HOUSTON - What a ride. Again. The Major League Baseball playoffs always deliver. This year had an extra round and we got some amazing action in it, from the Phillies Game 1 comeback in St. Louis to the series walk-off in Cleveland to the Mariners' crazy comeback in Toronto. The Yordan Alvarez walk-off started us off for a great divisional round and though the LCS were short, they were action packed.
Then there was the World Series. We saw the first comeback from five runs to win in 20 years. We saw a record-breaking home run performance in front of a thirsty home fan base in Game 3. We saw the second ever no-hitter in Game 4. Justin Verlander finally got his win in an amazingly-played Game 5. Then there was the duel in Game 6 through five before the Kyle Schwarber homer and Yordan Alvarez back-breaking three-run job over the batter's eye.
Congratulations to the Houston Astros.
They went through a bad stretch early in the season that saw them sitting 6-8, but otherwise they spent a lot of time toward the top this year in the Official Power Rankings. I think two was their most common spot. I can't say for sure off the top of my head, but I believe they never got to number one due to the Yankees historic first half and then the Dodgers getting ridiculous before the Yankees collapsed. Still, the Astros were a powerhouse juggernaut nearly the entire season. We knew all along they were one of the best teams in baseball.
Of course, they also had to win the World Series. They had failed each season since the 2017 title. They fell behind 1-0 and then 2-1 in the series, but there was a feeling of inevitability in the series. I remember in Game 1 when they took a 5-0 lead being worried it would be a sweep (not because I was rooting against them, but because sweeps aren't fun at all and I wanted it to go seven). I remember when the Phillies won Game 3, I got a sense of relief that the series was probably going back to Houston and, hey, even if it's not seven, six-game World Series are also incredibly fun.
The pitching development system they have was on full display. Sure, 39-year-old Justin Verlander on an expensive free-agent contract helped, but otherwise it was Framber Valdez and Cristian Javier dominating with homegrown studs like Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero excelling in the bullpen.
They can develop hitters, too, of course. From Jose Altuve to Alex Bregman to Yordan Alvarez (who they traded for, but he's only ever played for the Astros) to Jeremy Peña, who took over shortstop from dearly departed free agent Carlos Correa in the offseason.
On the losing end of the World Series was an incredibly flawed but incredibly fun Phillies team. Do I truly think they were the second-best team in 2022? Of course not, but they made an incredible run and finished second. I respect the NL pennant winner. It'll be interesting to see what that team looks like next year for sure.
The rankings themselves are the final 2022 rankings, not accounting for how the teams will look next season. We have no idea how they'll all look with free agency and trades coming. In the comments I will be looking ahead on some of them, sure, but that isn't reflected in the number next to the team name.
|At long last, Dusty Baker has his championship as a manager. What a life in baseball. He needs to be in the Hall of Fame very soon.||1||106-56|
|Like I said, I respect the pennant. What a run. What a show from Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber with several others mixed in. Can Nick Castellanos bounce back in 2023 and play more like he did in 2021?||10||87-75|
|Surely they'll have financial constraints this offseason and need to add some starting pitching, but they'll have three superstars in the lineup for most of the season once Fernando Tatis Jr. returns from his suspension.||7||89-73|
|They should have won more than one World Series in the last decade. They just haven't gotten it done. They were the easy and obvious best team in the NL throughout the season and a Dodgers-Astros 2017 rematch would've been quite a war. Instead they lost three straight games to the Padres.||3||111-51|
|It's hilarious how many Braves fans I've seen on social media scoffing at the "fluky" Phillies run, when the Braves just pulled this off last season (yes, I'm aware winning the division is different than finishing in third place, but they were the playoff team with the worst record).||1||101-61|
|The Bronx Bombers? I don't know, man. If they lose Aaron Judge to free agency, that's going to look like a pretty punchless offense.||3||99-63|
|If your season ends and a portion of your fan base thinks a guy was cheating because his ears were red, things have gone horribly off the rails.||2||101-61|
|That was such a fun run, but what a bummer the fans finally got a see a home playoff game after all these years and then saw 18 zeroes on the board. The good news is they should get another chance soon.||1||90-72|
|Here's your winner for the team that ended its season in the most devastating way.||3||92-70|
|Say goodbye to Shane Bieber, Guardians fans.||2||92-70|
|How would the National League side of the tournament unfolded if Ryan Helsley didn't injure his finger late in the season? Good ol' butterfly effect.||4||93-69|
|Wander Franco had a bit of a down year and was plagued with injuries. He's also still only 21 years old. He'll be a superstar soon enough.||1||86-76|
|Owner Mark Attanasio has said the Brewers plan to be very active this offseason. Are they going to start moving money? If so, does that mean Corbin Burnes and/or Brandon Woodruff are gone? Might be a rough one, Milwaukee.||--||86-76|
|OK, they are on the cusp of contention. Now it's time to spend some money to supplement the youth movement.||--||83-79|
|Bring Aaron Judge home, right?||--||81-81|
|Surely they won't trade Rafael Devers and let Xander Bogaerts walk just a few years after trading Mookie Betts, right? You are the Red Sox, not the Rays, Chaim. Act like it.||--||78-84|
|Speaking of trades, will they deal Shohei Ohtani? We're gonna be talking about it all offseason.||--||73-89|
|They are in position to spend a ton this offseason. My best guess is they'll be the Cardinals' chief competition for the NL Central next year.||--||74-88|
|Not in good shape. Not in good shape at all.||--||81-81|
|They're in a tough spot. It's a mediocre roster, they haven't been good at developing pitching and the farm system isn't great.||--||78-84|
|Here's a team that could make a move. They've got some exciting, young talent and could have money to spend.||--||74-88|
|One last 2022 hat-tip to Sandy Alcantara for being such an old-school workhorse. We need more of those. I'd so much rather watch a starter finish his own game than watch an opener.||--||69-93|
|It's going to take a while here, I think, for the new administration to clean up what was left behind.||--||66-96|
|The Corey Seager and Marcus Semien contracts are perfectly fine. There are a lot of problems elsewhere.||--||68-94|
|Trivia question: What MLB teams have never finished in first place? There are two. Captain Obvious is here to point out one of them is the Rockies. They have a pennant and finished tied for first after 162 games in 2018 and lost the one-game playoff to the Dodgers, so they have zero NL West crowns. The other team is the Marlins.||--||68-94|
|This isn't specific to the Royals, but I have the least to say about them from the group of five, so it lands here: Man, the AL Central collectively sucks.||--||65-97|
|I'm not the president, but I am a member of the Oneil Cruz fan club.||--||62-100|
|The season was doomed from the start when the owner's son made a fool of himself on Opening Day. Let's try it again in 2023 and NOT do that, OK?||--||62-100|
|It'll be fascinating to see how the Juan Soto trade ends up for both the Padres and Nationals.||--||55-107|
|I think Portland makes more sense, but the league seems intent on making this team the Las Vegas A's. I will not, however, be complaining if I ever get to cover games in Vegas.||--||60-102|
Astros World Series gear now available
The Houston Astros have won their second World Series title. Now, you can celebrate with Astros 2022 World Series championship hats, shirts, hoodies, and more. See the entire collection here.
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