Stan ‘The Fan’ Charles’ MLB Playoff Power Rankings
After the 2021 MLB regular season ends – my 10th power ranking – I’m going to do a partial reset of how I’ll continue this week and next.
This week I’m just going to give you my playoff standings of the 10 teams in the MLB playoff bubble, along with some commentary on the odds of each team succeeding. Next week, after a bit of thinking, I’ll comment on the 30 teams.
So there you have it, my playoff power standings for the 2021 playoffs:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56): I don’t feel at all funny picking the team with the second best record in all of baseball as the No.1 team. Don’t get me wrong, with a scorching playoff game against the Cardinals looming, my No.1 team could be knocked out early, and the Dodgers’ task just got a little tougher with Max Muncy’s injury. He was knocked down by ex-Oriole Jace Peterson (now a Brewer) and injured his wrist when he reached Peterson’s path to first base. Overall, they are still the deepest and most talented team in the top 10.
2. Giants of San Francisco (107-55): The Giants won the 19-game season against the Dodgers by a 10-9 margin. The Giants’ numbers are woefully impressive, and there’s no doubt what baseball chief Farhan Zaidi and his handpicked skipper Gabe Kapler have done this season is remarkable. Numbers like runs scored, homers, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts are all pretty close between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But I think the Giants would fail a bit in a potential NLDS against the Dodgers despite one more regular season win (107 to 106 for the Dodgers).
3. Tampa Bay Rays (100-62): The Rays are clearly the best team not only in the very tough American League East, where four teams have won over 90 games, but throughout LA. Granted, manager Kevin Cash doesn’t own the starting pitcher for the rest of the playoff teams, but what he does have is an elite, well-built reliever pen and enough guys who can handle that role. opener. Two key members of that staff are free agent signatory Collin McHugh and Drew Rasmussen, the latter part of the two pitching return the club received when he sent shortstop Willy Adames to Milwaukee. Offensively this is not a star group, but Cash uses his roster card like a Stradivarius and more often than not he wins face-to-face battles.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (95-67): A 4-9 finish kept the Brewers on the shy side of 100 wins. In particular, six of those nine losses were at the hands of the cardinals. A starting squad of Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser, Eric Lauer and Freddy Peralta gives them more than a chance to puncher in October. Skipper Craig Counsell, like Tampa Bay’s Cash, is a master manipulator on his list. But make no mistake, the loss of right-handed reliever Devin Williams (2.50 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 54 innings) is a monstrous loss. Lefty Josh Hader and Williams formed what was arguably the most dynamic paddock duo in the game. The late innings of those pressurized playoffs were meant to be a big advantage for Milwaukee. Now? We’ll find out at the start of their first series against the Braves.
5. Chicago White Sox (93-69): The White Sox face the Astros in a very interesting game. This is the first postseason series starring two managers over 70 (Tony La Russa and Dusty Baker). Rick Renteria’s unfair dismissal after Athletics knocked out the White Sox in the first round last year was sparked by owner Jerry Reinsdorf. He wanted to install Hall of Fame director La Russa to make sure his club got deep into the 2021 playoffs. Will that work? The White Sox got away with their division in mid-June, and yet the healthier they were in July and August, the more flat the club played. Their starting pitcher may be elite, but southpaw Carlos Rodon (132.2 innings this year after totaling 42.1 innings in the past two years) is struggling with shoulder fatigue. The back end is ultra-elite with lefties Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet and righties Craig Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks. This club is dangerous if they miss the Astros.
6. Houston Astros (95-67): There is no doubt that the Astros roster is as dynamic as any other baseball player. But with Zack Greinke just off the injured list and sporting a 4.16 ERA, his days as an elite starter may be over. The guys behind him – right-handed Luis Garcia, Framber Valdez and Lance McCullers Jr. – can keep the Astros in games. That may be enough in this opening series against the White Sox. Still, their team at the end of the inning is good, not great – a distinct advantage for Chicago.
7. Atlanta Braves (88-73): I don’t like the Braves’ chances of going very far, but the good news is they’re not in a one-game game to get into the real playoff game. I know we live in a short-start era, but I’m not sure Max Fried and Charlie Morton are strong enough to move the Braves to Milwaukee. However, the loss of Williams to the Brewers at the back seems big enough that it turns into a push between the current Milwaukee team and their former team.
8. New York Yankees (92-70): Throw a blanket over the No.8 Yankees, No.9 Cardinals, and No.10 Red Sox. I still think the Yankees can be dangerous, but deep in my heart that probably won’t happen. I can’t imagine their pitcher holding up through a potential 20-game playoff. I am intrigued by how much Luis Severino can help out of the pen.
9. Cardinals of Saint-Louis (90-72): I actually had the Cardinals at No.6 going into the final week of the regular season. While the 2-3 finish against the Brewers and Cubs didn’t erase the magic of that 17-game winning streak, it must have taken some of the momentum away. One thing the Red Birds really have going for them in the playoff game against the Dodgers is ageless wonder, Adam Wainwright. It was a smart move to sign him for a one-year extension a few days ago. It could give the crafty a psychological boost, knowing that he’ll never wear a uniform again.
10. Boston Red Sox (92-70): I have to admit that while I may never have been a “true believer” in 2021 in manager Alex Cora’s half-season of perfection for manager Alex Cora’s squad, I never expected them to have making too much noise against the terrible Orioles and Nationals to barely stay ahead of the Blue Jays in the wild card standings. And now JD Martinez sprains his ankle tripping over second base to play outfield at DC The Sox still have plenty of offense for the game against the Yankees, even though Martinez can’t go. Fenway’s single player, so sure they can win. But it might take a little magic.