Opinion

Which AL team should you root for this fall?

CARTER3The Phillies won’t be in the postseason, but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore baseball’s month-long deathmatch to determine its ultimate champion. Oh contraire. There are many reasons you should embrace the postseason.

But since our beloved Phils won’t be in the dance, maybe there’s a team you’d like to put your rooting interests behind. Here’s where I can help; I’ve created a non-scientific formula guaranteed to help you – discerning Phillies fan – choose the right team to endorse in this year’s pennant chase.

Earlier I tackled the National League. Now let’s look at the American League.

New York Yankees

Rivalry / History: -4.2
You could argue the Yankees are the Phillies’ top American League rival. There’s recent history (2009 Super Annoying Series), proximity and solid payroll and fanbase comparisons. On a related note, how amazing is it that the Phillies and Yankees came so close to playing each other in the 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1980 World Series … but never did?

Been There Before: -8.3
The Yankees didn’t reach the postseason last year. They didn’t reach the postseason in 2013. It doesn’t matter. They get there a lot. They’re annoying. Go away.

Fandom and Raucousness: 8.5
Major points to the Yankees here. Even if it’s an ivory palace, Yankee Stadium would be shaking in the postseason. And you can’t deny that playoff baseball looks better in the Bronx.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 3.7
A solid offense but a subpar pitching staff means the Yankees are average. They do hit plenty of home runs, however. But here’s the thing: Isn’t it unfair that the Yanks have all these overachieving older players? Teixeira comes out of nowhere … A-Rod defies all logic with a miracle comeback season … Carlos Beltran is probably 50 and still knocking the ball around … look, it’s been a difficult few years here.

Star Power: 5.3
Rodriguez, Teixiera and Beltran are still marquee names to many, along with CC Sabathia. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda are good starters. Jacoby Ellsbury just gets lost on this team.

Former Phillie Cachet: 0.0
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Final Score: 5.0
You’re not rooting for the Yankees. If you are, you hate fun.

Minnesota Twins

Rival / History: 0.9
There’s practically nothing about the Twins that angers Phillies fans. I’m docking a tenth of a point because … Trevor May?

Been There Before: 3.7
It wasn’t too long ago that the Twins were regulars in October, along with the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels. In recent years, however, the Twins have plain stunk. Now they’re good again. Like the Astros, change in the American League is a welcome sight.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.6
Target Field hasn’t yet seen playoff baseball, but fans seem to be highly engaged. Time will tell.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: -1.2
The Twins aren’t that good at baseball. The offense is weak and the pitching is weaker. How the heck did the Twins do this, anyway?

Star Power: 0.6
Miguel Sano is a young kid with tremendous power; he’s on his way to being a star. Otherwise Joe Mauer is still here, and Byron Buxton has huge potential. That’s about it, unless you think Big Pelf has any sort of stroke.

Former Phillie Cachet: -0.1
Trevor May. That’s all we got here.

Final Score: 8.5
You can’t go wrong rooting for the Twins, but frankly, they’re not a great baseball team. You’d be killing other really great teams in the process. Just stay away!

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Rival / History: 1.0
The Angels are one of those teams where there’s practically no actual history or rivalry. Maybe a trade here and there, but seriously, no opinion at all of the Angels. That’s a plus-one.

Been There Before: -0.7
The Angels are pseudo mainstays in the American League postseason, but not enough to bore you.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.4
Color me slightly unimpressed by the Anaheim scene in October. Rally Monkey be damned.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: -0.5
If not for Mike Trout the Angels might have the worst offense in the American League. There’s nothing great about the pitching, either, unless you really love Huston Street. And look, I do not. The sheer fact the Angels have come this far is nothing short of a miracle.

Star Power: 3.0
Some kid from Vineland, N.J. Also Albert Pujols. Jered Weaver is not the same Jered Weaver. Otherwise, a barren land.

Former Phillie Cachet: 2.9
Shane Victorino is here, and we all love Shane. Too bad Shane is playing atrociously in Anaheim.

Final Score: 10.1
The Angels remain a harmless team; if they go far in the postseason, I won’t be upset. It won’t be great baseball, though.

Houston Astros

Rivalry / History: -3.3
Ugh, the Astros. The Phillies and Astros hooked up in an instant-classic National League Championship Series in 1980. As payback for beating them, the Baseball Gods decided to turn the ‘Stros into physical thorns in the Phils’ sides. Both 2005 and ‘06 ended because they couldn’t beat Houston, and it seemed the only team that constantly beat the Phillies between 2008 and ‘11 were … you got it …

Been There Before: 3.9
It’s been a little while since the Astros reached the postseason. Their tank-to-swank story is pretty incredible, especially if it ends with an appearance in October (still not assured yet). Give them their props.

Fandom and Raucousness: 4.7
Truthfully I’m uncertain about how the Houston crowd plays in the fall. Minute Maid Park is a huge place, and it’s been quite a few years since the Astros were playing meaningful baseball. I’ll give the Astros a slightly above average mark here.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 7.0
Only the Blue Jays have an offense more entertaining than the Astros. They clobber the ball. The Astros also pitch well, leading the American League in a few major categories. The bullpen has struggled, however. Still, this is a solid product.

Star Power: 3.0
A lot of non-household names here, but Carlos Correa is already the best shortstop in baseball (at age 20), and Dallas Keuchel may win the American League Cy Young. Tons of young talent primed to become big.

