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MLB Playoffs 2019: A Rockies fan’s guide for rooting for other teams

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#NeverDodgers and #NeverYankees, but then what?

The playoffs are upon us and, for the first time in two years, the Colorado Rockies will not be participating. But, in a way, that’s kind of a good thing. As such, let’s consider how the intrepid Rockies fan might best enjoy the last month of professional baseball in 2019. We did this back in 2016 (and got close to our ideal matchup) so let’s try again.

Since I’m writing this, I will be biased, and I will not apologize for it. But I want to at least try to represent the views of the general Rockies fan, so I turned to our poll from two offseasons ago ranking all 30 MLB teams just to balance things out. Keep in mind that a lot has transpired in two years (I highly doubt the Blue Jays would appear second if we were to do this poll today), but it’s informative nonetheless.

When considering a team, a few things go into consideration: time since last championship, current and former players, current/potential matchups, ties to the Rockies, as well as personal history (e.g., after beating the Rockies in the 2007 World Series, don’t expect the Red Sox to ever feature highly).

If I was graphically inclined, I would make a flowchart. Since I’m not, you can use your imagination as I present a pro/con list for rooting for each of the playoff participants.

Division Winners

Atlanta Braves

  • Last Title: 1995
  • Last Pennant: 1999
  • Last playoff appearance: 2018
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 27th

Pros

  • That dominant Braves dynasty from the 90s? They only have the one title, in 1995. That means, despite all their success, they only have 3 World Series titles as a franchise, and each of those came in a different city. 24 years is a long time to wait, so we could do a lot worse than seeing the Braves raise the banner.
  • Ronald Acuna Jr nearly became just the fourth player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season. He stalled on 37 steals because Atlanta opted to rest him for the final week of the season, but that should give you a picture of just how good this 21-year-old is. He’s surely one of the four best young stars in the game and getting the spotlight on him this October will only raise that profile.
  • Walt Weiss and Eric Young Sr. on staff.
  • Do they have a chance to take out the Dodgers in the NLCS? Possibly! And that’s enough for me to root for them.

Cons

  • Is there anything more infuriating (or problematic) to an opposing fan than the Tomahawk Chop? I submit that there is not.
  • The Braves have a history of fleecing municipalities to build their parks, from the low-A level all the way up to SunTrust Park. It’s a little yucky.

New York Yankees

  • Last Title: 2009
  • Last Pennant: 2009
  • Last playoff appearance: 2017-2018
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 25th

Pros

  • DJ LeMahieu is the best second baseman in Rockies history. It made sense to hand the reins to Ryan McMahon and Garrett Hampson, but Rockies fans missed him terribly as he went on to hit .329/.376/.521 this year. Same goes for Adam Ottavino, who continued his renaissance with a 249 ERA+ and 12.1 K/9. Seeing old friends succeed brings joy. Also, Tommy Kahnle was a Rockie for a while.
  • Colorado native Greg Bird and Rockies legend Troy Tulowitzki would get rings, too.
  • Aaron Judge is proof that no matter how big you are, you don’t need braces if you can hit the ball to the moon.

Cons

  • They are literally the Yankees.
  • While I harbor no ill will toward Mike Tauchman, and the move made complete sense at the time, his success is a reminder of how the Yankees have (unintentionally) fleeced the Rockies recently.
  • In addition to Tauchman, they turned Gio Urshela, a Pirates cast off, into a 136 OPS+ hitter. Shoot, even Cameron Maybin and Mike Ford were monsters for them. It’s really annoying.
  • Literally the Yankees.
  • You know how Brett Gardner does that thing where he bangs the bat on the roof of the dugout? Or how he looks like Caillou? Or how he hates the Players Weekend fun fest? Yeah, that guy is the worst.
  • Since they changed their name from Highlanders, the Yankees have never gone a full decade without a World Series appearance. If they get bounced in the ALDS or ALCS this year, the 2010s will be the only decade the Yankees have never made it to the Fall Classic, and it will be only the second decade they failed to win it all (1980s). People, there is so much at stake here!
  • If you think listening to Yankees fans hollar “27 RINGZ!!!1!!” all the time is bad when they haven’t won the World Series in a decade, imagine what happens if they win number 28 this year.
  • [Very Chris Traeger voice]: THEY’RE LITERALLY THE YANKEES!

St Louis Cardinals

  • Last Title: 2011
  • Last Pennant: 2013
  • Last playoff appearance: 2015
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 20th

Pros

  • Does anybody in Denver not still love Dexter Fowler? Sure, it’s been six years since he roamed the Coors Field grass, but darnit, I still like him and want good things for him. He might’ve been the best part of the Cubs winning the World Series.
  • The Cardinals hitting is not as good as expected, but their pitching, led by sophomore phenoms Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson, they might have just enough pitching to stymie the Dodgers.
  • Believe it or not, they received the most 2nd place votes in our community ranking of all 30 teams. That says something.

