Get set for a Powerhouse Postseason

It's Powerhouse Postseason

Chart: Going the Distance

The Powerhouse Postseason is here.

Yankees. Dodgers. Cardinals. Angels. Red Sox. Phillies. Rockies. Twins.

It is a field stacked with playoff experience, stacked with strong frontline starting pitchers, stacked with explosive offense, stacked with managers who have been here before -- and stacked with a combined winning percentage that usually translates into long series.

TBS coverage of all Division Series begins with Rockies at Phillies at 2:37 p.m. ET on Wednesday, followed at 6:07 p.m. ET by Twins at Yankees, followed at 9:37 p.m. ET by Cardinals at Dodgers. The Red Sox-Angels opener will be at 9:37 p.m. ET Thursday.

Four advance to the League Championship Series, which begins Oct. 15 in the National League (TBS) and Oct. 16 in American League (FOX), and then the 105th World Series gets under way on Oct. 28 (FOX). If there is a World Series Game 7 it would be on Nov. 5, the latest end to any Major League Baseball season, and it just might go that far.

The combined records of the eight postseason clubs in this regular season was 753-544, culminating with the tiebreaker victory on Tuesday night. That is a winning percentage of .581, the highest for any postseason field since .593 in 2004. The winning percentage was .574 in 2008, .566 in 2007, .569 in 2006 and .575 in 2005.

If you look those last four seasons before this one, then you can associate those lower overall regular-season winning percentages with postseasons that featured quicker, oft-lopsided series. They never yielded more than 32 total playoff games (32 in 2008, 28 in 2007, 30 in 2006 and 30 in 2005). Two years ago, in its first season of broadcasting each of the four Division Series, rights-holder TBS got three sweeps (Rockies over Phillies, D-backs over Cubs and Red Sox over Angels) -- and one that made it to four games (Indians over Yankees).

Earlier this decade, long series seemed to be the rule for a while, and you can associate that period with stronger overall winning percentages by the postseason fields. Look at the years from 2001-04. They were seasons of higher regular season winning percentages: .593 in 2004, .588 in 2003, .612 in 2002 and .595 in 2001. They yielded more than 34 total playoff games every season (34 in 2004, 38 in 2003, 34 in 2002 and 35 in 2001).

Just three of the 21 postseason series over the last three years went the distance. Those three were each an LCS, one per year that went the distance. A Division Series has not gone the full five games since the Angels eliminated the Yankees in 2005. A World Series has not gone the full seven since the Angels beat the Giants in 2002.

If you like best-of-five series that go four or five games, and best-of-seven series that finish with one of those often-historic and always-suspenseful Game 7s, then you may be in for a treat. Based on that, one certainly can correlate strong postseason fields with lengthier postseason series. And there are even more reasons than that to see why it is tough to visualize any of these clubs going down without a protracted fight in 2009.

"The teams in this field are great teams," said Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., who returns to the TBS studio as analyst. "They all have their strengths, so I think the matchups will be interesting. It's not about how you get there, because it is a whole new world once you get to the playoffs."

Postseason experience is another big reason these matchups all could go either way. There are no Cinderellas in this ball, no wide-eyed newbies. There are individual players who are here for the first time, of course, but every team has a nucleus that knows what this is about, and there is by far more combined postseason experience among the eight managers than in any postseason before. That can play a key role in October (and November).

Recent years have featured the "new-look" charm of clubs that were unique to many postseason viewers. The Rays saw their first postseason last year and the Brewers were in it for the first time since 1982. Colorado's postseason appearance in 2007 was a first since 1995 and its first trip to the Fall Classic. The Tigers' 2006 run to the World Series was a first sight for fans in their early 20s, and 2005 was that year Houston fans finally got to see what a World Series felt like -- even if it was short-lived during the White Sox sweep.

