Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Baseball Playoff Preview



Baseball's regular season is over (Jon thinks it ended in July, but we told him that good teams were still playing and baseball didn't stop when Ryan Braun got caught). Yayyyy. We've thoroughly covered the randomness of baseball's playoffs, but that certainly won't stop us from putting out some last-second predictions so we can mock each other later. So, from the guys who predicted Josh Hamilton would win the AL MVP, the Dodgers and Cardinals as disappointing teams, and the Angels in the World Series, here come the best picks on the Internet.



NL

Play-in Game

Sean: The Pirates will sneak out of this game and continue their improbable season. Francisco Liriano is the perfect starter to throw against the Reds who rely heavily on lefties Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. Johnny Cueto is great in his own right, but does not have the same matchup advantages as Liriano. Plus, Dusty Baker in a one-game series is going to screw up somehow.

Steve: Liriano is a lefty going up against the lefty-heavy Reds. I'm going with the Pirates because this gives them the slightest of edges. Picking one game is stupid.

Jon: Uhhhhh, let's go with the Reds. I want to pick the Pirates and there's no real reason not to, but I trust Cueto and their bullpen more than Liriano (who alternates between sublime and AAA) and the Pirates' pen.

Pirates/Reds v. Cardinals

Sean: It's easy and obvious to pick the Cardinals, so because it's the playoffs, I'm going with the Pirates. The Cardinals only do well in the playoffs when they are bad, so the fact that they have a stacked lineup and Adam Wainwright means Pirates in 5.

Steve: It's tough to say who's truly the better team of these two. The Cardinals had the better record, so they're theoretically better, but these two teams are ever so close. The Pirates have the infrastructure to win close games: a run prevention strategy that actually works and an awesome pitching staff. The Cardinals also have this, but perhaps not to the degree to which the Pirates do. Essentially, if the Pirates' bats are as hot as the Cardinals' bats, they'll win. It's also stupid to pick a 5-game series.

Jon: I'm going with the Reds in a hard-fought series. The Cardinals have a lot of good young arms, but Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, et al have been getting tired and struggling a bit lately. The Reds are stacked top to bottom.

Braves v. Dodgers

Sean: Everyone knows the Braves are unstoppable in the playoffs. Sweep city.

Steve: The Braves have the second-best record in the NL. This is despite being in perhaps the worst division in baseball, and the team with the best record (the Cardinals) being in the best division in the NL. The Dodgers have a worse record, but their early-season struggles are not indicative of how they'll play in this playoff series. To me, they're the team to beat in the NL, and they'll get through this series.

Jon: The Dodgers have the three best starters in this series. If Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp are healthy and performing anything like they can, their lineup is terrifying. Dodgers in 4.

NLCS 

Sean: Sid Bream. Boom! Braves in 6.

Steve: The Dodgers got that pitching and that hitting and that everything. They're just kind of better than the Pirates. That being said, I'm definitely rooting for Pittsburgh.

Jon: Dodgers in 7. Kershaw maybe going three times.

AL

Play-in Game

Sean: Indians.

Steve: Who cares? Indians.

Jon: Rays. Or something.

Rays/Indians v. Red Sox

Sean: It doesn't really matter who the Red Sox play (but it's going to be the Indians), they are much better than these teams. The Red Sox have a great lineup and their biggest weakness -- starting pitching -- is mitigated by the fact that the Indians don't have the same quality lineup as the Tigers and A's. This is, you know, the advantage of winning the most games. Sox in 4.

Steve: The Red Sox are currently the best team in baseball. That does not mean diddly squat come playoff time. In the Wild Card era, only three times has the team with the best regular season record gone on to win the World Series (1998 and 2009 Yankees, 2007 Red Sox in case you're curious). Having said that, the Red Sox will be able to get by the Indians. And if they don't, it doesn't mean they're a worse team. 5 games is nothing.

Jon: The Red Sox have way more hitting and, if Clay Buchholz is healthy, more pitching than either the Rays or the Indians. Plus they're playing for all-world manager John Farrell and they have the scrappiest elite player in the league in the diminutive Dustin Pedroia. Sox in 4.

Tigers v. Athletics

Sean: These clowns played last year and the Athletics surprisingly took it to five games. The A's are actually a pretty freaking good team despite lacking any brand name superstars. The Tigers are the obvious pick here and again, that's why it'll be the Athletics. A's in 5.

Steve: The Athletics are an awesome team. The Tigers are the team that is prepared best for the playoffs. The Tigers were made for this, and they'll win this series.

Jon: I would love to pick the A's, but the Tigers are built for the postseason. Stacked rotation, top-heavy lineup, good enough bullpen. Tigers in 5.

ALCS

Sean: Red Sox in six over the Athletics. The Red Sox have the best record despite playing in the best division and are just a smidge better than the A's. This sets up an amazing scenario where the Red Sox will play the Braves and my friendship with Brown Bear will be put to the test. Will there be quickly escalating text message threads? Yerp. Appeals to Jon to see who's being rational? Yerp-a-lerp. Walls punched? It's the playoffs bitch.

Steve: The Red Sox will not be able to get Miguel Cabrera out better than any other team. They will, however, be able to get to Scherzer, Sanchez, and Verlander better than other teams have. They're a team that hits well and has a nice, balanced lineup. Very few, if any, easy outs exist for the Red Sox. They'll wear down the Tigers and win the AL.

Jon: I think the Tigers make it back to the World Series. They're not demonstrably better than the Red Sox, but they could certainly beat them four out of seven games. To be fair, just about any team in baseball can beat just about any other team four out of seven times. Tigers in 6.

World Series 

Sean: Braves. If you've read this site for two seconds, you know that I'm a fucking annoying homer. I'm going with the Braves every season because I can't think with my head when it comes to them. Maybe this will be the year they actually randomly win the World Series. I can't wait to hear stupid Ewing theory claims against Chipper. Braves in 6.

Steve: So I have the Red Sox versus the Dodgers. Kershaw cannot pitch every game, and as good as guys like Ryu are, the Red Sox can handle them. The Dodgers would need to win in each Kershaw start, and I don't necessarily think that's a given, especially since guys like Buchholz, Lester and Lackey are pitching so well now. Objectively speaking, I'm going to pick the Red Sox. I'm in the precarious position of my team actually probably being the best and most likely to win.

Jon: In their third try in the last seven years, the Tigers finally win the big one in a dramatic seven-game series featuring at least one Justin Verlander relief appearance. Jim Leyland rides off into the sunset in his tricked out Ford Taurus. Prince Fielder celebrates by eating so much he can play in Milwaukee and Detroit simultaneously. Miguel Cabrera wins World Series MVP but really it should be Mike Trout.

Well, there you have it. Those are our picks. Bet on the Rays.

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