On Tuesday, September 30, the hunt for the World Series title began! On that night, two American League ball clubs faced off for the chance to advance to the A.L. Division Series. On October 1, two National League teams will have their shot to embark on a path to baseball glory. After the Wild Card, then eight teams will be left to duke it out for the championship. I will attempt the difficult task of predicting the MLB’s supreme winner and to up the ante, the attempt will be made from September 14, which is at least two weeks away from the start of the postseason.
A.L. Wild Card Winner
As of September 14, the three teams in the A.L. who have the best chance at making the Wild Card Game are the Oakland Athletics, the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners.
The A’s have been on a massive slump since trading away star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Boston. Their offense has sputtered, but their pitching staff is still strong.
The Royals have a great defense with fantastic pitching and mistake-free fielding, but their hitting, specifically plate-discipline, has been their downfall. Seattle has been hit-or-miss offensively for most of the season, but their pitching was awesome . . . until recently. If they can right the ship, they’ll enter the postseason, but likely, they will not.
I predict the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals will make the Wild Card game. The game will be a borefest between two struggling offenses, so the team with the better defense will be triumphant … and that should be the Royals. Come on, if the Royals manage to score four runs, they can usually finagle a win.
N.L. Wild Card Winner
The NL’s main Wild Card competitors are the San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates and Milwaukee Brewers. While the Giants’ pitching is solid, and their young guys have fueled their surge throughout the season (starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner and second baseman Joe Panik, especially), they have several questions entering October. How bad is Michael Morse’s oblique injury? Will Brandon Belt get back to his earlier self?
The Pirates’ resurgence is all thanks to offense, pitcher Gerrit Cole, but their bullpen has also made significant strides since last season.
The Brewers went from being one of the hottest teams in the Majors to having a late-season meltdown of epic proportions. They are stacked with talent in hitting, fielding, their rotation and their bullpen, but little plate discipline, a worn out soft-throwing bullpen and a lack of clubhouse leadership will end their playoff aspirations.
The Giants (provided they do not win the pennant) will play the Pirates in the Wild Card game. This battle should be close, and potentially high-scoring, but the Giants should have the edge since they are a more well-rounded team. If the Pirates cannot keep the offense going at 100 percent against the G-Men’s tough pitching staff, then the Giants maintain their advantage.
The Royals would likely face off against the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series. The Angels are the best team in baseball right now and have far more talent than Kansas City. Mike Trout can facilitate more offense in the series than all the Royals’ hitters combined. My call is the Angels win the series 3-1.
The other ALDS series should be between the Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles. Miguel Cabrera seems to be heating up again, and the Tigers arguably have the best pitching staff in baseball. The Orioles are the best power hitting-team, and they have a very strong rotation; however, losing Chris Davis’ power due to a 25-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing drug really hurts Baltimore (even though much of that power could be attributed to the drug). The loss of Chris Davis and the distraction he has caused should be enough to derail the Orioles against one of the best players in baseball (Cabrera) and the most talented pitching staff. I say Detroit edges Baltimore 3-2.
The Giants and Washington Nationals are two well-rounded teams with very similar builds, but what makes the Nationals more impressive is that they have performed better than the Giants throughout the season while their star players constantly missed time due to injury. That is an ode to the Nationals’ roster depth. They are the favorite to represent the N.L. in the World Series and should beat the Giants simply because they have more talent to get the job done. Nationals win 3-1.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are projected to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. The Dodgers’ fate rests on the arms of their top pitchers, but not only do the Cardinals’ have their own great pitching staff, but their hitters are playing to their potential. The Cardinals’ offensive advantage should propel them forward to the NLCS. Cardinals win 3-1.
The Angels should finish the regular season with more wins, but what makes Detroit special is that tough pitching staff. The Angels do not have a staff that can truly compete with what Detroit has and one can definitely see Detroit coming away with the definitive upset. Detroit beats L.A. 4-2. Upset Special!!
The Cardinals have the better pitching staff, but the sheer talent of the Nats, especially on offense, puts them over the top in what should be an exhilarating series. Nationals win tough series 4-3.
World Series Prediction
Washington has a more well-rounded group of hitters than Detroit. However, Detroit’s pitchers will prove to be too much for Washington to handle in the end. Detroit wins the World Series 4-2.
Ebanks is an avid sports fan who loves to work as a freelance writer in his spare time. Email Jonathan at [email protected].