Who Should Tribe Fans Be Rooting For in Playoff Semifinals?


There’s no better time than the playoffs to be a baseball fan—for several weeks at a time, we get at least one great matchup almost every night as the game’s best teams fight to be crowned World Series champs. You don’t have to be a fan of a playoff team to appreciate the awesomeness of October.

But for those fans who root for one of the 22 teams whose seasons ended September 28 (or now, the four teams who made it but got knocked out in the division series), the postseason also means confusion about which of the remaining contenders deserve their support. Even to the most objective observer, baseball is more fun when you’re rooting for one side over the other. So how should Indians fans decide who to cheer for?

In a post at Beyond the Box Score before the playoffs started, I invented a new tchotchke statistic called ROOT (Rootability Of Other Teams). ROOT first ranks the playoff teams in terms of likability based on their underdog statuses and how fun they are to watch, then adjusts the scores for each other franchise’s fans based on rivalries and having former players on their rosters (for full methodology, check out the original post).

Before the postseason started, I ranked the Arizona Diamondbacks as the most likable team for Tribe fans. A week later, though, half the teams (including the Diamondbacks) have been eliminated, and some of the postseason rosters have turned out differently than I had expected. Therefore, it behooves us to check in again.

Here are the updated ROOT scores for Cleveland fans as we enter the second round of the postseason:

  1. St. Louis Cardinals: 20.0
  2. Milwaukee Brewers: 15.0
  3. Detroit Tigers: 14.5
  4. Texas Rangers: 9.0

So the Indians should be rooting for the Tigers beat the Rangers and the Cardinals to top the Brewers in the semifinals before seeing the trophy return to St. Louis in a rematch of the 2006 Fall Classic. These numbers reflect the presences of Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, and Jake Westbrook on 25-man rosters and the Tribe’s minor rivalry with the Tigers.

In case any non-Tribe fans happen to stumble across this, here are the team-neutral rankings:

  1. Brewers: 15.0
  2. Cardinals: 13.0
  3. Rangers: 9.0
  4. Tigers: 8.5

To calculate the ROOT scores for fans of another team, check out the original post for the formula. In the meantime, go…Cardinals, I guess.