• Full day of drama cements postseason picture
And now, we are tasked with taking the very best of the postseason field and sorting them into a reasonable order, beginning with the best and moving down to close-to-best. The final MLB Power Rankings may not be our most challenging (that distinction probably lies with our first edition, when we had the Royals at, what, 17?) but it is probably our most ambiguous. The thing to remember is you can't go wrong with any of the top teams. They're there because they spent the majority of the last six months being very, very, good. And in turn, they play on.
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This week's Power Rankings are based on not only the overall performance of the individual teams, but also, roster makeup and how difficult their path to a World Series title may be.
With that in mind ...
The Royals have a few things working in their favor to earn the top spot in our final rankings. They were the first to clinch a postseason spot, winning their division way back on Sept. 24. A timely five-game winning streak to end the season enabled them to clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason, which means they'll start with the winner of Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser between the Astros and Yankees, which will be broadcast on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET. And they'll be playing at Kauffman Stadium, where they were 51-30 this season. Yordano Ventura, the Royals' hottest pitcher in the second half, will be rested and ready to go for a likely Game 1 start on Thursday.
The Cardinals' road to the title looks to be much more difficult than the Royals, considering both teams they could be playing in the NLDS -- the Cubs and Pirates -- won 97 and 98 games, respectively. So, no, the Cardinals aren't at such an advantage by ending the season with the best record in the National League and "getting" to play the Wild Card team. Still, the Cardinals are the only team in baseball to win 100 games and have shown time and again no injury is too difficult to overcome. And, they have been given the gift of Adam Wainwright being available to pitch out of the bullpen after healing quickly, and somewhat miraculously, from a torn Achilles.
3. Blue Jays
They lost home-field advantage past the ALDS on Sunday, but the Jays have to be considered the favorites heading into their series with the AL West champion Rangers. David Price, who captured the AL ERA title and has, along with Houston's Dallas Keuchel, credentials worthy of the AL Cy Young Award, will get the ball for Game 1. From there, manager John Gibbons' starting rotation will include Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada and R.A. Dickey (not necessarily in that order). The Blue Jays won the non-waiver Trade Deadline and are in a strong position to now win, a lot, in the postseason.
The Dodgers had to mix and match three-fifths of their starting rotation all season and have had mixed results from their bullpen, but despite all of this, the NL West wasn't much of a race in the final month of the season. It's impossible to predict who has the edge in the Division Series between the Dodgers and Mets, but we can probably all agree this will be a highly entertaining series. The Dodgers will be able to reset their rotation with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, and in a short series, it doesn't take a baseball savant to determine who might have the advantage there -- especially since the NLDS begins at Dodger Stadium.
The Mets, however, have a 1-2-3 punch at the top of their rotation that could also be scary in a short series. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey will pitch in the Division Series, in that order, which should help erase lingering angst about how the Mets ended the regular season [five losses in their final six games, including a no-hitter]. The final few games notwithstanding, the Mets' offense enjoyed a fruitful second half, leading the league in slugging, OPS and home runs while tying for second in on-base percentage.
The rest: 6. Cubs (6); 7. Pirates (3); 8. Rangers (8); 9. Astros (10); 10. Yankees (9); 11. Angels (11); 12. Giants (13); 13. Twins (12); 14. Nationals (16); 15. Indians (14); 16. Orioles (15); 17. Red Sox (18); 18. D-backs (19); 19. Rays (17); 20. White Sox (NR)