In the few short days after the Major League Baseball regular season ends and the playoffs begin, fan speculation starts to mount and the inevitable question is posed “So, who do you think will win the World Series® this year?” If you are a baseball fan, like myself, you ask co-workers, the postman, the drive through workers at Dunkin’ Donuts, and the players on your Little League® baseball team. Ask any fan and they will give you their opinions, thoughts, stats to back up their reasoning. It makes for some really interesting conversation this time of year.
Most people will say “Well, I think the Cubs will win because they have the best team defensively,” or “I think the Astros will win because they are the reigning World Champs,” or “I think the Yankees will win because they will power past everyone with their home run hitting.” Think, in this exercise, is based on statistics or winning percentage in the regular season or a combination of stats and winning percentage in this year and year’s past. Winning percentage of games played during the regular season is a factor in the seeding of the playoffs. Higher seeded teams play more home games. Regular season statistics of players have no bearing on the success or failure of a player in the playoffs.
Or, they may just answer along regional boundaries or with your heart. Manhattan New Yorkers will pull for the Yankees. Southern California will most likely be pulling for LA and the Dodgers. Whereas, Northern Californians will cheer on the A’s. Most of New England pulls for the Red Sox. Southeastern Texans will rout for Houston. And so on. Truth is, most fans don’t want to openly admit another team will win because they loyalty runs generations deep.
The truth is every team that makes the playoffs has a record of 0-0. The higher seeds get to host more games in their stadiums, which can be an advantage. The home team has more familiarity with the nuances of their ball park and can “steal” a run or two in a close game because of a quirky spot in outfield or funny angle down the left field line. Playoff games are played during the day as well as at night, and by this time of the year all of the teams who have made the playoffs are well conditioned for day or night games. The same can be said for travel for road teams. After 162 games (81 home, 81 away), the home team advantage is not as significant as you might think.
So, 5 teams from each league – American, National – have made the playoffs, which are set to begin this week. Who will win the 2018 World Series®? The best answer is the team playing the best starting tomorrow. Will it be a wild card team that surprises everyone? Will it be a team that has won over 100 games this year (there were several in the American League alone)? How about the team that won the fewest games of any playoff team but still won their division? Will the reigning World Champs repeat?
My prediction is this. I will watch all of the playoff games I can but will root for just one, the Boston Red Sox. Truth is, I have no idea who will win. Nor do the players, the coaches, the announcers, the fans, the media. That’s why the play the game, on the field, live and for the world to watch. If they played the game on paper, we wouldn’t need the players to head out to their positions, dig into the batter’s boxes, and sell hot dogs at games. The beauty and wonder and anxiety of playoff baseball is that at any time, in any count, something incredible can happen. Predictions and guessing are great for spirited conversation. But, I’m a fan and will sit down and watch the games, with my heart on my sleeve for my beloved Boston Red Sox. Let the games begin!!!