MLB: Postseason Cheat Sheet and Strategy

MLB: Postseason Cheat Sheet and Strategy

Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!

Regular season champions may have been crowned, but there is still baseball being played, hence fantasy teams to be drafted. Playoff fantasy baseball comes in many shapes and sizes. Today's discussion and rankings will focus on a standard draft. The NFBC postseason contest does not include the Wild Card Series, so a separate piece will be provided with rankings dedicated to that.

Most playoff leagues draft teams similar in composition to standard fantasy rosters, perhaps eliminating some combination of second catcher, corner, middle and an outfielder or two, along with shortening the pitching. Scoring is usually points, as opposed to rotisserie, but diehards can stick to their favorite roto categories.

The conundrum is whether to pick players from as many teams as possible or back one or two teams, preferably not one of the favorites. Most playoff leagues don't have reserves. Once a team is eliminated, you get a goose egg from anyone on that team.

Another approach is speculating on the series requiring more games to decide and loading up on the involved players.

Positions matter much more in a playoff league. The expanded playoffs help a bit, but the rule of thumb reverts to when scarcity was a thing: lock up middle infield and third base. It's even better if one of the best players on the team you're stacking fills one of those spots.

Keeping with the contrarian approach, fading players from the favorites

Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!

Regular season champions may have been crowned, but there is still baseball being played, hence fantasy teams to be drafted. Playoff fantasy baseball comes in many shapes and sizes. Today's discussion and rankings will focus on a standard draft. The NFBC postseason contest does not include the Wild Card Series, so a separate piece will be provided with rankings dedicated to that.

Most playoff leagues draft teams similar in composition to standard fantasy rosters, perhaps eliminating some combination of second catcher, corner, middle and an outfielder or two, along with shortening the pitching. Scoring is usually points, as opposed to rotisserie, but diehards can stick to their favorite roto categories.

The conundrum is whether to pick players from as many teams as possible or back one or two teams, preferably not one of the favorites. Most playoff leagues don't have reserves. Once a team is eliminated, you get a goose egg from anyone on that team.

Another approach is speculating on the series requiring more games to decide and loading up on the involved players.

Positions matter much more in a playoff league. The expanded playoffs help a bit, but the rule of thumb reverts to when scarcity was a thing: lock up middle infield and third base. It's even better if one of the best players on the team you're stacking fills one of those spots.

Keeping with the contrarian approach, fading players from the favorites (Dodgers and Astros) is wise. The downside is being eliminated from competing earlier, but if you support the right underdogs, a payoff is heading your way.

For a detailed rundown of the playoff odds, my SiriusXM MLB Network Radio co-host Erik Halterman has you covered with MLB Playoff Picks: 2022 World Series Best Bets. This is a great guide to determine the "chalk" plays, helping to shape your strategy.

I've been haggling with how I want to present the rankings. There are three ways.

  1. My personal rankings, based on how I feel the playoffs will transpire
  2. Estimate how many games everyone will play based on the betting odds and set rankings accordingly
  3. Simply rank everyone without considering how many games they'll play, and you to adjust based on your strategy.

I decided on No. 3, but I'll end with how I am approaching a draft of this nature with my colleagues at ESPN. Here are hitter rankings assuming everyone garners the same plate appearances followed by pitching with all starters assumed to throw the same number of innings and all relievers with identical innings projections. Please keep in mind most scoring systems downgrade stolen bases relative to 5x5 rotisserie scoring. On the pitching side, strikeouts are key.

Apologies in advance if I included players not on the playoff rosters as well as some that may be out for the season but slipped through the cracks. Everyone likely to be drafted is ranked, but if I missed someone, please post below and I'll adjust. 

