It’s almost October, and that can only mean one thing: PLAYOFF BASEBALL! Here’s how the last pieces of the puzzle came together:
The AL: Detroit, Kansas City, Oakland, and Seattle
Detroit played solid ball for the last week of the season. Not perfect by any means, but despite being outscored by five runs over their last six games, they won four of those contests and clinched the division. Kansas City needed to outplay Detroit by a game and merely kept pace, earning them a wild card berth. The surprise was Oakland, which fell off a cliff after seeming to stabilize and lost home field advantage in the wild card game and nearly required a playoff with Seattle, which played admirably against the Angels. Let’s be absolutely clear: if Oakland had not been the best team in baseball when it collapsed, it would have missed the playoffs. As is, I expect their poor momentum to carry them out of the postseason in one game.
The NL: Pittsburgh and Milwaukee
Pittsburgh had a moderate lead and didn’t blow it. There’s far less analysis. The NL bores me.
On a much more interesting note, the Nationals ended their NL-leading season with a no-hitter from Jordan Zimmerman, the first in club history. It was nearly blown by a line drive to deep left with two outs in the ninth, but an amazing dive by outfielder Steven Souza ended the game and the season with the no-hitter intact. I expect good things from the Nats in the postseason.
Two thirds of the 30 MLB teams are gone, here’s what to expect from the 10 that remain:
Orioles vs. Tigers
The Tigers barely won their division and the Orioles ran away with theirs, but that makes no difference now. The Tigers are a fundamentally solid team, essentially the same team that went to a 6-game ALCS last year. The Orioles also have a talented squad, but not nearly as strong as Detroit’s. Tigers in four.
Angels vs. (Royals vs. A’s)
The A’s are spiraling out of control. Anything can happen in one game, but realistically… no. I give the Royals the one game playoff, earning them the right to be swept by the dominant Angels. Angels in three.
Dodgers vs. Cardinals
The Cardinals are the team that always seems to end up in the playoffs despite never having commanding seasons. This is in part due to their place in the NL Central, but I shouldn’t denigrate them too much: they are a good team. They’re just not as good a team as the Dodgers. Kershaw beats Wainwright any day. Dodgers in five.
Nationals vs. (Pirates vs. Giants)
To preface this, I think the Nats will win the World Series in a close series against the Angels. To that end, neither the Pirates nor the Giants have enough to take down Washington. That said: the wild card game could go either way. The Giants and Pirates have equivalent records and equivalent chance of winning here, but if I had to pick, I’d pick the Pirates 51% of the time. The Nats though… not even close. Nats in four.
See you before the Championship Series. Happy watching!
Photo: Brad Mills/USA Today Sports