Former Phillie Cachet: 0.0
Oh boy. Here’s the thing: The Astros have Jon Singleton, Jonathan Villar and Domingo Santana. We know that. But all three are likely to fall short of the Houston potseason roster. So look, we may have traded away a potential stud (Santana), but it’s not hurting us yet! Optimism! … Also the Astros once employed the ghost of Fausto Carmona! Net zero!

Final Score: 15.3
The Astros are young, hip, and not the Yankees. You can’t go wrong here.

Kansas City Royals

Rivalry / History: -0.4
Of course there’s a history, but it’s pretty old now. Thirty-five years old. And anyways, the Phillies won that series. I see very little reason to dislike the Royals.

Been There Before: 1.3
The Royals surprised everyone when they reached the postseason last year. Then they floored us by actually winning the American League. So they’ve been there before, but seeing the Royals in October is still a relative phenomenon.

Fandom And Raucousness: 6.1
Kauffman Stadium is a great ballpark and shines in the postseason. Those fans are rabid at times. All-around good atmosphere.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 4.0
The Royals are the Cardinals of the American League – slightly above-average offense and pitching staff, getting by on a little luck. Plus there’s a lot of small ball in KC. So no, they’re not the most entertaining team. But they do baseball relatively well.

Star Power: 2.2
The Royals’ “young” core of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain is notable but not necessarily marquee. Johnny Cueto is a top-tier starter, but he has struggled since coming to Kansas City. But hey, Ben Zobrist is here!

Former Phillie Cachet: 2.2
Former Phillie Ryan Madson is in the bullpen and having a great renaissance season. Former Phillie Joe Blanton was here, but now he’s in Pittsburgh. And Former Phillie Erik Kratz was here, but now he’s a Phillie again. Sorry, Erik Kratz.

Final Score: 15.4
The Royals are not a bad choice. They’re not the best choice, but they’re not a bad choice.

Texas Rangers

Rivalry / History: 0.6
Two obvious pieces of recent history: The Phillies swiping Cliff Lee as #MysteryTeam during the 2010-11 offseason, and the Phillies trading Cole Hamels for a slew of prospects back in July. I’d say net positive here.

Been There Before: -0.3
The Rangers are, in a way, the Phillies’ doppelganger. They’re a few years removed from the postseason, but for a few years, they consistently contended. So while we’ve seen the Rangers more than often in October, they’re not a tired sight.

Fandom and Raucousness: 5.2
Whatever that stadium is called, it actually has a nice vibe come crunch time. Rangers fans are good fans; they might be the only good thing about the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 3.5
The Rangers are very, very average. But they have Cole Hamels. Which is exciting.

Star Power: 5.3
It’s Texas – of course they have stars. Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton are here, as are young studs Rougned Odor and Delino DeShields Jr. Also they have Cole Hamels. Which is exciting.

Former Phillie Cachet: 6.5
Remember the time the Phillies signed Wandy Rodriguez, but then didn’t? Wandy was on this roster once. Oh! Also Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman, who helped put the Rangers over the top. Go Rangers!

Final Score: 20.8
Root for the Rangers and you’re rooting for Cole and Jake. Okay mostly Cole. But some Jake.

Toronto Blue Jays

Rivalry / History: -1.0
A guy once did something against the Phillies that really stunk. Also Major League Baseball recently made us the interleague rival du jour of the Blue Jays. Still, I feel very little ill will toward the Jays.

Been There Before: 8.0
The Jays are the consummate “Haven’t Been There Before” team. The last time they were there … well, the guy did something against the Phillies that really stunk. It would be fantastic to see the Jays back in the dance.

Fandom and Raucousness: 7.1
Have you watched any Blue Jays home games? Holy crow, those fans. They’re riotous. So fun.

Will Play Baseball Goodicity: 7.9
You know what’s fun? Cueing up Blue Jays’ highlights every day because, at some point, someone hit a home run. And the Jays don’t hit cheap homers. They annihilate the ball. They move runners over. They play with energy. And the pitching has improved tremendously over the course of the season. So fun. So. Much. Fun.

Star Power: 5.5
Jose Bautista is the modern-day God of Longball. Edwin Encarnacion makes his arm a perch after he hits one out. Josh Donaldson is like the Royals’ stars in that he’s pretty damn good but still unknown to the layman. Also, this team has Troy Tulowitzki and David Price, who are both big stars. So yes, good star power here.

Former Phillie Cachet: 3.0
Ben Revere! I love Ben. He deserves to be in the postseason. Also, I failed to mention this earlier, but we should give the Jays a half-point for being the first home of one Harry Leroy Halladay. They’re like our blood brothers. Maybe?

Final Score: 30.5
If you don’t root for the Toronto Blue Jays you hate America. I mean … wait … I’m confused …

*****

Conclusion:

In my National League rundown I decided a Cubs vs. Dodgers NLCS is most preferred, and frankly, I’d probably rather see the Dodgers get there because of Jimmy and Chase.

Here, I’d love to see a Blue Jays vs. Rangers ALCS, but we’re likely to see that in the ALDS, instead. So, while I love Cole, I’m going Jays here. Give me a Blue Jays vs. Astros ALCS, with the Jays and Dodgers hooking up in the World Series.

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