Tuesday, October 03, 2006

MLB: Playoff Predictions


Baseball is a tough sport to predict. Billy Beane has complained for years that the playoffs are a crapshoot and that regular season results should be the barometer for success. Part of me agrees with him and allows for the fact that the hottest teams often beat the best teams and that flukey plays (read: the famous "dropped third strike" call that propelled Chicago past Anaheim last year) are often substitutes for strategy and clutch performances. However, another part believes that there are still key ingredients that more often produce winners. We don't always recognize the potential for dominance from a youthful pitching staff like the Marlins in 2003, or how a relentlessly attacking offense like Anaheim's in 2002 can wear teams down, the way White Sox hurlers can throw deep into games. So yes, there is luck and chance, but there are also elements that produce results and even create luck, that take advantage of chance.

So while any prediction of a World Series champ is, at best, an educated guess at all of the bounces and close calls and wind-aided home runs that have yet to happen, it is still worth taking a shot at it.

Here are my educated guesses:

National League

NLDS:

Dodgers over Mets in 5 - The Mets feel like that team we see every year that has been coasting down the stretch and now has to turn it on at the last second. A five game series doesn't afford much time to do that. Plus, the Mets have serious pitching woes without Pedro.

Cardinals over Padres in 4 - Just because everybody is picking the Padres. I mean, sure the Cardinals suck, but since when are we getting this excited about a mediocre team with no offense whatsoever?

NLCS:

Dodgers over Cardinals in 6 - I feel like L.A. is the NL most likely to go on a magical run through the playoffs, as evidenced by that crazy four-home-runs-in-a-row game against the Padres a few weeks back. Derek Lowe always seems to find a way in the postseason and Brad Penny has the kind of stuff that can anchor a staff during October. I like that the Dodgers have a few key guys in the lineup (Furcal is vital and Nomar has to lead by example and infuse confidence) but that they are also one of those "a different hero every night" kind of groups. The NL is wide open so I'm going with the team I think will be the luckiest.

American League

ALDS:

Yankees over Tigers in 4 - Part of me thinks that Detroit's lineup can attack, attack, attack ala the Angels of '02 (like that Anaheim team, these guys rarely draw walks), but I think it is more likely that they strikeout, strikeout, strikeout. With so many free swingers on the roster, the Tigers seem like a team that will leave a lot of runners on base. This would be okay if they weren't facing the best lineup in baseball. With Verlander and Rogers running on fumes (although for exact opposite reasons) and Todd Jones redefining mediocrity at the back end of the bullpen, I don't think Detroit can keep NY from putting a half-dozen runs across the plate (at least) every game.

Twins over A's in 5 - Minnesota is going to want to do anything they can to win this in four, so they can save Supernatural (that would be Santana, in case you missed the joke) for the opener against the Yankees. That said, I think the A's are too tough to go quietly. In fact, I vowed to pick them to win a series this year if they made the playoffs, but I think the Twins are too good, so I am breaking the vow that I made to myself. No real loss there.

ALCS:

Twins over Yankees in 7 - Even though I can't erase the images of the Yankees raking the ball off of Carlos Silva and Brad Radke in the 2004 ALDS, I am still picking the Twins. No idea why.

World Series

Twins over Dodgers in 6 - American League dominance continues and Santana hoists the MVP trophy as the rest of the country (meaning: people other than baseball journalists, Twins fans, and fantasy owners) finally realize just how good this guy is.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Um, nice picks, idiot.

Twins over Dodgers? The good news is that neither team has been eliminated. The bad news is that is only because neither has played three games yet. They are 0-3 combined and heading for 0-6 and done. Were you on acid when you made those picks?