Cons

  • The “Best Fans in Baseball” schtick got old 8 years ago.
  • They are essentially the Yankees of the National League, with 11 World Series titles and 23 World Series appearances. They won it all less than a decade ago. They can wait.

Minnesota Twins

  • Last Title: 1991
  • Last Pennant: 1991
  • Last playoff appearance: 2017
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 9th

Pros

  • It’s been a long time since the Twins were World Series contenders. They were perennial AL Central favorites throughout the 2000s, but they never could get over the hump into the World Series. Most of the time, it was the Big Market Bullies, the Yankees, knocking them out of the postseason. It’s time to break that curse.
  • They very well can take out that curse and take down the Yankees. They need all of our support.
  • The Bomba Squad is amazing. The Twins set an MLB record by smashing 307 home runs this season, one more than the Yankees (ha!). Mitch Garver, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Nelson Cruz all hit 30+ home runs this year. Everyone who appeared in at least half of the Twins’ games this year except Marwin Gonzalez (94) and Jason Castro (99) have an OPS+ north of 100. That’s some firepower.
  • They are a mid-sized market that can serve as a template for what the Rockies can do in 2020. The 2017 Twins surprised everybody by going from 100 losses to 85 wins and a Wild Card berth. In 2018, they regressed and finished 78-84, well out of a playoff spot. Last offseason, they took advantage of a buyer’s market and signed CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Marwin Gonzalez, and Nelson Cruz (that’s 103 home runs). Now they are a 101 win team. Hopefully Jeff Bridich and company are paying attention and see how a roster can be rebuilt on the fly.
  • Willians. Astudillo.

Cons

  • Probably not going to take out the Yankees. Since 2003, the Twins made it to the playoffs six times. Five of those times, the Yankees took them down. In that time, Minnesota is 2-13 against New York, including a 10-game losing streak.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Last Title: 1988
  • Last Pennant: 2017-2018
  • Last playoff appearance: 2012-2018
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 28th

Pros

  • They haven’t won a World Series since 1988. With the exception of the Brewers, Nationals, and Rays (who have never won one), that is the longest drought among playoff teams.
  • They have lost the World Series two years in a row.
  • Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers of this generation, but he has a huge World Series monkey on his back. Seeing the great ones win titles is rewarding, even for players who are kinda grumpy.

Cons

  • Literally the Dodgers. They have more money than they know what to do with and they still find Max Muncy’s and Justin Turner’s laying around and turn them into stars.
  • They have the potential to have three straight WS loses: can they become the Buffalo Bills of baseball?
  • Every success they have puts the Rockies further behind the curve.
  • Again, they are literally the Dodgers.

Houston Astros

  • Last Title: 2017
  • Last Pennant: 2017
  • Last playoff appearance: 2017-2018
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 11th

Pros

  • Your mileage may vary, but give me Alex Bregman, George Springer, and Carlos Correa over just about anybody in baseball for pure fun factor. For example, the dugout home run celebration: what started as a little stare down from Bregman to the camera turned into a game the whole dugout was in on. Sue me, but I like it when baseball players (especially the good ones) have fun.
  • It doesn’t get much better than the 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander (2.58 ERA, 300 K, 0.80 WHIP, 51.5 DRA-) and Gerrit Cole (2.50 ERA, 320 K, 0.89 WHIP, 48.5 DRA-). Then they went and added Zack Greinke (2.93 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 65.7 DRA-). That’s a juggernaut of a playoff rotation.
  • Yordan Alvarez was a top 40-ish prospect coming into 2019. He debuted on June 9, about three weeks before his 22nd birthday. Since then, he’s hit .317/.415/.663 with 27 home runs in 86 games. And I love watching young players make their mark in the playoffs.
  • They could take down the Yankees and the Dodgers, just like they did in 2017.
  • Of the remaining mascots, Orbit is easily the best.

Cons

  • They did just win the World Series two years ago (and what a great World Series it was!). It’s probably time for someone else to have a turn.
  • Greinke has spent a lot of years torturing the Rockies, first with the Dodgers then with the Diamondbacks. Maybe you still have some ill will for that.
  • No real remaining Rockies connections.

