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Power Rankings: Yankees on top after sweep

@alysonfooter
October 11, 2019

Three of the four Division Series extended to the full five games, provided heart-pumping, nerve-wracking, edge-of-the-seat moments that fuel us as baseball fans. Who’s up for more? • Get the full postseason picture On paper, both League Championship Series look like terrific matchups between teams that are neither heavily favored

Three of the four Division Series extended to the full five games, provided heart-pumping, nerve-wracking, edge-of-the-seat moments that fuel us as baseball fans.

Who’s up for more?

Get the full postseason picture

On paper, both League Championship Series look like terrific matchups between teams that are neither heavily favored nor at a great disadvantage. Could we be in for two more series that go the distance, extending to the maximum seven games?

In this installment of Postseason Power Rankings, we examine the four teams gunning for their respective pennants. Which two teams will still be standing at the end?

1. Yankees (3 last week)

The only team to have swept its Division Series gets top billing in this round of the Power Rankings, especially given how convincingly the Yankees rolled over the Twins in their brief series. The Yanks outscored the opponent 23-7 and backed it up with outstanding pitching, especially from the bullpen, which ended the ALDS with a cumulative 2.02 ERA. Relievers allowed three runs over 13 1/3 innings across the three games, walking seven and striking out 16. They were responsible for 40 of the 81 outs New York recorded in the series.

2. Astros (1 last week)

When the Astros won the first two games of the ALDS, they surely weren't expecting their series with the Rays to extend to the full five games. Homefield advantage came into play, negating the Astros' history of poor performances at Tropicana Field, which goes back several years. They won all of their home games and will hope for the same in the best-of-seven ALCS with the Yankees. Much was made of the Astros' pedestrian offensive output during the ALDS, but that is what can happen in the postseason when a team faces one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Still, the Astros' bats, which came to life briefly in Game 5, are very much a threat. In the regular season, the Astros were the first team in baseball history to post the lowest collective strikeout rate and the highest walk rate.

3. Nationals (8)

The Nationals pulled off the improbable in Game 5 of the NLDS when they knocked off the mighty Dodgers, who entering the postseason were the overwhelming favorite to capture the National League pennant, again. The Nats brought their bats to Chavez Ravine and left victorious. Juan Soto's 449-foot homer off Clayton Kershaw that tied Game 5 in the eighth inning was the longest of the young outfielder's career, and given the seasons several other high-performing veterans had this year, it's no surprise they came through in the clutch when the stakes were at their highest. Anthony Rendon, who also homered off Kershaw, swung and missed at only 5.5 percent of pitches in 2019, the fourth-lowest swinging-strike rate in the Majors. Howie Kendrick, who delivered the big blow -- a crushing grand slam in the 10th that essentially ended the Dodgers’ season -- had a .328 expected batting average this season (based on quality of contact), which was the highest in baseball this year.

4. Cardinals (9)

We'd be remiss if we didn't focus on the Cardinals' offense in this space, given what they did to the Braves in their 10-run first inning of Game 5 of the NLDS. Let's start with Marcell Ozuna, who slashed .429/.478/.857 in the NLDS. He hit two homers in Game 4, one that traveled 439 feet, and another that registered 429 feet. Those were two of his four longest homers hit this season. Veteran Dexter Fowler had 10 hard-hit batted balls in the DS, tied for the most by any player in that round, and Matt Carpenter, another seasoned vet, chased just two of 26 out-of-zone pitches against him. That was the lowest rate (7.7 percent) in the postseason.

The rest of the Top 20:

  1. Rays (7)

  2. Dodgers (2 last week)

  3. Braves (6)

  4. A’s (5)

  5. Twins (4)

  6. Brewers (10)

  7. Indians (11)

  8. Cubs (13)

  9. D-backs (12)

  10. Red Sox (14)

  11. Mets (15)

  12. Phillies (16)

  13. Reds (18)

  14. Giants (17)

  15. Rangers (19)

  16. Padres (20)

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.