For the NL Playoff Power Poll, click on this link.
The NL playoffs is a crapshoot. The AL playoffs were suppose to be a sure thing until this week. So who is a contender to make it to the World Series? Let’s rank the participants.
5. Oakland Athletics – As a Nationals fan, I guess I should root for the A’s because they gave us Gio Gonzalez, and the guys we gave up (Tommy Milone and Derek Norris) have really produced for this scrappy squad. Their entire pitching staff, from starters to bullpen is solid, even though you don’t know who their names are (because I know I don’t). They lost their veteran pitchers, the rookies came in and picked up the slack. The team plays hard every night, which keeps them in most games. The hitting is much to be desired; they have a .238 batting average. Who do they think they are, the Astros! But if the power hitters come through, this team can keep their improbable run alive. Is Disney already working on Moneyball 2?
4. Baltimore Orioles – The better of the nobody believes in us squads. 25 guys have contributed for this team, 40 in September. Everyone is all in. Buck Showalter has plugged and played and pushed this team along. If it’s a one-run game, which most of these playoff games are, then the Orioles have to be a favorite to pull it out. They have clutch hitting, led by Adam Jones which is crucial in the playoffs. Their bullpen is actually pretty dominant, with Jim Johnson on the back-end to shut down opponents. Did I mention that Buck Showalter is the best manager in these playoffs. The ‘Orioles Way’ is back and hopefully here to stay.
3. Texas Rangers – It was all good a week ago. The Rangers were going to be runaway winners of the AL West and have home-field in the AL Playoffs. Then bad pitching, and bad Josh Hamilton defense happened. Now they are in a wild card playoff with the upstart Orioles. Where did it all go wrong? I couldn’t put this team in the top 2 because of their September swoon (15-16, Sept-Oct included), but this team really has the talent to in the World Series. It would really be upsetting if they didn’t because of the last two playoff runs for this team. Also, the fact they may lose Hamilton in free agency makes this playoff run more urgent, but with the way he’s playing right now, would they miss him? If the pitching returns to form with this lineup, the Rangers will be a tough out. But can they get through the wild card game?
2. New York Yankees – If this was any other team, this would be my 4th ranked team. But it is the Yankees, so of course they will win it all. A week ago, they could have been playing in the wild-card game. Now they are the Number 1 seed. That’s the Yankees magic. I don’t like their lineup because they are home-run or bust. But watch Robinson Cano start hitting doubles the opposite way and Derek Jeter starts hitting seeing eye singles. I don’t like their pitching. I don’t even know who will be the 2nd starter; but watch that guy (probably Andy Pettitte pitch 7+ innings. Why? Yankee Magic. That’s why they are 2nd on this list.
1. Detroit Tigers – This may be the worst defense team in the playoffs, so how are they my favorite in the AL? Well for one they have a Triple Crown winner. No one has had that kind of weapon since 1967. The 3-4 part of the lineup of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder carried the Tigers into the playoffs. The problem with the Tigers all season has been the guys not named Cabrera-Fielder, especially in the bottom of the order. But if they can string together hits and manufacture runs, just like experts expected them to do at the beginning of the season, the Tigers will be tough to beat. Throw in the Justin Verlander-Max Scherzer-Doug Fister pitching rotation, and they are down-right lethal.
So the Mancave picks a Braves-Tigers World Series. Congratulations to those fans, now that will never happen. But this is really the 2nd best time of year with NFL, NBA starting, NHL (if they would get their act together), and now the MLB postseason. So buckle up for the ride, because I guarantee something will happen that you don’t expect.