Hitters

HitterTMPOS
1Aaron JudgeNYYOF
2Yordan AlvarezHOUOF
3Paul GoldschmidtSTL1B
4Mookie BettsLADOF
5Kyle TuckerHOUOF
6Manny MachadoSDP3B
7Bryce HarperPHIOF
8Jose RamirezCLE3B
9Pete AlonsoNYM1B
10Freddie FreemanLAD1B
11Kyle SchwarberPHIOF
12Jose AltuveHOU2B
13Julio RodriguezSEAOF
14Michael Harris IIATLOF
15Trea TurnerLAD2B/SS
16George SpringerTOROF
17Anthony RizzoNYY1B
18J.T. RealmutoPHIC
19Teoscar HernandezTOROF
20Nolan ArenadoSTL3B
21Giancarlo StantonNYYOF
22Ronald AcunaATLOF
23Starling MarteNYMOF
24Austin RileyATL3B
25Francisco LindorNYMSS
26Vladimir GuerreroTOR1B
27Brandon LoweTAM2B
28Juan SotoSDPOF
29Dansby SwansonATLSS
30Randy ArozarenaTAMOF
31Mitch HanigerSEAOF
32Alex BregmanHOU3B
33Bo BichetteTORSS
34Will SmithLADC
35Ozzie AlbiesATL2B
36Matt OlsonATL1B
37Danny JansenTORC
38Matt CarpenterNYY2B
39Dylan MooreSEA2B/OF
40Matt ChapmanTOR3B
41Albert PujolsSTL1B
42Tommy EdmanSTL2B/OF
43Andres GimenezCLE2B/SS
44Wander FrancoTAMSS
45Brandon DrurySDPOF
46Vaughn GrissomATLSS
47Eugenio SuarezSEA3B/SS
48Gleyber TorresNYYSS
49Max MuncyLAD1B/2B
50Jonathan ArandaTAM2B
51Justin TurnerLAD3B
52Trayce ThompsonLADOF
53Wil MyersSDPOF
54Travis d'ArnaudATLC
55Chas McCormickHOUOF
56Rhys HoskinsPHI1B
57Joey GalloLADOF
58Tyler O'NeillSTLOF
59William ContrerasATLC
60Mark CanhaNYMOF
61Vidal BrujanTAMOF
62Lars NootbaarSTLOF
63Harrison BaderNYYOF
64Jarred KelenicSEAOF
65Oswaldo CabreraNYY2B
66Cody BellingerLADOF
67Jake CronenworthSDP1B/2B/SS
68Brendan DonovanSTL2B
69Brandon NimmoNYMOF
70Jeremy PenaHOUSS
71Ty FranceSEA1B/2B
72Yandy DiazTAM1B/3B
73DJ LeMahieuNYY1B/2B/3B
74Jeff McNeilNYM2B/OF
75Josh NaylorCLEOF
76Juan YepezSTL1B
77Cal RaleighSEAC
78Tyler NaquinNYMOF
79Gavin LuxLAD2B/SS
80Eddie RosarioATLOF
81Daniel VogelbachNYM1B
82Marcell OzunaATLOF
83Alejandro KirkTORC
84Whit MerrifieldTOR2B
85Josh BellSDP1B
86Aaron HicksNYYOF
87Oscar GonzalezCLEOF
88Nick CastellanosPHIOF
89Chris TaylorLAD2B/SS/OF
90Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOROF
91Jean SeguraPHI2B
92Steven KwanCLEOF
93Cavan BiggioTOR3B
94Sam HaggertySEAOF
95Trent GrishamSDPOF
96Gabriel AriasCLESS
97Nolan JonesCLE3B
98Eduardo EscobarNYM2B/3B
99Jose SiriTAMOF
100Bryson StottPHISS
101Kyle HigashiokaNYYC
102Amed RosarioCLESS
103Isaac ParedesTAM2B
104Manuel MargotTAMOF
105Jesse WinkerSEAOF
106Oswald PerazaNYYSS
107Ji-Man ChoiTAM1B
108Aledmys DiazHOU3B
109Paul DeJongSTLSS
110Josh DonaldsonNYY3B
111Dylan CarlsonSTLOF
112Jurickson ProfarSDPOF
113Jake MeyersHOUOF
114Harold RamirezTAMOF
115Carlos SantanaSEA1B
116Dominic SmithNYMOF
117Orlando ArciaATLOF
118Abraham ToroSEA2B/3B
119Brandon MarshPHIOF
120Trey ManciniHOU1B
121Taylor TrammellSEAOF
122Derek HillSEAOF
123Darick HallPHI1B
124Rene PintoTAMC
125Ha-Seong KimSDP2B/3B/SS
126David PeraltaTAMOF
127Alec BohmPHI3B
128Isiah Kiner-FalefaNYYSS
129Francisco MejiaTAMC
130Corey DickersonSTLOF
131Santiago EspinalTOR3B
132Taylor WallsTAMSS
133Raimel TapiaTOROF
134Christian VazquezHOUC
135Christian BethancourtTAMC
136Will BensonCLEOF
137Guillermo HerediaATLOF
138Jorge AlfaroSDPC/OF
139Will BrennanCLEOF
140Robbie GrossmanATLOF
141Austin NolaSDPC
142Curt CasaliSEAC
143Matt VierlingPHIOF
144James McCannNYMC
145Tyler FreemanCLE2B
146Kyle LewisSEAOF
147Jose TrevinoNYYC
148Yuli GurrielHOU1B
149Owen MillerCLE2B
150Estevan FlorialNYYOF
151Marwin GonzalezNYY2B
152Jose AzocarSDPOF
153Martin MaldonadoHOUC
154Nolan GormanSTL3B
155Yadier MolinaSTLC
156Myles StrawCLEOF
157Jackie BradleyTOROF
158Hanser AlbertoLAD2B/3B
159Adam FrazierSEA2B
160J.P. CrawfordSEASS
161Tim LocastroNYYOF
162Darin RufNYM1B/OF
163Tomas NidoNYMC
164Luis GuillormeNYM3B
165Austin HedgesCLEC
166Luke MaileCLEC
167Josh LoweTAMOF
168Ernie ClementCLE2B
169Austin BarnesLADC

