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Let’s rank the 2019 postseason lineups

@RichardJustice
September 28, 2019

In ranking the postseason lineups, we’ll begin with this: Pay no attention to who will or won’t play for the Yankees. It does not seem to matter. No, seriously. Look, we know it does matter. In a perfect world, Aaron Boone’s Game 1 lineup card will have Gary Sánchez, Edwin

In ranking the postseason lineups, we’ll begin with this: Pay no attention to who will or won’t play for the Yankees. It does not seem to matter. No, seriously.

Look, we know it does matter. In a perfect world, Aaron Boone’s Game 1 lineup card will have Gary Sánchez, Edwin Encarnación, Gio Urshela and Giancarlo Stanton. In addition, Aaron Hicks believes he could play at some point in the postseason.

But in a season in which the Yankees have used 54 players and given double-digit starts to five first basemen, four second basemen and eight outfielders, there has just been one constant: The Yankees are a really, really good offensive team. They are neck and neck with the Twins for most runs and homers. We’re not sure how the Yankees will line up. We’re only certain that they will be dangerous.

Of course, there are a few offensive juggernauts in the postseason. MLB’s top four teams in wOBA -- Astros, Yankees, Twins, Dodgers -- have won their divisions, and the Nationals (sixth), Braves (seventh) and A’s (tied for ninth) will be playing in October as well.

Here’s our ranking of the lineups of the 10 teams that have wrapped up postseason berths:

1. Astros

Numbers: first in wOBA (.354), wRC+ (125) and OPS (.847). Third in runs (906) and home runs (283)

Bottom line: The Astros have hit 53 home runs in 23 games this month and are two runs behind the Cubs, who are No. 1. Overall, the Yankees and Twins have scored more runs and hit more home runs, but the Astros win all the peripherals in terms of hard contact and strike-zone discipline. They lead the Majors in walks and are last in strikeouts. The Astros have four players -- Alex Bregman (41), George Springer (38), Yuli Gurriel (30) and Jose Altuvé (30) -- with at least 30 home runs and a rookie, Yordan Álvarez, who has 27 in 85 games.

2. Yankees

Numbers: Lead the Majors in runs (938) and home runs (305), second in wOBA (.348), and second in wRC+ (117)

Bottom line: DJ LeMahieu has played his way into the AL MVP discussion by challenging for a batting title while starting at first, second and third. Brett Gardner has had his finest season, and Gleyber Torres has followed an excellent rookie season with an even better year. Aaron Judge has missed time with injuries but remains as fearsome as ever, leading MLB with a 95.8 mph average exit velocity (min. 100 batted balls). His 57.3% hard-hit rate is second to only Miguel Sanó (min. 100 batted balls).

3. Twins

Numbers: Second in runs (931), second in home runs (303) and OPS (.33), and third in wOBA (.347), wRC+ (116)

Bottom line: The Twins are the first team to hit 300 homers in a season and the first with five 30-homer players. Nelson Cruz has 24 of his 40 since the All-Star Break. Among the 10 playoff teams in this ranking, Minnesota has the third-fewest strikeouts. Sanó’s 57.5% hard-hit rate (95 mph or better) leads the Majors (min. 100 batted balls). Sanó and Cruz are second and third in average exit velocity (min. 100 batted balls).

4. Dodgers

Numbers: Fifth in runs (875), fourth in home runs (277), wOBA (.338 -- tied for fourth) and wRC+ (111). L.A. is also fifth in averaging 5.6 runs per game this month.

Bottom line: This is the NL’s best lineup, one that draws walks and hits home runs without the high strikeout totals. Cody Bellinger is the NL MVP favorite with 47 home runs and a 1.033 OPS. Eight Dodgers have an OPS of .800 or better since the All-Star break (min. 100 PA). The big question here is Justin Turner, who has been hobbled by ankle and back injuries and might not be at full strength.

5. Nationals

Numbers: Lead the NL in runs (415) and on-base percentage (.356) since the All-Star break and are second in walks (282) and first in doubles (145)

Bottom line: The Nationals are 44-27 since the All-Star break, in part because of Anthony Rendon (.337 BA, 21 doubles, 14 homers), Juan Soto (19 homers, 15 doubles) and Trea Turner (20 doubles, 12 homers) leading an offense averaging almost six runs per game The Nationals have speed and are willing to use it, tying the Cardinals with 57 stolen bases since the break.

6. Braves

Numbers: 10th in wOBA in the second half (.329), and run production has declined slightly from 5.4 runs per game in the first half to 5.2 in the second.

Bottom line: The Braves feed off Ronald Acuña Jr. at the top of the batting order, and when he slumps, their offense feels it. Acuña is hitting .198 since Aug. 25, and is missing the last few games of the season with groin tightness. Despite that, the Braves are averaging 4.9 runs per game this month -- 14th among 30 teams -- and Ozzie Albies, Josh Donaldson, Freddie Freeman and Matt Joyce have been excellent.

7. Athletics

Numbers: Oakland is scoring 5.9 runs per game this month, third most in MLB. Fifth in wOBA (.339), fourth in wRC+ (114) and seventh in OPS since the All-Star break (.803).

Bottom line: Marcus Semien is hitting .361 with nine doubles and eight homers this month and playing his way onto virtually every AL MVP ballot. Only the Yankees and Astros have hit more home runs than the A’s in September among AL teams. Outfielder Mark Canha’s .420 OBP this month is the 13th highest in the Majors (min. 75 PA).

8. Rays

Numbers: Tied for 12th in wOBA in second half (.325). The offense has picked up this month: seventh in runs (5.4 per game) and 10th in OPS (.777).

Bottom line: The Rays are built around their pitching staff, but Austin Meadows is having a great final month, hitting .395 with nine home runs in 23 games. Jesús Aguilar has a .375 OBP this month, and All-Star second baseman Brandon Lowe’s return from a shin injury deepens the lineup.

9. Brewers

Numbers: Scoring 4.7 runs per game before Christian Yelich suffered a broken kneecap. In 16 games since, the offense has increased slightly to 5.3 runs per game, which is tied for 10th among 30 teams.

Bottom line: MIlwaukee is 13-3 since its best player got hurt thanks largely to a 3.04 ERA, second-lowest in baseball. The Brewers had offensive problems before Yelich’s injury, but others have stepped up. Ryan Braun has driven in 15 runs in 13 games and has a 1.125 OPS since the injury, and Mike Moustakas has been very good (.795 OPS, four home runs).

10. Cardinals

Numbers: .313 wOBA in first half, .320 in second half; 4.8 runs per game in September, which is the lowest among postseason teams.

Bottom line: This offense has some big names, but no standout performers in 2019. Along with the Marlins and Tigers, they are one of just three teams that doesn’t have a player with an OPS+ above 120 (min. 100 PAs). Rookie Tommy Edman is hitting .358 in September and a huge contributor to an offense that is 21st in runs and 24th in home runs for the entire season. Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna have five home runs apiece despite hitting below .200 this month. Paul Goldschmidt has walked 21 times in 25 September games and has a .396 OBP.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.