In my defense, I did at least correctly predict the AL Wild Card Game, which is about as well as any professional sports writers have predicted these playoffs have done. I’ll jump right into the absurdity:
Kansas City sweeps Anaheim
Nobody saw this coming. Well, technically, of the 26 paid experts ESPN had predict the playoffs, one did. But a sweep? It was completely unthinkable: the Royals, a team that hadn’t made the playoffs in 29 years, beating the best team in baseball in Anaheim- twice!- before finishing the job at home? But of course, that was exactly what happened, with the Royals winning two amazing 11th inning games away and then blowing out the Angels 8-3 in Game 3. This is in large part due to an underperforming Mike Trout, who went 1 for 12 over 3 games. It’s crazy, but it’s exactly why we have playoffs. Sorry Anaheim, try again next year.
Baltimore sweeps Detroit
This was a much more even series to bet on, and although Detroit entered as favorites, it wasn’t by much. A sweep was still unpredicted though, and the O’s surpassed most expectations with an offense that averaged 7 runs per game.
The Cards beat Kershaw
Going into the playoffs, Mike Trout was the best hitter and Clayton Kershaw was the best pitcher. Neither of those things held true in October baseball. In a brutal 8th inning of game 1, Kershaw blew an otherwise excellent effort, giving up 6 runs and the lead, as the Dodgers went on to lose. Similarly, he was pitching a gem in game 4 until Matt Adams of the Cardinals connected for a 3-run shot in the 7th to give the Cards the lead, the game, and the series.
Washington loses 3 close ones
This was the series that could have easily gone the other way. The Nats lost a brutally close pitchers’ duel by one run in Game 1, but we did not truly understand the definition of “brutally close” until Game 2. With two outs in the 9th and the bases empty, the Giants plated the tying run and had the lead run thrown out at the plate. Nine innings later, they won off a solo shot in the top of the 18th inning. Game 4 was almost as close, with the Giants winning 3-2 off a wild pitch. Washington fans have reason to be unsatisfied.
We have our ALCS and NLCS, and the results are opposite. In the AL, two underdogs with no championships since the 80s. In the NL, two teams that have 3 of the last 4 world series titles, plus a pennant last year.
I would be remiss if I tried to use logic or statistics to predict the upcoming series’; as these playoffs have evidenced so far, such things do not apply to October baseball. But based solely on the wild card and divisions series’, I’ll make some predictions:
Kansas City in 6
Baltimore, I still like you, and you’re a fantastic team. If you win this, I’ll be rooting for you. When I say I think the Royals will win, it’s no diss to you, it’s a nod to the fantastic, statistics-defying baseball Kansas is playing right now. Watching these guys play makes want to put down my scorecard and pay attention to the staring contest between pitcher and batter. I can’t justify it except to say that they’ve surprised me twice already and I see no reason to stop the trend.
Giants in 7
The NL will provide us some excitement by taking two above-average teams everybody is tired of watching in October and making them fight to the death, gladiator-style. Or, unfortunately, they might play baseball.
Regardless of how sick I am seeing a Giants or Cardinals pennant (again, every year for the past 4 years), they both play well. The only difference I see is a marginally better pitching staff for the Giants, led by Madison Bumgarner. If he can guarantee two wins, I think that squeaks them through.
I maintain that AL baseball is better and that this is proof. Keep reading for next week, when I’ll surely be wrong again. It’s the postseason, anything can happen!