Ryan Braun and the Brewers ranked lowest among MLB playoff teams (Photo: Steve Paluch)
The 2018 Major League Baseball regular season has come to an end, and yet it still isn’t over. For the first time ever there will be a pair of “Game 163” events taking place.
The Chicago Cubs are hosting the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field at this very moment. The winner will be crowned champions of the National League Central Division. The loser will host the National League Wildcard Game tomorrow night.
Should the Cubbies win it would mark their third consecutive Central Division title. This will be their fourth straight postseason appearance. Back in 2015 the Cubs shut out the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wildcard Game behind a 4-0 gem from Jake Arrieta.
The Brew Crew last captured the division crown back in 2011. That was the first division title for the franchise since their move to the National League for the 1998 season.
Prior to that you would have to go all the way back to 1982 and the “Harvey’s Wallbangers” team that won a second consecutive American League East Division title to find the last Brewers division championship squad.
Beginning at 4:09PM EDT the Los Angeles Dodgers will host the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. The winner of that contest will be crowned as champions of the National League West Division. The loser will travel to either Chicago or Milwaukee, whichever also loses today, for a do-or-die meeting in that National League Wildcard Game on Wednesday night.
The Dodgers have been kings of this division for a long time now. Los Angeles has captured the last five National League West Division titles and seven of the last 10 division crowns.
Last year the Dodgers rolled through the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cubs, losing just once en route to the franchise’ first World Series appearance in nearly three decades. There they were defeated in seven games by the Houston Astros.
The Rockies played their first season as an expansion team back in 1993, and they have never won a division title. Colorado has advanced to the postseason four times, three as the division runners-up. Last year saw the Rockies losing an 11-8 slug-fest in the NL Wildcard Game to the Dbacks after finishing third behind LA and Arizona in the division during the regular season.
The Atlanta Braves are sitting home, able to relax and enjoy a few days break after running away with the National League East Division title. It marked the first division crown for the Braves in five years. Atlanta will travel to play whichever club wins the west in one National League Division Series beginning on Thursday.
Whichever team captures the Central Division title will play host to the survivor of the NL Wildcard Game in the other National League Division Series. That series is also scheduled to open on Thursday.
Over in the American League the match-ups have been set for some time. It will be the New York Yankees hosting the Oakland Athletics at 8:00PM EDT on Wednesday night in the American League Wildcard Game.
The winner of that game will then travel up to Fenway Park in Boston to face the host Red Sox in one American League Division Series beginning on Friday night. The Cleveland Indians will visit the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in the other ALDS beginning on Friday evening at Minute Maid Park.
Those four division series are each a best-of-five games, played in a 2-2-1 format as to home field. The winners in each league would advance to face one another in a best-of-seven League Championship Series. The winner of those would then meet towards the end of October in the 2018 World Series.
I released my first 2018 MLB Power Ranking on July 1, when the season was three months old. There have been four more since that time. Each time saw the Astros either alone at the top or sharing the top spot.
That remains the case in the below final 2018 MLB regular season rankings. The old saying remains true. If you want to be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ. The Brewers are the lowest-ranked among all of the MLB playoff teams at 13th overall.
My formula for compiling the rankings has remained unchanged. I researched each of the 30 MLB teams current position in the four categories of winning percentage, runs scored, pitching OPS, and fielding percentage. I then assigned each of those rankings a 1-30 value and added them up to determine an overall score.
To show team progression or regression through the season, I have included where each ranked at the MLB All-Star Game break in mid-July, then on August 15, and then after Labor Day weekend from left-to-right in parentheses.
FINAL 2018 MLB REGULAR SEASON POWER RANKINGS
1. Houston Astros (1-1t-1)
2. Boston Red Sox (2-1t-2)
3. Oakland Athletics (11-7-6t)
4. New York Yankees (3-3-3)
5. Cleveland Indians (10-4t-5t)
6. Atlanta Braves (4-6-4)
7. Chicago Cubs (5-8-6t)
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (6-9t-10)
9. Colorado Rockies (9-9t-11)
10. Washington Nationals (13-11-9)
11. Tampa Bay Rays (15-16-12)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (7-4t-8)
13. Milwaukee Brewers (8-14-14)
14. Los Angeles Angels (14-12-15)
15. Seattle Mariners (12-13-16)
16. Saint Louis Cardinals (18t-15-13)
17. New York Mets (24-26-20t)
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (18t-20-20t)
19. Minnesota Twins (17-18t-20t)
20. San Francisco Giants (20-18t-17)
21. Philadelphia Phillies (16-17-18t)
21. Cincinnati Reds (21-21-18t)
23. Toronto Blue Jays (25-24-23)
24. Miami Marlins (23-25-26)
25. Kansas City Royals (27t-27t-27)
26. Detroit Tigers (22-23-24t)
27. Texas Rangers (26-22-24t)
27. San Diego Padres (27t-28-29)
29. Chicago White Sox (30-29t-28)
30. Baltimore Orioles (29-29t-30)
As I'm a huge Philadelphia Phillies fan, a couple of final words about the club’s performance this season.
First, as you can see from their rank at the MLB All-Star break and on August 15, the Phillies were never better than a middle-of-the-pack ball club from a statistical perspective.
Second, you can also see that the team plummeted down five places over the final month. Any Phillies fan who sat through the last two months can understand why.
Finally, a look over the full rankings shows that the Phillies finished just fourth among the five National League East Division teams. In fact, when looking at the numbers behind the rankings, the club finished just ahead of Miami as well.
The 2018 Philadelphia Phillies finished in the middle-of-the-pack as far as the overall MLB standings are concerned. Their pitching staff was competitive enough to be ranked in the middle as well.
It was the club’s 29th-ranked defense and 21st-ranked offense that held them back. It will be the job of Phillies management and ownership to fix the position-player mix in the coming off-season if they want to truly become a contending team in the 2019 campaign.