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Baseball Playoff Overview!     Share

06 October 2010

Joseph  Mauer catcher for the Minnesota Twins

The playoffs start on Wednesday and this is the most even the teams have been in a long time.  The Phillies seem to be a full step ahead of everyone else.  The rest of the teams are very close together and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will emerge from the best-of-five Division Series.

Starting in 1995, Major League Baseball has had a Wild Card in each league and three division winners in the playoffs.  This makes eight teams left to fight for the World Series Championship.  The winners of the last two World Series, Yankees and Phillies, are both in the playoffs.  The Phillies lost to the Yankees last year and the Rays (also still in it) lost to the Phillies the year before.

National League Series Previews:

Reds versus Phillies: (Prediction: Phillies in 3 games)
This is the most lopsided of all the series.  The Phillies have three top-notch starting pitchers, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, who are probably among the top 15 starters in all of baseball.  The Phillies have also been to the last two World Series, so they know what they’re doing, which always helps in the pressure packed playoffs. 

The Reds aren’t bumbling idiots, but they’ve got to really step up the offense, which is their strong suit.  In the playoffs pitching almost always wins, so they’re up against some tough odds. 

Braves versus Giants: (Prediction: Giants in 4 games)
The Braves are clinging to life at this point.  Both teams earned a playoff spot on the final day of the season.  The Giants’ win actually secured the Braves their Wild Card berth.  The Giants came on strong in September to overtake the self-destructing Padres and boast a strong pitching staff.  Tim Lincecum, who looks more like a character from Dazed and Confused than a Major League Star, is a bona fide star pitcher.  (Ironically enough Lincecum came up hot for marijuana usage last year.)  The Braves lack that star pitcher and are hoping for good things from a couple of older starters.  

American League Series Previews:

Yankees versus Twins: (Prediction: Twins in 5 games)
The only hope for the free world is that the Twins can overcome the loss of Justin Morneau and rise to the occasion against the slumping Yankees.  Over the past two months, the Yankees have just been hanging on.  They ended up as the Wild Card, but their playoff chances were never really in question, so it’s hard to say how hard they were trying.  The biggest thing they have going for them is that they’re the Yankees.  They play big games all the time and are the defending World Series Champions.  They are a team stacked with post-season veterans, including the best closer of all time, Mariano Rivera

The Twins on the other hand, are younger and rely on playing a solid, conservative game of baseball.  The scouting report on most of their pitchers is that they don’t beat themselves, meaning they aren’t the most talented, but they’re generally smart about their pitchers.  Their lineup is nice and balanced with successful players from top to bottom and not really one guy to focus on. 

Rangers versus Rays: (Prediction: Rays in 4 games) 
A few years ago it would have been crazy to say the Rays are the team with playoff experience to rely on, but now it’s true.  In 2008, the Rays won a critical Game 7 matchup to get to the World Series, before losing to the Phillies in the Series.  Most of the players from that run are still with the team and are looking to get back to the World Series.  The Rays played better than any other American League playoff team down the stretch.  David Price is a star pitcher and their relief pitchers look very strong going into October.  The Rays are fun team to watch who will use their speed to generate some extra runs.

The Rangers haven’t been in the playoffs since 1999.  Josh Hamilton is their start.  When he is on a hot streak, it is very dangerous to pitch to him.  They have a very strong lineup and their pitching is better than most give them credit for.  They made a mid-season deal to acquire Cliff Lee and he is anchoring an adequate staff.

Check back daily for updates on all things baseball! 

Send comments to: Mike@notasportsguy.com

The Basics

Baseball is  has been labeled "America's Pastime" because during the late 19th and early 20th century it was the most widely played sport in the country. More...

Terminology:

Magic number: the combined number of wins (by the top team) and losses (by the bottom team) until the bottom team is mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this season.  This number is seen in parenthesis in the standing next to the second or third place teams.

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