With the postseason starting today (if you count that one-game farce as the postseason; I'm still undecided), we thought it'd be a good time to get the Friday Forum thing going again and give you our staff's predictions for the outcomes of the various postseason series. There are a lot of us now!
For the fourth year in a row, I'll be predicting the outcome of each series by coin flip, in addition to my own, almost equally random picks. It hasn't gone at all well yet, but this could be the year!
Here's the table, with comments below in reverse order of senority, because TCM can't follow directions and wrote a freaking book:
|AL WC Game||Texas||Texas||Texas||Baltimore||Texas||Baltimore||Baltimore||Texas|
ALDS 1 (NY-Tex/Bal)
|New York||Texas||New York||New York||New York||New York||New York||New York|
|ALDS 2 (Det-Oak)||Detroit||Detroit||Oakland||Oakland||Oakland||Oakland||Oakland||Oakland|
|ALCS||New York||Texas||Oakland||New York||New York||Oakland||Oakland||Oakland|
|NL WC Game||Atlanta||Atlanta||Atlanta||Atlanta||Atlanta||Atlanta||Atlanta||St. Louis|
|NLDS 1 (Wash-StL/Atl)||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington||Washington|
|NLDS 2 (Cin-SF)||San Francisco||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||San Francisco||Cincinnati||Cincinnati||Cincinnati|
|World Series||Washington||Cincinnati||Washington||Washington||San Francisco||Oakland||Oakland||Oakland|
First of all, I'd like to congratulate the Detroit Tigers for being the seventh best team in the AL and making the playoffs. Clearly, you were far more deserving then the Angels or Rays; both of who had better records and played tougher schedules. Still, that's neither here nor there. The topic of geographic discrimination is one for another day.
Let's start with the AL. I like Texas over Baltimore in the Wild Card game primarily because of the pitching match-up. Yu Darvish gives the Rangers a clear advantage over whomever the Orioles send to the mound. In the ALDS, I'm choosing Detroit over Oakland on the strength of not only having one of the most deadly 1-2 punches in the game hitting in the middle of their lineup, but also being able to not only pitch a rested Justin Verlander twice. In the other series, I'm taking the Yankees over Texas. A deep lineup, a formidable starting three of Sabathia-Kuroda-Hughes, and a deep bullpen will be far too much for Michael Young's overwhelming classiness to overcome. Lastly, the ALCS, as much as it pains me to say this Dog Fister...I mean Doug Fister (thanks, Craig) will not pitch the Tigers into the World Series. This year's Yankee team, though flawed, is too powerful offensively and two well equipped pitching-wise to be denied another World Series trip. Plus, Detroit's awful defense has to rear it's ugly head at some point. Right?
In the NL, I'm choosing Atlanta over St. Louis even in spite of Fredi being Fredi. Really, it's because I have a huge Dan Uggla crush, and I'm hoping to see he and his arms in the next series. In the NLDS, I'm giving the nod to the Giants. The Reds pitching matches up pretty well, but their overrated offense (90 OPS+) has a penchant for striking out. That bodes well for the Giants. In the other series, I have the Nats knocking off the Braves Even without Strasburg, their starting pitching is too deep. Their lineup, though unheralded, is pretty stacked from top-to-bottom. They'll be tough to beat. In the NLCS, I have the Nats taking out the Giants in a pitcher's duel. Ultimately though, this one comes down to the lineups. The Giants are ill-equipped without some well-timed heroics.
Finally, the World Series... I very nearly picked the Yanks in seven, but changed my mind after rethinking it. I fully realize that my love for the Red Sox, combined with my desire to watch the Nats championship parade march down Pennsylvania Ave from the comfort of my office, may be skewing my opinion. Honestly, it's really tough to explain why I feel like the Nats will win other than it just "feels" like their year. I realize it's a crappy argument, but I can't shake it. Nats over Yanks in six.
As much as I would like to believe that the Orioles can win the World Series behind Joe Saunders or the Athletics could use their rookie swagger and Josh Reddick's pies to continue on, I just don't see it happening. Because magic doesn't exist and we will all die one day. The Rangers, the last few weeks of the regular season notwithstanding, certainly have the talent to become the Buffalo Bills of baseball, once again returning to the World Series only to lose. I had a hard time picking them over the Tigers, especially since the Rangers lack anything resembling a Justin Verlander, but along withBaseball Prospectus' research into an ace's true impact in the postseason and the chance that 37 groundballs (scientifically measured) will get past Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, I had to choose the Texas team. Either that, or Michael Young's leadership and Josh Hamilton's prayer will light the way.
