Monday, October 04, 2004

MLB Playoff Predictions

Tuesday afternoon at 1:00 marks the beginning of baseball's 2004 postseason. I'm a bit sad that both the Marlins and Cubs missed out on the playoffs. That takes some of the enjoyment out of it for me. Nevertheless, I still have two teams to pull for: one in the National League and the other in the A.L. There are a lot of exciting series to look forward to. Especially in the A.L., we could be in store for two awesome first round series. Atlanta vs. the upstart Astros should be a solid NLDS. St. Louis vs. Los Angeles may be the only rout. Expect more writing as the playoffs begin tomorrow morning. I've got class from 2:00-3:20. That's perfect for me. I get to see the excellent Sox/Anaheim matchup while missing out on the lackluster Cards/Dodgers game 1. The nightcap features New York vs. Anaheim. If I'm not watching the debate at a friend's house, I'll be home viewing the game.

National League Divisional Series:
Atlanta Braves over Houston Astros in 4
St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Dodgers in 3

National League Championship Series
Atlanta Braves over St. Louis Cardinals in 6

American League Divisional Series:
Minnesota Twins over New York Yankees in 5
Boston Red Sox over Anaheim Angels in 4

American League Championship Series:
Boston Red Sox over Minnesota Twins in 7

World Series:
Boston Red Sox over Atlanta Braves in 7

Briefly, my thoughts on the LDS.

Houston vs. Atlanta- I feel like I've been here before. Houston never is able to get past Atlanta in the first round. I've seen Larry Dierker and Jimy Williams get beat by the veteran Braves. I worry a bit about Atlanta's rotation. Jaret Wright, John Thomson, and Mike Hampton are hardly Glavine, Maddux, and Smoltz. Houston came back from the dead under new manager Phil Garner. Still, I think Atlanta's desperate to win one more title. And this year, there is no clear cut opponent out there to stop them. I like Atlanta to win this series in 4 or 5 games.

Los Angeles vs. St. Louis- Frankly, this series doesn't do much for me. I think St. Louis has too much offense for Jim Tracy's club to handle. I'm not sold that St. Louis wins the W.S., but they can get by L.A. I'd much rather see Barry Bonds and the Giants, rather than the boring Dodgers. Edmonds, Renteria, Pujols, and Rolen combined to give St. Louis the #1 scoring offense in the regular series. I like this team to beat Los Angeles easily.

Anaheim vs. Boston- It's hard to discount a former champion. Anaheim did win the World Series in 2002. But that doesn't stop me from going with the conventional wisdom. In the playoffs, pitching usually trumps offense. Schilling and Pedro are two of the best pitchers in baseball history. In a short series, we'll see one or both of them twice over the course of five games. The key could be how Bronson Arroyo and Tim Wakefield perform. Arroyo did go 3-0 this September. Boston also has a great offense in Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, and Bill Mueller. Finally, Terry Francona will know when to pull Martinez late in a game. They've got a solid bullpen, led by closer Keith Foulke. Boston takes this series.

Minnesota vs. New York- This pick is a sad one for me to make. I long for another classic Sox/Yankees ALCS. I do like this Minnesota team. Although they have a low-payroll, this team has playoff experience. Of course, last year they lost to the Yankees in the divisional round. I love the Twins lefty Johan Santana. He's poised to win the Cy Young with a 20-6, 2.61 record. If he can get them two victories, I'm confident that Brad Radke or Kyle Lohse can get them the third. I'm not a big fan of either Javier Vazquez or Mike Mussina, especially in a playoff setting. Minnesota has to find a way to manufacture runs. The Marlins beat the Yankees last season with not a lot of big name power hitters. Youngsters Lew Ford and Justin Morneau could give them the speed needed to beat the older Yankees. I may regret it later, but I'm going with the upset and picking the Twins to win in five games.


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