MLB Postseason Power Rankings: Can Anyone Stop Astros?

By , RADIO.COM Sports

Iconic Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once did a postseason promo pressuring fans to watch the MLB playoffs, saying that "real fans don't pout when their team is out." For the seventh consecutive year, Lasorda's Dodgers aren't at home in October, but the same team that defeated them in the 2017 World Series may again stand in their way of ending a World Series drought that's more than three decades long.

Before the MLB postseason begins, here's RADIO.COM's look at the hierarchy of all the teams still alive:

1. Houston Astros - American League West Champions, 107-55 regular season record

Having three of the 10 best pitchers in baseball at the top of your starting rotation doesn't necessarily guarantee postseason success. The 2011 Philadelphia Phillies, for example, won 102 regular season games behind a rotation that included Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. They were upset in five games in the NLDS by the eventual World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

But yes, having Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke at the top of your starting rotation gives you a pretty good chance to make a run at your second World Series title in three seasons.

The Astros also have a fairly loaded lineup, much of which - George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Michael Brantley - has extended postseason experience. That's been supplemented by DH Yordan Alvarez, a favorite to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers - National League West Champions, 106-56 regular season record

There was some thought that the Dodgers could take a step back in 2019 after losing in the World Series in consecutive seasons. Instead, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler and Hyun-jin Ryu all had career years, and the Dodgers won the National League West for the seventh consecutive season.

How rare is it to win three consecutive National League pennants? The last team to do it was the St. Louis Cardinals - from 1942-1944! Even the "Big Red Machine" Cincinnati Reds, who won four National League pennants during the 1970s, never appeared in the World Series three years in a row.

But if you're betting against the Dodgers winning the National League title, you're in the minority.

3. New York Yankees - American League East Champions, 103-59 regular season record

While there's questions about how the Yankees would match up with the Astros in a potential ALCS, they have to get there first. And that'll be far from a cakewalk, as they'll take part in arguably the best on-paper first round postseason series against the Minnesota Twins.

The Yankees have had success all year with an undermanned starting rotation - at least relative to other teams that typically win over 100 games. It's because DJ LeMahieu and the offense scored a league-high 943 runs and leaned on Aroldis Chapman and an elite bullpen. To win their 28th World Series title, Aaron Boone and the Yankees will have to continue to have success with that formula.

4. Minnesota Twins - American League Central Champions, 101-61 regular season record

In Rocco Baldelli's first season as skipper, the Twins had five players hit 30 or more home runs. They were led by Nelson Cruz, who, at age 39, has arguably the best season of his career, slashing .311/.392/.639 with 41 home runs, 108 RBIs and a 4.3 fWAR.

While the Twins bullpen wasn't as dominant as the Yankees during the regular season, Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Sam Dyson and Tyler Duffey form a pretty formidable unit. In terms of starting pitching, Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi don't make up a starting rotation that can compete on paper with Houston, but it may actually be better than what the Yankees have to work with.

Juan Soto and the Nationals will be tasked with knocking off the Dodgers in the NLDS.
Juan Soto and the Nationals will be tasked with knocking off the Dodgers in the NLDS. Photo credit (Geoff Burke/USA Today Images)

5. Washington Nationals - National League Wild Card Champions, 93-69 regular season record

20-year-old star Juan Soto revived the Nationals season with a three-run single in the bottom of the eighth of their National League Wild Card win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Dating back to the regular season, the Nationals have won nine consecutive games. At the end of May, Dave Martinez's team had a 24-33 record. Since then, they've gone 70-36.

So despite a suspect bullpen, the Nationals may be the best bet to dethrone the Dodgers in the National League. Heck, their trio of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin may match up as well against the Astros as any team.

6. Atlanta Braves - National League East Champions, 97-65 regular season record

Both at home and on the road, the Braves were a really good baseball team in 2019, winning the National League East for the second consecutive season. In some senses, it feels almost unfair to put them behind the Nationals, who they finished four games ahead of in their own division.

That said, while Dallas Keuchel, Mike Soroka, Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried give the Braves enough starting pitching to probably get by the Cardinals, it's fair to question whether they'll be able to compete with the Dodgers or Nationals in the NLCS.

Quesitons about whether they have enough starting pitching aside, Ronald Acuna Jr. is an absolute superstar. Josh Donaldson, a former American League MVP, had a major bounce back this season. Freddie Freeman's having a career that will quietly make him worthy of Hall of Fame consideration when he's finished. The Braves lineup deserves this stage.

7. Tampa Bay Rays - American League Wild Card Champions, 96-66 regular season record

Understanding the resources they are given to work with, the Rays are probably the most well-run organization in baseball. Chaim Bloom is one of the best executives in baseball, and Kevin Cash may be as good of a manager as the game currently has right now.

Unfortunately for the Rays, they're going to run into the Astros. They also burned Charlie Morton in the American League Wild Card Game, meaning he won't be available to pitch against his former team until at least Game 2 on Saturday. Tyler Glasnow and Blake Snell both have had injured-riddled 2019 seasons, giving you the feeling it may just not be the Rays time to make a deep postseason run.

8. St. Louis Cardinals - National League Central Champions, 91-71 record

Lost in the finals weeks of the Joe Maddon era in Chicago and the Milwaukee Brewers run to the postseason was that it was actually the Cardinals who won the National League Central in 2019.

In his first season in St. Louis, Paul Goldschmidt had a major second-half, hitting 18 home runs and driving in 60 runs in 266 at-bats after the All-Star Break. If he gets hot, he's the type of hitter that can carry a team to a series victory.

Frankly, the Cardinals probably got a better draw playing the Braves, as opposed to the Dodgers or Nationals. If Miles Mikolas and the Cardinals can steal Game 1 in Atlanta, look out. Jack Flaherty is scheduled to pitch the second game of the series for the Cardinals, and the 23-year-old posted an 0.91 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star Break.