Baseball Playoff Predictions

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It’s exactly what it sounds like.

American League: ALDS

New York Yankees versus Minnesota Twins

The Twins have been a great story this year, winning 94 games and challenging for the best record in baseball despite not having All-Star closer Joe Nathan all season, and former MVP first baseman Justin Morneau for nearly half the season. Minnesota has learned to win without both players, thanks in part to a huge resurgence from elderly slugger Jim Thome, but it goes without saying that they’re not as good without them, and you wonder if that will catch up to them in the playoffs. The Twins’ pitching has been a strength much of the year, but faltered badly down the stretch. Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano have to be on their game, particularly because Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn are a bit of a mystery at the third/fourth spots.

The Yankees have some pitching questions of their own. CC Sabathia is a reliable ace who’ll finish no worse than third in Cy Young voting this year, but the starters are a little murkier after that. Andy Pettitte is one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time, but his effectiveness is somewhat in doubt after multiple injuries this season. Youngster Phil Hughes has been been fairly awful since the end of May, and it was revealed today that AJ Burnett, as expected, won’t even make the playoff rotation. I feel confident about their offense, though. Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira managed to offset some decline from Derek Jeter and (at times) Alex Rodriguez, and the postseason should bring out the best in at least Jeter.

Prediction: Yankees win in 4. Sabathia and Pettitte begin another playoff push, and while the Twins’ pitching also rebounds some, NY still scores enough to win a couple close games.

***

Texas Rangers versus Tampa Bay Rays

The Rangers may nearly all be playoff virgins, but the talent is immense, with a deep lineup and the best pitching Texas has had since Nolan Ryan. The big question is probably how much damage an injured Josh Hamilton can do; even if he starts just a little slowly, it could hurt his team’s chances. The good news is that the team’s ace, Cliff Lee, rebounded from a truly terrible August and is hot again at the right time. It still feels weird for me to think of trusting playoff hopes to starters CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis, however.

The Rays had the best record in the AL, and it’s hard not to like this team. They have a top-three Cy Young pitcher in David Price to anchor the rotation and perhaps give us a classic showdown with Cliff Lee, and back him up with Matt Garza and a solid pitching staff. The Rays’ problem is that other than Price, their SPs can be a little Jekyll and Hyde, which makes it easy to see them sweeping this series but not too hard to see them getting swept. Their lineup is similarly feast or famine once you get past Crawford and Longoria, the only regulars with a batting average above .265. They’re just so tough to predict.

Prediction: Texas in 5. I have no confidence in this pick, and I’m definitely rooting for the Rays, who have maybe the most upside of any playoff team. But I just wonder if they can get big hits when they need them.

***

American League: ALCS

New York Yankees versus Texas Rangers

Prediction: New York in 6. I think people sometimes overestimate the importance of playoff experience, but if all else is equal, I’m fine with using it as a tiebreaker. While CC vs. Lee could be fairly even, I’ll take Pettitte in the playoffs over any other Rangers starter.

AL Pennant Winner: New York Yankees.

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National League: NLDS

Cincinnati Reds versus Philadelphia Phillies

The Reds are kinda fun to root for, as they remind you a little of Tampa Bay from a couple years ago. But I can’t see them pulling off a similar playoff run as the 2008 Rays. Likely MVP Joey Votto leads a strong offense, but I question how the pitching staff will hold up in the postseason. Bronson Arroyo and Johnny Cueto are fine pitchers, but there’s no real ace, and I feel like Francisco Cordero is bound to blow a save (if he gets a chance). I think they’ll be competitive on a game-to-game basis, but it’s hard to see them winning.

The Phillies seem to have just about the full package. A lineup full of sluggers that can play small ball if need be, and an amazing pitching rotation with likely Cy Young winner Roy Halladay, resurgent Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. The bullpen could be a question mark at times, but I don’t see it hurting them in this series.

Prediction: Philadelphia in 3. This is the only sweep I’m predicting, but I just don’t think Cincy is on Philly’s level, though I hope they prove me wrong.