Pitchers

PitcherTM
1Jacob deGromNYM
2Max ScherzerNYM
3Justin VerlanderHOU
4Gerrit ColeNYY
5Edwin DiazNYM
6Shane McClanahanTAM
7Josh HaderSDP
8Cristian JavierHOU
9Clayton KershawLAD
10Julio UriasLAD
11Ryan PresslyHOU
12Aaron NolaPHI
13Yu DarvishSDP
14Shane BieberCLE
15Zack WheelerPHI
16Spencer StriderATL
17Emmanuel ClaseCLE
18Nestor CortesNYY
19Luis CastilloSEA
20Alek ManoahTOR
21Blake SnellSDP
22Kenley JansenATL
23Jordan RomanoTOR
24Max FriedATL
25Jeffrey SpringsTAM
26Triston McKenzieCLE
27Robbie RaySEA
28Luis SeverinoNYY
29Kevin GausmanTOR
30Tony GonsolinLAD
31Tyler GlasnowTAM
32Ryan HelsleySTL
33Andrew HeaneyLAD
34Joe MusgroveSDP
35Framber ValdezHOU
36Tyler AndersonLAD
37Drew RasmussenTAM
38Luis GarciaHOU
39Charlie MortonATL
40Lance McCullers Jr.HOU
41Raisel IglesiasATL
42Logan GilbertSEA
43Jason AdamTAM
44Paul SewaldSEA
45Kyle WrightATL
46Jordan MontgomerySTL
47Pete FairbanksTAM
48Clay HolmesNYY
49Chris BassittNYM
50George KirbySEA
51Giovanny GallegosSTL
52Dustin MayLAD
53Ross StriplingTOR
54Miles MikolasSTL
55Jameson TaillonNYY
56Evan PhillipsLAD
57Jose QuintanaSTL
58Jose UrquidyHOU
59Carlos CarrascoNYM
60Aaron CivaleCLE
61Bailey FalterPHI
62Taijuan WalkerNYM
63Frankie MontasNYY
64Domingo GermanNYY
65Mike ClevingerSDP
66Bryce ElderATL
67Corey KluberTAM
68Andres MunozSEA
69A.J. MinterATL
70Rafael MonteroHOU
71Craig KimbrelLAD
72Aroldis ChapmanNYY
73Jack FlahertySTL
74Sean ManaeaSDP
75Ranger SuarezPHI
76Tommy KahnleLAD
77Alex VesiaLAD
78Cal QuantrillCLE
79David PetersonNYM
80Colin PocheTAM
81Noah SyndergaardPHI
82Brooks RaleyTAM
83Hector NerisHOU
84Yoan LopezNYM
85Adam OttavinoNYM
86David RobertsonPHI
87Chris MartinLAD
88Collin McHughATL
89Diego CastilloSEA
90Garrett CleavingerTAM
91Jose BerriosTOR
92Erik SwansonSEA
93Matt FestaSEA
94James KarinchakCLE
95Seranthony DominguezPHI
96Steven WilsonSDP
97Adam WainwrightSTL
98Blake TreinenLAD
99Robert SuarezSDP
100Will SmithHOU
101Dylan LeeATL
102Trevor MayNYM
103Kyle GibsonPHI
104Jose AlvaradoPHI
105Lou TrivinoNYY
106Phil BickfordLAD
107Pierce JohnsonSDP
108Andrew BellattiPHI
109Seth LugoNYM
110Ryne StanekHOU
111Caleb FergusonLAD
112Zach PlesacCLE
113Jake OdorizziATL
114Nick SandlinCLE
115Scott EffrossNYY
116Brusdar GraterolLAD
117J.P. FeyereisenTAM
118Tim MayzaTOR
119Bryan AbreuHOU
120Trevor StephanCLE
