The Minimally Informed Man’s Guide to the 2018 MLB Playoffs

Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox high fives Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees before a game on April 11, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

October is here, and that means it’s time for the 2018 MLB Playoffs. After a slog through 162 games—or 163 games for four teams—the long road trips, extra innings games, tough losses, and exciting wins, it all comes down to this.

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Ten teams are into the MLB playoffs, and all ten have the same goal in mind: Winning the World Series. After the Wild Card games, which were won by the Yankees and Rockies, there are now eight teams remaining in the playoffs.



Major League Baseball is kicking off the playoffs with a message to their players to have some fun and express their passion for the game, with some help from Hall of Fame outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. The new spot was created by the digital media company Cycle.

Check out the MLB spot for the playoffs:

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols (5) hits a solo home run in the ninth inning off of Texas Rangers relief pitcher Darren Oliver, his third home run in Game 3 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday, October 22, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. The Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead with a 16-7 victory. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty Images)

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Here’s what you need to know about the MLB Playoffs.

The Basics

The MLB Postseason starts on Tuesday, October 2 with the National League Wild Card Game, followed by the American League Wild Card Game on Wednesday, October 3. The NL game will be on ESPN for TV coverage, while TBS will have the AL game.

Giancarlo Stanton
Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos / Getty Images

The winners of the Wild Card games will advance into the Division Series, with the National League series starting on Thursday, and American League Division Series starting on Friday. The winners of those series will advance into the League Championship Series, starting up on Friday, October 12. The World Series will start on Tuesday, October 23 and TV coverage will be on FOX.

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The Matchups

Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 24, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Norm Hall/Getty Images

At the start, here are all the matchups set for the MLB Playoffs:

American League Wild Card: Oakland Athletics vs. New York Yankees – WINNER: Yankees
National League Wild Card: Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs – WINNER: Rockies

American League Division Series: Cleveland Indians vs. Houston Astros – WINNER: Astros
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox – WINNER: Red Sox

National League Division Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves – WINNER: Dodgers
Colorado Rockies vs. Milwaukee Brewers – WINNER: Brewers

UPDATE: The Championship Series are:

National League: Brewers vs Dodgers

American League: Red Sox vs. Astros

Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants

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The Favorites

The Houston Astros come into the playoffs after winning the World Series last year, and they followed that up with another very successful regular season. The team won 103 games and finished six games ahead of the Oakland Athletics while posting an MLB-best plus-263 run differential. The Astros also were the best road team in baseball, going 57-24 during the season.

The Houston Astros celebrate defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
Jerritt Clark / Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox are also one of the major favorites heading into the playoffs after winning 108 games this season, the best in all of baseball. The Yankees finished with the third-best record in baseball, but since they’re in the same division as the Red Sox, they ended up as the first American League wild card team. The Yankees set a record for home runs hit by a team during the regular season, and that power makes them a dangerous team in the playoffs.

The Upstarts

The Atlanta Braves weren’t expected to be in the playoffs—at least not for another year or two. The team has been rebuilding their roster up over the last few years after tearing things down and slashing payroll, but the fantastic play from young players like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr., along with the strong veteran leadership from Freddie Freeman has the Braves back in the postseason.

Ronald Acuna Jr. #13 of the Atlanta Braves during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 30, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies defeated the Braves 3-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics come into the playoffs with the lowest payroll of any team in the MLB. They became the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with the lowest payroll (according to Pro Baseball Talk) and they also bring in one of the best offenses in the league. (UPDATE: The Athletics lost to the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game.)

The Athletics started the season slow, and at one point they were 11 games back of the Seattle Mariners in the standings in July for a playoff spot, but a ridiculous surge over the second half of the season has the team in the playoffs. The team has the chance to give the Yankees a fight, as they come in with the best record in one-run games of the playoffs teams, as well as the best road scoring, according to ESPN.

The All-Stars and MVP Candidates

Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees follows through on a first inning two run home run against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium on June 21, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Mariners 4-3.
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The playoffs are filled with a number of All-Star players and players that will be battling for the MVP in both the American League and National League. Here’s a quick rundown of the players you should keep an eye on:

Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Aaron Judge, New York Yankees – 8 Ways Aaron Judge Trains for MLB Domination
Carlos Correa, Houston Astros – How Carlos Correa Became Baseball’s Fittest Shortstop
Giancarlo Stanton, New York Yankees – How Giancarlo Stanton Trains to Fuel His Powerful Home Run Blasts
Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians
Lorenzo Cain, Milwaukee Brewers
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros – Houston Astros Star Justin Verlander Talks Training and His Favorite Places to Travel
J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox

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