***

Atlanta Braves versus San Francisco Giants

The Braves have been a hard-luck team this year. I can’t help but imagine how the season would have gone with a healthy Chipper Jones, Jair Jurrgens, Kris Medlen, Martin Prado, Jason Heyward, Takashi Saito, Eric O’Flaherty, Scott Proctor … christ. But injuries happen, and the Braves did well to make one last postseason for manager Bobby Cox. Realistically, it’ll be tough to do much now that they’re here. The offense has been anemic since the All-Star break, and there’s no real reason to expect that to suddenly change, especially in a first-round matchup against some of the best pitching in baseball. But there is some hope, as the Braves still possess the starting pitching to be a factor. Derek Lowe has a good postseason track record and is peaking at the right time with a brilliant September. Tommy Hanson is also on a roll and will be the No. 2 pitcher in the ALDS over Tim Hudson, the NL’s Comeback Player of the Year (announced today) and the Braves’ best pitcher this season. Huddy was struggling in September before mostly righting the ship his last two starts, and could use the extra rest after pitching on short rest. They should/probably will use a three-man rotation, though Cox hasn’t ruled out using rookie Brandon Beachy if the series goes four games; Beachy has done admirably in his three starts, but I do not want him determining our postseason fate, and I cannot imagine Cox would let him. The SPs have little margin for error against SF’s staff, but if they’re on their game, they should give Atlanta a fighting chance.

The Giants are the most similar team to Atlanta, with an often questionable offense and always strong pitching. Their offense is a little better, though, led by Aubrey Huff, who has reinvented his career yet again, and probable Rookie of the Year Buster Posey. And it’s nearly impossible to beat their starting pitching, as they follow two-time defending Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum with Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez. They also have a good/crazy closer in Brian Wilson. They’ll be legit contenders if they can get hot offensively.

Prediction: Giants in 4. It really does pain me to say that, but SF matches up well against Atlanta, as the Braves will be hard-pressed to gain the pitching advantage they would have over most teams. It could/should be the lowest-scoring series of the first round, and I’ll guess that at least 3 of the 4 games are very close — meaning that if someone can step up and be a hero for the Braves, maybe Cox’s career will last a little longer.

***

National League: NLCS

San Francisco Giants versus Philadelphia Phillies

Prediction: Phillies in 6. Could be a very good series with some epic pitching matchups. Halladay vs. Lincecum? We might see 20 batters struck out and not a run scored. But ultimately, this comes down to who is going to be able to score against the other’s excellent pitching. And I trust Philly’s near-murderer’s row to make the Giants’ pitchers pay for any mistakes more than vice versa.

NL Pennant Winner: Philadelphia Phillies

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WORLD SERIES

New York Yankees versus Philadelphia Phillies

It pains me a little to pick this WS pairing — not only because it’s a boring pick to predict a rematch of last year, but also because these are two of my three least favorite teams (in case you’re wondering, it goes: 1. Yankees, 2. Mets, 3. Phillies). But Philly seems like clearly the best team in the NL, and while I wouldn’t be too shocked to see any of the AL teams make it out alive, NY seems like the most likely.

Prediction: Philadelphia in 7. The matchup might be the same, but I’m predicting a different result. The addition of Roy Oswalt should tip this in the Phillies’ favor; if Halladay and Oswalt just split their possible matchups against Sabathia and Pettitte, respectively, then you’ve got to like Hamels over Hughes. Of course, depending on how long series go, those might not be the pitching matchups, but Philly’s top three are so strong that I think the result will be the same in any configuration.

World Series MVP: Roy Halladay.

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2 Responses to “Baseball Playoff Predictions”

  1. spiffyithaca Says:

    Alright. So I agree with most of these, but I have some differences. I’ll start with the NL, because I have less discrepencies there.

