Tuesday, October 03, 2006

MLB Playoff Picks

National League

It's a shame that the Mets and Dodgers meet in the NLDS. The Mets were clearly the class of the NL this year, but statistically the Dodgers are right behind them. Their offense scored only 14 less runs than the heralded Mets offense. That's especially impressive since Dodger Stadium is the usually one of the toughest ballparks for hitters. The Dodgers are the pick here. They were a hot team down the stretch. The Mets pitching is going to hurt without Pedro Martinez. The Mets are more of a long-ball team than the Dodgers. Such teams often struggle in the postseason. Dodgers in four games.

If only the Mets could play either San Diego or St. Louis. They would dominate either team. St. Louis limped into the postseason, but they sport arguably the league's best hitter (Albert Pujols) and best pitcher (Chris Carpenter.) They are a much better offensive team than the Padres, who relied on having the best pitching in the league. It's tempting to say "great pitchig beats great hitting." That's garbage though. The Padres will struggle to score against the Cardinals, and that will be their undoing. They will suffer if they pitch around Pujols too much (you just can't put one hitter on base 2-3 times a game, every game, and not give up some runs.) So St. Louis in four games.

So if I'm right so far, we'll have a Los Angeles vs. St. Louis NLCS. I won't go into too much analysis of such a speculative matchup, but I would pick Los Angeles in five games.

American League

What a great season it's been for Detroit. It's probably about to come to a crashing halt though, as they play the Yankees in the ALDS. Detroit struggled against teams with good hitting all year, and the Yankees have the most potent offense in baseball by far. They scored 60 more runs than anybody else.  It's tempting to look at Detroit and see shades of the world champion Florida Marlins from a couple of years ago. Y'know, the team that beat the Yankess in the World Series. The Tigers are coached by Jim Leyland, have the great Ivan Rodriguez catching, and have some great young pitching, all things in common with the Marlins. The Marlins had a better offense (Miguel Cabrera, Derek Lee, Mike Lowell, Juan Pierre, etc)  and Detroit's young pitching has struggled down the stretch (tired arms?) Their bullpen is probably better than Florida's, but it won't be enough. Yankess in four games.

Oakland and Minnesota always seem to lose to the Yankees in the ALDS. This year, they get each other. They are the two hottest teams in the AL. I was leaning towards picking Oakland, especially after seeing Rich Harden crush pitchers in two starts recently after coming off the DL all year. However, Harden struggled in the last game. Still, it's going to be a tough battle. The A's will not be able to touch Santana, and that will be the difference. Twins in five games.

In the theoretical Yankess vs. Twins... I'd like to say it's time for the Twins to kill the witch... but the Yankees were effective against Santana this year, just as they've always been. Without two wins from Santana, the Twins have little chance. So the Yankees in six games.

A Yankees-Dodgers World Series is every TV exec's dream. The Yankees are the better team on paper. If Randy Johnson is back and pitching effectively (two very big IFs) then they should definitely win. Otherwise, the bombers may find it very hard hitting homers in Dodger Stadium. S o I will go with the Dodgers in a six shocking games.

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