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Rounding Third: 2012 Playoff Rankings

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

2012 Playoff Rankings
Playoff rankings require us to peer into a cloudy crystal ball, and predict who is going to win which series. Thus, there's a lot of volatility in the rankings, and you'll also see lesser players boosted in the rankings because they're projected to play more games.
This year is different, though - and not because of who is in the playoffs, but because of the structure of the playoffs themselves. As everyone well knows by now, there are 10 total teams in the playoffs, with the two wild cards in each league playing a one-game playoff before the Division Series begin. Thus, those two wild card teams in each league are at a significant disadvantage and have to be discounted severely in the rankings, as even in a best case scenario, the favorites in those two games are 60 percent favorites to advance and get more than just one game. And I'd argue in the NL that the margin is a lot smaller between the Braves and Cardinals - though it's folly to rely too much on a one-game prediction.
The other significant difference is the Division Series schedule - instead of 2-2-1, it's 2-3, with the lower seed hosting the first two games. I don't pretend to know how it'll play out compared to the previous format, just that it's different. There's really little gap among the playoff teams as to who benefits the most from their home field. The range in home wins between all the playoff teams is 51 to 47 wins.
All that said, if I had to seed the 10 teams in the playoffs, I'd rank them as:
I know I'm just inviting fate to bite me, as a Reds fan, in ranking the Cardinals so low, but they have to be at least somewhat of an underdog on the road in a Kyle Lohse vs. Kris Medlen matchup. I think the format helps the Giants the most in their head-to-head matchup against the Reds, and I think that the Tigers being able to set their rotation for the A's with two home games against them to start helps considerably.
Take a look at the catcher rankings - they're a gigantic mess, as four of the top six hitting catchers in the playoffs are on wild card teams (Molina, Napoli, Wieters and McCann), and Brian McCann isn't even starting Friday because he's banged up. There's a really good argument in that vein to make Buster Posey the top overall pick, especially if you believe as I do that the Giants have a pretty good chance to get past the Reds.
Here are the position rankings. Players qualify at a position with 10 or more games there in 2012 - or in the case of fewer than 10 games at any position, where that player has played the most.
1. Swisher, Nick (NY-A)
2. Fielder, Prince (DET)
3. LaRoche, Adam (WAS)
4. Teixeira, Mark (NY-A)
5. Belt, Brandon (SF)
6. Votto, Joey (CIN)
7. Moss, Brandon (OAK)
8. Freeman, Freddie (ATL)
9. Napoli, Mike (TEX)
10. Frazier, Todd (CIN)
11. Young, Michael (TEX)
12. Moreland, Mitch (TEX)
