Yesterday, we ranked the AL Wild Card matchups based on highly objective reasoning. Today, we’re doing the same with the National League. There’s a lot to like about each of these drawbacks but each has its major drawbacks.
#4 Brewers vs. Dodgers
I said last week that whoever faced the Dodgers in the first round would be reduced to a smoldering crater, and that still should be true. The Dodgers are an incredible team. They had the best record in the majors. They didn’t drop a season series to a single opponent. Their run differential of +134 was twice as large as every other team’s with the exception of the Padres.
The Brewers are not a good team. They’re the first National League team to make the postseason with a losing record. In fact, they never had a winning record all season, and they finished fourth in the NL Central.
This should be a perfunctory drubbing, but baseball is nothing if not random nonsense. The Brewers could eke two wins out of three. So, this series will either end in predictable annihilations or a heaping dose of 2020 BS.
#3 Reds vs. Braves
Not having fans in the stadium for the postseason is mostly a bummer, but there’s one clear benefit: no Tomahawk Chop. Any matchup featuring the Braves usually takes last place in terms of watchability because the team and the fans insist on dragging out their racist chant at every opportunity.
Without it, Atlanta is an exciting team. The combination of Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies is always a delight. Freddie Freeman just ended an MVP-caliber year. Max Fried has quickly become a must-watch pitcher.
On the other side, the Reds have Luis Castillo, Amir Garrett, and Joey Votto. Cincinnati may have underperformed in the regular season but they are chock full of likable, talented players.
Unfortunately, this series will prominently feature Trevor Bauer, and that knocks it down a few pegs.
#2 Marlins vs. Cubs
Another advantage of not having fans in the stands is that no one’s life is going to be ruined if they happen to reach into the field and touch a ball that every other fan around them was also trying to touch. This will be the first time the Marlins and Cubs have met in the playoffs since 2003, and it will also be the first time the Marlins have been in the playoffs at all since then.
This could be the first time the Marlins have ever lost a postseason series. The Marlins have made just two postseason appearances but have two championships to show for it.
The Marlins might be the most anonymous team in the postseason. Anyone that says they can name Miami’s typical starting nine is either lying or they need to find other hobbies. But that makes them highly watchable in the postseason. I’ve never watched the Masked Singer, but I imagine the 2020 Marlins offer the same sort of intrigue. Who are these people?
The Cubs wouldn’t be that interesting, but Kris Bryant’s heel turn is terrific.
#1 Cardinals vs. Padres
Any matchup featuring the Cardinals should rank last. St. Louis is familiar, annoying, and pretty boring. San Diego, however, is anything but that, and one player is responsible: Fernando Tatís Jr.
No other player is as consistently excellent and exciting. In a year that was so desperate to show us everything wrong with baseball, Tatís emphatically shows us everything that’s right with the sport.
This is the young superstar’s first postseason series, and we can only hope that this goes better than another superstar’s first (and only) playoff appearance went. Unlike Mike Trout, the Padres don’t look like they’re going to waste Tatís. The Padres were the most active buyers at the deadline, so Tatís has plenty of backup.
Tatís can’t carry the Padres to their first championship by himself, but he needs no help to be endlessly entertaining.