win team…how is this even possible.
Final Record: 100-62
2. Kansas City Royals (2) (21) – I thought last year was the Royal’s miracle year that fell just short of its fairytale ending. I thought that this year they wouldn’t even make playoffs, I was dead wrong. I wasn’t alone, many people were down on the Royals coming into the year, causing the team to play with a chip on their shoulder. They got into a couple of brawls with the A’s and Blue Jays, and after that the hapless underdog persona disappeared. One of the most vocal players, Yordano Ventura, was demoted to AAA for pitching terribly and acting like a brat, but came back and finished the season strong. The fans almost overran the All-Star ballot with their players, and in the end, the AL won, giving the Royals home field advantage throughout the Postseason. Greg Holland, arguably the best arm in the best bullpen, is getting Tommy John surgery, but luckily the Royals still have Wade Davis. Cain, Hosmer, and Morales were fantastic this season and their defense didn’t miss a beat replacing Aoki with Rios. They were one game short last year and I don’t think any team is more motivated by one loss last year. I don’t see Bumgarner anywhere around, can the Royals do it all again a second time? Their Regular Season success makes it tough to doubt them.
Final Record: 95-67
3 . Pittsburgh Pirates (6) (5) – The NL Central is baseball’s strongest division, and unfortunately they were forced to play another one game elimination match to a superhuman level pitcher. While it’s horrible to lose two years in a row in a one game, it shouldn’t take away the merit of what this team accomplished this year. McCutchen stopped stealing bases, probably because he played through nagging injuries all year, but even after a dreadful first month he still put up elite numbers. The rest of the OF performed at a high level as well, Marte is starting to look like Cutch Jr. and Polanco is only pretty good. Having three CFs roam around doesn’t hurt their defense. I would like to think the Miami vs Pirates young OF debate can be put to rest after this year. Francisco Cervelli had a great year for the Pirates, which only strengthens the theory of former underperforming Yankee players coming to Pittsburgh and doing well. Watch Arod have MVP like numbers for the Pirates when he’s 45. Gerrit Cole pitched like his #1 overall pedigree and should continue to pitch like an ace next year, while Burnett went out on a high note with his first ever All-Star entry, which is crazy! He’s been in the league for so long. Liriano always had the talent to pitch like an ace with the right environment and coaching, but JA Happ too?! Ray Searage just knows how to fix a pitcher. It’s a shame Kang got injured before the wildcard game, but how in the world did this small market team snag him away from everyone else? The Pirates have improved their record for 4 years in a row, next year hopefully they can win the division or at least not get matched up with an unstoppable pitcher again.
Final Record: 98-64
4 . Chicago Cubs (13) (11) – It wasn’t just Back to the Future II hype, this team actually met expectations. They’re good and should be good for a while, and if they do win it all Theo Epstein will go down in history as the Curse Breaker. I’ve seen a few ESPN commercials and MLB advertisements with Kris Bryant as the face of the Cubs franchise, has everyone forgotten about Anthony Rizzo? Bryant has been amazing and 100% deserves the NL ROY in one of the best crop of rookies ever, but Rizzo has been better than him in every single offensive category and has been with the team longer. Bryant has a 1 WAR advantage over Rizzo according to fangraphs though… which honestly surprised me. I thought Rizzo was a pretty good fielder, but watching Bryant vacuum line drives in the Wildcard game last night…damn he must be one hell of a fielder. Leaving the AL East and the Orioles pitching coaches did wonders for Arrieta, maybe that’s why I always hear about Oriole pitching prospects and never really see any good pitchers. Trading for Dexter Fowler seems to have worked out and Kyle Schwarber looks like another young offensive juggernaut. Wow, 97 wins and all of their star hitters are young, just unfair. Joe Maddon took this young Cubs team and has turned them into a contender, and 2015 is looking to be the start of this budding Cubs dynasty.