In the National League, while Teddy Roosevelt's triumphant end of season victory could be used as inspirational fuel for the Nats, the team will end up missing Stephen Strasburg more than they've let on. Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann are nice, but you don't remove one of the best pitchers in the game and not suffer for it. Though the Reds rotation may be filled with overperformers and guys who play acoustic versions of modern rock songs, the lineup is so deep and the bullpen is so strong, I see the Redlegs emerging triumphant. Which would make my Cincinnati-based, Dallas-residing grandmother very, very happy. And that's who these predictions are really for.
Plus, Joey Votto hit .337/.474/.567 and no one's talking about him. We should really be celebrating this wacky Canadian.
Oh brother, I really have no idea this year. It could be the extra Wild Card game, but I feel as if I have no grasp on who the best teams in the playoffs are. I can't just go by the numbers, because we all know (cough, Cardinals) that doesn't fly in postseason. I can't create narratives around momentum because I don't really buy that either. Jeez, it's no wonder I've sworn off gambling on baseball. Anyway, I ended up picking Washington to win because I wrote an article here about how stupid they were by shutting down Strasburg and I assume they, as I assume everyone on Earth, are trying to make me look stupid.
I’m supposed to write a paragraph here, justifying why I picked the teams that I did. I wish I could tell you there was a lot of thought that went into making these picks, but the thing I keep learning about baseball is that sometimes statistics do matter, sometimes momentum exists, and other things like run differentials can’t always be used as explanations for game outcomes. As a result, it’s difficult to pick clear winners. All of these teams have different assets. Some have better pitching, other rely on home run offenses, and there’s even a Triple Crown Winner (but not MVP, just so we’re clear).
I’m rooting for a few things here—chaos and new traditions. More than anything, I’m pleased with the teams that made the playoffs, because it destroys several narratives. Big money teams don’t always win. Moneyball isn’t the only approach to win. A September collapse doesn’t mean there’s not a chance with the new Wild Card system. I’ll take the Nationals to win it all. I’m not super confident in that pick since I’ve never accurately predicted the World Series winner, so please don’t rush to Vegas to follow my lead.
I took the higher seed in every matchup, except that I think the Giants are a good team for some reason. I'm probably wrong about that because some portion of their success is founded on Melky Cabrera's hitting, and he's suspended. Still, their pitching scares the daylights out of me.
It does pain me to pick the Yankees over the A's, but what follows is a list of important pitchers who are not rookies: Brett Anderson, Grant Balfour. Seriously, that's it. And Anderson is coming off Tommy John surgery and now an oblique injury. The rest of the playoff-relevant staff (Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle) is in uncharted territory. I don't know if they will hit a wall, but the possibility of doing so combined with the Yankees offense makes me think that New York is the better pick.
I wish I could say more thought went into this. I have the Orioles winning tonight, because the odds (driven mostly by the Darvish-Saunders matchup) are so heavily against them, the Orioles almost have to win it. I really do like watching both the Nationals and A's, so maybe I'm biased in their favor? I'd really like to see Billy Bean's...stuff work in the playoffs. The other stuff I feel much less strongly about, but I think Oakland-Washington would have the makings of a really great series no casual fans woulc watch.
God, I hate this. So much randomness. So much luck. I'm already doing poorly enough on my regular season predictions. But fine, here goes:
Baltimore beats Texas
Because: life isn't fair, that's why. Texas is the better club by a wide margin. They have a much better starting pitcher. Their offense is superior, especially against a lefty like Joe Saunders. So the O's will win because the world doesn't make sense, especially in a one-game playoff.
Atlanta beats St. Louis
Because: the universe is a chaotic place, so much so that I'm going to go out on a limb and say that all of Fredi Gonzalez's overmanaging will pay off.
New York beats Baltimore
Because: all the luck in the world will only sustain you for so long, and despite the seemingly narrow margin between these teams, the Yankees are much better.
Oakland beats Detroit
Because: Billy Beane and Grant Brisbee are right, rookie pitchers always work, are sweet, stay the same age, and nothiing has ever gone wrong with them.
Cincinnati beats San Francisco
Because: the universe punishes stupid decisions like leaving Melky Cabrera off your postseason roster.
Washington beats Atlanta
Because: racism sucks.
Oakland beats New York
Because: Billy Beane's shit works in the playoffs now.
Cincinnati beats Washington
Because: a forgiving God takes pity on Dusty Baker and a vengeful God unleashes Joey Votto.
Oakland beats Cincinnati
Because: The A's beat the Reds in 1972. Then the Reds beat the A's in 1990. It's Oakland's turn.
[The coin has no comment, but is quite confident it made the best picks of any of us. It's being rather smug, really.]