It’s time once again for me to predict who’s going to make the playoffs and who’s going to win it all.
Yeah, usually that’s two posts, but because of the way the blog schedule aligns with MLB’s schedule this year, I decided to combine the posts.
As usual, the playoff teams will be determined based on their margin of victory in their first game*. The playoff predictions are based on run differential over the first week of the season.
* It was nice of MLB to schedule everybody to play on Opening Day. Too bad Mother Nature got involved and forced two games to be rescheduled.
So here we go.
Since an American League team won the World Series last season, we’ll force them to go first.
- East – Regrettably, it’s clear the Yankees are going to take the AL East. It won’t even be close, given their +5 run differential.
- Central – The White Sox are obviously the class of not just the division, not just the league, but all of MLB. Their +7 margin of victory shows the season’s going to be smooth sailing for them.
- West – It’s going to be a close race on the Pacific coast. The Astros will take it in the end, in line with most professional prognosticators’ predictions. But a +3 isn’t much; they’re obviously going to have to work for their victory.
- Wild Cards – Another tight race. The Rays will take the first slot, based on their two run victory in their first game. But there are three teams tied with a +1 record. The tiebreaker is total runs, which eliminates the Mariners, but Tampa Bay and Oakland both scored six. I hadn’t expected to need a second tiebreaker, so I gave Commissioner Manfred a call. “Reward whoever did the most to speed up the game,” he said. By now you all know my feelings about pace of play and those people who profess to be worried about it. Accordingly, the second Wild Card goes to the Athletics, on the grounds that their game was sixty-two minutes longer–an extra innings thriller.
Matters are slightly simpler over in the National League.
- East – To the surprise of nearly everyone, the Mets are going to take the NL East on the strength of their +5 run differential.
- Central – It’s obviously Chicago’s year. The Cubs pulled out a +4 margin of victory to make it a Central division sweep for the Windy City.
- West – The team that can’t be beat in the NL is Arizona. The Diamondbacks‘ +6 falls a little short of the White Sox’ number, but it’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.
- Wild Card – The Braves and Pirates both put up +3 records. Since nobody else did better than a +2, we don’t need a tiebreaker to settle who goes to the playoffs, but somebody needs to host the Wild Card Game. We’ll award that to the Pirates, in recognition of their 13 runs, far better than the Braves’ 8.
So, with our teams selected, let’s move on to the results of the playoffs. To simplify matters, here are the teams with their records–the first tie-breaker–and run differentials over the first week of play:
|19-19 ( 0 )|
Laid out in tabular form, I think it’s obvious what the results will be. But leaving it at that would be an awfully short post, so let’s take a closer look.
In the AL, the As will knock off the Rays in the Wild Card game and then get flattened by the Astros in the Division Series. Meanwhile, the Yankees will knock off the White Sox without breaking a sweat. In the Championship Series, Houston will knock off New York.
Over in the NL, the Braves will steamroller the Pirates in the Wild Card, trample the Diamondbacks in the Division Series, and fold, spindle, and mutilate the Mets in the Championship Series.
Which brings us to the World Series, Atlanta versus Houston. The teams are evenly matched on run differential, suggesting we’ll see a high-scoring seven game series. The teams’ won/loss records to date make it clear that in the end, the Astros will win Game Seven, most likely on a home run in extra innings, to repeat as champions–the first team to repeat since the Yankees won it all three times in a row from 1998 to 2000.
Take that, pace-of-play-we-want-shorter-games advocates.
Yup, I can make sense of that. Plus, if it gets Atlanta’s Nick Markakis to his first World Series. I’ll cheer as loud as anyone for that. In other news, the Orioles could go 1-161 this season. While the chances are slim, it would be kind of interesting to watch. After all, the O’s went 0-21 in 1988. Then they won a game and were 1-21. Check back with me in 16 games … and we’ll see if they’re back in 1988 territory.
Lest we forget, the Braves are the team that literally advertised themselves as “America’s Team”. That’s a lot of arrogance for the love of a single player to overcome.
I will check back with you in a couple of weeks, but I’ve taken the liberty of consulting with an oracle on your behalf. She assured me your fears of a 1-161 season are groundless. The Os will, she says, finish no worse than 7-155.