A few months ago, on another blog, I made my MLB preseason predictions. Normally I stink at these, but this year I did pretty well. At least in the AL. Here’s what I said back in April:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Minnesota Twins
AL West: Los Angeles Angels
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees
Obviously, I thought the Red Sox were the better team heading into the season. I thought they had a pitching advantage over the Yankees. In fact, I still might say that. But the Bronx Bombers have simply been the best team in baseball this year. But there’s a chance I still might have all four playoff teams right, even if I missed on Yanks / Sox. If the Twins can win on Tuesday at the Metrodome, then I’ll be four-for=four. Pretty cool.
Here’s what I said about the NL:
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL West: Arizona Diamondbacks
NL Wild Card: New York Mets
OK, so here’s the part where I remind you that I’m normally terrible at these things. At least I got Philly right. And to be honest, everybody had the Cubs at the start of the season. Nobody knew Chris Carpenter would reassert himself as a Cy Young-caliber pitcher for the Cards; this was also before they acquired Mark DeRosa and Matt Holliday. And I don’t remember anybody picking the Rockies to contend either, so I don’t feel bad about missing that one. Where it really went off the tracks was when I picked the D-Backs to win the West. But I’ll lump that pick in with the Mets; I chose the D-Backs based on their one-two punch of Dan Haren and Brandon Webb. Who knew Webb would only make one start? As for the Mets…ugh. Injuries took them out of contention by Memorial Day. Pretty rough.
Now that it’s playoff time, I’ll make a whole new set of predictions. As Mike & Mike say, these predictions are sure to go wrong. But here you go:
ALDS: Yankees over Twins / Tigers. It doesn’t matter who wins Tuesday. The Yanks will pummel whoever it is. Neither the Twins nor the Tigers have the pitching to keep the Yankees bats at bay. Sabathia and Burnett will earn those fat contracts in this series. I’m even predicting a big series for ARod. Yanks in four.
ALDS: Angels over Red Sox. Man, I bet these guys are tired of facing off against each other in the Division Series. Actually, as one-sided as this series has been, the Angels are the ones who have to be dreading this showdown. After losing in 2004, 2007, and 2008, I’m thinking the Halos are due to exorcise their demons against the vaunted Sawx. I love their lineup depth (an MLB-best .285 team batting average). They’re pitching better than anybody else of late (an MLB-best 2.96ERA in September). And with a banged up Jon Lester and a struggling Josh Beckett, Boston looks as beatable as they’ve been in a while. I see L.A. getting it done in five.
NLDS: Phillies over Rockies. Philly looks pretty tough with Lee and Hamels at the top of the rotation. If they’re smart, they’ll plug J.A. Happ in the #3 spot and ride their lefties as far as they’ll take them. The Rockies have been a great story this year. You look at this club and you wonder how they won so many games. But they catch the ball well, they get timely hits from their veterans, and their starting pitching has been outstanding (7th best starters ERA in the majors). I think this is a really evenly matched series. But Philly’s experience last year makes the difference (although their bullpen terrifies me). The Fightin’ Phils in five. (I also adore alliteration.)
NLDS: Cardinals over Dodgers. I haven’t been showing the Dodgers much love all season. When they reeled off all those home wins to begin the season, I chalked it up to luck. Even when they gelled together in the absence of lineup anchor Manny Ramirez, I refused to believe. They eventually came back to earth a little, fending off the surging Rockies on the final weekend to secure the division title. Sure, they ended up leading the majors in ERA. Sure, the Cardinals don’t hit lefties well and will have to face Clayton Kershaw and Randy Wolf in the first two games. But I still can’t get excited about them. The Cardinals are a more complete team than they were at the start of the season. In Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, the Redbirds have the best one-two punch in the majors this season. The additions of Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa give the Cards one of the deepest lineups in the league. And, oh yeah, we also have that Pujols guy. This should be a great matchup, but I like the Cards to win in five.
ALCS: Yankees over Angels. Here’s what this one comes down to for me: bullpen play. Brian Fuentes has been inconsistent. Mo Rivera is the best closer of all-time. There you go. This series will be a real treat. The Angels have the second best record in the majors, but the Yankees are just too tough. I think they win this one in six.
NLCS: Phillies over Cards. The Philly bullpen is just an absolute mess. I can only hope Jolly Challie keeps trotting Brad Lidge out there in pressure situations. But this is the matchup the Cards have to be dreading. For whatever reason, we’ve been just awful against lefties this year. And Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are two of the league’s best. And J.A. Happ is a better bet than Joel Piniero in Game 3. These teams have some substantial flaws, but one of them has to go to the Series. As much as I’d like for it to be my Cardinals, I think the Phillies will give them some real trouble. Phillies in seven.
World Series: Yankees over Philly. Jeter finally gets that 5th ring. ARod gets the postseason monkey off his back. And the Yanks will christen New Yankee Stadium with a championship. Honestly, this is the same situation we’ve been in for a couple of years: the best teams will square off in the ALCS, not the World Series. But I really like the Yankees and I don’t think any of these teams will be able to knock them off this year. Yankees win in five.
Later I’ll post my MLB awards for the season.