With the MLB's postseason teams and matchups finalized, now begins the time for everyone's predictions and World Series picks.
Although both the starting pitching rotation and bullpen play a huge role, much of how a team fairs in a given post season run is due to the quality and depth in their lineup. If you can not score runs, especially in a all-or-nothing one game playoff, your postseason dreams could end much sooner than planned.
While playoff baseball, like all other sports, is often a matter of who can get hot at the right time, there is always a comfort level that comes from going into the postseason featuring a strong, proven lineup.
With that being said, here are the top five lineups for the 2012 MLB postseason.
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Quintin Berry, LF
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B
4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Delmon Young, DH
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Andy Dirks, RF
8. Alex Avila, C
9. Omar Infante, 2B
With American League Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera in the three slot, followed by Prince Fielder batting fourth, the middle of this order is one that no pitcher wants to see come the postseason. The two of them hit a combined 74 home runs this season and provide the Tigers with two of the league's premier power hitters.
The threat of consistent power does often finish there, but they have the potential to make up for the damage.
As a team, the Tigers finished second and third in the American League in OBP and Batting Average respectively. That, in combination with their middle of the order power and very capable pitching rotation, the Tigers have a chance to make noise in the postseason.
Drawing the red hot A's in the first round is no easy task, but this lineup has the potential to put up runs fast.
1. Jayson Werth, RF
2. Bryce Harper, CF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Michael Morse, LF
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Kurt Suzuki, C
This Washington Nationals lineup, and team altogether, has proven to be one of the more exciting teams to follow over the course of the 2012 season. Finishing with the best record in baseball—with due respect to a phenomenal starting rotation—the lineup also played a big role.
The Nationals finished the regular season ranked second in the National League in Home Runs (194) and fourth in Batting Average (.261). Leading the way has been a dangerous middle of the order, but they have been quite consistent from top to bottom.
Although this lineup is not rich with postseason experience, they were one of the more potent and exciting groups throughout the regular season. If they, in tandem with their pitching staff, can get similar performances in October, we could very well see the Nationals playing for a World Series title.
1. Jon Jay, CF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Alan Craig, 1B
5. Yadier Molina, C
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B
8. Pete Kozma, SS
Despite the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals are the defending World Series Champions, many wrote them off when they lost star player Albert Pujols this past offseason, .
Those who did, were very wrong indeed.
While it is difficult to make up for the exact production Pujols provided, Alan Craig has done an admirable job at first bast this season, hitting .307, with 22 Home Runs, and 92 RBIs. Add in the production of Carlos Beltran (.269, 32 HR, 96 RBI), and the Cardinals are doing just fine without Pujols.
Whether they will see the return of SS Rafael Furcal this postseason is still unknown, but Pete Kozma has done well in his position thus far.
This Cardinals team finished the regular season leading the National League in runs scored and on base percentage, while finishing second in batting average. This helped to earn them the second wild card spot and a one game playoff against Atlanta.
Despite being that last qualifying National League team, this lineup's ability to get on base and score runs could once again take them quite far in the postseason.
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Adrian Beltre, 3B
5. Nelson Cruz, RF
6. Michael Young, DH
7. David Murphy, LF
8. Mike Napoli, 1B
9. Geovany Soto, C
The Texas Rangers have had one of the league's most consistently productive lineups over the past several seasons, evidenced by two straight trips to the World Series. Although they must start with a one game playoff, where anything can happen against a dangerous Baltimore Orioles squad, they've got the team to get it done.
In the 2012 season, the Rangers finished in the top five in every major hitting category in the major leagues, including a league high total of 808 runs.
There may not be a more powerful 3-4-5 combination in the game than Texas has in Hamilton, Beltre and Cruz. They lead the offensive unit, as they have for several years, but this is a lineup that can produce top to bottom.
The bats will need to get off to a hot start for the Rangers in their one game playoff Friday night. If they can do that, and move on to the division series matchup against the Yankees, there is no doubting that this lineup has the potential to carry them to the World Series for the third straight year.
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Ichiro Suzuki, LF
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. Robinson Cano, 2B
5. Mark Teixeira, 1B
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Curtis Granderson, CF
8. Raul Ibanez, DH
9. Russell Martin, C
The Yankees, as seems to be the case every year since the beginning of time, are once again stacked with talent, earning the top spot in these postseason lineup rankings.
Slots one through nine, the Yankees have hitters that can hurt you at any given time.
When Curtis Granderson, who totaled 43 Home Runs on the season, is likely hitting out of the six or seven slot in your order, you are probably in good shape heading into the postseason.
With several question marks both in the rotation and the bullpen, the Yankees will need to rely even more on this powerful lineup to carry them through the playoffs. Fortunately for them, it is a group that finished the 2012 season leading Major League Baseball in home runs, total bases, slugging percentage and OPS.
Because of what this lineup is capable of, their depth off the bench, as well as their home field advantage throughout the American League Playoffs, the Yankees should be considered a World Series contender once again.