The 2019 MLB Postseason officially starts today. The Wild Card games are in the books and now three legitimate World Series contenders and five solid playoff teams can play actual series. Which team will be left standing in November?
8. St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals won their division, but finished with the 10th-most wins in baseball this season. 18 teams scored more runs than the Cardinals. If baseball didn't have a 1,000 year history, people would look at the Cardinals and say MLB needs to change their playoff format.
7. Washington Nationals
The Nationals had the second-most quality starts in baseball this season. If Max Scherzer is better than he was in the Wild Card game and Stephen Strasburg is as good as he was, then the Nationals have a shot in any series. But that's a lot of ifs for a team that, historically, isn't granted many favors from the baseball gods.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays had the best team ERA in baseball this season. You would think they have momentum from their Wild Card win, but only three of eight Wild Card winners in the last four seasons have gone on to win another postseason series. And none of those teams had to face the 2019 Astros, who are quite good, as you may have heard.
5. Atlanta Braves
The Braves haven't won a World Series since 1995. That streak will probably continue this year, but they get the Cardinals in the divisional round. They beat the Cardinals in their season series, 4-2. However, Ronald Acuña Jr is dealing with a hip injury and his health will be the key to the Braves postseason. The 2018 NL Rookie of the Year was 5th in home runs this season and led the league in stolen bases.
4. Minnesota Twins
The Twins won 101 games this season and hit a league-high 307 home runs. They went 18-9 in September. They are 0-1 in the poseason since 2011 and haven't won a World Series since 1991. They are firmly in the group of teams that are decided underdogs, who could make a run, but will almost assuredly end up losing to the Yankees, Dodgers or Astros. The bad news for the Twins is they start with the Yankees.
3. New York Yankees
The Yankees have been in the playoffs three of the last four seasons, just like the Astros, but haven't won a World Series since 2009. Giancarlo Stanton returns from an injury-riddled season to a lineup that that scored a league-high 943 runs this season and hit 306 home runs. They have all the Yankees mystique, and all the New York pressure. If they win, no one will be surprised. If they don't everyone will consider the season another huge failure. New York is the best.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers won 92 games last season and went to the World Series where they lost to the Boston Red Sox. This year they won 106 games and gave up a league-low 613 runs. They enter the playoffs after going 18-6 in September and have won their last seven games. They should be the team to come out of the NL where they'll have either the Astros or Yankees waiting.
1. Houston Astros
This is Houston's fourth postseason appearance in the last five seasons. They have won more than 100 games in each of the last three seasons and won the 2017 World Series. Seven different Astros players hit 20+ home runs this season and Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole each had a 20-win season. Thanks to those two the Astros had the most quality starts in baseball. They have all the firepower and pitching to win the World Series, and by these rankings, we expect them to.