Every MLB divisional series now has one game in the books. As a result, if anyone wasn't sure about which series was the one to watch, then they will be sure now.
Because of the extra wild card game and a few Cinderella teams in the mix, every series has its storylines, and every series has at least some degree of excitement.
The four divisional matchups are being ranked more by excitement more than anything, and it's naturally going to be subjective. Still, some just naturally feel stronger and better to watch than others, particularly with how the first games went.
4. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
I'm excited for this series personally, but that's more as a guy who has watched these two teams fight all season long rather than for the series itself. For a series involving the defending World Series champions, how could it be ranked last?
The prime reason is that the main storyline is the loss of a star on both sides. The Cardinals made it here in spite of losing Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter, and the Nationals are here despite shutting down Stephen Strasburg.
That's a lot of star power that could have been that's now gone. I like Gio Gonzalez and Adam Wainwright, but that's a far less effective Game 1 than a Stephen Strasburg-Kyle Lohse or Chris Carpenter matchup.
Game 1 had an exciting ending, but it was thanks to a Cardinals error rather than heroics, though you can argue Tyler Moore's at-bat was just that.
Bryce Harper and David Freese battling to lead their teams to victory is something I can sink my teeth into, but compared to the other series, I'll wait to see one of these two teams in the NLCS. Despite being last, this does have a good possibility of going five games.
3. Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
The Tigers and Athletics could have been a very good series on the surface. It's a classic hitting vs. pitching matchup, and despite the lack of name recognition on the A's, the Tigers have that in spades.
Both teams didn't grab hold of their division until the end of the year, so they both have something to prove. This is one of two series to have played two games so far, and has that showcased a nice matchup?
So far, it has. Verlander outpitched the A's in Game 1, and both teams went back and forth in Game 2. With the Tigers winning both games, suddenly the A's have their backs against the wall, which would make their storybook run rather anticlimactic.
Can the A's pitching bounce back, and more importantly will they actually get help from their bats? A team can only do so much against Miguel Cabrera. The swift work the Tigers have made against the A's does hurt their ranking, even if the games have been enjoyable.
2.San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds
The San Francisco Giants won the World Series two years ago, yet their best pitcher suddenly became ineffective. Despite that, they are in the playoffs thanks to a rotation that has been otherwise great.
The Reds, meanwhile, have been winning through an entire team effort. Even when Joey Votto got hurt they seemed to play even better, and as a result, we have two teams that don't need to rely on one guy to get the job done.
While the name recognition is there, it comes down to the young guns. Johnny Cueto, Buster Posey, Mat Latos and others will be the story of this series, and they are what makes the series exciting.
The Reds have been working to make this a short series, and that could now easily happen with the Reds only needing to win one more game. While this makes this less exciting, it would add a nice layer to the NLCS should they pull off defeating a recent World Series-winning team.
1. New York Yankees vs. Baltimore Orioles
The best story, as well as the best matchup, may very well come from the one divisional rivalry remaining in the playoffs in this AL East matchup.
The New York Yankees are the team everyone has an opinion on, and the team that many love to hate is up against the team that you have to root for in the Baltimore Orioles.
The Yankees are stacked with talent from top to bottom, while the Orioles have no household names, though players like Adam Jones and Jim Johnson are playing like precisely that.
Beyond that, manager Buck Showalter is looking for revenge. He beat the Rangers already, and beating another former team in the playoffs would be great.
It's easy to say that the Yankees have the Orioles beat on paper, but the Orioles have been the team that could all season long. If there's one great story that could continue, it's the Orioles' run, especially after they beat the Rangers despite few believing they would.
Who doesn't love a David vs. Goliath story? Even if Goliath ends up winning, you know that the Orioles will make it exciting.
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