2015 MLB Postseason Preview

2013__mlb_world_series-event-2015The MLB postseason is here and so is a great opportunity for someone to take control and enter the long list of legendary postseason performances.

The postseason is a time when legends are created and when a player goes from just another member of the team to a hero.

It seems to happen every year whether it comes from one moment that changes a franchise to an entire postseason that takes a player to another level.

It is the most important time of the season and the most intense scrutiny that any team will face during a season.

There are fewer games but more people watching as every move made is talked about and one play can mean the difference in winning a World Series or falling out of the postseason early.

It is in these times when the pressure is at its greatest that players either step up or fall apart.

This is the time when Reggie Jackson became one of the greatest players ever.

He was already a great player who provided plenty of offence for the Yankees in the 1970s and ‘80s but when he got to October it was a different level.

He consistently came up with big runs at big times and earned the nickname thanks to his those performances.baseball-sidebar

Not too long after the Yankees found another man who always seemed to come up with big hits at big times in October.

Although Derek Jeter had plenty of nicknames when it came to the postseason some knew him as Mr. November for his proficiency in the extended postseason that usually went to the early part of November.

His ability to come through in the clutch, or rather stay great even when the pressure was on, made him a legend among himself.

The great performances were not limited to the Yankees though as there was the 2011 postseason put together by Nelson Cruz who hit eight home runs throughout the postseason.

There is Darin Erstad who had 25 hits, an MLB record, throughout the postseason and the main whose record he tied, Marquis Grissom.

Even last year someone put their name into the legends column of the postseason players.

Madison Bumgarner had one of the best postseasons by a pitcher in the history of the MLB. He was the main reason why the San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year.

Bumgarner started in six games from the Wild Card until the World Series and only lost one. He pitched a total of 52.2 innings with an ERA of 1.03, a WHIP of 0.65 while striking out 45 and only walking six batters.

It was a postseason for the ages and Bumgarner will forever be connected to it even after he retires.

A new postseason is here and it provides all of the Bumgarners, Erstads, Jacksons, Jeters, and Grissoms a chance to put their names among the many who have made an impact.

Who that will be remains a mystery but someone will emerge and make an impact with all fans hoping that it is someone from their teams that will be the one.

That opportunity is about to arrive and every baseball fan will be watching closely as the final march towards the World Series begins and every team looks to take home the main prize.

American-League

The American League seemed to break up the rule of the National League two years ago when the Boston Red Sox sat on top of the baseball world. It didn’t last very long though as the NL was back on top the very next year. Still last year the AL brought one of the best stories to the postseason when the Kansas City Royals broke the longest active postseason drought in the league. They barely made it by making it into the wild card but that was all they needed as they took the opportunity and moved through the AL into the World Series. They fell just short but had been easily the best story in the 2014 postseason as their remarkable run took most of the headlines. This year the Royals proved that it was no fluke as they rose to the top of the league from the start of the season. The entire league was a battle though as the Royals were the only team to easily take their division, even if they had to fight for the top spot in the AL. The Central was not much competition for last year’s pennant winners thanks to their defence and small-ball that brought them to the World Series last year. That wasn’t the case in the East or the West as both divisions came down to a tight battle that both finished in the last week of the season. In the East the Yankees looked like the team to beat all season with every other team struggling to find any sustained success. Then the trade deadline arrived and the Toronto Blue Jays loaded up to begin the best second half of the season in the MLB. The Blue Jays charged to the top of the AL East on the back of the best offence in the MLB and an improved pitching staff. They took the division crown in the last week of the season and broke a 22-year postseason drought that became the longest active drought a year before when the Royals clinched their wild card spot. The Yankees fell off at the end and couldn’t keep up with the Blue Jays but remained a strong team to earn a wild card spot and home field advantage in the wild card game. The West was even closer than that as the Houston Astros seemed to be the easy winners at the start of the year. The young team that was expected to come alive in a few years had suddenly become a team to watch and they continue that pattern all year. That was until the end when the Texas Rangers began to come back from a terrible start to the season. The Rangers pushed the Astros who had fallen off from their great start until they found themselves almost out of the postseason. The Rangers clinched the division on the last day while the Astros did the same taking the last wild card spot. If the regular season was any indication this postseason should be an interesting one as every team has fought until the end to get where they are and none are guaranteed to move into the World Series.

