One thing I have learned in all of my years watching Major League playoff baseball is that anything can happen. Rosters stacked with talent somehow lose to rosters stacked with rookies. A pitching juggernaut during the regular season turns into a batting practice failure in the playoffs. The intensity, the lights, the interviews, the crowds, everything is amplified in the playoffs leading up to the World Series. Who will win the trophy this year? I’m confident of one thing – my Boston Red Sox will not.
So, who is the best team and who is playing the best? This is the important distinction to make once the MLB playoffs start. Regular season records mean nothing. But, a team that has won consistently in September is more likely to do well in the playoffs than one who simply has the best overall record. In fact, a lot of teams that have “cruised” through September are the teams with the large leads in their division and are simply playing out games with AAA September call ups. Teams that are pushed to even make the playoffs and do so by playing every game as if it were their last, those are the teams to be feared.
This year, the favorites by most are the Kansas City Royals of the American League and the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League. The Los Angeles Dodgers have spent the most amount of money. The Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs are two very young teams who are years ahead of schedule in terms of player development. The Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays were dominant teams in the second half of the season. And the New York Mets have possibly the best starting rotation in all of the playoffs. So how will it unfold. Here are my predictions:
Kansas City has playoff experience, great young talent, but is very suspect in the pitching department.
The Cubs earned a chance to play on in the playoffs by beating arguably the best team in the National League, on the road, against their best pitcher.
Toronto will out slug just about any team but could be short circuited by a dominant pitching staff.
The Mets have a pitching staff that could hold their opponents to 2 or fewer runs. The problem is the Mets don’t tend to score a lot of runs, so close games usually don’t go in their favor.
Houston is just happy to be in the playoffs after a downward spiral the last month of the season, which almost cost them a playoff spot. Not good momentum.
St. Louis has some of it stars that are injured or playing hurt, namely catcher Yadier Molina, who is the driving force defensively for the Cardinals. This will probably cost them in the playoffs.
Texas has speed, pitching, and momentum having gained a ton of ground in the second half to make the playoffs. Their roster is filled with veterans which is a critical factor to winning.
Los Angeles Dodgers have the most All-Star talent on paper, but that hasn’t really translated into dominance on the field. If their pitching holds up, they will be tough to beat.
My prediction is this. It seems unlikely that a young Houston team could beat an experienced Kansas City team. Likewise, a roster stacked with All-Star caliber players like the Dodgers can’t possibly lose to the New York Mets, who may only have Matt Harvey for one game. Or that Toronto’s bats would somehow be silenced by the arms of the Texas Rangers. As I said earlier, stranger things have happened and it is what makes the MLB Playoffs so enjoyable to watch. I will say this. The team that is playing the best right now could be the Chicago Cubs. So, that is who I am going with to win it all. As the late Yogi Berra said “its tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
And as for my Red Sox, I’ll chime in with another famous quote “Better luck next year.”