This has been an odd year - I must have known something, not posting my usual beginning of the year predictions. I would have done something insane, like picked the Red Sox to finish out of the cellar - I got lucky there! In any case, it is a shame that the sox have been so awful - I pay less attention, and the game punished me by mounting what really is a fantastic year. Washington winning their division - A's and O's in the playoffs (A's winning the division, by sweeping the Rangers on the last series - amazing!) And individual brilliance everywhere - a Triple Crown winner? who might not win MVP (and probably doesn't deserve to win MVP?) A knuckle balling Cy Young? a bunch of 20 game winners, in both leagues? Mike Trout and Bryce Harper? Yes.
And here in Boston, we get Bobby V handing the division to the Yankees and bitching his coaches. What a guy. The front office seems to have noticed his failures, a couple months too late, so off he goes. Go Liverpool!
Enough of that - the rest of the baseball world deserves some attention. So let's go on record with some post-season predictions:
AL: So Texas and Baltimore play the play in game. All right - I like this system. I like how it expands the playoffs, and makes winning the division that much more important, at the same time - that is how you should do this sort of thing! Anyway - I think Texas has to be considered the better bet - though - same record; the Orioles have even played up to their record lately (though still 11 games ahead of their pythagorean record.) Rangers should win, though. They should be the best team in the league - they have been coasting for awhile.
Now then - after that - who plays who? Apparently, division rivals aren't protected anymore - so Detroit will play Oakland, and the wild card will play the Yankees. That still makes predictions a bit tentative - but that's what they should be anyway. I get another shot at this in a week or so anyway, if I care... So:
Detroit-Oakland: I think Detroit will win this. Too much pitching at the top; too much Cabrera and Fielder.
NY-Wild Card: I think Texas will take the Yankees out without much trouble. I'm less confidant in the O's. I think if Texas beats Baltimore tomorrow night, they will make it to the world series, and probably win - which puts them in a very odd position tomorrow I guess... If Baltimore wins tomorrow, I suspect Detroit will be in the series.
NL: I hate to admit it, but suspect St. Louis will beat the Braves - I hope not, though. I don't hate SL now that LaRussa is gone, but....
San Francisco vs. Cincinnati: Cincy has a very nice team there, but I suspect San Francisco will take them out. Better track record and all that.
Washington vs. Wild Card: Nats should win this, though I always fear the worst with St. Louis around.
In the end - logic says Washington, I think - they have the most balanced team of the bunch. But it's hard to know what will happen with teams that have just arrived at the top - sometimes they do well (Tampa in 2008?) - often, they crack (Tampa in the world series in 2008? Detroit 06?) Still - the truth is, there aren't any bad options really - other than the Yankees, and especially a Yankees St. Louis world series. The Yanks, thankfully, have played the part of the bloated has been for most of the last decade and I expect they will again. I certainly know the world series I want: Washington - Texas! Washington vs. (Ron) Washington!! Nationals vs. Senators!!! How can you not?
As for individuals, a topic that might be even more fascinating this year than the pennant races:
AL MVP: I vote Trout over Cabrera, though - there's not much to pick. The triple crown is a big deal - very cool - but the fact is, it's a pretty arbitrary set of numbers. Trout has had almost the same year at the bat as Cabrera - batting leadoff, so he has the runs scored and stolen bases in place of Cabrera's HR and RBI. Which comes close to being a wash - but then, Mike Trout is having what appears to be a very good year with the glove - Cabrera is a first baseman playing third base like a first baseman. And - while that might actually help the team, letting them get that much more offense into the lineup - Trout's defense is helping his team directly, by, you know, catching the ball and stuff. There will be those, meanwhile, who will say, Cabrera got his team to the playoffs, Trout did not - they forget - the Angels had a better record than the Tigers, in a tougher division - I vote Trout.
AL ROY: I wonder who should win this? is Trout having the best rookie season ever?
AL Cy Young: This comes down to an interesting choice - Weaver has 20 wins, is at or close to the top in ERA and WHIP - but has pitched 50 fewer innings than Justin Verlander - who has very similar numbers, a little lower - in 50 more innings. Verlander has to win.
NL MVP: This is also a pretty good contest, Posey vs. Braun I think. Braun's got somewhat better counting stats, but Posey is close, and he's a catcher - and he's in the playoffs, on a team that is notoriously short of offense - so - he probably should win, though there's no disgrace in Braun winning.
NL ROY: He was supposed to be the greatest thing to hit baseball since, at least, A Rod - instead, he turned out to be the second best outfielder below drinking age. But Bryce Harper seems like a pretty clear choice.
NL Cy Young: Gotta be Dickey - top 3 in wins, ERA, WHIP, top in Ks and IP? Easy choice.
And there you go.