In the coming days, a number of MLB postseason droughts will be snapped.
For the first time since 2008, the Chicago White Sox will play in the postseason after going 35-25 in the 2020 regular season. Though veterans Jose Abreu and Dallas Keuchel were arguably the two most valuable players on the team in 2020, a young nucleus that includes Tim Anderson, Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Lucas Giolito makes you believe that the White Sox could become a regular in October in the coming years.
The San Diego Padres find themselves in a similar situation, as the trio of Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Trent Grisham helped to lead the team to their first postseason appearance since 2006. With an organization stocked with elite talents under 30, the Padres have a chance to be one of the most dominant teams during the 2020s.
And for the first time since 2003, the Miami Marlins have made the postseason. It's been so long since they last played in October that they were still called the Florida Marlins and playing their home games at Pro Player Stadium the last time they played in the postseason.
Still, there's one drought that's at the forefront of this season's playoff storylines - the Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to win their first World Series title since 1988. While the aforementioned trio of course would like to win a championship, they don't face the pressure that the Dodgers do. Anything short of the franchise's seventh World Series title will be considered a failure.
With the MLB postseason set to start Tuesday, here are our RADIO.COM Sports MLB Playoff Power Rankings:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
Since being hired as Dodgers' manager before the 2016 season, Dave Roberts has guided his team to five consecutive National League West titles, three NLCS appearances and two National League pennants. Still, after adding Mookie Betts into the fold, it feels as though Roberts could be skating on thin ice if the Dodgers have another disappointing postseason exit. The problem for Roberts is that anything short of winning the World Series will be seen as disappointing.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
It would be ironic if the Rays - the former employer of Dodgers' president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman - were the ones that denied the team of a championship. With arguably the deepest team in the American League, the Rays should be seen as the favorites to represent the junior circuit in the 2020 World Series. Kevin Cash is one of the sport's most innovative managers, and all three facets of his team are deep. If one of Tyler Glasnow or Charlie Morton can get hot in the playoffs behind Blake Snell, the Rays have a legitimate shot to win their first World Series title ever.
3. Oakland Athletics
It's disappointing that A's third baseman Matt Chapman will miss the postseason after having season-ending hip surgery, but Bob Melvin's team still ran away with the American League West title because they are one of the deepest teams in the sport. Relief pitching is extremely valuable in October, and the A's arguably have the best top-end talent in their bullpen, with Liam Hendricks, Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria leading a relief corps with extensive postseason experience.
4. Atlanta Braves
In theory, the amount of injuries the Braves had to their starting rotation should prevent them from competing for the World Series. Then again, it didn't stop them from going 35-25 in the regular season. Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Marcell Ozuna and Ozzie Albies are at the forefront of one of baseball's deepest lineups, and the Braves have largely seen payoff on some of the major investments they've made in their bullpen. Perhaps a lack of household names in the starting rotation will catch up with the Braves in the postseason, but it hasn't stopped them to this point.
5. Minnesota Twins
The Twins didn't draw the Yankees in the first round of the postseason, perhaps a sign that they won't exit the 2020 playoffs as quickly as they have the last four times they've reached the playoffs. Josh Donaldson had an underwhelming first season with the Twins, but 39-year-old Nelson Cruz still leads a lineup with a ton of thump. Kenta Maeda had an excellent first season in Minnesota, but make no mistake, if the Twins are going to make a deep playoff run, it will be because of their hitting.
6. Chicago Cubs
Yu Darvish revived his career by going 8-3 with a 2.01 ERA in 12 starts in 2020, putting him in the discussion for the National League Cy Young Award. The next hurdle will be getting over postseason struggles that plagued his tenures with the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers. Darvish has a 5.95 ERA in six career postseason starts. If he's able to do that, Darvish and Kyle Hendricks could be a pretty lethal one-two punch in the playoffs.
