After a wild final weekend for the National League in which the spoilers failed to do their jobs at all, resulting in two Game 163s that were also exciting, all of the 2018 postseason teams are finally locked in. That took long enough. RIP Cardinals.
So now that we not only know which teams are in the playoffs but their opening round positions as well, we’re going to rank each team for a fun yet completely arbitrary list of who to root for this postseason.
We already covered a ranking of every possible World Series matchup elsewhere on this fun site, so this isn’t dependent on who the teams are playing in any given round. This is just based on the levels of fun and rootability of each team, with points removed for any racist logos or alleged domestic abusers they might have hanging around. Every round, I’ll update these rankings based on the events of the previous round.
Feel free to yell at me about the rankings in the comments, but know in advance I won’t care and also probably won’t remember my ranking logic and reasoning by the time you get around to complaining. It’s the postseason, let’s have fun.
The Cubs are … sigh. They haven’t been especially fun this year, and that’s before the Addison Russell situation flared up again (which the team handled poorly) or they traded for Daniel Murphy (which the team also handled poorly). Cole Hamels is doing alright, so that’s fine. And, oh boy, is Javy Báez a lot of fun. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant remain their enjoyable Bryzzo selves even through slumps and injuries.
But other than that, the Cubs aren’t really a team you’re drawn to this postseason. Even some Cubs fans are having a bit of trouble supporting the team right now because of the aforementioned poorly handled player situations. They just won a World Series, so they’ll be fine without any extra fans on their side.
Besides José Ramírez and Francisco Lindor’s bats, one of which has been very sleepy heading into this postseason, the Indians don’t have a ton to latch on to this year. Gone is the team that rattled off an AL record of consecutive wins with a lineup to be feared.
Now they have Corey Kluber sans beard, Trevor Bauer rejoining the roster in time for the playoffs, and a racist logo they won’t drop and which some fans will still be wearing throughout their postseason run. All of that and every other team in the American League race is more fun by one metric or another. Just not a great year to latch on to Cleveland, there are better options.
One of those options is the Astros. They just won so there’s no desperation in their hunt, which is why they’re this low on the list, but they still have people like Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Alex Bregman being joyful on the field and in the dugout.
Yet where the “they could repeat as champs!” bonus should push them a little higher on this ranking, the “they traded for a domestic abuser at the deadline while he was still suspended by the league and court proceedings were ongoing, then pretended they still had a zero tolerance policy” thing cancels that bump out. At least watching Justin Verlander ruin batters’ lives throughout the postseason will still be fun, which is always an upside.
The Brewers are … fine. They’re fine! There’s nothing to really root against here other than Josh Hader succeeding in any way, shape, or form in October. Yet when you think about it there’s not really something to root for either besides Christian Yelich continuing to be a force to be reckoned with at the plate.
That Craig Counsell’s success with this Milwaukee team is a shock is a bit of a backhanded compliment but it also explains why they’re not the most enticing team to root for this year. Congrats to Jonathan Schoop for getting out of Baltimore? Mike Moustakas and Eric Thames still exist? Zach Davies still seems cool? Not much to work with. Sorry, Brew Crew.
Rockies fans are going to be mad at me that they’re this low and that’s OK. But the Rockies end-of-season push can only place them so high in entertainment value and there’s no overarching story or theme that makes them more enticing to root for than the teams above them.
Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, CarGo, and German Márquez are all nice and fun and entertaining. Their pitching has mostly avoided the Coors Field Curse (hello, Kyle Freeland’s 2.85 ERA) and they’re more or less completely inoffensive as a team to get behind. They’re definitely the team most likely to move up these rankings as the postseason goes on though.
A healthy Aaron Judge, pitching that runs very hot and very cold in the same game, 100 wins without winning the division, and the single-season home run record. The Yankees are good, and they are entertaining, but they are also the New York Yankees and if you are looking for a team to root for because you don’t have one I can’t in good conscience recommend them.
Yet, similar to last year, they’re a fun Yankees team. So I also can’t be mad if you decide you’d like to bandwagon them right now. You’d be wrong and unoriginal, but I’d at least understand. They’re most likely to launch up these rankings if it ends up being a Yankees-Cubs World Series or something. Oh god, can you even imagine?
4. Red Sox
The Red Sox are fun for the same reason the Yankees are (young stars, lots of dingers, facing their biggest rivals in the opening round) with the added bonus of being historically good. “They had to paint new number panels for the scoreboard” good is a type of good you don’t get to see that often.
They have two MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale remains magical even in a slightly down year for the ace, and they have other young, entertaining guys like Rafael Devers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts. But they are still the Red Sox and that’s understandably a tough pill to swallow for many people.
They also just won a World Series in 2013 (and two more before that, of course) so they wouldn’t come close to qualifying as an underdog even if they didn’t win 108 games. Boston is this year’s “wow are they fun to watch play baseball but no one wants them to actually win any games” team. Which is fair.
The Dodgers are this high by their sheer howdidtheyevengethere quality. If you put the Dodgers’ howdidtheyevengethere in a town’s water supply it would immediately qualify as unsafe levels for humans to consume. Their pitching situation alone should be classified as toxic waste.
For a team that barely made it to the postseason, they could also easily win the whole thing and avenge 2017’s seven game loss.
If they can get out of their own way of course. Which makes them way more interesting than many teams on this list. They are neither an underdog nor a steamroller, they are both. They are every possible outcome for a playoff team at any given time. They are so entertaining because they could swing between farcical and world beating within a two inning span.
The A’s have this weird thing going on where they are really fun as a team but when you break them into individual entities they’re not as purely awesome. Khris Davis won the home run title this year and is by all accounts very nice but could you identify one awesomely fun thing he did this season besides hit dingers?
Matt Olson and Matt Chapman are both defensive marvels and Olson can rake, but the most entertaining thing about the both of them is pointing at the screen and saying “that’s Chappie” when Chapman does something impressive. Jed Lowrie will always be Jed Lowrie, and we love him for it. But there’s also no one unsavory on this team and besides their ongoing ballpark situation ownership is doing a decent job of hiding all of the things that make people dislike baseball owners.
Their last World Series win was in 1989, long enough ago that it’s definitely a drought that we want them to end, and they’re gone through more than enough down seasons since then that the desire for them to win it all is boosted accordingly.
The Braves are at the opposite spectrum of the Cubs, and they’re here because in a lot of ways they are the opposite of this year’s Chicago squad. They haven’t won a World Series since 1995, which is long enough we can call it a drought and say it would be fun if they ended it, they’re ahead of schedule in their rebuild rather than battling a closing window so there’s not much downside if they don’t win it this year, and they’re fun.
They’re so much fun! Between Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña, Jr., and Ozzie Albies, they have players that electrify games and force you to root for their happiness just through sheer charisma and talent. Thanks to the Phillies not living up to their rebuild promise this year and the Nationals being the Nationals, the Braves are in the postseason and poised to do something special thanks to a mix of talent and blind confidence.
If your team gets eliminated before the World Series and you’re looking for a group to invest in, you can’t do much worse than the Atlanta Braves. Bandwagon away. Just don’t look at the Tomahawk Chop and taxpayer money used to pay for their unnecessary new field behind the curtain.