MLB Power Rankings: How eight teams remaining in the 2022 playoffs stack up ahead of the LDS round

The first-ever Wild Card Series round is over and we’re now set to move forward with eight remaining teams in the Major League Baseball playoffs. As loyal readers know, this is the home of the Official Power Rankings. There are impostors, but they don’t really count. These are the ones that matter.

Now that only eight teams remain standing, there are 22 who are dead to us, too. We can deal with them again once the World Series is over. Here, we’ll just be ranked 1-8.

Now, things are a little different than the regular season. This is more of a mad dash. Organizational depth doesn’t really matter as much. The rotation needs only four or maybe even three starters. The ability to hit a big home run is going to take on extra importance, too, because as the field thins, the run prevention gets better and it’s much harder to manufacture runs.

No matter how you slice it, they are the best team. The biggest problem was going to be Craig Kimbrel at closer, but they’ve correctly removed him from the role and have a great mix of late-inning relievers to introduce to the masses this next month, namely Evan Phillips.

It’s time to put their money where Dave Roberts’ mouth was back in the spring, when he guaranteed they’d win the World Series. It’s such a tough thing to accomplish, but they are the best team. Time to finish the job.

The offense isn’t quite as scary as during past runs, but it’s still top-shelf. The rotation is absurdly good, though, with so much depth that they can swing starters into the bullpen and let their stuff play up there. They could easily cover an abnormally bad start or injury, too. I know I said depth doesn’t matter as much, but this is all elite-level talent forming the depth.

Dusty Baker has the goods here in search of his first managerial ring.

They slug throughout the lineup, have gotten better as the season has progressed and even steal bases. The offense can be scary-good, even if inconsistent at times. I’d like to get a look at Spencer Strider on the hill before declaring the rotation in excellent shape, but they’ve got the ace (Max Fried) and experience. Their late-inning bullpen was a big story en route to the 2021 World Series title, but the group is more talented this time around with Kenley Jansen, Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter and Collin McHugh having the ability to stifle the opposition for at least four innings.

This is a Big Three. There’s a virtual separation after this entry.

The only team with more homers than the Braves, but there’s a necessary context behind that. A lot of that is Aaron Judge destroying everyone in addition to some deluges (Anthony Rizzo early, that Matt Carpenter run, etc.). Now, Judge obviously counts and he’s the best player in the playoffs, but surely better pitching and better planning will mean he’s at least slightly worse in the playoffs. Right? RIGHT?

Gerrit Cole gets hit far too often considering how good his stuff is. Will Nestor Cortes run out of gas? How will the bullpen that has been totally unreliable for months shake out?

So much talent, so many questions. When you ask too many questions in the playoffs, you’ll eventually stumble on an answer you don’t like.

Then again, there’s the possibility that everything comes together and, if it does, they’ll win it all. That could be said about all eight teams left, though.

We saw the capabilities of both Yu Darvish and Joe Musgrove and although he had a bad outing, I still believe Blake Snell is capable of doing something similar. The offense had been pretty stagnant after the front office’s big deadline splash, but it’s possible Josh Bell and Trent Grisham have awakened and that really lengthens things around superstars Juan Soto (who is capable, without notice, of morphing into a player who can carry an offense) and Manny Machado. The bullpen has had plenty of shaky moments, but it’s entirely possible Robert Suarez and Josh Hader are a lockdown duo at the back.

There’s deep run potential here, still. Of course, they have to deal with the Dodgers next.

They were already such a fun team to watch going into the playoffs. Then the first inning of Game 1 happened and they held on to win. Then they came back from a seven-run deficit in just a few innings to sweep a Blue Jays team that has more talent. Knowing all this, I’m going to wager there’s absolutely zero intimidation heading to Houston to face the mighty Astros.

As we’ve already seen, they have the bats capable of doing some major damage if everyone is going well. There’s inconsistency, but they probably feel hot right now.

The bullpen has the ability to be one of the best in baseball, especially if they are only deploying a handful of arms. We’ve seen ace-level Luis Castillo already and Robbie Ray can throw like that, too, although there’s obviously some pause there after this last outing.

The pair of aces (Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola) is huge and has already combined for 13 innings of scoreless balls in the playoffs. The offense is unreliable — they put eight zeroes on the board before finally scoring a run in Wild Card Series Game 1 — but also can pack a powerful punch. The bullpen could be an issue, but they have some live arms down there who can get big outs, just like they did late in Game 2.

This team has more downside than everyone else on the list, but at their best, they are a serious threat. It was a tough call for this spot.

Anyone paying attention has to absolutely love Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie atop the rotation along with Emmanuel Clase leading an excellent bullpen — not to mention Terry Francona’s ability to manage it like a maestro. They play great defense, too. Now that they are past the Rays’ punchless offense, however, I’m not sure they can keep up on the scoreboard. That’s just such a razor thin margin of error for the pitching and defense. Plus, there is a drop off from the top two in the rotation.

As for the inevitable, “you ranked them last!” comments: No, I didn’t. There are 22 teams below that didn’t deserve to be named. The Guardians were eighth last week and did their job in holding their spot by dispatching an inferior team. They also scored three runs in 24 innings.

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