Now, that these Wild Card “pre-playoffs” (as I call them) have concluded, we can now move on to the real thing. It’s October which, of course means that we are down to the final eight teams to determine baseball’s champion for the 2013 season.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals
The biggest story, arguably, of this year’s postseason is the return of the Pittsburgh Pirates to October baseball. No doubt that this team will likely be huge favorites among fans this year given that this is their first trip to the postseason in 21 years since some guy named Barry Bonds was their main star. Now, this team has a whole new cast of characters including A.J. Burnett and Andrew McCutchen.
The biggest thing the Pirates have perhaps done—is that they’ve kicked the Steelers off the main section of the sports pages in Western Pennsylvania in October. That’s an accomplishment in itself.
They’ll be facing the St. Louis Cardinals—one of the most stable teams of the last ten years in terms of continued postseason success. They have four hitters batting over .300 (Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina) and Adam Wainwright anchors their pitching staff that is said to be an advantage for St. Louis. As much as most probably wouldn’t like to see Pittsburgh bounced in the first round, the Cardinals will likely win this series in five.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves are back in the postseason again with the second best-record in the National League. The addition of Justin Upton certainly had an impact on their season this year and Evan Gattis has also produced a breakout year for Atlanta.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were one of MLB’s biggest stories during this regular season and not just for the on-field play (and off-field exploits) of Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers were in last place in the NL West before going on a historic run that saw them win (at one point this season) 39 of 47 games. Hanley Ramirez is also looked at as an MVP candidate.
It seems as if many are picking Atlanta in this series, but this one has me thinking blue. Dodgers in five.
Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics
On to the American League where we begin with the Detroit Tigers and Oakland Athletics. The A’s aren’t one of these teams that gets many attention since they play on the side of the Bay Area where Downtown San Francisco is not located. But, among the headlines with this team is the resurgence of Bartolo Colon, who will pitch Game One against Detroit.
Of course, the Tigers still have an impressive staff as well including Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez.
The A’s making the playoffs is such a story in Oakland that it has forced the Raiders to move their scheduled games against the San Diego Chargers to Sunday night.
It will probably be easy for most to choose the Tigers since they’ve had sustained success over the past few years under the managing of Jim Leyland. But, Oakland wins this series in five games.
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
Then, the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. After a couple of years where the Red Sox have had to deal with the collapse of 2011 (ironically, partially aided by the Rays that year) and the 2012 season where the team had no business anywhere near a baseball diamond, they’re back in the playoffs under the managing of John Farrell. The team once again is tied for the best record in baseball at 97-65 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The biggest advantage that Boston has over the Rays is that they’re well rested. The Rays first had to play Texas in Arlington to have a chance to face the Cleveland Indians in the one-game Wild Card playoff. They defeated both teams—on the road. No doubt the Red Sox had to love the fact that the Rays had to play additional games prior to Game 1 at Fenway. Sox in four.
My NLCS pick is the Cardinals and Dodgers and I have the Red Sox and Athletics in the ALCS.
Dodgers over Cardinals in seven and Red Sox over A’s in six.
World Series Prediction
Which leaves the Dodgers and Red Sox in the World Series, where I see Boston prevailing over Los Angeles in six games.
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