Opening day is upon us. Why not put in some quickie predictions on who makes the playoffs this year?
- AL East: New York Yankees
- AL Central: Detroit
- AL West: Los Angeles Angels
- AL Wild Cards: Tampa, Texas
Narrative: I think the Yankees have enough to win the East; they have the same offense and seem to have improved their starting pitching. Detroit should more or less cruise to the Central title; perhaps Minnesota could scare them for a wh ile but they have almost no quality starting pitching and Mauer and Morneau are not exactly health guarantees. I think the Angels have bought their way into an AL West title, but wouldn’t be surprised if it came down to the wire.
Wild Cards: I think Texas (or LA) easily qualifies for a wild card, given the number of games both teams will have against their incredibly weaker divisional rivals Seattle and Oakland. Meanwhile, Tampa seems to be in far better position than anyone else in the AL; they’re going to be tough to beat night to night because of pitching. Meanwhile Boston seems adrift; they went from a 2011 wild-card shoe-in to an off-season punchline within one series in Baltimore. They have done almost nothing to improve and have made a few puzzling moves in the off-season.
How about the NL?
- NL East: Philadelphia
- NL Central: Milwaukee
- NL West: San Francisco
- NL Wild Cards: Atlanta, Cincinnati
Narrative: Despite Philadelphia’s injuries on offense, they still have the class starting pitching and don’t seem to be taking that big a step back by depending on Worley to replace Oswalt’s innings. They don’t win 100 games, but they’ll eke out a divisional title. The NL Central may be the most interesting race of any division; who knows how the losses that Milwaukee and St. Louis have absorbed versus the gains of Cincinnati may play out. For now I’m guessing that all three teams end up in the 86-88 win range, but Milwaukee’s superior pitching and still-good offense win out. In the west, its hard to imagine San Francisco faltering again, but we’ll see. I know Arizona won comfortably last year, but they’re putting an awful lot of faith in two relatively weak starters (Saunders and Collmenter).
Wild Cards: I just can’t pick against Atlanta; they mostly have stood pat but they should have been the WC last year. Based on Washington’s lack of addressing their own offensive needs in the off-season plus all the injuries we’ve had so far this spring, its real tough to suddenly give this team 10 more wins. I think Cincinnati may sneak into the 2nd wild card ahead of a team like Arizona or Washington by virtue of a few more games against weakened NL central competition (Chicago and Houston).
AL Playoff predictions:
- WC play-in: Tampa beats Texas in the play-in (Matt Moore is untouchable)
- Divisionals: Angels outlast Tampa, Yankees get revenge on Detroit
- ALCS: Los Angeles batters tired New York pitching for an AL Crown
NL Playoff predictions
- WC play-in: Atlanta beats Cincinnati in the play-in
- Divisionals: Philadelphia beats San Francisco in a bunch of 2-1 games, while Milwaukee barely beats Atlanta
- NLCS: Philadelphia outlasts Milwaukee
World Series: the Angels have too much on both sides of the ball, match Philly’s pitching ace-for-ace while providing superior hitting and we have a ton of Rally Monkey/bang sticks in October.