In the AL, the Yankees are back from a meager one-year hiatus, following a streak of postseason appearances dating back to the Pleistocene. Mike Scioscia's Angels won it all in 2002, and this is their fifth visit since. For Boston, which just happens to play in the same division as the team with baseball's best record, it's time for a sixth postseason in the last seven years -- and the hope of a third ring in that span. Minnesota won the World Series in 1987 and again in 1991. Their last trip to the postseason was in 2006 after winning the AL Central, just as they have done this season.

In the NL, the Dodgers are in the postseason for the fourth time in the last six years, with old October hands like Joe Torre, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre and Casey Blake. Tony La Russa's Cardinals are in it for the seventh time this decade, having won it all in 2006. The Phillies are NL East champs a third year in a row and have a great chance to repeat as world champs. The Rockies were a World Series newbie in 2007, when they went on that historic late tear before being swept by Boston, and now everyone knows that Troy Tulowitzki, Brad Hawpe, Todd Helton and the other purple-clad warriors have the ammo.

The playoffs are not played on paper. If they were, then the great 1969 Orioles rotation never would have let the Mets be Amazin'; Charlie Root would have walked Babe Ruth before surrendering the Called Shot; Dennis Eckersley would not have located that last slider to Kirk Gibson elsewhere; and Evan Longoria and the Rays would not have lost their dome-field advantage last year against the Phillies.

But on paper, it is easy to envision a 2009 postseason replete with games and series that go the distance, and a 105th World Series that is stretched to the limit. Based on all of this -- combined with some amazing 1-2-3 pitching combinations and the presence of loaded lineups like those of the Yankees (club record for season homers) and Phillies (four with 30 or more homers) -- it has all the makings of a Powerhouse Postseason.

The field is set, and what a field it is.

Going the distance
Recent history shows that overall winning percentages and length of postseason series often go hand-in-hand.
Year
AL
East
AL
Central
AL
West
Wild
Card
NL
East
NL
Central
NL
West
Wild
Card
Combined
PCT
Postseason
games
2009
Record
NYY
(103-59)
MIN
(87-76)
LAA
(97-65)
BOS
(95-67)
PHI
(93-69)
STL
(91-71)
LAD
(95-67)
COL
(92-70)
753-544.581TBD
2008
Record
TB
(97-65)
CWS
(89-74)
LAA
(100-62)
BOS
(95-67)
PHI
(92-70)
CHC
(97-64)
LAD
(84-78)
MIL
(90-72)
744-552.57432
2007
Record
BOS
(96-66)
CLE
(96-66)
LAA
(94-68)
NYY
(94-68)
PHI
(89-73)
CHC
(85-77)
ARI
(90-72)
COL
(90-73)
734-563.56628
2006
Record
NYY
(97-65)
MIN
(96-66)
OAK
(93-69)
DET
(95-67)
NYM
(97-65)
STL
(83-78)
SD
(88-74)
LAD
(88-74)
737-558.56930
2005
Record
NYY
(95-67)
CWS
(99-63)
LAA
(95-67)
BOS
(95-67)
ATL
(90-72)
STL
(100-62)
SD
(82-80)
HOU
(89-73)
745-551.57530
2004
Record
NYY
(101-61)
MIN
(92-70)
LAA
(92-70)
BOS
(98-64)
ATL
(96-66)
STL
(105-57)
LAD
(93-69)
HOU
(92-70)
769-527.59334
2003
Record
NYY
(101-61)
MIN
(90-72)
OAK
(96-66)
BOS
(95-67)
ATL
(101-61)
CHC
(88-74)
SF
(100-61)
FLA
(91-71)
762-533.58838
2002
Record
NYY
(103-58)
MIN
(94-67)
OAK
(103-59)
LAA
(99-63)
ATL
(101-59)
STL
(97-65)
ARI
(98-64)
SF
(95-66)
790-501.61234
2001
Record
NYY
(95-65)
CLE
(91-71)
SEA
(116-46)
OAK
(102-60)
ATL
(88-74)
HOU
(93-69)
ARI
(92-70)
STL
(93-69)
770-524.59535

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.