13. Moore, Tyler (WAS)
14. Carter, Chris (OAK)
15. Craig, Allen (STL)
16. Davis, Chris (BAL)
17. Reynolds, Mark (BAL)
18. Huff, Aubrey (SF)
19. Pill, Brett (SF)
20. Cairo, Miguel (CIN)
21. Snyder, Brandon (TEX)
22. Overbay, Lyle (ATL)
23. Carpenter, Matt (STL)
24. Barton, Daric (OAK)
25. Berkman, Lance (STL)
1. Cano, Robinson (NY-A)
2. Phillips, Brandon (CIN)
3. Espinosa, Danny (WAS)
4. Scutaro, Marco (SF)
5. Kinsler, Ian (TEX)
6. Uggla, Dan (ATL)
7. Infante, Omar (DET)
8. Pennington, Cliff (OAK)
9. Rosales, Adam (OAK)
10. Schumaker, Skip (STL)
11. Descalso, Daniel (STL)
12. Theriot, Ryan (SF)
13. Lombardozzi, Steve (WAS)
14. Santiago, Ramon (DET)
15. Valdez, Wilson (CIN)
16. Andino, Robert (BAL)
17. Baker, Jeff (ATL)
18. Burriss, Manny (SF)
19. Jackson, Ryan (STL)
20. Weeks, Jemile (OAK)
1. Cabrera, Miguel (DET)
2. Zimmerman, Ryan (WAS)
3. Rodriguez, Alex (NY-A)
4. Sandoval, Pablo (SF)
5. Beltre, Adrian (TEX)
6. Prado, Martin (ATL)
7. Rolen, Scott (CIN)
8. Donaldson, Josh (OAK)
9. Jones, Chipper (ATL)
10. Freese, David (STL)
11. Davis, Chris (BAL)
12. Frazier, Todd (CIN)
13. Chavez, Eric (NY-A)
14. Young, Michael (TEX)
15. Reynolds, Mark (BAL)
16. Machado, Manny (BAL)
17. Arias, Joaquin (SF)
18. Francisco, Juan (ATL)
19. Lombardozzi, Steve (WAS)
20. DeRosa, Mark (WAS)
21. Descalso, Daniel (STL)
22. McGehee, Casey (NY-A)
23. Kelly, Don (DET)
24. Olt, Mike (TEX)
25. Betemit, Wilson (BAL)
1. Jeter, Derek (NY-A)
2. Desmond, Ian (WAS)
3. Espinosa, Danny (WAS)
4. Cozart, Zack (CIN)
5. Scutaro, Marco (SF)
6. Peralta, Jhonny (DET)
7. Drew, Stephen (OAK)
8. Andrus, Elvis (TEX)
9. Pennington, Cliff (OAK)
10. Simmons, Andrelton (ATL)
11. Hardy, J.J. (BAL)
12. Arias, Joaquin (SF)
13. Theriot, Ryan (SF)
14. Santiago, Ramon (DET)
15. Valdez, Wilson (CIN)
16. Janish, Paul (ATL)
17. Crawford, Brandon (SF)
18. Quintanilla, Omar (BAL)
19. Profar, Jurickson (TEX)
20. Andino, Robert (BAL)
21. Jackson, Ryan (STL)
22. Nunez, Eduardo (NY-A)
1. Posey, Buster (SF)
2. Avila, Alex (DET)
3. Martin, Russell (NY-A)
4. Molina, Yadier (STL)
5. Wieters, Matt (BAL)
6. Napoli, Mike (TEX)
7. Flores, Jesus (WAS)
8. Suzuki, Kurt (WAS)
9. Norris, Derek (OAK)
10. Hanigan, Ryan (CIN)
11. Ross, David (ATL)
12. McCann, Brian (ATL)
13. Kottaras, George (OAK)
14. Sanchez, Hector (SF)
15. Stewart, Chris (NY-A)
16. Laird, Gerald (DET)
17. Navarro, Dioner (CIN)
18. Soto, Geovany (TEX)
19. Teagarden, Taylor (BAL)
20. Cruz, Tony (STL)
21. Mesoraco, Devin (CIN)
1. Granderson, Curtis (NY-A)
2. Bourn, Michael (ATL)
3. Bruce, Jay (CIN)
4. Swisher, Nick (NY-A)
5. Pence, Hunter (SF)
6. Hamilton, Josh (TEX)
7. Morse, Mike (WAS)
8. Reddick, Josh (OAK)
9. Cespedes, Yoenis (OAK)
10. Harper, Bryce (WAS)
11. Jackson, Austin (DET)
12. Suzuki, Ichiro (NY-A)
13. Holliday, Matt (STL)
14. Jones, Adam (BAL)
15. Heyward, Jason (ATL)
16. Cruz, Nelson (TEX)
17. Craig, Allen (STL)
18. Pagan, Angel (SF)
19. Ibanez, Raul (NY-A)
20. Prado, Martin (ATL)
21. Beltran, Carlos (STL)
22. Ludwick, Ryan (CIN)