121Connor BrogdonPHI
122Ryan ThompsonTAM
123Nick MartinezSDP
124Tommy HunterNYM
125Silvino BrachoATL
126Enyel De Los SantosCLE
127Jonathan LoaisigaNYY
128Luis GarciaSDP
129David PriceLAD
130JT ChargoisTAM
131Lucas LuetgeNYY
132Ron MarinaccioNYY
133Ryan PepiotLAD
134Adam CimberTOR
135Brad HandPHI
136Drew SmithNYM
137Jalen BeeksTAM
138Justin BruihlLAD
139Matt BrashSEA
140Phil MatonHOU
141Shawn ArmstrongTAM
142Tyler MatzekATL
143Sam HentgesCLE
144Yimi GarciaTOR
145Joely RodriguezNYM
146Seth MartinezHOU
147Ian AndersonATL
148Wandy PeraltaNYY
149Eli MorganCLE
150Kodi WhitleySTL
151David PhelpsTOR
152Marco GonzalesSEA
153Trevor RichardsTOR
154Zach EflinPHI
155Matthew BoydSEA
156Penn MurfeeSEA
157Steven MatzSTL
158Adrian MorejonSDP
159Clarke SchmidtNYY
160Trevor WilliamsNYM
161Nabil CrismattSDP
162Andre JacksonLAD
163Calvin FaucherTAM
164Craig StammenSDP
165Sam CoonrodPHI
166Yusei KikuchiTOR
167Chris StrattonSTL
168Jordan HicksSTL
169Julian MerryweatherTOR
170Michael GroveLAD
171Miguel CastroNYY
172Justus SheffieldSEA
173Vinny NittoliPHI
174Genesis CabreraSTL
175Kirk McCartyCLE
176Parker MushinskiHOU
177Yency AlmonteLAD
178Ryan YarbroughTAM
179Hunter BrownHOU
180Brandon BielakHOU
181Chris FlexenSEA
182Kyle MullerATL
183Reiss KnehrSDP
184Cristopher SanchezPHI
185Junior FernandezSTL
186Ryan BoruckiSEA
187Trent ThorntonTOR
188Matthew LiberatoreSTL
189Francisco MoralesPHI
190Tim HillSDP
191Blake TaylorHOU
192Javy GuerraTAM
193Albert AbreuNYY
194Packy NaughtonSTL
195Nick NelsonPHI
196Greg WeissertNYY
197Andre PallanteSTL
198Mychal GivensNYM
199Zack ThompsonSTL
200Jake WoodfordSTL
201Zach PopTOR
202Jackson StephensATL
203Jesse ChavezATL
204Anthony BassTOR
205Mitch WhiteTOR
206Konnor PilkingtonCLE

I've decided to stack Mariners, while doing what I can to squeeze as many ATL players onto my roster as possible. Atlanta is a popular pick, so it is hard to stack, but I'd like some exposure. The issue with this approach is there aren't any Seattle hitters to targets in the scarce positions, so I drafted Julio Rodriguez early and flipped to pitching. Admittedly, it's a win-or-go-home-early approach, but that's how I prefer to handle playoff leagues.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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