1 of 5 | Outfielder Randy Arozarena and the Tampa Bay Rays are among the favorites to win the World Series. File Photo by Steve Nesius/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A dozen teams clinched spots in MLB's postseason, which will begin Tuesday when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of an American League Wild Card Series. The World Series will start Oct. 27.
Playoff games will air over the next five weeks on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, Fox, FS1 and TBS.
The first pitch for the Rays-Rangers opener will be at 3:08 p.m. EDT in St. Petersburg, Fla. That game will air on ABC.
"We will get to work and do our homework on them, but they are a very talented team, pitching and hitting," Rays manager Kevin Cash told reporters Sunday, when asked about the Rangers.
MLB's 12-team playoff format, which started last year, begins with best-of-three Wild Card series. Eight teams will complete.
The top four playoff seeds -- the Baltimore Orioles (101-61) and Houston Astros (90-72) in the American League and Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62) in the National League -- earned first-round byes.
The Braves, who won an MLB-best 104 regular-season games, are the favorites to capture the World Series championship. The Dodgers, defending champion Astros, Orioles and Rays (99-63) round out the Top 5 favorites.
The Miami Marlins (84-77) and Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78) are considered the biggest longshots.
"It's the first time this team made it to the playoffs, in a full season, over the last 20 years," Marlins outfielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. said Sunday on a Bally Sports broadcast. "We are super excited."
Road to the World Series
Wild Card games will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The Minnesota Twins will host the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of their series at 4:38 p.m. Tuesday in Minneapolis.
The Milwaukee Brewers will then host the Diamondbacks in the third game of the day at 7:08 p.m. in Milwaukee. The Phillies will play the Marlins in at 8:08 p.m. in Philadelphia.
First pitches for those three-game series are scheduled for the same times Wednesday and Thursday (if necessary).
Eight total teams will then contest the National League Division Series and American League Division Series. Those series will be best-of-five format.
Two teams from each league will then advance to the American League and National League championship series. The winners from those best-of-seven game series will move on to the World Series.
Best of the best
The Braves are easily the best-hitting team in baseball. They hit an MLB-topping .276 and were the only team to eclipse 300 home runs, with an MLB record-tying 307.
They also led MLB with 1,543 hits, 947 runs, 916 RBIs, a .344 on-base percentage and an MLB-record .501 slugging percentage.
National League MVP favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. leads that lineup. The outfielder hit .337 this season, while becoming the first MLB player in history to record at least 40 home runs (41) and 70 stolen bases (73) in the same season.
First baseman Matt Olson (.283 and 54 homers), third baseman Austin Riley (.281 and 37 homers), second baseman Ozzie Albies (.280 and 33 homers), outfielder Michael Harris (.293 and 18 home runs) and designated hitter Marcell Ozuna (.274 and 40 homers) are among the Braves' other top hitters.
Braves starting pitchers logged the most strikeouts (1,516) in the National League.
The Marlins, led by second baseman Luis Arraez's MLB-best .354 average, were second in the National League with a .259 batting average. The Dodgers (.257) and Phillies (.256) were among the other top-hitting National League offenses.
The Dodgers also ranked second in MLB with 249 home runs.
The Rangers were the top-hitting American League team, with a .263 average. They also tied the Twins with an American League-best 233 home runs.
The Blue Jays logged the best ERA (3.78) out of all American League teams in the playoffs. The Rays (3.86), Twins (3.87), Orioles (3.89) and Astros (3.94) are among the other top staffs in the American League postseason.
Brewers pitchers led MLB with a 3.78 ERA this season. Brewers relievers logged the best ERA (3.40) in the National League. Their starting pitchers recorded the second-best ERA (3.94) in the league.
Twins starters posted the best ERA (3.82) in the American League, followed by the Blue Jays (3.85).
Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (.331), Rays first baseman and American League batting champion Yandy Diaz (.330), Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (.327), Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betters (.307), Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (.306) and Phillies designated hitter Bryce Harper (.293) join Arraez, Acuna and Harris as the best hitters in the postseason.
Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber (47 homers), Betts (39), Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia (39), Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy (36) and Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler (36) and third baseman Jake Burger (34) join Olson, Acuna, Ozuna, Riley and Albies as the best home run hitters in the playoffs.
Twins pitcher Sonny Gray has the top ERA (2.79) among postseason starters. Kyle Bradish (2.38) of the Orioles, Kevin Gausman (3.16) of the Blue Jays, Jordan Montgomery (3.20) of the Rangers and Justin Verlander (3.22) of the Astros are among other top starters.
Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson, Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman are among other players to watch.
All times EDT
Game 1: Rangers at Rays at 3:08 p.m. on ABC
Game 1: Blue Jays at Twins at 4:38 p.m. on ESPN
Game 1: Diamondbacks at Brewers at 7:08 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 1: Marlins at Phillies at 8:08 p.m. on ESPN
Game 2: Rangers at rays at 3:08 p.m. on ABC
Game 2: Blue Jays at Twins at 4:38 p.m. on ESPN
Game 2: Diamondbacks at Brewers at 7:08 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 2: Marlins at Phillies at 8:08 p.m. on ESPN
Game 3: Rangers at rays at 3:08 p.m. on ABC
Game 3: Blue Jays at Twins at 4:38 p.m. on ESPN
Game 3: Diamondbacks at Brewers at 7:08 p.m. on ESPN2
Game 3: Marlins at Phillies at 8:08 p.m. on ESPN
Game 1: Phillies or Marlins at Braves on TBS
Game 1: Rays or Rangers at Orioles on Fox/FS1
Game 1: Twins or Blue Jays at Astros on Fox/FS1
Game 1: Brewers or Diamondbacks at Dodgers on TBS
Game 2: Rays or Rangers at Orioles on Fox/FS1
Game 2: Twins or Blue Jays at Astros on Fox/FS1
Game 2: Phillies or Marlins at Braves on TBS
Game 2: Brewers or Diamondbacks at Dodgers on TBS
Game 3: Astros at Twins or Blue Jays on Fox/FS1
Game 3: Orioles at Rays or Rangers on Fox/FS1
Game 3: Dodgers at Brewers or Diamondbacks on TBS
Game 3: Braves at Phillies or Marlins on TBS
Game 4: Astros at Twins or Blue Jays on Fox/FS1
Game 4: Orioles at Rays or Rangers on Fox/FS1
Game 4: Dodgers at Brewers or Diamondbacks on TBS
Game 4: Braves at Phillies or Marlins on TBS
Game 5: Rays or Rangers at Orioles on Fox/FS1
Game 5: Twins or Blue Jays at Astros on Fox/FS1
Game 5: Phillies or Marlins at Braves on TBS
Game 5: Brewers or Diamondbacks at Dodgers at TBS
ALCS Game 1 on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 1 on TBS
ALCS Game 2 on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 2 on TBS
ALCS Game 3 on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 3 on TBS
ALCS Game 4 on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 4 on TBS
ALCS Game 5 (if necessary) on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 5 (if necessary) on TBS
ALCS Game 6 (if necessary) on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 6 (if necessary) on TBS
ALCS Game 7 (if necessary) on Fox/FS1
NLCS Game 7 (if necessary) on TBS
Game 1: TBD at TBD on Fox
Game 2: TBD at TBD on Fox
Game 3: TBD at TBD on Fox
Game 4: TBD at TBD on Fox
Game 5 (if necessary): TBD at TBD on Fox
Game 6 (if necessary): TBD at TBD on Fox
Game 7 (if necessary): TBD at TBD on Fox