2013 MLB Postseason Preview

2013

Another year under the new system and another thrilling result as the two-wild card system once again came down to the end of the year. The new system has been a successful one so far with plenty of drama near the end of the season. The system was created to do exactly that as they were hoping to create more competition at the end of the season and avoid the boring Septembers. The strategy has worked but it has also created something different in teams as they head towards the postseason. That something different is simply fear as teams have already learned to fear the Wild Card game. Unlike many leagues the MLB is using the Wild Cards to play a single game elimination. Most Wild Card spots are reserved so that teams do not have to win their division to make the playoffs. When someone wins the wild card spot they are thrown into the playoffs against the rest of the teams. In the MLB you now have to earn the right to be put into the playoffs as wild card teams are technically separate from the rest of the postseason teams. These two teams need to play one extra game to earn the right to make the playoffs as the thrill of the tiebreaker has been brought in to every season. The Wild Card game now strikes fear into the teams as it marks one of the most unpredictable and strange parts to the MLB season. Last year was the first test and would prove this thought after two games provided plenty of controversy. The games would go down to the wire and in baseball that is never a good thing when it comes to one game. Mistakes are made in baseball it is a simple fact and those mistakes can have a big impact on the game. Baseball is a game of precision as pitchers need to put their pitches in the exact position they want to get the batter out. Meanwhile the batter needs to decide if he should swing and where and how fast to swing his bat with only .1 of a second until the ball reaches him. Fielders need to react in a fraction of a second to make the proper play on the ball. All of these small adjustments and reactions make baseball the game that it is and are the reason why baseball plays series throughout the season. If any one of these adjustments is off a run could be scored or a chance to tie or win a game can escape players. With any of these adjustments changing a game the idea of having one game decide the fate of a team scares a lot of people. That is exactly what the MLB would do though as the Wild card game is a one game play-in game that can see anything happen. It begins unpredictability and drama to the postseason as any team can win and any team can lose for their chance to play in the rest of the postseason. It will be another thrilling year for the MLB postseason as the experiment continues and the Wild Card creates another chapter in the MLB postseason history. As for the rest of the postseason the stories will come and the games will be close once again as 10 teams fight it out after 182 games to find one champion for the 2013 World Series.

 

American League:

American-League

The American League was one of the best races to the end as the wild card spots went down to the last day of the season. The division leaders would not see as much of a challenge as many were determined before the last week of the season. It was the battle between the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, and the Tampa Bay Rays that highlighted the postseason race for the American League. In the end only two of the three teams could earn their spot in the postseason and that would be the Rays and Indians that would come out on top. The Indians would ride one of the longest winning streaks at the end of the season into the wild card spot. They would get some help from the Rangers and Rays who would slide at the end of the season. The Texas Rangers would fight for the West division until the beginning of September when they would begin a slide that sent them from potential division champions to out of the playoffs. Meanwhile the Rays would look solid until the last series of the season where they would drop 2 games to the Blue Jays and fall from the top wild card spot to the tiebreaker where David Price would pitch them into the postseason. The Rays would win this last game against the Blue Jays to solidify their spot in the postseason albeit just barely. The Oakland Athletics finished at the bottom among the division leaders after fighting with the Rangers for most of the season. The Rangers would benefit the A’s as they will make their second postseason appearance in as many years and look to start their time at the top of the West. The Detroit Tigers would advance to the postseason somewhat silently this year as they would do what everyone expected. Behind the best hitter in baseball, Miguel Cabrera, and a great pitching staff the Tigers would win the Central again and fend off a late surge from the Indians to return to the postseason. The Boston Red Sox were the team to beat this year in the AL as they would prove everyone wrong and win the AL. The Red Sox looked like a mess in 2012 and many believed that this would continue this year as the Sox had ways to go before becoming a competitor again. That was proven wrong pretty fast as the Red Sox would begin winning right away and continue to be consistent to sit at the top of one of the toughest divisions in the MLB. The American League postseason will see plenty of teams that have what it takes to win the World Series but it will be the one with the least amount of holes that will come out on top. When all is said and done it could very well come down to two veteran teams that are both look to recapture their former glory.

 

1. Boston Red Sox
Strength:  Power (Rank 1st in Slugging Percentage and in Doubles)
Weakness: Bullpen (Ranks 19th in the MLB Bullpen ERA)
What They Need to Do:
Get on teams early and don’t let games come down to a weak bullpen

2. Detroit Tigers
Strength:  Offence (Cabrera, Fielder, and Hunter help Detroit to the #1 team average in baseball)
Weakness: The Letdown (They are favorites but there were last year and fell apart in the finals)
What They Need to Do:
Forget about a bad performance last year and do what they do best by putting up points

3. Oakland Athletics
Strength:  Depth (Have enough batters in the lineup to provide no breaks for pitching staffs)
Weakness:  Playing the Best (This year against Detroit’s best the offence was shut down)
What They Need to Do:
Don’t let the best pitchers in the game intimidate and go out their making contact and frustrating pitchers

4. Cleveland Indians
Strength:  Their Hot (They have gone 9-1 in the last 10 games of the season)
Weakness:  No Power (Rank 10th in the league in HRs and have one player over 20 HRs on the year)
What They Need to Do:
Continue playing small ball successfully to earn runs without relying on a HR to win a game

5. Tampa Bay Rays
Strength:  Top of the Rotation (David Price and Alex Cobb are having great years)
Weakness: Stumbling in (7-3 in the last 10 games but lost two of their last three games)
What They Need to Do:
Get more out of the rest of their rotation to at least have four solid starters for the rest of the year 

