October is the best. The weather is beautiful. The leaves change colors. And, most importantly, the baseball playoffs happen.
The hard part for the casual fan, or the fan whose team didn’t make it, is deciding which team to root for. As someone who watches a lot of baseball, I think I can help. This won’t be just a list of what teams I am rooting for. Nor will it be me telling you who to root for (there’s only one wrong answer in this year’s field). This will just be me laying out the pros and cons of each team in the hunt.
The National League has a good group. Both wild card teams came out of the NL West. The Arizona Diamondbacks will be hosting the Colorado Rockies in the Wild Card game. The Washington Nationals won the NL East and will be hosting the Chicago Cubs in the NLDS. Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West with the best record in baseball. They will host the winner of the Wild Card game.
The American League is mostly a good group. There’s just one glaring exception. The New York Yankees will be hosting the Minnesota Twins for the Wild Card game. The Houston Astros won the AL West and will host the Boston Red Sox, winners of the AL East, in the ALDS. And the Cleveland Indians had the best record in the American League. They will host the winner of the Wild Card Game in the ALDS.
Pros: The Rockies have never won a World Series. In fact, they’ve only been to one, in 2007 when they lost to the Red Sox. Plus, they are definite underdogs this year. Their stadium is notoriously tough to pitch in, but they put together a nice staff. And they have quite a few really fun players like Nolan Arrenado, Charlie Blackmon (and his beard) and Carlos Gonzalez (AKA CarGo).
Cons: They came in third in their own division. They just aren’t as good as the other teams. This one could be a pro for some people, but I’m listing Coors Field as a con. It’s just a weird stadium. I just don’t feel like I can trust what I’m seeing there.
Pros: The Diamondbacks are a really good baseball team. That gets lost a little bit because the Dodgers were so dominant, but in a normal year, they wouldn’t have needed the Wild Card. They have a lot of really fun players. They have Zack Greinke, Fernando Rodney, Paul Goldschmidt and J.D. Martinez. All of those guys deserve the spotlight.
Cons: They’re a wild card team, but they don’t feel like an underdog. They’re a pretty new franchise and they already have a World Series win.
Pros: There’s a ton of history with the Cubbies. Wrigley Field is awesome. When they win, it makes Bill Murray really happy. They’re a very good baseball team.
Cons: They’ve underperformed all year. They just won the World Series last year. Joe Maddon is their manager. I know all the baseball insiders love the man, but he overmanages in a very annoying way. While the Cubs have a lot of very good players, there isn’t much in the way of fun.
Pros: The Nationals have never won a World Series. They are another really good baseball team. Bryce Harper. He’s such a great player and he plays with a fantastic swagger. Their other good players are all really fun to watch, especially Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. It would be really poetic for Dusty Baker to lead a team past the Cubs.
Cons: Bryce Harper is coming off an injury, so he may not be at his best.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
Pros: The Dodgers have had a historically good season. They haven’t won a World Series since 1988. Dave Roberts is a great manager and an all around likable guy. Not only is the roster filled with exceptional players, they all play with personality. Yasiel Puig is as exciting as a player can be. Corey Seager is just awesome. Chase Utley is the very definition of gritty. Cody Belanger has had one of the best rookie seasons I can remember. And Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game.
Cons: They have a really high payroll.
Pros: They are this year’s biggest underdogs. The Twins have surprised everyone this year. They are the first team in history to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the year before. They haven’t won the World Series since 1987. Joe Mauer seems like such a good guy.
Cons: They just aren’t as good as most of the other teams.
New York Yankees:
Pros: Aaron Judge is a freak of nature.
Cons: Everything else about the team. There is really no reason for anyone to root for the Yankees this year.
Boston Red Sox:
Pros: The Sox have a lot of really good young players like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi and Christian Vasquez. They play a fun style of ball and take a lot of risks. They have a lot of personality. Fenway is awesome. Chris Sale and Craig Kimbrel are two of the most exciting pitchers in the game.
Cons: They have been wildly inconsistent this year. They just won the World Series in 2013.
Pros: The Astros have never won the World Series. Jose Altuve should be the league MVP this season. They have the best names in baseball from Marwin Gonzales to Cameron Maybin to Dallas Keuchel. They are a really, really fun team to watch. Their uniforms can be great. Houston could use a win.
Cons: It still feels wrong having the Astros in the American League.
Pros: The Indians haven’t won the World Series since 1948. Terry Francona is their manager. They are a really, really, really fun team to watch. They are a truly excellent baseball team. They had a 22 game win streak this season. Francisco Lindor is awesome to watch. And so is Corey Kluber. And so is Andrew Miller. The whole team is just fun.
Cons: I really can’t think of any.
Like I said before, if you’re wondering which team to root for, there is only one wrong answer. Don’t root for the Yankees. For every other team, the pros outweigh the cons. This should be a fun postseason.