Well, here we are, heading into the first week of the baseball playoffs. The 162 game season is behind us and there are ten teams left in what baseball has termed the hunt for October. Of course, eight of those teams will get to October. The real hunt is for the World Series and only two of them will get to that.
The World Series is scheduled to start in the American League winners park on October 21 and, if it goes seven games, end there on October 29. In between, Games 3, 4 and 5, if needed, will be played in the National League winners park.
According to my somewhat educated reasoning, that would mean that the weather could be a factor for Games 6 & 7, if they are needed, because they will be played in the American League Park. Accuweather.com predicts that the high temperature in Detroit on those days will be 61 and 62 degrees with a low of 47 and 46, not exactly as balmy as the weather in Los Angeles where they predict it will be a high of 79 to 83 and a low of 61 to 63 for Games 3, 4 and 5, more comfortable baseball weather in parks where the game is played outside.
I guess by now, if you are any kind of a baseball fan, you have figured out that I expect the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers to be in this year’s World Series. Why these two? Why even try to make an educated guess at this point? After all, anything can happen especially in the short, five game, Division Series, where one bad game can spell the difference between going to the World Series and going home.
The reasons for my choices are simple. In the case of the Dodgers, they are Clayton Kershaw, Zack Grenke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dan Haren, and, with the Tigers, Max Scherzer, David Price, Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello.
Kershaw and Grenke are probably the best one two pitching punch in baseball today. Kershaw just completed a 21-3 season with an ERA of 1.77 and will most likely be the Cy Young winner, for the third time. Grenke was 16-8 with a 2.74 ERA. Both have considerable post season experience, Kershaw in nine games and Grenke in six. Then, of course, there’s Hyun-Jin Ryu, 14-7 with a 3.38 ERA and Dan Haren, 13-11 with a 4.03 ERA.
If their pitching doesn’t do it, they have one of the most potent offenses in baseball with Adrian Gonzalez, 26 homers, 113 RBI’s, Matt Kemp, 24 homers, 87 RBI’s, Yasiel Puig, .296 with 16 homers, 69 RBI’s and Hanley Ramirez, .283 with 13 homers and 71 RBI’s in 130 games. Add in Carl Crawford .300 with 23 stolen bases, Juan Uribe, .311 in 103 games and Dee Gordon, .286. The only weak spot in the lineup is catcher A. J. Ellis.
The Tigers’ Verlander, Price and Scherzer of course are the last three American League Cy Young winners. They are all big game pitchers. Scherzer was 18-5 with a 3.19 ERA, Price, 14-12, 3.36 ERA, and Verlander 15-12, 4.54 ERA. If that’s not enough, there’s Rick Porcello, 15-12 with a 3.31 ERA. They’re good enough that their fifth starter, Anibal Sanchez, 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA, coming off an injury will be in the bullpen.
Their offense, led by designated hitter/first baseman,Victor Martinez, having the best year of his great career, who hit .335 with 32 homers and 103 RBI’s and Miguel Cabrera, having for him an off year, hit .313 with 25 homers and 109 RBI’s, is just as potent as the Dodgers. Second baseman, Ian Kinsler, hit .275 with 17 homers and 92 RBI’s, left fielder J. D. Martinez, in 120 games, hit .315 with 23 homers and 76 RBI’s, right fielder Torii Hunter hit .286 with 17 homers and 83 RBI’s and then there’s Rajai Davis, the center fielder, who hit .282 but more importantly, stole 36 bases.
Well, what about the Washington Nationals, easy winners in the National League East, with Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Jordan Zimmerman, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez or the Los Angeles Angels with the best record in baseball and Jered Weaver, C. J. Wilson, and Matt Shoemaker. These are both strong staffs but they don’t have the power pitchers or the deep lineups the Dodgers and Tigers bring to the table.
It is often said that good pitching beats good hitting. In the Playoffs, it’s the best pitching against the best hitting in all of baseball. In football, they say that, once a pass is thrown, three things can happen, two of them bad for the passing team. In baseball, once a ball is hit in fair territory, three things can happen, two of them bad for the defense. It can be handled by the defense for an out, it can be mishandled by the defense and the runner is safe or it can fall safely either inside or outside the ballpark.
Obviously, it is better for the defense if the ball is not hit into fair territory. In other words, it is desirable for the ball not to be put into play. The Sabermetrics people have their WAR, OPS and other factors they consider in making predictions. I have my OOPs factor. OUT OF PLAY. How do you keep a ball out of play? Strikeouts!!
The Dodgers top pitchers, Kershaw and Grenke, averaged 1.11 strikeouts per inning this year. The Tigers Scherzer and Price, 1.12. On the other hand, the Nats Strasburg, Zimmerman and Fister averaged .901 and the Angels Weaver and Wilson just .823.
The other six teams don’t appear to have the ability to make a serious run at the Series. However, neither did the Red Sox last year at this time. As I said before, in a short series anything can happen. So, if the Tigers and Dodgers are not in the World Series and two other teams are, REMEMBER, they were my second choice, whoever they are.