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Rooting guide for the National League playoffs

Don’t know who to root for in the NL postseason? We’ve got you covered (psst, the answer is the Mets).

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, hey! It’s time for the playoffs. The best days of baseball’s postseason are the early days when it’s just wall-to-wall baseball. That’s what is happening today as the newly designed wild card format goes into action.

Kicking off the action today at 12:07 is the Guardians vs the Rays. Next up at 2:07 is Cardinals vs Phillies. 4:07 is Blue Jays vs Mariners, and finishing things off at 8:07 is Mets vs Padres.

The Dodgers are waiting in the wings to face the winner of Padres/Mets in the NLDS, while the Braves will play the winner of Cardinals/Phillies.

Read on to see my thoughts on the NL teams who made the playoffs. Maybe I’ll help you pick a rooting interest! If you missed my American League story, check it out here.

Division Winners

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers (111-51)

Last playoff appearance: 2021 (Lost NLCS to Atlanta)
Last World Series win: 2020

Former Orioles: Justin Turner, Hanser Alberto, Evan Phillips

Pros: First of all, what do you think it’s like to root for a team with 111 wins? A team that wins more than twice as often as it loses? It’s totally unreal and bonkers to me. But when you’re the richest, most well-run team in baseball, that’s what happens. You play bonkers baseball. If you want to root for a winner, here’s the safe pick. As for me, I would never presume to be the kind of person who could root for a team such as this.

And yet, this team has Hanser Alberto. You guys remember Hanser. Full of energy and life, singling like there’s no tomorrow? He’ll never be a star but he’s such a fun guy to root for. And he’s a pitcher now! I mean, sort of. He made 10 pitching appearances for the Dodgers this year with a cool ERA of 4.09. Not bad, Hanser! I can root for you.

Cons: What is the opposite of an underdog? An overdog? These guys are total overdogs. They just won the World Series in 2020. They have won the NL West in nine out of the last 10 years. And the year they didn’t win their division, they still had 106 wins. I wish nothing but the best to the long term Dodgers fans, but to jump onto this team if you’re not an actual fan of theirs seems pretty bizarre. Who picks the front runner?

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals (93-69)

Last playoff appearance: 2021 (Lost in wild card game to Dodgers)
Last World Series win: 2011

Former Orioles: N/A

Pros: Historically speaking, the Cardinals are the Yankees of the National League, only to some they are more annoying because the fans like to talk about how, aw shucks, nice they are. That alone usually knocks them off my list. But this year is different. The 42-year-old Albert Pujols, who came back to St. Louis for a reunion before his retirement, is absolutely raking and appears to have found the fountain of youth.

Also retiring this year is Cardinals’ legend Yadier Molina, who is sure to be following Pujols to the Hall of Fame. The 39-year-old is the heart of this team even in a part-time capacity this year. The third old man in the trifecta is Adam Wainwright. Wainwright, who is 40, hasn’t said if he’ll be retiring this year. It seems like he has another year in him, but maybe not.

These three gentlemen first began playing together in 2005, Wainwright’s rookie year and the year of Pujols’s first MVP award. They are now all back together again to go off into the sunset, and what better baseball story would there be than to get that World Series ring?

Cons: Historically speaking, the Cardinals are the Yankees of the National League, only to some they are more annoying because the fans like to talk about how, aw shucks, nice they are.

AL East: Atlanta Braves (101-61)

Last playoff appearance: 2021 - Won World Series

Former Orioles: Darren O’Day (60-day IL)

Pros: The Braves have got so many enjoyable players. They lost Freddie Freeman, but they got Matt Olson, who has been great. They have a core of young exciting players like Austin Riley, Ronald Acuña Jr., and Ozzie Albies, to name a few. They have Dansby Swanson and his gorgeous hair. They have a pitcher, Spencer Strider, who has over 200 strikeouts in 131 innings. In one game he struck out 16 batters! They are just exciting and they are gonna be good for years.

Cons: My cons are short but effective. 1) Tomahawk Chop. 2) They just won last year. I can’t even have my TV unmuted when watching this team play home games.

Wild Card Teams

New York Mets (101-61)

Last playoff appearance: 2016 (lost in wild card game to Giants)
Last World Series win: 1986

Former Orioles: Buck Showalter, Wayne Kirby, Mychal Givens, Tommy Hunter (IL)

Pros: It seems like it should be a requirement for Orioles fans to root for the Mets in the postseason. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always had an affinity for the Mets. They’re constantly overshadowed by the Yankees, for one thing. But this year there is an even bigger pull because they have Buck Showalter. I know things ended on a sour note for Buck in Baltimore, but he’s incredible and I love to root for him. I like his personality, I like what he does for baseball teams. I just like him. I want him to get that ring. Then next year the Orioles can beat him in the World Series.

The Mets also have a lot of fun players, including Max Scherzer. And if you don’t like him, then you don’t like baseball. There, I said it.

As an aside, who hates the new tiebreaker rules more than the Mets? They ended the season with an identical record to the Braves but because the Braves have the better head-to-head record (by one game) they win the division and get the bye while the Mets have to play the Padres and then get through the Dodgers to get to the NLCS.

Cons: If you’re really old you can still get mad about 1969.

San Diego Padres (89-73)

Last playoff appearance: 2020 (lost NLDS to Dodgers)
Last World Series win: N/A

Former Orioles: Manny Machado, Ryan Flaherty (coach)

Pros: Do you need a pro beyond Machado? I don’t, but I’ll try to offer up something else. The Padres have never won the World Series! They constantly have to play second fiddle to the Dodgers and sometimes the Giants in their division, even though they’re a good team. Maybe the biggest reason to root for them is because they just go for it.

In a time when many teams are choosing to tear it down if they don’t think they can win it all, the Padres wouldn’t consider it. In the last few years they have bolstered their team with big acquisitions s like Manny, Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and others. They saw a window this season so they traded for Juan Soto and Josh Hader. These guys just go for it. It’s fun!

Cons: Padres fans already get to live in the city with the the greatest weather and tacos in the United States. Do they really need more out of life?

Philadelphia Phillies (87-75)

Last playoff appearance: 2011 (lost NLDS to Cardinals)
Last World Series win: 2008

Former Orioles: N/A

Pros: The playoff drought spotlight has been on the Mariners, but the Phillies had their own long time in the desert without a playoff appearance since 2011. That’s a long time! If you’re a kindhearted person maybe that’s your angle. If you’re more vindictive, there is the fun fact that when the Phillies fired Joe Girardi, they were 22-29 and had four teams between them and the third wild card team. After the firing, they had the fourth-best record in the NL behind just the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets.

Cons: Phillies fans are big jerks who throw up on you on purpose, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I have been to their ballpark twice without any problems. Maybe Orioles fans aren't good targets. But they do have a reputation for being mean and people like to hate on Philadelphia fans, so there you go.

Who ya got?

Here are my rankings. Do you agree? Disagree? Vote below and tell us in the comments.

  1. Mets
  2. Padres
  3. Cardinals
  4. Phillies
  5. Dodgers
  6. Braves


Who’s your favorite team in the NL playoffs?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    (15 votes)
  • 7%
    (17 votes)
  • 8%
    (19 votes)
  • 50%
    (115 votes)
  • 19%
    (45 votes)
  • 7%
    (16 votes)
227 votes total Vote Now