Last year, I made predictions about the Major League Baseball playoffs. It turns out that I am not a swami when it comes to picking winners. I am going to give it another shot this time around.
The end of September is near and the playoff picture is all but painted. Some division titles are still very much up for grabs, examples being the American League East and the American League Central divisions.
This season, baseball will feature 10 playoff teams, as opposed to eight teams in years past. There will be two wild card winners in each league. The two American League wild card teams will play each other, same for National League teams. It will be a one-game “do or die” type of format, and the winner of each game will move on to the divisional round.
The American League East division battle between the Yankees and the Orioles is looking like one for the ages. The Yankees had what seemed like an insurmountable lead of 10 games on July 18. However, the Orioles, managed by Buck Showalter, have battled back. The Yankees have been dealing with injuries and poor execution with runners in scoring position. The Orioles have been strong in extra-inning games this season, winning their last 15.
This division will go to the birds, literally. The Orioles will win the division on the last few days of the season. The Yankees, however, will clinch one of the American League wild card spots.
The American League Central will be won by the Detroit Tigers. Their offense, with potential Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and slugger Prince Fielder, is potent and their pitching, with perennial Cy Young Award nominee Justin Verlander, is not to be messed with.
The Texas Rangers will be the winners of the American League West, but not by much. The surprising Oakland Athletics will finish not too far behind. It will be a battle to the end.
The American League wild card winners will be the A’s and the Yankees.
The National League divisions are not as close as the American League’s. In fact, at this point in the season, each division is all but locked up by their respective leading teams.
Each division has clear first place teams, and it isn’t hard to see who will be heading to the postseason and who will finish up their season on Oct. 3.
The Washington Nationals, Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants have sizeable leads in their respective divisions.
Both the Reds and the Giants have double digit leads over the second place teams in their divisions.
The Atlanta Braves have a big lead in the wild card standings and have already locked up their spot in the one-game wild card playoff.
The final wild card spot in the National League is still very much up for grabs. Six teams are separated by five games or fewer, as of Sept. 20.
The eventual victor of the final wild card spot will be the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, who should enter a one-game playoff against the Braves and are currently riding a four-game winning streak.
World Series Match-up
The World Series match-up will be the Cincinnati Reds versus the Baltimore Orioles. Momentum goes a long way and when a team catches fire late in the season, it is very hard to stop them.
The Reds have been the best team in baseball for the latter part of the season. The Orioles have a great offense and a knack for late-game heroics, which definitely comes in handy come playoff time.
My World Series pick is the Cincinnati Reds. There are not too many teams, if any, that have the all-around talent that they do. If Aroldis Chapman can enter the postseason with a clean bill of health, I do not see anyone beating this team when they have a lead.
I challenge you to make your picks and compare them to mine. Send me an e-mail or send a tweet to @Z_Higgs. There’s nothing like playoff baseball, except for picking the outcome correctly.