If you want to stay true to North Texas, then you have a few options. The Dodgers hold four locals this October with Clayton Kershaw (Highland Park), Max Muncy (Keller), Billy McKinney (Plano) and Corey Knebel (Denton). Former Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz will be blasting balls for the Tampa Bay Rays while our statehood brothers from down south, the Astros, have Flower Mound native Ryan Pressly in their bullpen.
If you don’t care for any hometown players, here’s why you could bandwagon for every remaining team this postseason.
The Astros have the most to prove of any team in the playoffs this year. Despite the loss of star center fielder George Springer and being tormented all season about their 2017 cheating scandal, Houston won the AL West with ease. They have experience, though, and a lot of it. Their roster is filled with the same guys who have led them to four straight American League Championship Series and two World Series since 2017. If you like being the bad guy and want a team with the potential to win it all, the Astros are your team.
The White Sox are going for their first big run at the title with their new young core. This southside Chicago squad is loaded with talent. They have rising studs such as Luis Robert, Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada, while also enjoying a steady fill of veteran leaders with Jose Abreu and Yasmani Grandal. Then, of course, they have fan-favorite shortstop Tim Anderson. Put that all together with what might be the deepest pitching staff in the American League, led by veteran ace and former Ranger Lance Lynn, and you have a serious World Series contender.
The Rays just win. They do it in weird ways with a team most people would never expect them to do it with. The returning American League Champions play their own brand of baseball with a hodgepodge of guys who mix together perfectly to make a winning formula. The guy to watch for in the Rays is Randy Arozarena, who as a rookie last year broke the record for most home runs in a single postseason with 10. Accompanying him will be former No. 1 overall prospect Wander Franco, who has already proven he is a gamechanger in the big leagues. With those two along with Cruz, All-Star Mike Zunino and star second baseman Brandon Lowe, the Rays are poised for a deep postseason run.
The Red Sox are the biggest playoff surprise in the AL this year. Boston was predicted to finish fourth in the AL East by Sports Illustrated before the season began, yet they controlled a playoff spot for most of the year. They made a statement in the wild-card game by taking down the favored Yankees by a score of 6-2. They’re now carrying this momentum to Tampa Bay for the American League Division Series. Led by the third baseman and MVP candidate Rafael Devers and a roster stacked with postseason experience, the Red Sox have what it takes to make some noise in the playoffs.
Heading into the season, the Dodgers were the favorite to win this year's World Series, and they still are, despite having to play the Cardinals in the wild card game. And after their big walk-off win fueled by a Chris Taylor home run, the Dodgers look like the team to beat in the National League. At the trade deadline, they added star pitcher Max Scherzer and middle infielder Trea Turner to an already stacked roster, and it has been nothing but good times for Los Angeles baseball fans since. In addition to Scherzer, they also have Walker Buehler and Julio Urius in the rotation to go along with a deep bullpen and a lineup where every starter already has a World Series ring. They’ve got a tough matchup now with the rival Giants, but the Dodgers are still a good bet to be the last ones standing at the end.
The Brewers have been in control of the National League Central all year. The Brew Crew has a three-headed monster at the top of their rotation with Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta and Cy Young-candidate Corbin Burnes. It’s been good morning, good afternoon and goodnight to teams that had to face those three back-to-back-to-back this year. One of the biggest factors for the Brewers this season, though, was the breakout of their star shortstop Willy Adames. After being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay, Adames proved to be the missing piece for this lineup. He, along with former MVP Christian Yelich and All-star Eduardo Escobar, make Milwaukee a force to reckon with this postseason.
Atlanta had a rather messy ride into the postseason. After a slow start and a season-ending in injury to their star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., the Braves still prevailed and won the National League East. This team has possibly the best infield in baseball with all four of their starters having at least 27 home runs. In particular, the breakout of young third baseman Austin Riley has played a big factor in the Braves' success this year. Also, Atlanta revamped its outfield at the trade deadline by acquiring Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler, Adam Duvall and Joc Perderson. If you like an underdog, the Braves are a good bandwagon for you to hop on.
Who would’ve thought the freaking Giants would be the best team in baseball this year? Sports Illustrated predicted they would finish third in their division with a losing record. Yet they’ve had a magical season that has seen them withstand the reigning World Series champion Dodgers all year long. This team is led by an incredible veteran core of Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria. Throw in former MVP Kris Bryant, breakout player Lamonte “Late Night” Wade Jr. and outfielder Mike Yastrzemski, and you have a World Series-caliber lineup. San Francisco also has NL Manager of the Year candidate Gabe Kapler, who has guided this team on its incredible run. In trying to prove the regular season wasn’t a hoax, the Giants will be a key team to watch this postseason.