Hello, baseball fans! In a continuation of my 1/3 MLB season review, today I will be reviewing my playoffs picks.(https://collegesportstown.com/2013/03/19/mlb-2013-https://collegesportstown.com/2013/03/19/mlb-2013-preview-playoff-picture/-playoff-picture/). They range from spot-on to very off, as the 2013 season has contained massive surprises thus far.
Pretty Accurate Predictions
The Detroit Tigers win the AL Central, and the Cleveland Indians are improved
Although the success of the Tigers was not difficult to foresee, the AL Central in general is an area of pride for me so far this season. The Tigers seem poised to return to the playoffs and beyond once again this year due to the excellent performances of Justin Verlander (8 wins, 93 K, 3.71 ERA) and Miguel Cabrera (.361 BA, 69 RBI, 18 HR), which is unsurprising but the Indians are a bit of a shock for some. The offseason splurging of the team has actually paid off in the form of 2nd place in the Central as I type. New acquisitions like Michael Bourn (.294 BA) and Mark Reynolds (13 HR) have contributed along with old mainstays such as Justin Masterson (8-5, 3.68 ERA) to put forward a solid baseball team that has, despite recent struggles, lived up to my expectation so far.
Somewhat Accurate Predictions
The San Francisco Giants win the NL West
The Giants are playing like they have for the past few years, which is to say they’re playing playoff baseball. At the moment, however, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a 1.5 game division lead due to breakout seasons by young guns Patrick Corbin and Paul Goldschmidt. However the Giants are a more experienced team with a more even talent breakdown, and I believe that Corbin and Goldschmidt don’t have enough other talent on their team to outplay the current world champs. Reigning NL MVP Buster Posey (.302 BA) will bring his team back to the playoffs for another season as NL West champs.
The Tampa Bay Rays will win an AL Wild Card
The Rays are, like the Giants, playing excellent baseball so far. Unfortunately for them, they must play in the AL East, where 4 of the 5 teams (besides the one I predicted to win the division- of course) have records over .500. Being as much of the Rays’ schedule is against these teams, the impact of excellent contributions of players like Evan Longoria, James Loney, and Matt Moore is extinguished. Still, I think that the excellent play of the Red Sox and Tank- excuse me- Yankees cannot continue, and the Rays wil be energized by the midseason call up of their top prospect, Wil Meyers. The Rays should be able to claim a wild card spot after all, but it will be a hard fought battle in the hardest division in baseball.
The Cincinnati Reds will win the NL Central
The Reds are another case of an excellent team that has the misfortune of being in the same division as a team playing even better. The major-league best Cardinals are 3.5 games ahead of the Reds while the overachieving Pirates are only a .5 game behind them. Joey Votto (.323 BA, 11 HR, .952 OPS) has produced MVP-like numbers again so far this year, and he is being aided greatly by Brandon Phillips (.293 BA, 53 RBI) and Mat Latos (6-0, 2.87 ERA), but even with their production and a potent lineup, the Reds have not been able to surpass the Cardinals this year. Based on their play so far, the Reds should earn an NL Wild Card spot and the Cardinals an NL Central division crown.
Not so Accurate Predictions
The Toronto Blue Jays will win the AL East
Fine, I’ll admit it, this pick was partially the product of watching Jose Reyes, R.A Dickey, and Josh Johnson for years in competition with and against my beloved New York Mets. Unfortunately, they haven’t played up to expectation, with a 28-36 record as I type. Reyes sprained his ankle on April 13, 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner Dickey is 5-8 with a 5.11 ERA, and Johnson, who has been on and off the disabled list, is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA. Without the expensive additions to the team producing, the only reasons to watch the Jays so far have been to see Edwin Encarncion and Jose Bautista (33 combined HR) put on displays of their power and, of course, the man in these two clips (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-VqBI1D980&feature=player_embedded and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-F8oKUKbZw&feature=player_embedded). Despite the disastrous season so far, I believe that if the starting pitching staff can limit opposing runs to 4 or 5 a game, the lineup can power the Jays into respectability, if not the postseason.
The Washington Nationals will win the NL East, and the Atlanta Braves will win an NL Wild Card
While the Braves have been outstanding so far, they will likely be entering the playoffs as the champions of the NL East rather than wild card winners. Justin Upton (15 HR), Evan Gattis (14 HR), and Dan Uggla (13 HR) have provided plenty of offensive firepower, and the pitching staff led by Mike Minor (8-2, 2.44 ERA) has been excellent as well. While the Braves have received unexpectedly high levels of production from players like Gattis and Minor, the Nationals have received unexpectedly low levels of production from their young stars. Expected to win the World Series by many, the Nationals are only .500 right now. Bryce Harper (12 HR, .287 BA, .973 OPS) and Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 2.54 ERA) have dealt with injury troubles. Despite excellent play from Jordan Zimmermann (9-3, 2.00 ERA) and Ian Desmond (.282 BA, .790 OPS), the Nationals have struggled. While I expect the team to play better with a healthy Harper, they won’t be able to catch the Braves for the divisional crown. They might not be able to even snag a wild card spot.
The Los Angeles Angels will win the AL West, and the Los Angeles Dodgers will win an NL Wild Card
Perhaps the pollution in the Los Angeles air has gotten to the teams that inhabit the city. Both teams are stocked with talent from before this offseason and from it, but both are underperforming. The Angels are in third place in the AL West despite the presence of Josh Hamilton (.217 BA), Albert Pujols (.249 BA), and Mike Trout (.297 BA) in their lineup. The Dodgers, on the other hand, are in last place in the NL West despite spending like the Yankees (of old) last season and this past offseason on Josh Beckett (0-5, 5.19 ERA), oft-injured Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford, Zack Greinke (3-1, 3.68 ERA), and Adrian Gonzalez (.312 BA, 8 HR). These additions have not been productive so far, and the teams have dug themselves into holes in their respective divisions. Ironically, I expect the Dodgers, powered by rookie sensation Yasiel Puig and NL Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw, to come closer to meeting my expectations than the Angels, who are stuck in a division with two much better teams, the Oakland Athletics and the Texas Rangers.
That’s all for now! After 33.3% of the season, what’s the most surprising development in your opinion? Post your thoughts in the comments section below.