Wild Card Teams

Oakland Athletics

  • Last Title: 1989
  • Last Pennant: 1990
  • Last playoff appearance: 2018
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 12th

Pros

  • It’s been 30 years since their last title and if the championships were evenly distributed, 2019 would be their turn.
  • Like the Rays, the A’s are the true small market innovators of baseball. It’s been almost 20 years since Moneyball, but they’ve still had to maneuver themselves into competitive positions, and they’ve done it without the use of protracted rebuilds.
  • They are great at turning cast offs and no names into great players. Consider Matt Chapman, former catching prospect turned the best third baseman in the AL.
  • Ramon Laureano might have the best outfield arm in baseball.
  • Gave the Rockies Carlos González

Cons

  • Could be one and done
  • I acknowledge it might be hard for Denver fans to root for anything in Oakland.
  • A lot of Giants fans are at least partially A’s fans and, according to our poll, the Giants are Purple Row’s least favorite team.
  • Thanks to the Warriors, Oakland isn’t exactly starving for titles overall.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Last Title: Never
  • Last Pennant: 2008
  • Last playoff appearance: 2013
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 8th

Pros

  • No World Series title, like, ever. Other than the Nationals, they are the only playoff team without one.
  • The Rays exist in a tough market with a stadium that’s difficult to get to, dampening their attendance. And yet, they’ve managed to compete by being on the cutting edge of strategy and development. That “Opener” thing that so many old timey baseball guys seem to hate? A product of Tampa Bay’s need to patch together a pitching staff on the fly.
  • They gave the Rockies German Márquez, and we should find some way to thank them for it.
  • Ji-man Choi is delightful.
  • Of the playoff participants, they ranked highest on Purple Row’s 2017 ranking of all 30 MLB teams.
  • The folks at DRaysBay are really something special.

Cons

  • Could be one and done
  • It’s hard to root for a team that doesn’t have a lot of name recognition. Even though the Rockies played them in April, there has been so much turnover since then I honestly can’t name more than half their starting 9. And I know that’s on me, but I’m also the one writing this.
  • If they’re not one and done, they face a steep challenge in taking down the Astros.

Washington Nationals

  • Last Title: Never
  • Last Pennant: Never
  • Last playoff series win: NEVER
  • Last playoff appearance: 2017
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 10th

Pros

  • Forget a title, the Nats are the only playoff team without a World Series appearance. They would have their work cut out for them this year, but rooting against long odds is its own joy.
  • If they win the Wild Game maybe we can settle the argument of whether it counts as a series. Then again, if they win then it probably means it doesn’t count as a series unless they win another series.
  • Juan Soto won’t turn 21 until Game 3 of the World Series. He hit .281/.400/.546 this year.
  • Anthony Rendon is probably the best third baseman not named Nolan Arenado. He hit .319/.412/.598 while only striking out 86 times in 646 plate appearances and probably will miss out on the MVP only because the narrative never moved on from Cody Bellinger’s outlandish first few months of the year.
  • Rooting for the Nats means rooting for a playoff rotation of Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin. If they can get passed the Wild Card Game, they can go pretty far.
  • They were the highest ranked NL team in Purple Row’s 2017 poll (other than the Rockies).
  • Even though they are in the Wild Card Game, they might have the best chance to knock off the Dodgers.
  • A Twins-Nats World Series would feature the most recent DC team against the first one.

Cons

  • Could be one and done
  • If they win the schadenfreude of them never winning a playoff series is gone.
  • From what I can gather from Nationals Twitter, the bullpen will give you ulcers. Since watching the playoffs is liable to give you ulcers anyway, might be best to steer clear.

Milwaukee Brewers

  • Last Title: Never
  • Last Pennant: 1982 (in the American League)
  • Last playoff appearance: 2018
  • 2017 Purple Row Ranking: 19th

Pros

  • No World Series title. Their last World Series appearance came in the early days of the Reagan administration. The city of Milwaukee does have a World Series title, back in 1957, but that was with the Milwaukee Braves.
  • Not only is Milwaukee MLB’s smallest market, but they also have to deal with being 90 minutes away from their division rival Cubs, prompted more than their fair share of “Wrigley North” jokes. As fans of a team who see their stadium get disproportionately blue during a Cubs series, we can and should empathize.
  • An Astros-Brewers World Series, featuring the two teams that have switched leagues, would be fun.

Cons

  • Could be one and done
  • A Brewers victory would make Bud Selig happy and man do people not like that guy.
  • They knocked out the Rockies in embarrassing fashion last year and, frankly, I’m still not over it. As much fun as it was sweeping them this weekend, I wouldn’t mind seeing that continue.

Poll

Who are you rooting for in the 2019 postseason?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Braves
    (12 votes)
  • 12%
    Yankees
    (27 votes)
  • 6%
    Cardinals
    (14 votes)
  • 26%
    Twins
    (58 votes)
  • 3%
    Dodgers
    (7 votes)
  • 11%
    Astros
    (24 votes)
  • 10%
    Nationals
    (23 votes)
  • 6%
    Brewers
    (14 votes)
  • 7%
    Athletics
    (16 votes)
  • 9%
    Rays
    (21 votes)
216 votes total Vote Now