None of the top-nine payroll teams are still alive in the playoffs

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Just a quick update on something Aaron mentioned yesterday.

With the Phillies eliminated, we can now say that none of the top-nine payroll teams made it through the first round of the playoffs. In fact, the Tigers and Cardinals are the only teams left with a payroll north of $100 million.

Here are the payroll and payroll ranks of the four remaining teams, according to USA Today:

10. Tigers – $106 million
11. Cardinals – $105 million
13. Rangers – $92 million
17. Brewers – $85 million

It’s even interesting when you look at the teams who were eliminated in the first round. The Rays and Diamondbacks were among the bottom six in payroll while the Yankees and Phillies ranked one and two, respectively. The playoffs can be pretty random, but we somehow ended up with four teams in the middle. Parity feels pretty good, doesn’t it?

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.