Everyone has to do a prediction piece, right?
First, a re-cap. Here’s my predictions at the beginning of the season for how the divisions would shape up;
- AL East: New York Yankees
- AL Central: Detroit
- AL West: Los Angeles Angels
- AL Wild Cards: Tampa, Texas
AL Narrative: 2/3 for divisional winners and 3/5 for playoff teams. Not bad. Oakland and Baltimore shocked everyone, as did the Angels’ failure to really play to their talent/salary.
- NL East: Philadelphia
- NL Central: Milwaukee
- NL West: San Francisco
- NL Wild Cards: Atlanta, Cincinnati
NL Narrative: 1/3 on divisional winners, 3/5 on playoff winners. It was hard to see Philadelphia falling to third place, just as it was hard to see Washington improve 17 games from 2011.
Now for the playoffs:
- AL Wildcard: Texas over Baltimore
- ALDS: Texas over New York Yankees
- ALDS: Detroit over Oakland
- ALCS: Texas over Detroit
AL Narrative: Texas loses the AL title on the last day of the season, but I still think they’re the best AL team. This is the wake-up call they need to power through the playoffs. The Yankees are given a huge disservice to have to face Texas on the road right out of the gate; a matchup I don’t think they can win. Detroit could get the ALCS win but I don’t doubt it; Texas owned them this season (winning 3 of 4 in Detroit and 7 of 10 overall). Oakland are red-hot but can’t match up with Detroit’s pitching.
- NL Wildcard: Atlanta over St. Louis
- NLDS: Atlanta over Washington
- NLDS: Cincinnati over San Francisco
- NLCS: Atlanta over Cincinnati
NL Narrative: Atlanta throws unbeatable ace Kris Medlen to win the play-in game, then promptly takes the first two games of the NLDS on the heels of their sweep of the Nats in mid September. The Nats can’t overcome Medlen’s only NLDS start and lose the series when they can’t sweep a 3-game set here in Washington next week. Meanwhile San Francisco’s bats go quiet against Cincinnati and the Reds club their way into the NLCS. Medlen gets two starts in the NLCS, shortening the series to the point where Atlanta cannot be beaten.
World Series: Atlanta beats Texas. Story book ending for Chipper Jones, and another heartbreak for Texas as they lose their third consecutive World Series. Texas just isn’t as strong pitching-wise as they were last year, don’t have enough lefties to shut Atlanta down, and I don’t think Yu Darvish will be up to the challenge. Meanwhile Medlen continues his other-worldly streak of starts; Atlanta has now won 23 consecutive games which Medlen has started (12 this year and another 11 to close out 2010). There’s no reason not to think that streak won’t continue into the post season; he’s given up a grand total of NINE earned run in his 12 starts this season.
This isn’t the most positive prediction for the post-season for the home team, but the Nats sputtering end to the season does not inspire confidence. Swept in Atlanta, splits with Milwaukee and then pounded in St. Louis means they’re walking a tightrope in the post-season. If they get a win in Atlanta, they may win the NLDS. But the 2-away/3-home structure really works to the detriment of the higher seed; its relatively easy for a team to win 2 straight at home … while its relatively difficult to win 3 straight at home. But that’s the predicament the Nats may face when they return to Washington. And get ready for the inevitable “You shouldn’t have shut down Strasburg” pieces, because they’re a-coming unless Washington wins the World Series. In fact I’ll bet writers already have them penned and in the can, ready to publish (kind of like obituaries for old movie stars that are in hospice).
However, if somehow Atlanta blows the wild-card game I reserve the right to completely re-do these predictions