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Rounding Third: 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).

2013 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 is our second year of having the Coin Flip game, and the problems ranking with it remain as difficult as ever. Even if one team is favored in that game, how big of a favorite can they be? 60-40? 65-35? I can't see it being higher than that. So the best favorite in that game has at least a 35 percent chance of not playing more than one game! So for the starting pitchers on those teams not pitching in that one particular game, you really have to downgrade them.

The problem, though, becomes when that said play-in team wins a series, as the Cardinals did last year. The Rays could conceivably be that way this year - even though they're the road team, I think that they could beat Cleveland, and if they do that, they're structured well with their pitching to do well in the playoffs. There's one difference from last year's structure - they did away with the 2-3 format for the first round, going back to a 2-2-1. I'm not sure how significant that difference is. In the National League, the home team lost both Game 5's in the first round, as did the A's in the American League. As far as home field advantage, the Braves had the most home wins (56), but they are playing the team with the most road wins in the playoffs in the Dodgers (45).

Here's how I'm seeding the 10 playoff teams, which will help influence my rankings on which players are most likely to get the most games:

Red Sox

It might not be a good couple of days for the state of Ohio. I hope I'm wrong, as a Reds fan, and that I'm simply overreacting to a horrible final week. But I haven't been all that optimistic ever since they got pantsed on their first set of road games out West against the Diamondbacks, A's and Rangers. I just think that they, more than others, rely on beating up bad teams and the bottom of rotations. And their matchup against Francisco Liriano, in Pittsburgh, is not one that bodes well for them.


1. Yadier Molina STL
2. Mike Napoli BOS (note: might not be eligible for C in playoff leagues; check your league's rules)
3. Victor Martinez DET (ditto the note on Napoli)
4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia BOS
5. A.J. Ellis LA
6. Alex Avila DET
7. Stephen Vogt OAK
8. Brian McCann ATL
9. Carlos Santana CLE
10. Russell Martin PIT (is a 60 percent chance of Martin advancing better than a 45 percent chance of Santana? Tough call.)
11. Jose Lobaton TB
12. Derek Norris OAK
13. Brayan Pena DET
14. Ryan Hanigan CIN (I'm assuming that Hanigan catches Cueto on Tuesday night)
15. Yan Gomes CLE
16. David Ross BOS
17. Evan Gattis ATL
18. Tony Sanchez PIT
19. Devin Mesoraco CIN
20. Jose Molina TB
21. Gerald Laird ATL
22. Tim Federowicz LA
23. Tony Cruz STL
24. John Jaso OAK

First Basemen

1. David Ortiz BOS (I'm treating DH's as 1B rather than a separate position)
2. Prince Fielder DET
3. Freddie Freeman ATL
4. Adrian Gonzalez LA
5. Brandon Moss OAK (sneaky pick - DET doesn't have any LH starters)
6. Matt Adams STL (big bump up with Craig's injury)
7. Mike Napoli BOS
8. Victor Martinez DET
9. Joey Votto CIN
10. Carlos Santana CLE
11. Nick Swisher CLE
12. Daric Barton OAK
13. Justin Morneau PIT
14. James Loney TB
15. Garrett Jones PIT
16. Mike Carp BOS
17. Jason Giambi CLE
18. Gaby Sanchez PIT
19. Sean Rodriguez TB
20. Nate Freiman OAK
21. Allen Craig STL (Out for the NLDS - dealing with a lisfranc injury)

Second Basemen

1. Dustin Pedroia BOS
2. Matt Carpenter STL
3. Jed Lowrie OAK
4. Mark Ellis LA
5. Omar Infante DET
6. Jason Kipnis CLE
7. Ben Zobrist TB
8. Brandon Phillips CIN
9. Neil Walker PIT
10. Alberto Callaspo OAK (I'm assuming this isn't a strict platoon - if it is, swap Callaspo and Sogard)
11. Ryan Raburn CLE
12. Elliott Johnson ATL
13. Eric Sogard OAK
14. Jordy Mercer PIT
15. Dan Uggla ATL (Elliott Johnson has actually played more than Uggla lately - Uggla appears utterly lost right now)
16. Nick Punto LA
17. Jerry Hairston Jr. LA
18. Kelly Johnson TB
19. Daniel Descalso STL
20. Kolten Wong STL
21. Josh Harrison PIT
22. Skip Schumaker LA
23. Ramon Santiago DET

Third Basemen

1. Miguel Cabrera DET
2. Josh Donaldson OAK
3. Matt Carpenter STL
4. Chris Johnson ATL
5. David Freese STL
6. Evan Longoria TB
7. Pedro Alvarez PIT
8. Juan Uribe LA
9. Mike Aviles CLE
10. Will Middlebrooks BOS
11. Alberto Callaspo OAK
12. Todd Frazier CIN
13. Michael Young LA
14. Lonnie Chisenhall CLE
15. Xander Bogaerts BOS
16. Jack Hannahan CIN
17. Sean Rodriguez TB


1. Hanley Ramirez LA
2. Stephen Drew BOS
3. Jed Lowrie OAK
4. Jhonny Peralta DET (going to play OF in the playoffs)
5. Andrelton Simmons ATL
6. Ben Zobrist TB (Surprisingly still qualifies at SS)
7. Yunel Escobar TB
8. Asdrubal Cabrera CLE
9. Pete Kozma STL
10. Mike Aviles CLE
11. Zack Cozart CIN
12. Xander Bogaerts BOS
13. Jose Iglesias DET
14. Clint Barmes PIT
15. Paul Janish ATL
16. Cesar Izturis CIN


