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Which postseason team gets to complain about injuries the most?

The Mets lost a chunk of their rotation. The Cubs lost one of their most productive outfielders. The Nationals lost a battery. The Indians lost all of the above. Who has it the worst in the postseason?

The dinosaurs didn't see their meteor coming, either.
The dinosaurs didn't see their meteor coming, either.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Imagine the Cubs’ lineup with Kyle Schwarber in it. They’re, uh, fine, don’t get me wrong. But even with the downhill defense in the outfield, the Cubs could have replaced 600 at-bats of Jorge Soler, Matt Szczur, and Chris Coghlan with 40 homers. Or 50 homers? We don’t know how Schwarber’s beef would have played in this homer-happy season.

If the Cubs lose a Game 5 or a Game 7 by a single run, there will be a small part of them that thinks, "Could this have been the year if we had a healthy Kyle Schwarber? Would that have been the difference?"

And the Mets would have thought, "Oh, shut up."

Not just the Mets, though! Almost every postseason team is going through injury problems or missing a key contributor. Our job today is to rank them in order of just how legitimate their injury complaints are. If you ask them all, they’ll say something about how injuries are part of the game, and they trust the guys in the dugout, et cetera.

Deep down inside, though, there’s a swear word they want to say but can’t. This is a space for those swear words.

(Note: While I solicited the help of some SB Nation team bloggers and went through Roster Resource, I'm sure I messed up somewhere, either by omission or by including someone who's all better now. Be gentle.)

10. Giants

Injured: Eduardo Nuñez, Mac Williamson

They were already going to rank toward the bottom because a) Nuñez will probably be back for the Division Series, and b) there just aren’t a lot of bodies. Then Nuñez’s injury replacement hit the home run that won the Wild Card Game, which is steaming, cosmic garbage. The funniest kind from the right perspective, but steaming, cosmic garbage, just the same.

So if you are having a beer with a Giants fan, and they start complaining that the team traded for a third baseman at the deadline who isn’t even healthy, take that beer away from them and drink it in one gulp, never breaking eye contact. Then tell them to get another beer, and when they come back, do it again. Repeat until they leave or you pass out. It’s the only way they’ll learn.

9. Orioles

Injured players: Steve Pearce, Joey Rickard, Chris Lee, Zach Britton

It doesn’t matter now, but you can’t blame the Orioles’ quick exit on injuries. They were relatively healthy. Tired, sure. And I’m sure if you send a tiny Dennis Quaid into Ubaldo Jimenez’s elbow, there would be the kind of wear and tear that you would find with a lot of pitchers his age.

But they were healthy.

Even Zach Britton.

The Orioles have had some long offseasons before. This promises to be one of the longer ones on record.

8. Dodgers

Injured: Scott Van Slyke, Trayce Thompson, Carlos Frias, Hyun-jin Ryu, Yimi Garcia, Chris Hatcher, Chin-hui Tsao

Surprise! Team Infirmary is healthy at the right time. While a fully functioning Hyun-jin Ryu would be a boon for any rotation, he’s thrown exactly 4⅔ innings since 2014, so you can’t exactly count him as a surprise or a disappointment. The roster was built around the idea that he wouldn’t be here.

The fine print, though, is that the Dodgers have a lot of yellow-flag players. Clayton Kershaw looks as good as ever, but he missed a lot of time. Rich Hill looks outstanding, but his blisters are a lurking horror. The Dodgers used 55 different players this season, with 15 different starting pitchers, which is the most since the 2006 Royals.

But they’re healthy now. Which puts them in a better spot than almost every other postseason team.

7. Blue Jays*

Injured: Joaquin Benoit, Gavin Floyd, Roberto Osuna*

They could rank 10th, really. Ninth if you cement the stupid Giants in the last spot because of their demonry. But we don’t know much about Roberto Osuna, other than he’s day-to-day and likely to be on the ALDS roster. If he’s hurt, the Blue Jays have an argument to slide up this list. If he’s not, they’re one of the healthier teams in the postseason.

All it takes, though, is one missed Osuna appearance to ruin the season, so don’t take it lightly. The Blue Jays bullpen isn’t so deep that they’ll forget he isn’t there; his absence will be felt in the seventh inning, much less the ninth.

6. Red Sox

Injured players: Pablo Sandoval, Josh Rutledge, Blake Swihart, Carson Smith

If you’re especially callous, you might suggest that Sandoval’s injury is a feature, not a bug. But I’m not sure that’s the case. It’s entirely possible that his shoulder was a contributing factor to his 75 OPS+ last year. He really is a pretty good player, you gotta believe me!

Apart from Sandoval, though, Carson Smith and Blake Swihart are pretty noticeable losses, even if Swihart didn’t have a clearly defined role on the team. The Red Sox were expecting something of a super-bullpen with Smith, Junichi Tazawa, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel, but the last three had bouts of ineffectiveness, and Smith is gone for the year.