Final Record: 97-65
5. Toronto Blue Jays (11) (9) – It just feels like their year. They’ve been talented enough for the past couple years to make it to playoffs, but it wasn’t until David Price and Troy Tulowitzki came at the trade deadline that this team really started to play like one of the best teams. I’m still in awe at how little Josh Donaldson, the probable AL MVP, cost this team to acquire. Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista are amazing as ever, and the four hitters combine to form a murderers row in the middle of the lineup. Once you get past those 4 though, it’s smooth sailing onto 5 other pretty solid hitters as well…yeah this team can hit. The young rookie Pillar was a defensive wizard in CF and one of the few rookies to start with the team throughout the season. Their offense is already unfair, imagine if Devon Travis was healthy… Marcus Stroman was supposed to be out for the year, but willed himself back Adrian Peterson style. Seriously, if Stroman wasn’t able to recover then I’d imagine this team feeling incomplete, but that’s not the case. RA Dickey is and will always be one of my favorite players, he’s been a steady rock for this team.Mark Buehrle retires and leaves behind a legacy of consistency and reliability, it’s a little unfortunate that his last outing was such a disaster, but no one will remember him for that; still, 1.1 innings away from 200 IP for 15 consecutive years would have been a nice send off, a ring would be an even nicer one though. I loved Russell Martin going into the season and he’s been one of the best offensive catchers in the league. I think going into the season making the playoffs was a dream, then catching up to the Yankees or getting a widcard spot would have been a success, but now it feels like if they don’t win it all this season it would be a letdown.
Final Record: 93- 69
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (4) (2) – It’s pretty rare for a team to have two pitchers that could arguably win the NL Cy Young, but that’s exactly what the Dodgers have. It’s reminiscent of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on the Dbacks back in 2001, and we all know how that ended. Kershaw’s and Grienke’s numbers are almost too good that I still haven’t fully comprehended how tough of a matchup both of them will be for the Mets in the playoffs. The Mets play them in the opening round and all I have to go on is Grineke used to suffer from social anxiety and Kershaw “chokes” in the playoffs. Whether that’s an unfair title, it is, it will be cemented or dismissed with how he does this postseason. The depth behind these two seems shallow however, but comparing those two to anyone other than Jake Arrieta seems like an insult. Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley are Met killers, so despite being blackholes for the Dodgers most of the year, the Dodger’s GM could be a genius for getting those two if they help the Dodgers win. They traded for Alex Wood and Mat Latos instead of going out for an ace like Price or Hamels, and while that may not have worked out too well for them, they managed to keep all their amazing prospects. Puig has been surprisingly disappointing, but for a player so young and talented I think brighter things are inline for him next season, but he didn’t make the playoff roster this year. Corey Seager has impressed so far, but Joc hasn’t looked good since the HR Derby. He’s shown glimpses of dominance and he’s still young. A team with the largest payroll in the majors should be, I don’t know, more like a powerhouse. Their most interesting hitters all seem to be prospects, and not players signed to lucrative contracts.
Final Record: 92-70
7. New York Mets (14) (12)– I didn’t expect them to win the NL East, no one at ESPN did, but I never expected them to be this exciting. Outside of Harvey’s 180 inning limit scare, this has been the best season I can remember. It started off with an 11 game winning streak, featured sweeping the Nationals twice in the middle, and ended with a no-hitter…against the Nationals. Wilmer Flores crying during the trade that never was fiasco and then hitting the game winning HR in extra innings. I remember many fans clamoring for a upgrade at SS, now everyone in Queens loves him. Wheeler went down right at the beginning of the season, but he has so much potential and I’m glad he wasn’t traded either. Wright and d’Arnaud were both out for significant amounts of time, but this team kept on chugging along. Thor and Matz have been dominant right out of the gate and deGrom is showing last year’s ROY honor wasn’t a fluke. The biggest surprise of the season has been Colon getting so many hits! Or maybe it’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis hitting 3 HRs in a game after they traded him to the Angles for cash and then claimed him off waivers after the Angels cut him for sucking. What?! He’s on the playoff roster! At one point Lucas Duda had 8 HRs in the span of a week. This is a team that had John Mayberry Jr. and Eric “Campbell Soup” as the heart of their lineup before Cespedes, Uribe, and Johnson were brought over and Michael Conforto has looked very impressive as well. This is an entirely different team than what it was at the start of the season, sorry for the way we’ve treated you Gee, but the rotation is better without you. Cuddyer was never meant to be a full-time player, and now he’s not, but I love the energy and leadership the old man brings. Through it all Granderson has been a rock in this lineup, his ability to get on base has been stellar. I haven’t liked a team this much ever. Murph is hilarious and the heart of the team. I haven’t seen so many games at Citi before, but I’ve noticed that there’s always a gigantic line at Shake Shack. People miss a third of the game for a burger you can get in the city! The rally racoon and rally parakeet. So many things happened this season that I could ramble on, I already have, for much longer. There’s that 90 win season Sandy promised us 2 years ago.
