2008 MLB Playoff Contender Rankings

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2008 MLB Playoff Contender Rankings

The phrase "built for the postseason" is thrown around a lot in today’s day and age.

Especially with a short series to start it off and the opportunity for teams that just snuck in to pull off the upset.

Each aspect of the game is crucial, and while the most-talented team doesn't always win, it sure pays to be the most balanced.

Without a doubt, teams must elevate their play in the postseason.

But sometimes, it pays to be the best, especially in certain aspects of the game.

I’ve taken the time to carefully rank each team in certain aspects that are crucial to postseason success and find out which is really built for October baseball.

 

Lineup

  1. Phillies
  2. Angels
  3. Cubs
  4. Red Sox
  5. Dodgers
  6. Brewers
  7. White Sox
  8. Rays
  9. Twins

I don’t think anyone can argue with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell.

The Twins probably have the most reliable one-two punch in the middle, with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, but the rest of the lineup hurts them.

 

Bench

  1. Rays
  2. Angels
  3. Cubs
  4. Red Sox
  5. White Sox
  6. Brewers
  7. Phillies
  8. Dodgers
  9. Twins

The Rays have a cast of thousands of the bench after injuries to Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett, and B.J. Upton tested their depth.

The Angels and Cubs are stacked with talent, and if the Dodgers get Rafael Furcal at some point, they could shoot up the list.

 

Small-Ball Capabilities

  1. Twins
  2. Angels
  3. Cubs
  4. Rays
  5. Dodgers
  6. Brewers
  7. Red Sox
  8. Phillies
  9. White Sox

The Twins may not have the best lineup, but they have the best team to play small ball if they are put into that situation, which is a one a team will often find itself in the late innings of postseason games.

It’s funny that three of the top four teams are all in the American League.

 

Defense

  1. Rays
  2. Angels
  3. Red Sox
  4. Phillies
  5. Twins
  6. Cubs
  7. Dodgers
  8. White Sox
  9. Brewers

It pays to be defensive—just ask last year's Colorado Rockies.

Tampa Bay is behind Boston in terms of fielding percentage, but with a very solid infield, speedy outfielders, and a solid catcher in Dioner Navarro, they top the list.

The Brewers are middle of the road in fielding percentage, but they are shaky with Ryan Braun, a career third baseman in left field.

The Twins actually have the worst fielding percentage, but with rovers like Denard Span and Carlos Gomez in the outfield, and solid infielders like Justin Morneau and Nick Punto, they are better than the numbers indicate.

 

Starting Rotation

  1. Cubs
  2. Angels
  3. Red Sox
  4. Dodgers
  5. Rays
  6. Twins
  7. Phillies
  8. Brewers
  9. White Sox

With Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ted Lilly, and Ryan Dempster as a four-man rotation for the postseason, it's tough to top the Cubs' starting pitching.

The Rays and Twins are two teams that should be higher, but they are hurt by their youth.

Sometimes young pitching is an unknown in the postseason, so I have to dock them for that.

The Brewers and White Sox could be higher if their staff aces weren’t running on fumes.

 

Bullpen

  1. Dodgers
  2. Angels
  3. Phillies
  4. Red Sox
  5. Cubs
  6. Rays
  7. Twins
  8. White Sox
  9. Brewers

This to me was the toughest at the top and at the bottom.

The Dodgers have the numbers, but you might not have heard of the names. Joe Beimel and Jonathan Broxton have been a great tandem all year, leading up to Takashi Saito.  After Saito landed on the DL, Broxton has been lights out in the closer's role.

The Angels might have the names in Shields and Rodriguez, but an emergence from Jose Arredondo could tip the scales.

At the bottom, I couldn’t decide which was worse, but the White Sox have the better talent and the better closer.

 

Manager

  1. Joe Torre, Dodgers
  2. Terry Francona, Red Sox
  3. Lou Piniella, Cubs
  4. Mike Scioscia, Angels
  5. Ozzie Guillen, White Sox
  6. Ron Gardenhire, Twins
  7. Joe Maddon, Rays
  8. Charlie Manuel, Phillies
  9. Dale Sveum, Brewers

This is ranked more on postseason experience and knowledge of how the playoffs work. Joe Torre and Terry Francona are right at the top, but Mike Scioscia and Lou Piniella have been there as well.

Sorry Dale Sveum, but you are going to need to learn on the job and learn quickly.

 

Home Field

  1. Rays
  2. Red Sox
  3. Cubs
  4. Twins
  5. Phillies
  6. Angels
  7. Brewers
  8. Dodgers
  9. White Sox

I wouldn’t want to play the Rays at home at any point in the postseason. Seeing the magic that seems to be surrounding Tropicana Field is scary.

Fenway Park is of course another place to stay away from with Boston’s record.

The Metrodome has another factor working for it, with the Twins knowing its small nuances.

 

Clutch Hitters

  1. Manny Ramirez, Dodgers
  2. David Ortiz, Red Sox
  3. Carlos Pena, Rays
  4. Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
  5. Ryan Braun, Brewers
  6. Ryan Howard, Phillies
  7. Jermaine Dye, White Sox
  8. Justin Morneau, Twins
  9. Mark Teixeira, Angels

David Ortiz is the gold standard of all hitters, but Manny Ramirez had a big part in that. I’d walk both of those two with the bases loaded if I had a two run lead in the ninth inning and two outs.

The next three in Pena, Ramirez, and Braun have had very good years in the sending-their-teams-home-happy department.

 

Short-Series Danger

  1. Dodgers
  2. Red Sox
  3. Twins
  4. Angels
  5. Cubs
  6. Phillies
  7. White Sox
  8. Brewers
  9. Rays

With a good bullpen, some hot hitting, and a mix of talent and experience in the rotation, I don’t want any part of the Dodgers. This is a tough category that takes a lot of different factors into consideration, but just because the Rays are last, doesn’t mean they can’t win a short series.

 

Most in Need of a World Series

  1. Brewers
  2. Cubs
  3. Angels
  4. Phillies
  5. Dodgers
  6. Red Sox
  7. Twins
  8. White Sox
  9. Rays

Hear me out on this one Cubs fans.

The Brewers sold their soul to CC Sabathia, fired their manager, are on the verge of losing their long-time ace and could be trading away a few key players this offseason. If they don’t win the World Series this year, they may not for a while.

The Cubs are next based on fanbase deprivation, and the Angels come in at third because if there was any year to win it, this would be the one.

 

Power Rankings

  1. Cubs (38)
  2. Angels (38)
  3. Red Sox (39)
  4. Dodgers (46)
  5. Rays (54)
  6. Phillies (59)
  7. Twins (65)
  8. Brewers (74)
  9. White Sox (82)

This is a culmination based off how highly ranked every team was in each category. The lower the number the better; that means they were ranked higher in the most categories.

The Dodgers have the worst record but they are ranked fourth. That tells me they are built mostly for the postseason with a great bullpen and a balanced team.

So, according to the made up and completely wild formula I’ve put together, based off my not-so-expert opinion and statistics, the Cubs and Angels should meet in the World Series. I think it’s safe to say that the Cubs and the Angels have been the favorites.

It's telling that the Dodgers, who probably would be sitting home had they not acquired Manny Ramirez, are so high. Ramirez has impacted their standing in a few categories, mainly giving them the best clutch hitter, a better lineup, and probably helped them become the most dangerous in a short series.

The Cubs have a century full of pent up frustration on their side, but I’m finding very hard to count the Dodgers out.

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