With the MLB Wild Card Playoffs in the books, it’s time to turn our attention long-term and try and figure out who will be crowned the 2012 World Series champions.
Judging by the first day of postseason action, I don’t have a chance as I predicted both the Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers to win in one-game situations. Matt Gajtka and Zac Weiss did a little bit better as Gajtka predicted the Cardinals and Weiss had the Orioles advancing.
Now it is time for the City of Champions’ staff to take a stab at predicting the rest of the postseason. So with that being said, let’s get right into it.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals
Shetler’s Take: The Nationals not only finished with the best record in baseball, best run differential in baseball, led the league in ERA, starting-pitching ERA and WHIP, but once their lineup got healthy, they also led the league in runs scored over their final 72 games. I’m not overly worried about the Nats not having Stephen Strasburg as they went 79-55 without him pitching, but it would be nice to have him on the bump.
As for the Cardinals, what can you say except they keep winning in the postseason. Being able to run a rotation of Kyle Loshe, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter isn’t so bad, even though Mike Matheny used Loshe on Friday night, but this team can score runs and lead all NL playoff teams in runs scored, OPS, slugging, batting and games scoring in double figures (16).and are a playoff tested bunch while the Nats are not.
I actually considered the Braves over the Nats in this series, but I am not a fan of the St. Louis bullpen, so I give the Nats the edge in a very good series.
Shetler’s Prediction: Washington in 5
Gajtka’s Prediction: Washington in 5
Weiss’ Prediction: The Nats are too young and the Cardinals can’t seem to lose in the playoffs. The X-factors are if Carpenter and Wainwright will rise to the occasion. Allen Craig is your MVP of this series and the Cardinals win it in four games.
Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants
Shetler’s Take: Both teams have great pitching as the Reds allowed the fewest runs of any playoff team and led the league in bullpen ERA. But their lineup is way too right-handed, even with Joey Votto in it. That’s not a good recipe having to face Matt Cain twice.
In addition, the Giants are a consistent team. They haven’t lost more than two games in a row since July 30 (60 games) and that’s their only losing streak of more than two in a row since May 4 (136 games). People criticize their lack of power, but they scored more than 50 runs more than the Reds this season.
Shetler’s Prediction: Giants in 4
Gajtka’s Prediction: Reds in 4
Weiss’ Prediction: I can’t trust the Giants’ offense and the pitching edge goes to the Reds. Aroldis Chapman is the X-Factor of the series as his velocity has been down late in the season and Jay Bruce will be the MVP of the series. Reds in 4.
Oakland A’s vs. Detroit Tigers
Shetler’s Take: I like the A’s and the story they created, but they are a team built around power and have the lowest batting average (.236) of any playoff team. That’s not a good recipe heading into Comerica Park.
Miguel Cabrera has been outstanding in September and I don’t anticipate him cooling off now. Plus the A’s will have to see Justin Verlander twice. The Tigers have the two best players in the series and that’s the difference.
Shetler’s Prediction: Tigers in 4
Gajtka’s Prediction: Tigers in 4
Weiss’ Prediction: The A’s are a hot team, which is why this goes the distance. Max Scherzer will have to come up big as the X-Factor in the series, but while Cabrera gets all the attention right now, Prince Fielder will have an MVP-type series and lead the Tigers on to the ALDS. Tigers in 5
Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees
Shetler’s Take: These two teams played each other about as evenly as possible during the regular season as each team won nine games and every statistical category was about as even as it could get.
For the Orioles to win, it could be as easy as cooling off Robinson Cano, as no one has been hotter down the stretch, with multi-hit games in each of his last nine. However, the Orioles have the ability to turn games into six inning affairs. If they have the lead after six, it usually means game over as their pen is awfully difficult to get to. Sound familiar? That’s exactly how this Yankees team was built through the late 90′s.
The Yankees bottom three hitters (Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez) have a combined 80 home runs and 195 RBIs, meaning there’s no break in this lineup for the Orioles pitching staff. But while they have Andy Pettite and C.C. Sabathia back healthy and pitching well, I have my doubts if the Yankees rotation can put together consistent great starts in a series.
That compiled with the fact that Baltimore has compiled the greatest record in one-run games (29-9) in modern history and done so while Buck Showalter has juggled 52 players, made 178 roster moves, run 25 different pitchers out there. But it’s all worked. This team, with a leader like Showalter isn’t scared of the mighty Yankees.
Shetler’s Prediction: Baltimore in 5
Gajtka’s Prediction: Baltimore in 5
Weiss’ Prediction: Baltimore is a hot team and hot wild card teams make lengthy playoff runs. Chris Davis’ pop could be the difference if the Orioles can keep their nerves in check. Baltimore in 5
Shetler’s Prediction: Giants over Nationals in 6
Gajtka’s Prediction: Reds over Nationals in 6
Weiss’ Prediction: Reds over Cardinals in 6
Shetler’s Prediction: Tigers over Orioles in 6
Gajtka’s Prediction: Tigers over Orioles in 6
Weiss’ Prediction: Orioles over Tigers in 6
Shetler’s Prediction: Tigers over Giants in 7
Gajtka’s Prediction: Tigers over Reds in 7
Weiss’ Prediction: Reds over Orioles in 6