Pick A Baseball Playoff Team

The MLB Playoffs officially start tonight, and since most people’s favorite team is likely not participating, it’s time to find someone else to root for. Here is a handy guide for picking that team.

AL

Boston Red Sox

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 9
  • Last World Series Appearance: 2007
  • Last World Series Win: 2007

Once one of the most tortured baseball teams, but two World Series wins in the last 10 years has changed all of that. But Boston hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009 (!) and finished in last place last season. Still, most people know plenty about Boston’s recent sports success and so this team probably won’t be hight on most people’s lists.

Cleveland Indians

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 7
  • Last World Series Appearance: 1997
  • Last World Series Win: 1948

Cleveland’s success in the mid-’90s is what led to so many playoff appearances, and two World Series trips, but they have only made the playoffs once since 2001. Their World Series futility is well documented in the Major League movies, and it’s even more alarming when the fact that their are an original AL franchise is included. Of the 8 teams in the playoffs who have previously won a World Series, they have the longest drought by more than 30 years.

Detroit Tigers

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 3
  • Last World Series Appearance: 2012
  • Last World Series Win: 1984

Detroit had a major playoff drought from 1987 to 2006 before they surprisingly made the World Series. They have made the ALCS the last two years and lost in the World Series last year. Their manager Jim Leyland won a World Series in 1997 with the Marlins, but he is a longtime manager who deserves another win.

Oakland Athletics

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 6
  • Last World Series Appearance: 1990
  • Last World Series Win: 1989

The late-’80s A’s made three straight World Series before entering in a long drought of never making it out of the first round. Oakland doesn’t fill their stadium most nights, and is trying to re-locate to get a better one. Their roster, in the vein of Moneyball is made mostly of guys most people haven’t heard of. It’s hard to find a compelling case of the A’s outside of “so Billy Beane can finally say he won one”.

Tampa Bay Rays

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 3
  • Last World Series Appearance: 2008
  • Last World Series Win: Never

Tampa Bay is in just it’s 16th season as a franchise. Their three prior playoff appearances had all come in the last 5 seasons, all under Joe Maddon. They lost the World Series to the Phillies in 2008. Joe Maddon is a smart, likable guy, but like the A’s this is a franchise that can’t fill their stadium and wants to move if they can’t get a better one.

NL

Atlanta Braves

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 14
  • Last World Series Appearance: 1999
  • Last World Series Win: 1995

The Atlanta Braves have four more playoff appearances than any other team on this list, but have only made the playoffs twice in the last 7 seasons. But they have made the World Series 5 times in the last 23 seasons, so somewhat recent success could scare off some bandwagon fans. They do have 37-year old Tim Hudson, one of the “good guys” in baseball, who doesn’t have a World Series

Cincinnati Reds

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 3
  • Last World Series Appearance: 1990
  • Last World Series Win: 1990

The Reds have only made the playoffs three times since that World Series win, and have had a lot of losing seasons along the way. This is a franchise that dates back to the 1800s and has only one five World Series. Dusty Baker has been a pretty good manager to only have one Pennant and no World Series wins, so the Reds are an interesting team.

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 6
  • Last World Series Appearance: 1988
  • Last World Series Win: 1988

The Dodgers are another longtime franchise, but have had more success, albeit sporadically, than the Reds. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, but had made it 4 of the 6 prior seasons at that time. Manager Don Mattingly was almost fired earlier this season before the team went on a crazy run to take over the NL West.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 0
  • Last World Series Appearance: 1979
  • Last World Series Win: 1979

Everyone knows the story by now of how the PIttsburgh Pirates hadn’t made the playoffs since 1991, when they lost the NLCS for the third straight season, but it goes deeper than that. Before those three seasons they hadn’t made the playoffs since their 1979 World Series win. That means they have three playoff appearances in the prior 33 seasons. Most of the teams on this list have made the playoffs more times this decade. They have one of the best young players in the game, Andrew McCutchen, and will likely have the most bandwagon fans.

St. Louis Cardinals

  • Playoff Appearances Prior 20 Seasons: 10
  • Last World Series Appearance: 2011
  • Last World Series Win: 2011

In the last 13 seasons, three trips to the World Series, four (!) more losses in the NLCS. No one should feel bad for the Cardinals of their fans.

My Rooting Interest

Putting all the cards on the table, I should point out that I made two futures bets in Las Vegas on the Tampa Bay Rays and Atlanta Braves to make the World Series, so that skews my vision a bit. Removing that from the equation though, the Pittsburgh Pirates are the obvious choice have a rough 30 years. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians are both disqualified for their rivalries with my favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, or they would be the obvious choices in the AL. So that really leaves the A’s or Rays. Either of which I would be happy with winning.