    Braves vs. Giants: I’m pretty sure having Scott Proctor injured HELPED your playoff chances. But anyways, the Braves have stumbled into the playoffs, but THEY MADE IT, and I think, that might be all they have in them to reward Bobby Cox in his last season. I say Giants, and I’ll say in 4 as well. If it goes to a game 5, then it lets the presumptive “Cox magic” hoo-ha go into high gear and would actually play tricks on the Giants and allow the Braves to win. But I don’t think Lincecum or Cain will allow that. I actually see Madison Bumgarner (if he’s chosen) to come up HUGE in Game 4 to close out the series. Or, I could see Barry Zito becoming clutch for once in his life, because it’d be a good story.

    Phillies vs. Reds: The two best teams in the NL, so it’s a shame one has to get knocked off so quickly. I think the Reds pitching is underrated, but the massive amount of depth that they have doesn’t really help their playoff chances, and clearly, the Phillies have them beat in one on one matchups easily. I think the Reds win one game (either an Oswalt or Hamels hiccup), but the Phillies win in 4. But a sweep is expected, which is sad for such exciting young team like the Reds. I’ll tell you what, seeing Aroldis Chapman in the postseason is going to be sick nasty ill na na.

    Then it’ll be Phillies/Giants, and I say it’ll go to 5-6, but the Phillies win. I think the big bats of the Phillies will awaken. If the Giants slot Lincecum against someone else rather than Halladay, maybe they could have a chance to steal 1-2, though Oswalt and Hamels have been better than Lincecum for some/most of the season too. Jesus the Phillies are dangerous. It almost makes it seem too obvious to pick them to do so much damage, and I hate that feeling.

    AL

    Twins/Yanks: Brian Duensing has been awesome all year, but it’s still hard to trust him in the postseason against anybody, let alone the Yankees. But I predict him winning a game, and Liriano winning game 1. If Liriano doesn’t win game one, I think it’s over. I think the Twins will make it go to game 5 and surprise people, but I think CC or fucking Pettitte nails it down in game 5. Derek Jeter will be good again, because that’s how the world works, and everyone will ignore his mediocre 2010 season due to 7 “clutch” at bats this postseason.

    Rays/Rangers: My two favorite teams on the AL side, actually. I would’ve picked either to beat either of the other two, ballsy or no. But my gut was the Rays in the World Series since April/May, and I’m not going to step down from that now. I think there’s a sense of urgency with Carl Crawford leaving after the year’s done in all likelihood, and Matt Garza while inconsistent all his career, is downright MONEY in clutch situations and the postseason and against tough opponents, and he’ll be the key here. Rays in 5.

    Rays/Yanks: Fuck the Yankees. Rays in 7.

    By the way, who lists the Mets as one of their most hated teams if their not from NY? That’s adding insult to injury and pretty mean. They suck at baseball, sure, but their hardly motherfuckers like the Yanks or Dodgers or something.

    WORLD SERIES: Tampa Bay Rays/Philadelphia Phillies

    My head says the Phillies and they look like the no-brainer. They got it all. The pitching, the defense (who knows, I made that up), the offense (albeit inconsistent but it has Utley, Howard, Rollins, Werth, Victorino, COME ON I JUST SHOT A LOAD, etc.) and Lidge has been money since the start of August to right the bullpen.

    I’ve lived my life hating the favorites and rooting for the underdogs, and many times, this has helped me in predicting the World Series victors. This year….I can’t do it. I think the Phillies beat the Rays. Again. In 6.

  2. Chris Ross Says:

    Great post man! I am a big believer in the fact that you need a very good rotation to be able to win in the playoffs, and right now the Yankees don’t have that. It’s so difficult to outscore teams in the playoffs, that goes for any sport, because you have to face each teams best pitcher’s night in and night out. Scoring is at a premium in any sport when post-season time rolls around. Burnett, Hughes, Vazquez…who do you start? Tough call, no clear-cut answer and even though they have gone with Hughes only time will tell if it is the right decision. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I really wanna hear what you have to say. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2010/10/02/bottom-3/

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