The 2020 MLB Postseason is well under way, and only one team (the Oakland Athletics) faces elimination on Wednesday. And while viewership for the Postseason has not been that impressive so far, it could become much more acceptable if appealing matchups come down the line in the LCS and World Series. Following a year where MLB attracted its third-smallest World Series audience ever, the league definitely could use an attractive matchup in the Fall Classic. Here’s how we would rank the 16 possible matchups, from worst (for the league’s viewership) to best.
16. Rays vs Marlins. An all-Florida World Series would not be great for anyone, except maybe Florida.
15. Rays vs Padres. I’d be all about this series, but neither team has much of a national fanbase. San Diego is one of the smaller markets in MLB as well, which wouldn’t help all that much in terms of local viewership.
14. Athletics vs Padres. There’s one possible all-California matchup that would go well for MLB this year. This isn’t the one, with all due respect to Oakland and San Diego.
13. Athletics vs Marlins. The only reason I ranked this matchup ahead of A’s-Padres is that a second state is involved.
12. Astros vs Marlins. I cannot think of one interesting storyline coming out of this series, aside from both teams having the same infuriating victim mentality this season.
11. Rays vs Braves. Now we’re starting to get a bit more interesting. This southeast-centric matchup would draw in fans from a much bigger footprint than all the other matchups so far on the list, but I do think the “TBS factor” for the Braves is a bit overrated – it’s been more than a dozen years since Braves games aired nationally on the Superstation. Yes, the fanbase is still spread across the country, but Atlanta’s status as a national draw is questionable (in part because the team hasn’t been to the NLCS since 2001).
10. Astros vs Padres. This could be a good “past vs future” series, with the 2017 champs on possibly their last legs against a team built for not just 2020, but the short and long-term future.
9. Rays vs Dodgers. Getting the LA market in the World Series (again) would only be a good thing for MLB, especially on the tail-end of the Lakers’ NBA Finals run. The Andrew Friedman Derby is a great storyline for baseball diehards, but I don’t think the casual fan would care all that much.
8. Athletics vs Braves. This would be a rematch of the 1904 World Series, which took place two moves ago for each team. Incredibly, that’s the only time these two storied franchises have ever met in the World Series. History would be at play here, but little else.
7. Athletics vs Dodgers. Give me all of the 1988 World Series clips, please. That was also the last year the Dodgers won the World Series, so the symbolism would be too perfect. And while it’s an all-California World Series, at least one of the teams is one of MLB’s most popular teams.
6. Yankees vs Marlins. If the Marlins are going to reach the World Series, a matchup with the Yankees would be MLB’s saving grace. This rematch of the 2003 World Series would come with plenty of built-in storylines that I think would be pretty interesting.
5. Astros vs Braves. When the Astros were in the National League, they had plenty of classic (or, if you’re a Braves fan, heartbreaking) playoff matchups with Atlanta. Running the series back again, in the World Series after the Braves played the NLDS at Minute Maid Park, sure would be fun. It doesn’t help that these are two of the most exciting teams in the league (sign stealing or no sign stealing).
4. Yankees vs Padres. This rematch of the 1998 World Series would bring back pleasant memories for Yankees fans, bitter memories for Padres fans, and plenty of old school vs new school storylines (whether or not the 2020 Yankees are old school is a different topic for a different topic). Before this season, the Padres had won just one playoff game since that World Series sweep at the hands of the Yankees. The vengeance narrative is easy to write for this one, even though Fernando Tatis Jr wasn’t born when the 1998 World Series happened.
3. Yankees vs Braves. The Yankees and Braves have played in four World Series. The Braves (in Milwaukee) won in 1957, lost in 1958, and after moving to Atlanta, lost in both 1996 (don’t mention that one around a Braves fan) and 1999. Atlanta hasn’t won an NL pennant since that 1999 season, and another matchup with the Yankees in the World Series would be incredible theater.
2. Astros vs Dodgers. A rematch of the 2017 series (which some Dodgers fans have taken to claiming over the last year, although it doesn’t work that way), one of the most exciting (and tainted) in recent history, would be absolutely amazing. The Dodgers are still pissed off about the sign stealing by the Astros. The Astros, who are cheaters, are upset that people are calling them cheaters. How could baseball fans *not* watch this series?
1. Yankees vs Dodgers. Ah yes, the impossible dream. The old rivals haven’t faced off since the 1981 World Series, but it’s a matchup steeped in history. Your parents and grandparents grew up with the Yankees-Dodgers rivalry, and because of the size of each team’s fanbase (and local market), younger fans will naturally be drawn to the series as well. This is the matchup that Fox has been begging for year after year, only to be foiled.