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They are the kings of small-ball as they hold one of the best team averages in the league but they are far from the team they were last year coming into the season without the momentum of 2014.

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They are by far the best offence in the league but their starting pitching is a mystery and their bullpen has blown too many games.

They are a clutch team that comes up with big hits at great times but if teams can shut down their top guys they don’t have anyone left.

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They have one of the best offences in the league and great bullpen but they head into the postseason not playing up to their usual level.

Their power ranks only second to the Jays and they have a devastating rotation but they can’t seem to put it all together when they play on the road.

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National-League

The National League is the reigning champion in the World Series but one of their sure bets will not make an appearance this year. The San Francisco Giants have won three of the last five World Series and have proven to be one of the best franchises in the MLB. Yet this year they did what they always seem to do after a World Series, disappear. They tried to make a run at the wild card and the division but fell short in both respects missing the postseason for another year. The NL doesn’t need to fear though as they have the franchise that everyone wants to be back and ready to take another title for the NL. The St. Louis Cardinals were one of only two teams to win a World Series not named the Giants in the last five years and they have done it through building a great system. They rarely have bad years as their farm system is the best in the league because no matter who leaves from year to year they have someone to replace them. The Cards sat on top of the league for the entire year but they weren’t the only dominant team in the NL this year with a race that paled in comparison to the AL. The American League came down to the last week while the National League was far simpler to figure out. The Cardinals clinched a spot in the postseason two weeks ago as they remained the best team in the league from the beginning of the season. Their mix of pitching and offence once again led them to rule the National League. The rest of the central followed suit though as the Pittsburgh Pirates and a rebuilt Chicago Cubs were better than most teams but couldn’t catch the Cards. For their efforts they made the postseason with the Pirates continuing their rise and the Cubs making good on the promises they made when they had one of the most exciting off-seasons in the league. In the East the Mets surprised everyone by overtaking the Nationals and the Braves from the start of the season and they never looked back. Despite a mid-season dip they gathered themselves adding a key offensive piece that put them back in first where they stayed until the end of the year. The West was much the same but less of a surprise as the Dodgers took over from the start and despite having to wait for the last week clinched the division overcoming the defending champs. The National League was not nearly as tight a race as the AL but that doesn’t mean the postseason won’t be good. These teams are all dominant and when really good teams meet it creates fireworks. Expect that this year as some very good teams will face-off and not all can make it to the end in what could be a very close few series. In the end it will be the old guard or the new rising team that will make it as the NL is full of both and the advantages and disadvantages will shine through.

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They are the most experienced team in the postseason regardless of league as they are used to the pressure but they will need to overcome some major injuries to find their way back to the World Series.
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Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are the best pitching duo in the game but they will need to make up for some big injuries. It’s the best young pitching corps in the game and it is deep but the offence may struggle especially with a banged up Yoenis Cespedes.
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Timely hitting and a shut-down bullpen are the Pirates’ strengths but they have struggled against their own division this year. Joe Maddon can create wins from the dugout but they are a very young team that has shown their age throughout the season.

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2015 World Series:

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The Royals return to the World Series for the second year in a row after coming through a tough group in the American League but they will run into another dominant franchise. Unlike the Giants from a year ago the Cardinals have yet to stumble and came into the postseason as the best team in the league. The Royals weren’t far off finishing second in the MLB but it a different way. The Royals don’t have a lot of power and are not a dominant pitching team but are great at what they do, playing defence and small ball. The Cardinals are not necessarily great in anything but they are good in everything as there are few true weaknesses from this team. As a result the Cardinals take the title for another year while the Royals fall just short for the second year in a row.

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