Predicting the Playoff Field

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Updated: April 1, 2017

The regular season is so close we can taste it! Okay, not literally, but the season is mere hours away and it feels so good! We’re here at the end of our prediction series, and after going through the major awards and then divisions, we now can go straight to the playoffs! After the Chicago Cubs came back from a 3-1 deficit to excise some 108 year old demons, which team stands the best chance to hoist a trophy this season?

Can the Cleveland Indians take care of their own drought, now the longest in baseball? Can the Boston Red Sox return to the top of the baseball world? Is it time for the young Houston Astros to break through? Perhaps the team with the best chance are the reigning champs themselves. Lets get to it!

The Wild Card Teams – In 1994, baseball created the Wild Card, a way to expand the playoffs, and in 2012 they expanded even more, adding a second team and creating the Wild Card play-in game, with the loser going home and the winner going on to play the top team in their respective league. Anyone can win one game, especially a team with a legitimate ace; the San Francisco Giants have won both times they’ve been in thanks to Madison Bumgarner, so having that type of pitcher gets you through that game more often than not. The Wild Card races should be extremely competitive this year, with five or six teams in each league with a legitimate shot at one of the spots. There can be only two that seize that wild card shot, though.

A.L. – Tampa Bay Rays over Toronto Blue Jays

N.L. – San Francisco Giants over New York Mets

The Giants have a large variation for what kind of season they could have; they could challenge for the N.L. West, or they could end the season under .500. They have questions marks in their outfield and bullpen, but if Mark Melancon helps everyone slide into a more suitable role and the outfield at least holds its own, the rotation has the potential to be very, very good, and you know Bruce Bochy will work his magic, especially in the playoffs. It’ll be a repeat of last season.

The Rays are going to surprise some people, with an awesome young rotation and some lineup improvement they’ll squeak their way into the Wild Card game, and on the strength of that pitching will put away a potent Blue Jays’ offense.

Divisional Series – This is where things get good; a lot of times, the Wild Card teams enter their Divisional Series as huge underdogs, and yet, we see them pull of the upset more often than you’d expect. In 2014, both Wild Card teams made it through the playoffs to the World Series.

A.L. – Cleveland Indians over Tampa Bay Rays in three, Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox in five.

The Indians are en route straight towards the championship, and the Rays just won’t be able to hang with such a complete team built to dominate the playoffs. The young Astros, after pulling away in the A.L. West, are going to outhit a Red Sox team that can’t seem to get reliable pitching in the postseason. After yet another bad David Price postseason start and a dominating series from the Astros’ bullpen, the ‘Stros will be moving on.

N.L. – Chicago Cubs over San Francisco Giants in four, Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals five.

Wait, this sounds familiar…. It might be a copout, but the N.L. playoffs are going to be an exact replica of last season. All of these teams got better, and the Cubs, Nationals, and Dodgers are just so much better than any team in their respective divisions that it’s hard to envision them not making it to the playoffs. The Dodgers will finally get that Clayton Kershaw dominate postseason run, and a lot of what can be said about the Indians/Rays series can be said about the Cubs and Giants.

League Championship Series – On one side, you’ve got a team looking to break a curse of their own and avenge a playoffs collapse versus a young team that feels they’re ready to make their own Cubs-like breakthrough. On the other you’ve got a team that’s looking to build a dynasty after a century filled with failure versus a team that’s been built to win it all for years but just can’t quite seem to get there, and it’s a rematch to boot.

A.L. – Cleveland Indians over Houston Astros in six, Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers in seven.

Once again, the Indians are built for the playoffs, with a pitching staff that can’t be matched and now with an offense that should be deep and balanced. The Astros are going to get their’s, but not this year. The Cubs are also built to win, but they now have the experience of winning after coming back from a 3-1 deficit to slay the goat. Clayton Kershaw can only take this team so far, but the Cubs are too good.

World Series – So here we are, a rematch for the first time since 1977-78 when the New York Yankees beat the Dodgers both years. This one is epic, with the Cubs attempting to repeat for the first time since the Yankees won their third straight in 2000 after breaking the longest championship drought in sports versus the team they beat, the Indians, who are looking to break the new longest championship drought in baseball of sixty-eight years. These two teams are clearly the best teams in baseball heading into the season, and although we know how rarely the best team in baseball makes it this far, let alone wins it all, these two teams are not only the best but built to succeed in the playoffs when it matters most. It’s tough to repeat, but if any team can do it, the Cubs can. Not if the Indians have anything to say about it, though.

Cleveland Indians over Chicago Cubs in Seven.

Not only are these two teams the clear favorites in their respective years this season, they’re built to be good for years. Francisco Lindor, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer are just a few of the young franchise players the Indians have, and they have one of the best farm systems in baseball to continue to keep this team at the top.

The Cubs’ youth is well documented, with Anthony Rizzo one of their older franchise players at twenty-seven years old. Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber, and Addison Russell are all twenty-five or younger. This could be the beginning of a legitimate rivalry, with these teams meeting in many more World Series. If the Indians make it to the playoffs with a healthy pitching staff, they’ll roll through the playoffs and finally break their own drought. Back to back drought breaking champions? That’s exciting for all baseball fans!

 

 

 

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