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Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings: Playoffs edition

Oct 4, 2010, 4:00 PM EDT

Twenty-two teams are snug in their rumpus rooms, getting ready to watch the playoffs on TV like the rest of us suckers. The other eight still live, and if it lives, I can rank it.

This is not a predictions post, really. We’ll be doing previews of each of the first round series tomorrow and Wednesday. This is more of a snapshot of where the teams sit as we head into the madness that is playoff baseball. For example, I may have the Braves last, but I think they got a serious shot at taking down the Giants. We’ll save that for the previews. For now, just let my subjective judgments wash over you.

1. Phillies: I’m going to be on the “no one can beat Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels” train until someone beats them. No one has shown us that the big Russian can be cut yet.

2. Yankees: I know the Rays won the division. I really don’t care. A-Rod got healthy and hot at the right time. I refuse to believe that Rivera and Jeter and all of the rest won’t simply amp things up a bit now that the playoffs have started. Yes, they try to win every game, but if you asked Lance Armstrong if he felt winning those early sprints were important a few years ago he would have said yes too. Bull. He was saving it for the mountains. I think the Yankees are too, and I’d have a seriously difficult time betting on anyone else coming out of the AL.

3. Giants: In most years Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez would be called the big three of the playoffs. They suffer this year only by comparison. Their infield defense scares the crap out of me, though.

4. Rays: The best defense of any team in the playoffs, but can you depend on anyone in the rotation beyond David Price? I could see them mowing everyone down in the AL, or I can see them losing in the first round 3-1. How does it feel to have so much riding on Matt Garza, Rays fans?

5. Twins:  Say all you want about past playoff history between the Twins and the
Yankees not mattering as much as people say it should, but Minnesota is 18-54 against the Yankees since Ron Gardenhire took over the club and that’s hard to ignore.

6. Reds: The best offense in the NL, but so much of it came at the expense of a really weak NL Central. The thing I’m waiting to see in the first round more than anything else: close game, late innings, Aroldis Chapman coming in to face Utley and Howard.

7. Rangers: Texas was a combined 0-12 at Yankee Stadium, Target Field and Tropicana Field. That’s . . . troubling.

8. Braves: Bright side: Now that they’re in the playoffs they don’t need fourth and fifth starters, really, neutralizing a late-season weakness. Not so bright side: they still have to fill out their lineup card with two guys from the following group in every game: Melky Cabrera, Nate McLouth, Matt Diaz and Rick Ankiel. I’m approaching this like I approach my son’s soccer games: Hey everyone! Let’s just have some fun! There will be snacks afterward!

  1. RichardInBigD - Oct 4, 2010 at 4:11 PM

    The Rangers only lost in their opponents’ parks to instill a false sense of confidence in their likely post season rivals. It’s all just a mind game they’re playing, made possible by the absolute lack of a threat in the West. You just wait and see!

  2. The Great Dane - Oct 4, 2010 at 4:17 PM

    Agree with you on the Yankees, Craig, but you’re a little off with the Armstrong-analogy……

  3. Mr. Heyward - Oct 4, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    Whoa, there will be snacks?

  4. Jonny5 - Oct 4, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    I never realized just how bad McLouth was playing OF until the last two series against Atlanta. He’s just plain bad. I mean I used to laugh at Dunn out there before they put him on first. Well I’ll laugh at Dunn no more, at least he’s got a 270 Lb excuse to carry around…..
    And you must stop referring to the Phills as the Russian Craig, everyone know the Phills are already represented by Rocky!! They got the eye of the tiger boy!!!!

  5. walk - Oct 4, 2010 at 4:29 PM

    The yankees realised that their team contained a great deal of veterans and some pitching issues in the rotation. They sacrificed a division and several games for rested players for the play offs. I am not Yankee fan but i think that was a great move and i believe they are going to play well in the post season, but second is kinda high. Now having written that they are probably gonna win it all. This was a great year for baseball, one of the most competitive seasons i have ever seen and i expect a great play off. Thanks for bringing us so much extra coverage Craig and all the posters at HBT and everyone who commented this year. Go Braves, thats not an admisson that i am a braves fan, go Braves.

  6. Marklar - Oct 4, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    wow.. it took a real long time for the Giants to get some dap here but it finally has happened. I remember not so long ago, post all star break, HBT declaring the Giants done. Hopefully the Giants bats dont go to sleep… GO GIANTS!

  7. NWGiantFan - Oct 4, 2010 at 5:08 PM

    The snacks you mention. Will I have to find you or will you have someone come down the aisles?
    Great game and season for the Giants. I will be glad to see Bobby Cox one more time before he goes fishing. Great Manager for a great game. On to the Playoffs!!!

  8. Kelly - Oct 4, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    At some point, the Twins are due for a takedown of the Empire. They just are. It’s Biblical and if you believe all that, then get Punto a slingshot and let’s go.

  9. The Steve Jeltz Experiment - Oct 4, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    Punto might hit better using a slingshot…
    I kid. I think.

  10. John_Michael - Oct 4, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Philly’s never been the overdog before, and thus the ironicalness of the reverse rocky jab is missed.
    PS: I would have bet money that Chris Fiorentino would have posted something here that was at least 45% entered with THE CAPS LOCK KEY engaged by now.

  11. Utley's hair - Oct 4, 2010 at 5:47 PM

    Damn you and Survivor!!! But at least it replaces the carnival theme as the song stuck in my head. Crap. Now they’re playing concurrently!!!!!!

  12. Giant Space Ants - Oct 4, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    “Minnesota is 18-54 against the Yankees since Ron Gardenhire took over the club and that’s hard to ignore.”
    I disagree, it seems pretty easy to ignore. I don’t root for either team, but it seems from the outside like those 72 games have no influence on the results of the 3 to 5 they will be playing over the next week.

  13. Md23Rewls - Oct 4, 2010 at 6:59 PM

    Completely disagree. It’s not like that .250 winning percentage is just coincidence. That’s 72 games of futility. The Yankees beat the Twins. That’s what they do. The Twins could certainly beat New York this series. For all I know, they will. Until they do, though, I don’t think we can just toss out 72 games and just say, “Nah, doesn’t matter, Twins are fine, no issue here.”

  14. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 4, 2010 at 11:48 PM

    At least you put the Braves where they belong…IN LAST AMONG THE PLAYOFF TEAMS!!! I do think they will beat the Giants though..MARK IT DOWN. BRAVES IN 4. PERIOD.

  15. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 5, 2010 at 8:07 AM

    Here are my predictions…MARK MY WORDS!!!
    Phillies 3-1 over Reds…Reds will steal game 2 on a blown Lidge save after Oswalt throws 8 strong.
    Braves 3-1 over Giants…D. Lowe will steal game 1 and Cain will struggle in his first playoff game. Too much pride to get swept, but the game 4 clincher will be a high-scoring Braves win.
    Yankers 3-2 over Twinkies…this will be a high-scoring series, and the mashers will prevail. Jim Thome will hit 3 home runs.
    Rays 3-2 over Rangers…Lee will go 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA, but the Rangers will lose the other 3 games.

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