23. Young, Delmon (DET)
24. Crisp, Coco (OAK)
25. Werth, Jayson (WAS)
26. Moss, Brandon (OAK)
27. Belt, Brandon (SF)
28. Jay, Jon (STL)
29. Davis, Chris (BAL)
30. Dirks, Andy (DET)
31. Smith, Seth (OAK)
32. Stubbs, Drew (CIN)
33. Murphy, David (TEX)
34. Moreland, Mitch (TEX)
35. McLouth, Nate (BAL)
36. Jones, Andruw (NY-A)
37. Moore, Tyler (WAS)
38. Gomes, Jonny (OAK)
39. Berry, Quintin (DET)
40. Heisey, Chris (CIN)
41. Boesch, Brennan (DET)
42. Johnson, Reed (ATL)
43. Blanco, Gregor (SF)
44. Christian, Justin (SF)
45. Paul, Xavier (CIN)
46. Constanza, Jose (ATL)
47. Schumaker, Skip (STL)
48. Ford, Lew (BAL)
49. Bernadina, Roger (WAS)
50. Hinske, Eric (ATL)
51. Gentry, Craig (TEX)
1. Verlander, Justin (DET)
2. Cain, Matt (SF)
3. Gonzalez, Gio (WAS)
4. Sabathia, CC (NY-A)
5. Cueto, Johnny (CIN)
6. Bumgarner, Madison (SF)
7. Latos, Mat (CIN)
8. Kuroda, Hiroki (NY-A)
9. Zimmermann, Jordan (WAS)
10. Fister, Doug (DET)
11. Medlen, Kris (ATL)
12. Darvish, Yu (TEX)
13. Lohse, Kyle (STL)
14. Jackson, Edwin (WAS)
15. Parker, Jarrod (OAK)
16. Sanchez, Anibal (DET)
17. Scherzer, Max (DET)
18. Hughes, Phil (NY-A)
19. Pettitte, Andy (NY-A)
20. Lincecum, Tim (SF)
21. Arroyo, Bronson (CIN)
22. Bailey, Homer (CIN)
23. Saunders, Joe (BAL)
24. Hudson, Tim (ATL)
25. Wainwright, Adam (STL)
26. Harrison, Matt (TEX)
27. Detwiler, Ross (WAS)
28. Milone, Tommy (OAK)
29. Vogelsong, Ryan (SF)
30. Zito, Barry (SF)
31. Straily, Dan (OAK)
32. Minor, Mike (ATL)
33. Holland, Derek (TEX)
34. Gonzalez, Miguel (BAL)
35. Garcia, Jaime (STL)
36. Carpenter, Chris (STL)
37. Hanson, Tommy (ATL)
38. Dempster, Ryan (TEX)
39. Chen, Wei-Yin (BAL)
40. Maholm, Paul (ATL)
41. Lynn, Lance (STL)
42. Tillman, Chris (BAL)
43. Leake, Mike (CIN)
44. Anderson, Brett (OAK)
45. Porcello, Rick (DET)
46. Feldman, Scott (TEX)
47. Hammel, Jason (BAL)
48. Nova, Ivan (NY-A)
49. Phelps, David (NY-A)
50. Britton, Zach (BAL)
51. Johnson, Steve (BAL)
1. Soriano, Rafael (NY-A)
2. Chapman, Aroldis (CIN)
3. Storen, Drew (WAS)
4. Valverde, Jose (DET)
5. Kimbrel, Craig (ATL)
6. Balfour, Grant (OAK)
7. Romo, Sergio (SF)
8. Nathan, Joe (TEX)
9. Motte, Jason (STL)
10. Johnson, Jim (BAL)
11. Lopez, Javier (SF)
12. Cook, Ryan (OAK)
13. Marshall, Sean (CIN)
14. Clippard, Tyler (WAS)
15. Affeldt, Jeremy (SF)
16. Benoit, Joaquin (DET)
17. Doolittle, Sean (OAK)
18. Broxton, Jonathan (CIN)
19. Casilla, Santiago (SF)
20. Burnett, Sean (WAS)
21. Villarreal, Brayan (DET)
22. Robertson, David (NY-A)
23. Uehara, Koji (TEX)
24. Dotel, Octavio (DET)
25. Arredondo, Jose (CIN)
26. Logan, Boone (NY-A)
27. Phelps, David (NY-A)
28. Mujica, Edward (STL)
29. Ogando, Alexi (TEX)
30. Ondrusek, Logan (CIN)
31. Boggs, Mitchell (STL)
32. Venters, Jonny (ATL)
33. Stammen, Craig (WAS)
34. Adams, Mike (TEX)
35. Strop, Pedro (BAL)
36. Coke, Phil (DET)
37. LeCure, Sam (CIN)
38. Mattheus, Ryan (WAS)
39. Marte, Victor (STL)
40. Rzepczynski, Marc (STL)
41. O'Day, Darren (BAL)
42. Garcia, Freddy (NY-A)
43. Alburquerque, Al (DET)