With the eight combatants set for the divisional round of the Major League Baseball playoffs, the three Eye On Baseball writers -- Matt Snyder, Dayn Perry and Mike Axisa -- figured we'd rank the 16 possible World Series matchups in order of possible excitement. That is, which series would provide the most drama, excitement and entertainment. We ranked them all individually and averaged out the rankings.
Obviously, this is subjective and has no bias against your favorite team -- but that surely won't stop the accusations from being thrown around (brace yourselves, Braves and Rays fans!). Which is fine, you know, Internet and all. The fact remains that all 16 would be fun.
Without further ado ...
Pretty obvious, no? Both teams are where they are because of the massive blockbuster trade they made with each other last August. Adrian Gonzalez has been an anchor in the middle of the Dodgers lineup while the Red Sox used all that saved money to add an insane amount of depth to their roster. Add in two of the game's oldest and most iconic ballparks, the best pitcher in the world, the general big market hoopla, and the fact that these are two of absolute best teams in baseball and you've got the recipe for a must-watch Fall Classic. - Axisa
First of all, this potential matchup ended up tied with the top one, but I used number of first-place votes as the tiebreaker. Anywho ...
Small markets fight back! Small payrolls fight back! The Pirates rank 20th in MLB payroll, but the A's check in at 27th. It would be a true matchups of the underdogs in this sense. But both teams are very talented, having combined to win 190 games this season (191 if we count the Pirates taking out the Reds in the wild-card round). There's also a bit of a 1970s "glory days" flavor here. The only real downside is that, yes, the TV ratings would probably suck which would clear the way for the NFL chest-pounders to obsess over them (seriously, why are they so insecure?). - Snyder
3. Dodgers at Tigers
Snyder rank: 2. Perry rank: 2. Axisa rank: 4.
A great regular season team is much different thing than a great postseason team, and you could argue these teams are the best playoff-built clubs left standing. Both have four quality starters with at least two true dominators in the rotation, both have star power in the lineup, and both have power bullpens with relievers who miss bats. The Tigers and Dodgers (Brooklyn or Los Angeles) have never met in the World Series before despite being around since the dawn of time, which is rather hard to believe. Clayton Kershaw vs. Miguel Cabrera? Max Scherzer vs. Yasiel Puig? C'mon, everyone wants to see that. - Axisa
4. Cardinals at Red Sox
Snyder rank: 6. Perry rank: 3. Axisa rank: 5.
The best record in the NL vs. the best record in the AL. Oh, and it's a rematch of the 2004 World Series, so that's neat. The Cardinals and Red Sox are very similar teams in that they're built around depth and not necessarily star power, with four quality starters and a lineup that will work the count and grind out at-bats all the way through. Did I mention these teams have the best records in their respective leagues? That's kind of a big deal. The last time the best teams in each league met in the World Series was 1999 (Yankees vs. Braves). - Axisa
5. Dodgers at Athletics
Snyder rank: 5. Perry rank: 9. Axisa rank: 3.
6. Pirates at Tigers
Snyder rank: 7. Perry rank: 5. Axisa rank: 7.
7. Pirates at Red Sox
Snyder rank: 4. Perry rank: 7. Axisa rank: 11.
8. Cardinals at Athletics
Snyder rank: 11. Perry rank: 6. Axisa rank: 8.
Like offense? We'd likely see it here. This matchup would pit the teams that checked in at third and fourth, respectively, in the majors this season in runs scored. Also, the obvious storyline going in is that it's the Tony La Russa Bowl, right? Matt Holliday was also traded to the Cardinals from the A's -- and none of the guys who went back to Oakland are currently on the A's roster. - Snyder
9. Dodgers at Rays
Snyder rank: 8. Perry rank: 12. Axisa rank: 10.
The story here would be the divide. East vs. West is easy. The Rays ranked 28th in player payroll this season while the Dodgers were second. The Dodgers led the majors in attendance while the Rays ranked dead last. There also would be a few player vs. past team storylines -- Carl Crawford vs. Rays, James Loney vs. Dodgers, etc. - Snyder
10. Pirates at Rays
Snyder rank: 10. Perry rank: 11. Axisa rank: 9.
As with the Pirates-A's possible matchup, I love the small-market series. It would also serve as the battle of the defensive shifts, as both teams have thrived with the shift this season. Otherwise, I've got very little. - Snyder
11. Cardinals at Tigers
Snyder rank: 15. Perry rank: 10. Axisa rank: 6.
12. Braves at Red Sox
Snyder rank: 12. Perry rank: 8. Axisa rank: 15.
13. Braves at Tigers
Snyder rank: 9. Perry rank: 13. Axisa rank: 16.
Think of it as unfinished business regarding that Aug. 12, 1987 trade of minor-leaguer John Smoltz from the Tigers to the Braves for veteran stalwart Doyle Alexander. Or think of it as two classic franchises who have managed to avoid each other in the World Series despite 112 years of mutual existence. Also of note: Craig Kimbrel vs. Miguel Cabrera in a high-leverage ninth-inning situation would be certifiably nifty. - Perry
14. Braves at Athletics
Snyder rank: 14. Perry rank: 14. Axisa rank: 12.
15. Cardinals at Rays
Snyder rank: 13. Perry rank: 15. Axisa rank: 13.
The Cardinals head to the postseason with 11 World Series championships and 18 pennants. The Rays bring in zero and one, respectively. There's also a contrast on the salary and attendance level, as the Cardinals have five players making eight figures this season while the Rays have zero. The Cardinals ranked second in attendance while the Rays ranked last. Otherwise, we'd just be hoping for some quality baseball. And we'd probably get it. - Snyder
16. Braves at Rays
Snyder rank: 16. Perry rank: 16. Axisa rank: 14.
This would be awesome because it's the World Series and the World Series is awesome. Because: Baseball. Otherwise, I'm finding it difficult to frame in a compelling way. Yunel Escobar returns to Atlanta? - Snyder