MLB Playoff Schedule 2012: Ranking Top Potential Divisional Series

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MLB Playoff Schedule 2012: Ranking Top Potential Divisional Series
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The MLB postseason is upon us, folks, and this year debuts the new Wild Card Game, adding a whole other layer of excitement to this year's playoffs.

While the Texas Rangers vs. Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves vs. St. Louis Cardinals promise to be nail-biting affairs for fans of those teams, the real playoffs don't begin until the divisional round. And with the possibility of two series between division rivals, it only gets better.

With that in mind, let's rank the best potential divisional round games this postseason. And for the full playoff schedule, from the Wild Card matchups to the World Series, be sure to check it out here.

6. Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants  

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The Giants feature MVP candidate Buster Posey and a scary rotation headlined by Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum. Oh, and they won this whole thing two years ago, so there's that, too.

But the Reds are a well-rounded team from top to bottom, led by a solid pitching staff, a very good back-end of the bullpen and a lineup featuring Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips.

These teams have been here before, and this one promises to be a very competitive, tight series.

5. Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals

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The contrast in styles would certainly be interesting here, as the National League's best pitching rotation (though I suppose you could argue that isn't the case without Stephen Strasburg) would take on the league's second-best offense. 

The Nationals have been the NL's top team this season, but if the Cardinals survive the Wild Card Round, you know they'll come into this series with a lot of confidence, especially given the team's run to a World Series title a year ago.

4. Oakland Athletics vs. Detroit Tigers

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Where exactly did this Athletics team come from? How exactly did they manage to win the AL West?

That's what people will be curious to see when this year's most surprising postseason squad takes on Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, likely Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and the Tigers. 

Oakland will look to win behind its excellent pitching staff, while the Tigers will look to bash their way to victory and get two wins from Verlander if needed. With some of the best stories in baseball at play in this one, it will certainly be must-watch stuff.

3. New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles

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What's better than a divisional rivalry?

The Orioles have been one of the best stories in baseball this year, and you know most of America will be backing them if they take on the Evil Empire. But will New York's postseason experience lead them past the upstart Orioles?

This one would be a blast. Actually, quite a few blasts, given the offenses on each team.

2. Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves

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If you love a good pitching duel, this one is for you.

Two of the best pitching staffs in the NL would be doing battle here, all aided by the tension that naturally comes when two divisional rivals face off. From Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Tyler Clippard to Kris Medlen, Tim Hudson and Craig Kimbrel, this one would have more than a few 2-1 games.

1. New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers

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Let's be honest—we'd all love to tune in to this slugfest between the top two offenses in baseball.

Forget about the pitching, this would be all about Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson versus Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli

This series would be a whole lot of fun.

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