7. Cleveland Indians
Gerrit Cole or Jacob deGrom wasn't the best pitcher in baseball in 2020 - Shane Bieber was. Despite trading Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Mike Clevinger all within the course of a year, the Indians really didn't skip a beat this season, going 35-25. In large part, that was because Bieber went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA, making him the favorite to win the American League Cy Young Award. With a roster deep in postseason experience, Terry Francona's squad could be a major threat in October.
8. San Diego Padres
If both Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet are healthy, the Padres have a chance to make a deep postseason run in their first trip to the playoffs in nearly a decade-and-a-half. It took a little while, but A.J. Preller's vision for the Padres is coming to life now, with what appears to be an extended postseason window just opening up in 2020.
9. Chicago White Sox
Even though they are the third-highest seed from their own division, the White Sox are an intriguing team this postseason. We addressed some of the key performers in their lineup and starting rotation above, but Rick Renteria has some serious horses in his bullpen. Closer Alex Colome had 12 saves and a 0.81 ERA in 2020, while both Matt Foster and Evan Marshall pitched at elite levels as well. Like the Padres, the White Sox appear to only be at the beginning of their postseason window, but don't expect them to just be happy to be along for the ride during the 2020 playoffs.
10. New York Yankees
For as talented as the Yankees are, it's impossible to ignore that they'll have to win two out of three games in Cleveland to make it out of the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Sure, they have Gerrit Cole going in Game 1, but his season pales in comparison to who he'll be matched up against in Shane Bieber. The Indians will arguably have the advantage in all three starting pitching matchups. A lineup that includes DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge and Luke Voit can be an equalizer, but the Yankees seemingly face an uphill battle to getting out of the first round.
11. Cincinnati Reds
Love him or hate him, Trevor Bauer had a dominant contract year for the Reds, one that may allow him to win the National League Cy Young Award and helped the franchise to reach the postseason for the first time since 2013. The Reds won't be favored in the opening round series in Atlanta, but with Bauer, Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, they'll have the better starting pitcher going in each matchup.
12. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays may be a year or two away from being a legitimate threat to make a deep postseason run, but Hyun-jin Ryu and Taijuan Walker are a pretty intriguing one-two at the top of the rotation to go with a lineup that got huge years out of Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk. As the No. 8 seed, the Blue Jays face an uphill battle against the Tampa Bay Rays, but it's good experience for a young team to get the feel of playing in the playoffs.
13. St. Louis Cardinals
Given how many games they had to make up because of COVID-19, it's a minor miracle that the Cardinals are even here. That said, Jack Flaherty regressed in a major way in 2020, and instead of preparing for the postseason series, Dakota Hudson is set to have Tommy John surgery. 38-year-old Adam Wainwright was the team's most reliable starter this season, which leads you to think they're unlikely to make it by the San Diego Padres in the opening round.
14. Miami Marlins
The Marlins have only made the playoffs two other times in the history of their franchise - 1997 and 2003 - and they won the World Series both times. That's a streak that's unlikely to continue, but after an extended stretch of lean years, the Marlins are likely here to stay. Sixto Sanchez and Sandy Alcantara, both under 25, are elite young arms that could make the Marlins' series with the Chicago Cubs interesting.
15. Houston Astros
George Springer is one of the great players in postseason history, as the 31-year-old has 15 career home runs in the playoffs and tied a World Series record with five home runs in the 2017 World Series. As free agency looms for Springer, the Astros, who finished the season with a losing record, may need someone like him to go on a torrid run to have any chance to defend their American League crown. Though Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman both had underwhelming 2020 campaigns, the Astros still have an imposing lineup deep in playoff experience. We'll see if the trio of Zack Greinke, Lance McCullers Jr. and Framber Valdez is up to the task of trying to upset the Minnesota Twins.
16. Milwaukee Brewers
Simply put, Christian Yelich had a disastrous 2020 season by his standards and the 29-31 Brewers probably don't deserve to be playing in the postseason. But because of the expanded postseason format, here we are. If Craig Counsell's Brewers are able to upset the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs, it would be one of the biggest postseason upsets in MLB history.