Final Record: 90-72
8. Texas Rangers (17) (19) – I still think this team was one Nelson Cruz defensive replacement in the ninth inning away from winning it all in 2011. That must have been the best World Series ever for a Cardinals fan though, but I hate thinking about it. The Rangers went on a surprising 2nd half run to the top of the AL West, everyone was saying the Cole Hamels trade was for next year, well look at the AL West champs now. I was “high” on them coming into the season because I thought they couldn’t be more unlucky than last year, but I wasn’t really right. They’re still really unlucky with injuries, I’m sure they would love to have ace Yu Darvish or super rookie Jurickson Profar, but for now Odor and Gallardo will have to do. Holland came back and has pitched okay so far, but maybe the biggest story has been Josh Hamilton coming back home where he belongs.Man, if he won a ring with the Rangers I wouldn’t even be upset. Shin Soo Choo and Prince Fielder are playing much better than last year and their contracts aren’t looking too terrible right now. I think making it to the playoffs this year can already be considered a success, but maybe they have enough magic to make it all the way. Fair warning, everyone seems to be writing them off against the Blue Jays, but then again everyone wrote them off this year, even at the All-Star break. Watch out Canada, this isn’t a team you can just walkover.
Final Record: 88-74
9. New York Yankees (10) (20) – These old men still had some life in them, but their 2nd half was noticeably worse than their 1st half. Both pitching and hitting struggled down the stretch, but what a story ARod has been. He hasn’t played over 151 games since 2007, and for a player the Yankees were doing everything they could to prevent him from coming back, they probably wouldn’t have made it to the playoffs without him. I didn’t expect such a high level of play from him either. The Yankees bullpen has been anchored by the giant duo Miller and Betances, Mo would be proud. This team just didn’t look good to me coming into the year, but then all the expensive contracted players started playing like they should. Luis Severino has impressed, especially considering Joba and Hughes flamed out so quickly in the big city.Tanaka has pitched much better than I thought he would, but he’s been much worse than when he first started with the team and before his torn UCL. I sincerely hope it gets better, but his fastball looks so hittable now and it’s causing his off speed stuff to suffer. The Yankees actually have players in the farm system that could make a pretty big impact on the team and they don’t have the highest payroll in baseball anymore, are we sure this is the Yankees? I’ve heard many fans say that it’s the Mets time in NYC, but I can’t see this team going out anytime soon. I remember many people talking mid season like the Yankees already won the division before the Blue Jays caught up and ran away with it. What this team did this year was impressive, but the NY media will make it seem like a disappointment. This team wasn’t that good and they still made it to the playoffs, I’m impressed.
Final Record: 87-75
10 – Houston Astros (3) (24) – They almost ran out of gas there at the end to the Angels, but the team that should have been in the playoffs all along just squeaked their way in. Then they toppled the Yankees on the back of Dallas Keuchel’s arm. Solo HRs, SBs, and strikeouts, that’s what this team does. Seriously, they only have 2 less HRs than the Blue Jays! Their top of the order is as scary as it can get, and it should be strong for a very long time. Former 1st overall pick Carlos Correa should probably win the ROY and brings power to the SS position again. I know Springer will continue to develop as well, but Carlos Gomez is the real wildcard here, he was a top 10 OF coming into the year and if he can recover from whatever has been ailing him then this Astros team will be scary good next year. Kazmir looks tired/awful recently, but I can’t root against that guy and he did pitch well for this team for while. I didn’t believe in them in the preseason, but the Astos, Cubs, and Mets “rebuilding” process have gone much faster than most people expected. Houston we don’t have a problem.
Final Record: 86-76