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MLB playoff power rankings: Who are the most dangerous teams on the path to the World Series?

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It’s October, and there are no more easy games. As the top 12 teams in MLB prepare to battle for the grand prize, everyone is suddenly dangerous. How dangerous? Well, that’s the real question.

Wins and losses and playoff seeding tell us a lot, but they don’t necessarily reflect the level of fear you should be feeling towards your team’s opponent at a given time. What do each of these squads really like?

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We ranked each of October’s potential Predators on how terrible they are right now heading into the playoffs and tried to create an appropriate warning for those who might challenge them.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

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Dangerous: The Avengers are filming

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Somehow, it may not be noticeable that the Dodgers have won 111 games. Their three major acquisitions in three years—Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman—created a lineup charged up like a Marvel blockbuster poster. If there are any questions here, they revolve around the lesser names on the pitching staff. It’s weird to talk about a team that has the best ERA in MLB.

2. Houston Astros

Dangerous: glowing spaceship spotted overhead

Can they move on to their sixth ALCS in a row? Yes, of course they can, and maybe more. Justin Verlander’s 1.75 ERA at age 39 is one thing, but the broader development of the organization can be more otherworldly. Whether it’s Christian Javier, Hunter Brown, or a more experienced starter, at least one very talented pitcher is sure to show up to shatter mid-pitch dreams.

3. Atlanta Braves

Dangerous: the approaching train has no brakes.

It’s beginning to look like their viral stadium attraction, Beat the Freeze, was an omen. For the second season in a row, the Braves gave themselves the opportunity to catch up and then blasted past the competition with a fury no one could have foreseen. Last year it was a trading term bonanza. This year it hosted a separate NL Rookie of the Year race between Michael Harris II and Spencer Strider. It remains to be seen if Strider – a flamethrower young starter – will be able to recover from injury in time for the playoffs, but if so, be on the lookout.

4. New York Yankees

Danger: A literal giant with a big stick.

Everyone knows that here is the biggest threat. Aaron Judge’s 62 homers make him even less capable of sneaking up on people than the average 6ft 7in super athlete. What can be mean in a Yankee? They actually had a few hitters turning the corner after the August nadir. Gleiber Torres hit .323 with six homers in September, while Giancarlo Stanton will go into the postseason hitting in three straight games.

New York Mets starter Max Scherzer leads a busy staff that will make him a dangerous playoff contender.  (AP Photo/Morrie Gash)
New York Mets starter Max Scherzer leads a busy staff that will make him a dangerous playoff contender. (AP Photo/Morrie Gash)

5. New York Mets

Danger: Injured animal ahead

Look, the Braves series wasn’t pretty. Mets fans were all too familiar with the dreary feeling of watching the NL East slip away. But teams with 100 wins don’t grow on trees. Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Chris Bassitt are a formidable combination even if they didn’t get results against Atlanta. I mean, if you think about it, Scherzer probably So Mad. Want to meet Mad Max?

6. Cleveland Guardians

Danger: tiny fire ants, thousands of them

Part of the Guardians makes you work. They don’t hit hard or far, but they hit less than any team in the majors and steal more bases than any other playoff team. However, do not forget about their evolution. There are 24-10 of them since the beginning of September, largely due to the rise to a new level of the pitching squad. Look for rookie Triston McKenzie and any of the half dozen pitchers who will join Shane Bieber as nationwide names this month.

7. St. Louis Cardinals

Danger: LUKE (come on, you fail every year)

An entire season by Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujol and Yadier Molina was ripped out of a TV movie script that was dismissed as too good to be true. So there’s some serious Cardinals energy here, but also real pop. Since the All-Star break, they have hit more homers than any other team.

8. Toronto Blue Jays

Danger: Youth is unpredictable

If you’re looking for an attack, you should watch the Blue Jays. They have a parade of sluggers—besides Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Beau Bichette has been in tears since the summer—and a smaller parade of guns. Apart from young ace Alec Manoa, Toronto has very few safe pitches. And yet, they can still break past you.

Manny Machado is having one of his best seasons this year and will be in the playoffs for a strong San Diego Padres team.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Manny Machado is having one of his best seasons this year and will lead the strong San Diego Padres into the playoffs. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

9. San Diego Padres

Danger: the sleepy bear must wake up

Crime Padre looks terrible, but never achieved its full success, even after Juan Soto’s blockbuster. Manny Machado is having one of his best seasons and may need to shoulder the roster to help San Diego move forward. On the hill, they will feel good with Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, and less so if they have to dip into Mike Clevinger or Sean Manea, who struggled throughout the game. The bullpen has been an adventure, but Josh Hader has quietly returned to form with a .87 ERA in 10 1/3 innings since Sept. 1.

10. Philadelphia Phillies

Danger: they can be contagious

What if the Padres had a heavier rotation? On paper, the Phillies are baffling, too. They have JT Realmuto, Bryce Harper and NL Homer Champion Kyle Schwarber to cement the roster. They have two serious aces in the rotation in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, who flirted with a perfect game to secure their long-awaited playoff spot. Beneath the shiny surface lies potential, but a lot of uncertainty. One burning question: who exactly will close the game if they get the advantage?

11. Seattle Mariners

Dangerous: a fire juggler who feels no pain

They would never say it, but the postseason results are very pleasing for this Mariners team. Led by Julio Rodriguez, they are young and charged for several seasons of rivalry. This one was about fighting drought, and they did it. They now enter October with a solid opening pitch, no fear, and the strongest lineup you can imagine. In the second half, they finished 29th in the majors in batting average and sixth in home runs.

12. Tampa Bay Rays

Danger: You also didn’t expect the subprime mortgage crisis to come.

Rays, oh rays. They just keep finding their way into October, even as their top scoring hitter (Yandy Diaz) hit a whopping nine home runs. Like their other recent rivals, this one draws strength from the sheer amount of good pitchers they can throw at you. Don’t be surprised to see recently returned starter Tyler Glasnow or Drew Rasmussen put together another flawless hand.


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