Saturday, August 30, 2008

MLB Playoff Picture

Here are my playoff predictions for the MLB. The 8 bolded teams are my picks to make the playoffs.

AL West:
I think it is fair to say that the only team clearly in the playoffs is the Los Angeles Angels, with its 18 game lead over the Rangers. No further explanation necessary.

AL Central:
The Chicago White Sox are currently half a game ahead of the Minnesota Twins, which essentially makes the two teams even for playoff contention purposes. One of the largest differences between the two teams is their home run production, with Chicago hitting more than twice as many as Minnesota (195 to 95). In the remainder of the season, each team will play in 8 series after finishing games this Sunday. Of the 8 teams each will face, the White Sox and Twins have four teams common between their schedules. That leaves 4 series to determine who has an easier schedule. However, the two teams face off in a series as well towards the end of the season. So, discounting that series, 3 series can be used to determine schedule difficulty. The Sox, in those 3 games, will face the Angels, Yankees, and Indians, who combine for a .545 winning percentage. The Twins, however, will face the Royals, Orioles, and Rays, who combine for a .502 winning percentage. Now, this gives a huge advantage to the Twins and their easier schedule. Because of this, I call that the Minnesota Twins will make the playoffs.

AL East:
Also, Tampa Bay sits in an ideal situation. Even though they are only ahead of the Red Sox by 4.5 games, the cushion for playoff birth is much more generous because of the wild card, which will likely be given to an American League East team once again. However, this time it won't be the Yankees and Red Sox advancing to the World Series. Sorry, I said it: The Yankees will not make the World Series. And the pin stripes are 11.5 games out of first place and 7 games out of the Wild Card race. So why did I have to wait so long to make the call? Because the Yankees have made the playoffs for over the past 10 years, and every year which Torre has managed the ball club. And it is quite obvious why they aren't going to make it this year - a pitching staff plagued by injury and inconsistency.

NL West:
Ok, so this is a sad division to talk about because of their one team above .500 (The D-Backs sit precariously at .511). It really seems like nobody wants to win this division. At least the Rockies have fallen far enough back that they can be discounted from the race, unless of course they pull something off reminiscent of last year. And this would have to be a spectacular run. But I frankly don't see them doing the same this year. Even though the Dodgers are 3.5 games back of the D-Backs and currently below .500, I pick them to win the division. Here's why: the Dodgers have had a consistent pitching staff, combining for a 3.81 ERA (2nd best in the NL). Furthermore, the Los Angeles Dodgers have added Manny to their lineup, which has been paying its dues in the form of a 4 for 5 day to lift the Dodgers over the Diamondbacks.

NL Central:
The Cubs have been playing so well this year that I don't foresee any team challenging their 5.5 game lead. The Cubs' pitchers have earned the best ERA in the NL and their batters have earned the 2nd best batting average in the league (which is .025) points ahead of the Brewers. I pick the Chicago Cubs and their .625 win percentage to win the division handily. That's not to say "too bad" to the crew however. Their .585 win percentage will not be for naught. That's why the wild card was created many years ago. The Milwaukee Brewers will make the playoffs by winning the NL Wild Card.

NL East:
The race is too close between the Mets and the Phillies to give any team an advantage in standings position. I just can't bring myself to say that the Mets and their horrible bullpen are going to make the playoffs. I will give that honor to the Philadelphia Phillies, who lead the NL with home runs as a result of a potent lineup stacked with the likes of Howard, Utley, and Burrell (each of whom has 30+ hrs).

That's it for my predictions. But just in case you want a condensed version, here is my list:
Los Angeles Angels
Minnesota Twins
Tampa Bay Rays
Boston Red Sox
LA Dodgers
Chicago Cubs
Milwaukee Brewers
Philadelphia Phillies