1. Matt Holliday STL
2. Jacoby Ellsbury BOS
3. Yasiel Puig LA
4. Carlos Beltran STL
5. Justin Upton ATL
6. Coco Crisp OAK
7. Austin Jackson DET
8. Jason Heyward ATL
9. Andrew McCutchen PIT
10. Yoenis Cespedes OAK
11. Wil Myers TB
12. Torii Hunter DET
13. Brandon Moss OAK
14. Desmond Jennings TB
15. Shin-Soo Choo CIN
16. Shane Victorino BOS
17. Josh Reddick OAK
18. Andre Ethier LA
19. Carl Crawford LA
20. Ben Zobrist TB
21. Jay Bruce CIN
22. Starling Marte PIT
23. Marlon Byrd PIT
24. Jon Jay STL
25. Michael Brantley CLE
26. Michael Bourn CLE
27. Daniel Nava BOS
28. B.J. Upton ATL (It's really amazing that the Braves won as many games as they did despite Upton and Uggla's seasons)
29. Billy Hamilton CIN
30. Matt Joyce TB
31. Jose Tabata PIT
32. Seth Smith OAK
33. Evan Gattis ATL
34. Drew Stubbs CLE
35. Ryan Raburn CLE
36. Ryan Ludwick CIN
37. Matt Tuiasosopo DET
38. Allen Craig STL (out for the NLDS)
39. David DeJesus TB
40. Shane Robinson STL
41. Chris Heisey CIN
42. Andy Dirks DET (Losing playing time with Peralta playing in the outfield)
43. Nick Castellanos DET
44. Chris Young OAK
45. Jordan Schafer ATL
46. Jonny Gomes BOS
47. Travis Snider PIT
48. Xavier Paul CIN
49. Skip Schumaker LA
50. Reed Johnson (always valuable in those first-man-off-the-bench-in-a-brawl leagues)
51. Don Kelly DET
52. Reed Johnson ATL
53. Sam Fuld TB
54. Andrew Lambo PIT
55. Felix Pie PIT
56. Matt Kemp LA(shut down for the playoffs)

Relief Pitchers

1. Koji Uehara BOS
2. Craig Kimbrel ATL
3. Kenley Jansen LA
4. Grant Balfour OAK
5. Trevor Rosenthal STL
6. Joaquin Benoit DET
7. Aroldis Chapman CIN
8. Fernando Rodney TB
9. Jason Grilli PIT
10. Justin Masterson CLE
11. Drew Smyly DET (Smyly is the Tigers' only good LHP - I think we'll see a lot of him against the A's)
12. Kevin Siegrist STL
13. Mark Melancon PIT
14. John Axford STL
15. Edward Mujica STL
16. Junichi Tazawa BOS
17. Jordan Walden ATL
18. Brett Anderson OAK
19. Sean Doolittle OAK
20. Joel Peralta TB
21. Jose Veras DET
22. Ryan Cook OAK
23. Cody Allen CLE
24. Joe Smith CLE
25. Jake McGee TB
26. David Carpenter ATL
27. Scott Downs ATL
28. Luis Avilan ATL
29. Carlos Martinez STL
30. Chris Perez CLE (If the Indians use Perez in a high-leverage situation, it will be a tragic error)
31. Al Alburquerque DET
32. Tony Watson PIT
33. J.J. Hoover CIN
34. Sam LeCure CIN
35. Ronald Belisario LA
36. Jerry Blevins OAK
37. Luis Ayala ATL
38. Matt Albers CLE
39. Craig Breslow BOS
40. Matt Thornton BOS
41. Sean Marshall CIN
42. Bruce Rondon DET

Starting Pitchers

1. Clayton Kershaw LA
2. Max Scherzer DET
3. Adam Wainwright STL
4. Mike Minor ATL
5. Zack Greinke LA
6. Anibal Sanchez DET
7. Justin Verlander DET
8. Jake Peavy BOS
9. Shelby Miller STL
10. Francisco Liriano PIT
11. Hyun-Jin Ryu LA
12. Clay Buchholz BOS
13. Kris Medlen ATL
14. Jon Lester BOS
15. Bartolo Colon OAK
16. Alex Cobb TB(Cobb, Cueto, Salazar all get a bump because we know they'll pitch at least one game)
17. Johnny Cueto CIN
18. Danny Salazar CLE
19. Jarrod Parker OAK
20. Lance Lynn STL
21. A.J. Griffin OAK - Late note - could be left off the A's ALDS roster. Bump up Parker as a result.
22. Julio Teheran ATL
23. Michael Wacha STL
24. A.J. Burnett PIT
25. David Price TB
26. Gerrit Cole PIT
27. Doug Fister DET
28. Matt Moore TB
29. Joe Kelly STL (Both the Cardinals and Red Sox have very interesting rotation decisions - Kelly and Wacha were their best down the stretch, but would they dare displace Miller or Lynn?)
30. John Lackey BOS
31. Mat Latos CIN
32. Ubaldo Jimenez CLE
33. Homer Bailey CIN
34. Scott Kazmir CLE
35. Felix Doubront BOS
36. Mike Leake CIN
37. Chris Archer TB
38. Tony Cingrani CIN
39. Corey Kluber CLE
40. Sonny Gray OAK
41. Rick Porcello DET
42. Ryan Dempster BOS
43. Dan Straily OAK
44. Bronson Arroyo CIN
45. Charlie Morton PIT
46. Zach McAllister CLE
47. Paul Maholm ATL
48. Jeremy Hellickson TB
49. Jeff Locke PIT
50. Jake Westbrook STL