With Major League Baseball's 12-team postseason set, it's time to look at where each playoff club ranks entering the month-long run to the World Series.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros and New York Yankees received first-round byes into the division series, eight other teams will square off in the wild-card round starting Friday: the Tampa Bay Rays visit the Cleveland Guardians, the Seattle Mariners head to Toronto to face the Blue Jays, the St. Louis Cardinals host the Philadelphia Phillies, and the San Diego Padres travel to New York to take on the Mets.
A lot can happen between now and the World Series, including memorable performances from unexpected sources, injured players returning to provide a needed boost and lower seeds upsetting higher seeds.
Who will come out on top at the end? Only time will tell, but for now, here are the playoff teams ranked from No. 12 to No. 1:
12. Philadelphia Phillies -- Ending a playoff drought that dated back to 2011, the Phillies relied on Kyle Schwarber (46 homers, 94 RBIs), Rhys Hoskins (30 homers, 79 RBIs), J.T. Realmuto (22 homers, 84 RBIs, 21 steals) and Bryce Harper (18 homers in 99 games) to back a solid rotation trio of Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez.
11. San Diego Padres -- With star shortstop Fernando Tatis injured and then suspended, Manny Machado (.298, 32 homers, 102 RBIs) spearheaded the offense in support of reliable starters Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove and Blake Snell. Closer Josh Hader didn't allow an earned run in his last 10 appearances, posting a 0.54 WHIP in that span.
10. Seattle Mariners -- One of baseball's feel-good stories, the Mariners ended a 20-season playoff drought behind ace Robbie Ray (212 strikeouts) and a talented rotation, boosted by a balanced offense featuring likely American League Rookie of the Year Julio Rodriguez (28 homers, 25 steals).
9. Tampa Bay Rays -- Making their fourth straight postseason, the Rays thrived behind a talented staff (3.41 ERA, fourth in the majors) featuring Shane McClanahan (0.93 WHIP, third in the majors). Tyler Glasnow rejoined the staff in late September and should play a key role.
8. Cleveland Guardians -- Baseball's youngest team wasn't predicted by the experts to make the playoffs, but Shane Bieber, Cal Quantrill and Triston McKenzie highlighted an underrated rotation. Emmanuel Clase (42 saves, 0.73 WHIP) slammed the door while Jose Ramirez (29 homers, 20 steals, 126 RBIs) produced another AL MVP-caliber campaign.
7. St. Louis Cardinals -- Guided by National League MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt (65 homers, 218 RBIs combined), the Cardinals rolled to the NL Central title. Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright, Jack Flaherty, Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery are set to start or relieve, and Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos are prepared to shut the door.
6. Toronto Blue Jays -- The Blue Jays bashed the baseball as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. led a quintet with at least 24 homers apiece. Young ace Alek Manoah posted Cy Young Award-caliber numbers (16-7, 2.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP) for the AL's No. 1 wild-card team.
5. New York Mets -- The 101-win Mets boast plenty of star power as co-aces Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, dominant closer Edwin Diaz, and sluggers Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor (66 homers, 238 RBIs combined) vaulted the NL's No. 1 wild-card club to it first playoff appearance since 2016.
4. New York Yankees -- Aaron Judge became the AL's single-season home run leader with 62, sparking the AL East champions to a majors-best 254 homers. Gerrit Cole and Nestor Torres will start the first two games of the AL Division Series, but who will follow? The bullpen is a question mark.
3. Atlanta Braves -- Trailing the Mets by 10 1/2 games entering June, the defending champions rallied for their fifth straight NL East title. Atlanta might not have injured rookie sensation Spencer Strider in its NL Division Series rotation, but Kyle Wright, Max Fried and Charlie Morton are a formidable trio. As for the offense, Atlanta led the NL in home runs with 243.
2. Houston Astros -- Eyeing a return to the World Series as the AL's top seed, the AL West winners feature five players with 20-plus homers (Yordan Alvarez, Kyle Tucker, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Jeremy Pena), a deep starting staff starring Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez, and a stingy bullpen headlined by closer Ryan Pressly.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers -- Cruising to 111 wins and securing home-field advantage throughout the postseason, the NL West champs are favored to win their second Fall Classic in three seasons. The offense topped the majors in runs scored (5.2 per game), and the pitching staff led the majors in ERA (2.80). Who will close? It may not matter with this stacked squad.
--By Liam Fitzgerald, Field Level Media