|Partying like it's 2011. Photo from nytimes.com|
The regular season has come to a close, and it's time for an exciting month of winners, losers, heroes and zeroes. Admittedly, my seven weeks in Ghana caused me to be largely out of the loop of this baseball season, but I think I've caught up pretty well. There have been some surprises this year, such as the Royals being in contention and the Nationals falling apart. The Pirates are in the playoffs, as are the Indians. Unsurprisingly, the Yankees missed the playoffs. There were PED suspensions galore, and somehow, despite getting the largest suspension, Alex Rodriguez managed to play through the end of the season.
Mike Trout had a better year than his MVP season in 2012. Miguel Cabrera had a better season than his MVP* season in 2012. It will be interesting to see how the voting shakes out. I don't expect Trout to win, but he has a chance.
As for the playoffs, here's what will go down, courtesy of me:
5 Reds over 4 Pirates. The matchup will be Cueto vs. Liriano. Let's just say that I trust Cueto a lot more. As good as he has been this year, there's always a chance that the old Franky might make an appearance. And that's not good. Also, I like Cincy's offense better. They have three great hitters (Choo, Votto, and Bruce) rather than just one for Pittsburgh in McCutchen, and one above average hitter in Marte.
5 Rays over 4 Indians. Yep, picking both road teams here. Call me crazy. Probably because I don't know who Danny Salazar is (he debuted while I was away. Though looking at his stats, has been really good. But he hasn't gone past the sixth inning since August 7th, which can be an issue). I think that the talent on the rosters are pretty equal, but Joe Maddon's managerial skills, and their deep pitching staff put the Rays a notch above.
1 Cardinals vs 5 Reds. The Cardinals are just better. Better pitching staff and a better offense. This is a really dangerous team. They could easily roll through everybody. Cardinals in 3.
2 Braves vs 3 Dodgers. Look, people have questions about the Braves because they lack a "dominant" starter. Or maybe it's because BJ Upton is allowed in the clubhouse after his awful Dee Gordon-esque performance at the plate this season. For some weird reason, despite the LA 1-2-3 combo of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu, I like the Braves in a close one. They're bullpen is better overall, and they have a better bench, as well as a better lineup from top to bottom. I'm probably going to wrong here, but it is what it is. Neither is getting past the NLCS anyway. Braves in 5.
1 Red Sox vs 5 Rays. I love the Rays pitching staff so much that I may have to pull the trigger. But the Sox have a much better offense, and home field advantage. Pulling me in both directions, I'm going with Boston here. This is because their pitchers have the potential to cancel out those of the Rays in a short series. Red Sox in 5.
2 Athletics vs 3 Tigers. How healthy is 2012 MVP* Miguel Cabrera? Probably not at all. Does it matter? Probably not at all. The Tigers have a better overall pitching staff, despite Max Scherzer being wildly overrated. Once you get past Bartolo Colon, the Tigers will have the better starter in every game. And for the love of OBP, the Tigers seemed to have out "moneyballed" Oakland in that category this year. Tigers in 4.
1 Cardinals vs 2 Braves. St. Louis is just too good. They can match Atlanta's rotation tit for tat in every game, and have a better offense. I don't know what else you want from me. The fact that either Michael Wacha or Joe Kelly will be left out of the rotation is an absolutely scary thought. Think about one of those guys coming into the game in a crucial situation...in relief. Cardinals in 5.
1 Red Sox vs 3 Tigers. The offensive juggernaut in Boston will overcome the Tigers and their pitching staff. There will be a lot of runs scored here, but the Sox have just enough pitching to stifle the Tigers. Red Sox in 6.
1 Cardinals vs 1 Red Sox. The top seeds against each other, in a dream matchup. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are just the better team. Cardinals in 6.