The Major League Baseball regular season is over, but that doesn’t mean that is it time to move on to football. On the contrary, the baseball fun has just begun, as the postseason is upon us. All of the effort put in by the teams over 162 games boils down to a short postseason series or in case of the wild card teams, one do-or-die game. The most entertaining part of the playoffs is also what makes so frustrating; it is impossible to predict. Nevertheless, one student from each grade and two teachers were brave enough to go out on a limb with me and predict the unpredictable. The one game wild card playoff is where the fun starts, so without further ado, here are my personal playoff picks and the picks of other members of the school, starting with the wild card games.
(Note: All predictions are as of Sept. 26 and matchups are subject to change.)
American League Wild Card Game:
Rays: (3) -Austin Boone (’17), Edwin Saunders (’15), Matt Doughty (’14)
Indians: (2) -Justin Jensen (’16), Mr. Schaefer
Rangers: (0) -the ghost of Josh Hamilton (just kidding, he is laughing to the bank with his $125 million contract).
Me: Cleveland Indians vs. Tampa Bay Rays
The Texas Rangers are still technically in contention as of Sept. 26, as they are only one game back of the Indians for the second spot, but they are only 8-15 in September and they probably won’t be able to overtake the Indians in the next four games. That leaves the Indians and the Rays in the wild card game, and the Rays will win on the strength of a great game by left-hander David Price and a big hit by the clutch superstar of the Rays, Evan Longoria.
(Note: I was wrong on this as the Rays and the Rangers ended up tied for the second wild card.)
National League Wild Card Game:
Pittsburgh Pirates- (4) Austin Boone, Justin Jensen, Dr. Finney, Mr. Schaefer
Cincinnati Reds: (2) Edwin Saunders, Matt Doughty
Me: Reds vs. Pirates
The Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano gives them a major advantage over the Reds. If the Pirates were going to throw a right-handed pitcher in this game the advantage would have gone to the Reds because the Reds three best hitters, Joey Votto, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jay Bruce are all left-handed. Choo in particular is very weak against left-handed pitching and the other two aren’t nearly as good against left-handed pitchers as they are right handed pitchers. Liriano has a very good chance of shutting down the Reds offense because besides the three lefties, no one else in their lineup is very threatening, including the always-overrated Brandon Phillips. It will probably be a low scoring game as Mat Latos, probable starter for the Reds, is no slouch either, but the Pirates will most likely prevail.
American League Division Series (two different series, two different winners):
Boston Red Sox: (4)-Justin Jensen, Edwin Saunders, Dr. Finney, Mr. Schaefer
Detroit Tigers (3)- Justin Jensen, Edwin Saunders, Mr. Schaefer
Oakland Athletics: (3)- Austin Boone, Matt Doughty, Dr. Finney
Tampa Bay Rays: (2)- Austin Boone, Matt Doughty
Me: Red Sox over Rays, Athletics over Tigers
The Red Sox are so balanced and deep this year that it is incredibly hard to bet against them. This is not a tangible thing and it may not have had an impact, but the Red Sox seem to have greater team chemistry this year compared to last year’s disaster, as they have brought in leaders such as Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, and Shane Victorino. I think the Rays are a great team, but the Red Sox in the end are just a little better, as they have the best offense in all of baseball, a couple of front of the line starters in Clay Buchholz and a seemingly rejuvenated John Lackey, and the best reliever statistic-wise in all of baseball this year, Koji Uehara. The Rays will put up a good fight, but the Red Sox, long beards and all, will walk away victorious.
In the other series it is a battle of two teams built in dramatically different ways. The Tigers are a top-heavy club with big-name superstars with giant salaries such as the reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera, slugger Prince Fielder, 2011 Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, and Cy Young contender Max Scherzer. The A’s on the other hand don’t have a single player making over $8.7 million and their best player, Josh Donaldson, is a guy that a lot of casual fans have probably never heard of. The A’s are going to prevail because of the advantage that they have in the strength of their bullpen compared to the weak Detroit bullpen, and because the A’s are much deeper top to bottom than the Tigers are.
National League Divisional Series (two series, two winners):
Braves (4)- Edwin Saunders, Matt Doughty, Dr. Finney, Mr. Schaefer
Dodgers (3)- Justin Jensen, Matt Doughty, Dr. Finney
Cardinals (3)- Austin Boone, Edwin Saunders, Mr. Schaefer
Pirates (2)- Austin Boone, Justin Jensen
Me: Braves over Pirates, Cardinals over Dodgers
The Braves and the Pirates are a tough matchup, but the stability in the Braves rotation and bullpen along with their at times explosive offense gives them an edge over the Pirates. The Pirates have had great pitching for most of the year, but in September their team ERA is 22nd of the 30 teams in the major leagues and their bullpen, led all year by Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon, has shown cracks in it’s armor recently. If the Braves keep the games close, their superior bullpen will win out.
In the other series, the Dodgers have the most talent, but they also have a bunch of nagging injuries to stars such as Yasiel Puig dealing with hip soreness, Hanley Ramirez dealing with a myriad of nagging injuries, and Andre Ethier being hobbled by an ankle injury that could keep him out of the playoffs. If the Dodgers were healthier they would have an edge because of their amazing front duo of starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Those guys are healthy and ready to go, but the Cardinals are also a great team and the Dodgers would need to be completely healthy to be able to take them down.
American League Championship Series:
Red Sox (4)- Justin Jensen, Edwin Saunders, Dr. Finney, Mr. Schaefer
A’s (2)- Austin Boone, Matt Doughty
Me: Red Sox over the A’s
It was kind of ironic how everyone else who was interviewed for this story picked one of the two teams that I put in my ALCS. This was a very difficult pick as both teams have legitimate claims to greatness, but once again the firepower of the Red Sox offense will most likely prevail.
National League Championship Series:
Braves (2)- Edwin Saunders, Dr. Finney
Cardinals (2)- Austin Boone, Mr. Schaefer
Dodgers (1)- Matt Doughty
Pirates (1)- Justin Jensen
Me: Cardinals over Braves
This was a much easier call for me than the American League. The Cardinals are just a better overall team with a lot fewer flaws than the Braves. The Braves were a very good regular season team with a very good bullpen as I mentioned earlier, but the Cardinals are a much more consistent hitting team than the Braves. They also have the advantage of having a top five pitcher in all of baseball, Adam Wainwright, as their ace while the Braves don’t have a guy of that caliber.
Austin Boone: A’s over Cardinals
Justin Jensen: Red Sox over Pirates
Edwin Saunders: Braves over Red Sox
Matt Doughty: A’s over Dodgers
Dr. Finney: Braves over Red Sox
Mr. Schaefer: Red Sox over Cardinals
Me: Red Sox over Cardinals
Here is the final showdown, the best of the American League vs. the best of the National League. If this turns out to be the actual World Series matchup, because again the playoffs are close to impossible to predict, I would give each of these teams an almost even chance of winning. Since I am in the prediction business for today, the Red Sox will win it in 6 games on the strength of a gutty World Series MVP effort of their captain, Dustin Pedroia.