 

Prediction:

AL Wild Card Game:
Cleveland Indians 2 – 1 Tampa Bay Rays
– The Indians are on fire right now and they will take that into the postseason as they will get past the Tampa Bay Rays who will not have enough time to get over the fact that they almost gave their postseason hopes away to the Blue Jays

AL Divisional Series:
Boston Red Sox 3 – 1 Cleveland Indians
– The Indians might be the hottest team going into the postseason for the AL this year but the Red Sox are just simply better as they will be able to expose the weakness of the Indians and shut them down while putting up plenty of runs

Detroit Tigers 3 – 0 Oakland Athletics
– The A’s took four games out of the seven in this season series but their losses were all to the best that the Tigers have and that is all they will see in this series as the dominant pitching staff led by Justin Verlander will shut down the A’s offence 

AL Conference Series:
Detroit Tigers 4 – 3 Boston Red Sox
– In a battle of the two titans in the American League this year there will be plenty to talk about as both have the offence to put up points and the pitching staff to shut down opponents but the Tigers have just that much more than the Red Sox and will win the very close 7-game series

 

National League:

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The National League would not have the battle that the American League had in terms of the postseason spots. Instead they would put on one of the tightest division races in the MLB this year with all three teams involved making the playoffs. The NL Central was packed with drama this year as the division would come down to the final week to determine who would stay out of the wild card game. In the end the veteran laden St. Louis Cardinals would come out on top leaving the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds to fight it out in the wild card. The Reds were the forgotten team in this battle but they would secure a spot in the wild card game. They would be out of the division battle sooner than the rest but they would still get their spot in the postseason under the radar. They will look to try to get some payback for their early exit last year and win a series. The Pittsburgh Pirates will look to stop them though as they hope to cap off their first winning season in 20 years with a World Series. The Pirates are the truest form of the underdog as they would go from a losing team to a playoff team and almost a division champion and hopefully a World Series Champion. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be looking to surprise many after they would look to be out of it before the race began. After a spending spree in the offseason the Dodgers became favorites to win the NL West but they would not start the way many thought. They would stumble out of the gate and look to be out of it but a mid-season surge led by rookie Yasiel Puig would put them into the postseason as the NL West champions. The St. Louis Cardinals would come out of one of the toughest battles in the season to take the NL Central. They will be back looking for another championship and take their second World Series in three years. The best team in the NL will look to stop that as the Atlanta Braves try to take their great regular season into the postseason. The Braves were not considered the best team in their division before the season but they would prove everyone wrong beating the Nationals and taking the top spot in the National League. The NL will have some solid teams this year as there are few holes in most of the team and the holes that are there can be overcome. The National League will see plenty of close games and close series as these teams will all have a shot at the World Series. The National League will be looking to one team to represent them and in the end it will come down to teams that have done it plenty of times.

 

1. Atlanta Braves
Strength:  Pitching Staff (Ranked #1 in the MLB in Team ERA and 2nd in WHIP)
Weakness:  Inconsistency (The offence is far from dependable as none of the stars are solid producers)
What They Need to Do:
Find out what lineup works best for the star offensive players and stick with it to produce consistently

2. St. Louis Cardinals
Strength:  Team Depth (There are more than enough impact pitchers and batters on the team)
Weakness: Aging Offence (The best offensive players might just fall off after another long season)
What They Need to Do:
Depend more on their young talent to keep their veterans fresh for a long run

3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Strength:  Starting Rotation (Led by Clayton Kershaw the Dodgers are scary with their first three)
Weakness:  Bullpen (Rankled 18th in ERA and 12th in opponent batting average)
What They Need to Do:
Let their starters take the brunt of the workload giving the bullpen less pressure

4. Pittsburgh Pirates
Strength:  Pitching Staff (They rank 2nd in the MLB in team ERA)
Weakness:  Offence (They rank 20th in the MLB in runs and 22nd in ERA)
What They Need to Do:
Offensive stars like Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, and Andrew McCutcheon need to step up 

5. Cincinnati Reds
Strength:  Solid Lineup (On offence there are few holes as every player can break open a game)
Weakness:  Big Question (Can Johnny Cueto lead the rotation only two games back from the DL)
What They Need to Do:
Play the underdog card and show that their depth, not their stars, can lead them to the win

 

Prediction 

NL Wild Card Game:
Cincinnati Reds 5 – 2 Pittsburgh Pirates
– The Pirates will come into the game with plenty of bandwagon fans hoping that the underdogs can take home a championship but they are just not built to withstand the offensive output that the Reds will provide even with a great pitching staff

NL Divisional Series:
Cincinnati Reds 3 – 2 Atlanta Braves
– The Braves are a great team and had a great regular season but they are not consistent enough to overcome the Reds’ pitching staff and their offence that will overcome a good pitching staff

Los Angeles Dodgers 3 – 2 St. Louis Cardinals
– The Cards and the Dodgers could be the best series of the postseason as both teams are going into the postseason with plenty to brag about but through it all the Dodgers will come through and surprise everyone by beating the Cards

NL Conference Finals:
Los Angeles Dodgers 4 – 2 Cincinnati Reds
– The Dodgers will be led by some young superstars and good veterans but above all their pitching will come out on top of the Reds as potential Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw will lead the way for the Dodgers to go to the World Series

2013 World Series
Detroit Tigers 4 – 2 Los Angeles Dodgers
– The Dodgers may go down as the best story of the postseason when they make it to the World Series but against the best offence in the league and one of the best pitching staffs the Dodgers will run out of magic as the Tigers make up for the sweep from 2012 and win the World Series

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