5. Rangers

Injured players: Prince Fielder, Lucas Harrell, Shawn Tolleson

If we’re just talking about players who performed well this year? That would have been Tony Barnette and no one else, but he’s healthy now. Fielder is still a blow to the roster, though, because we forget how excellent he was last season, and how he still had a lot of baseball left in him if not for the freakish, unusual injury to his neck and spine.

The injury to Fielder pushed Mitch Moreland to first, where he’s a defensive upgrade, and it prompted the Rangers to trade for Carlos Beltran, who’s been fine. Still, it’s not hard to daydream about Fielder in the middle of the lineup, terrifying opposing pitchers.

As far as injury sheets go, though, the Rangers aren’t ailing too much. If you’ve followed them over the last few years, you’ll know that they deserve this momentary break in cloud coverage. They were really covered in thetans over the last couple seasons.

4. Cubs

Injured player: Kyle Schwarber

On the one hand: Not one pitcher? Not one member of the rotation or bullpen got sucked into the gears of baseball’s machinery? How is that even possible?

On the other hand: Schwarber is one of the biggest losses on this entire list, and he missed the whole season. That’s something to complain about, alright.

On the other other hand: The Cubs could afford to lose some offense, and there was a chance that Schwarber’s defense could have dragged down his overall value more than we think.

Put them in the middle, then, but closer to the top. Jorge Soler had an oblique tweak, but he’s fine, and the Cubs are one of the healthiest teams in the postseason. Except for that one large human they were counting on in the middle of the order, that is.

3. Nationals

Injured players: Wilson Ramos, Stephen Strasburg, Daniel Murphy, Aaron Barrett

It’s basically a three-way tie for first, so don’t yell at me. Is there any position that’s worse to lose at the last second than your starting catcher? Forget that Ramos was one of the Nationals’ better hitters this year. Just focus on him as a catcher who made his pitching staff comfortable, and the loss is still devastating.

Strasburg missing the NLDS (at least) is also brutal, stripping the Nationals of the rotation depth that’s defined them in recent seasons. On the other hand, it might force Gio Gonzalez into Game 3. While that doesn’t sound exciting on the surface, there’s a chance he’s been unlucky (4.57 ERA/3.76 FIP), and the Dodgers struggle a bit against left-handed starters. You know they would rather have Strasburg, platoon splits be damned.

Daniel Murphy strained his buttocks, but his buttocks were healthy enough to allow him at least a pinch-hitting appearance to wrest the batting title away from D.J. LeMahieu, which didn’t work out. Possibly because of the buttocks.

His buttocks should be ready for the NLDS, though, and with continued health regarding said buttocks, he will likely be in the lineup on Friday against Clayton Kershaw.

(In all seriousness, "buttocks" is a 70-grade word, from the cadence and mellifluousness and sharpness to the way it looks in printed form — angular, yet softened with curves in just the right spots. It is only improved with various accents around the world, too, highlighting its versatility. I’ll go up to a rare 80 grade if the mood is right. Take a few moments to appreciate the word*.)


2. Mets

Injured players: Neil Walker, David Wright, Justin Ruggiano, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler, Wilmer Flores

At this time yesterday, they were no. 1, and it wasn’t especially close. The idea that not not, not two, but three of their young starters are on the shelf is appalling. Then add in their productive second baseman, then add in their captain, o captain, their spiritual leader. Not even a contest.

It didn’t matter that much in the Wild Card game, though. They would have started Noah Syndergaard regardless, and there’s no way they could have gotten a better start from anyone on the DL. T.J. Rivera was probably a better fit than Walker for a lineup against Madison Bumgarner anyway, which leaves the loss of Flores (at first, I’ll guess) as the lone problem that affected their ability to advance.

If they had advanced? Nobody would have had it over the Mets. Losing 60 percent of a rotation and two starting position players would doom most teams, so it was a minor miracle the Mets were there at all. If they advanced to the Division Series, they would take the top spot here, apologies to Bartolo Colon and Seth Lugo, who are good at what they do.

1. Indians

Injured players: Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Yan Gomes (maybe)

Three players for sure, all of them excellent. Gomes might come back, which would temper things just a little. They’ll slide back down the oucher rankings if Salazar comes back for the ALCS, but they’ll first have to make the ALCS without Salazar, which will be a difficult sleight-of-hand to pull off against the best lineup in the American League.

A healthy Corey Kluber/Carlos Carrasco/Danny Salazar/Trevor Bauer quartet should be prohibitive favorites to mess stuff up in the postseason. As is, they’ll have to rely on Josh Tomlin, and a last-minute groin injury for Kluber makes it unlikely that they’ll use anyone on short rest, at least with any regularity in the first couple rounds.

Still, as someone who attends the Church of Jeff Weaver (Ishikawa Council of 1912), this doesn’t have to doom them. None of these injuries have to doom any of these teams. We’re about to enter a sprint, a small sample of baseball games, where anything could happen. Remember that the Dodgers got much better after losing Clayton Kershaw for a couple months, not worse.

All things being equal, though? Some of these teams have the right to grumble. Some of them have the right to grumble a lot. And the wind will whisper ... what if?