The playoffs start tonight. More Wild Card teams! More Playoff games! More excitement? Well, not in the regular season this year. It seems once the Braves swept the Mets to take a late season lead for the NL East lead, all the playoff races just ambled along without any real excitement. Still, you have to give MLB some credit - they're doing something right. With the Phillies and Mariners making the playoffs, every single team in the Major Leagues has made the playoffs at least once in the past 10 years. (The Tigers and Angels now have the longest playoff drought at 9 years). Unfortunately, my Red Sox have started what could be a multi-year playoff drought themselves by finishing last in their division. So who will I root for? Outside of my least favorite team, there's a lot of fluidity. I generally tend to root for the teams that have gone 20+ years without a Championship, and this year half of the playoff field fits that distinction. (Unfortunately, we have a few recent winners in the midst of some dynasty-level stretches, which makes it unlikely any of those 20+ year droughts will end this year...)
So here's my personal 2022 playoff rankings, based on who I want to see win, as well as my gut feelings as to how well they'll do:
1. Seattle Mariners - AL Wild Card (45 year drought -Never been to the World Series)
2022 Topps #489 Seattle Mariners (TC)
Normally, the #1 spot would be given to Cleveland, as they have gone the longest without winning a World Championship. At least they've made it that far. The Mariners have never been to the Fall Classic. It would be great to see them finally make it.
Prediction: Lose to the Blue Jays in the Wild Card round
2. Cleveland Guardians - AL Central Champions (73 year drought)
This may be Terry Francona's last chance at another World Series ring, as health issues may force him to retire soon. If he's going to do it, he'll do it with the youngest team in the Majors. It's going to be tough, but if any team is going to be the Cinderella story of this year's postseason, it'll be Cleveland.
Prediction: Lose to the Astros in the AL Championship Series
3. San Diego Padres - NL Wild Card (53 year drought - Never won a World Series)
Like the Mariners, the Padres have yet to win a World Series. They've been acquiring talent left and right the past few years, and the 1-2 punch of Machado and Soto can do some major damage. It's a shame Tatis can't get his $h!t together...
Prediction: Lose to the Mets in the Wild Card round
4. St. Louis Cardinals - NL Central Champions (10 year drought)
2012 Topps Heritage
#148 St. Louis Cardinals (WS, HL)
Normally a 10 year drought isn't worthy of such a high ranking, but let's just admit it: It'd be cool to see Albert Pujols (and Yadier Molina) end their careers as a World Champions.
Prediction: Lose to the Braves in the NL Divisional Series
5. New York Mets - NL Wild Card (35 year drought)
Huh, I was a little surprised I ended up ranking the Mets this high. If the Mets make it to the World Series, I'm not looking forward to all the mentions of their last title. They'll be tough to beat in the shorter series with deGrom and Scherzer leading the way.
Prediction: Lose to the Dodgers in the NL Divisional Series
6. Los Angeles Dodgers - NL West Division Champions (1 year drought)
Is it too early to talk about Dave Roberts as a Hall of Fame manager? He's only been managing the Dodgers for 7 years, so he's not even in the top 100 for managerial wins, but his Dodgers have finished 1st in 6 of those 7 seasons (and that one 2nd place finish was still good for 106 wins!) With 3 NL pennants and 1 World Championship already on his list of achievements, I really think that he's a shoo-in for the Hall if he wins just one more World Series.
Prediction: Win the World Series!
7. Toronto Blue Jays - AL Wild Card (28 year drought)
No games in Buffalo this year, so boo for that. They've got the best offense in baseball, but their pitching is close to average. They'll have to slug their way to the top.
Prediction: Lose to the Astros in the AL Divisional Series
8. Atlanta Braves - NL East Champions (Current defending Champions)
Last year, the Braves won the World Series with surprise contributions from veterans like Jorge Solar, Eddie Rosario, and Joc Pederson. This year's team is even better, and could easily repeat if they can get past the Dodgers again.
Prediction: Lose to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series
9. Philadelphia Phillies - NL Wild Card (13 year drought)
I have nothing against this team, but I don't see anything that stands out that'll help them this postseason. Bryce Harper is going to do his thing, and I've seen Kyle Schwarber carry a team with his bat, but outside of that, I don't see a long postseason run here.
Prediction: Lose to the Cardinals in the Wild Card round
10. Tampa Bay Rays - AL Wild Card (24 year drought - Never won a World Series)
2022 Topps #274 Tampa Bay Rays (TC)
The pesky mosquito called the Rays have gone from a 100-win division champion to 3rd in their division. A sign that their team is finally going to start regressing? Probably not. How Franco and Arozarena hit will decide how far this team will go.
Prediction: Lose to the Guardians in the Wild Card round
11. Houston Astros - AL West Division Champions (4 year drought)
I live with two toddlers, so I have a very high tolerance level when it comes to watching things on repeat (Lately, it's been "Blippi". God help me...). However, I'm sick of the Astros appearing in the AL Championship Series every year. Unfortunately, I feel the streak is going to reach 6 consecutive years.
Prediction: Lose to the Dodgers in the World Series
12. New York Yankees - AL East Champions (Not a long enough drought)
2010 Topps - History of the World Series
Allow me to repeat what I posted last year: My daughter, who turns 11 next month, has never lived during a time when the Yankee have called themselves Champions. It's a beautiful thing, and I hope her childhood remains pure like that.
Prediction: Lose to the Guardians in the AL Divisional Series
Prediction: Lose to the Guardians in the AL Divisional Series
To summarize my predictions:
AL Wild Cards
Guardians over Rays
Blue Jays over Mariners
NL Wild Card
Cardinals over Phillies
Mets over Padres
ALDSGuardians over Yankees (Hey! There has to be at least one upset this postseason!)
Astros over Blue Jays
NLDSBraves over Cardinals
Dodgers over Mets
Astros over Guardians
Dodgers over Braves
Dodgers over Astros