Who Will Win The 2013 World Series? Here's My Take
The Indians were the hottest team in September, going 21-6 in the final month of the season, and ending the regular season on a 10 game winning streak to storm from behind and win the first wild card spot and assure themselves of home field in the Wild Card game. Their finish was so strong that no one has mentioned how the Indians fell only one game behind the Detroit Tigers in the race for the AL Central division title. They say that all you need once you reach the playoffs is to be hot and that's exactly what the Indians are, so you can in no way count them out,although my pick won't exactly back that statement up and I'll explain why. The Rays were also good in September, finishing the month with a 17-12 record and going 9-2 in their final 11, including the game 163 in Texas. Those two losses almost ended up being costly to the Rays though, as they were in the final series of the season in Toronto and they only had a one game lead on Cleveland for the first wild card spot going into Toronto and ended up coughing up that first wild card spot and almost choked the second wild card spot away had they not won the series finale against the Blue Jays.
I'm purposely making my 2013 MLB playoff picks after the NL Wild Card game and before the AL Wild Card game because I felt as though my NLDS picks could be different depending on the outcome of the Pirates vs Reds game, but that my ALDS pick wouldn't be any different no matter if the Rays or Indians win the AL Wild Card game. There's another obvious hint at one of my ALDS picks and that's where I'll get started with my picks. So without further ado, here are my 2013 MLB playoff picks.
AL Wild Card Game: Tampa Bay Rays over Cleveland Indians 7-3 - I believe the Rays pull this out because of all the postseason experience they have over the last few years and because they have one of the best managers in the game who game plans better then anyone else. They're also throwing out another young stud from their rotation, Alex Cobb, who has been excellent this season and has performed down the stretch. I don't like the fact that the Indians will start Danny Salazar, who is a rookie that only made 10 starts this season in a winner-take-all playoff game when he isn't in the top three of the Indians' starting pitchers, in my opinion. I understand Justin Masterson is overcoming an injury, but how could you not work your rotation around to get Ubaldo Jimenez (who is pitching lights out lately) or Scott Kazmir (who has had a really solid 2013 campaign and is a long time veteran) the ball in this crucial game? As hot as the Indians are, I gotta ride with the Rays, who do everything right. Sorry Cleveland!
ALDS: Boston Red Sox over Tampa Bay Rays in four games (3-1) - The Boston Red Sox went from last in the AL East in 2012 to the best record in the American League in 2013 thanks to a great offense and a much improved rotation. The Red Sox bolster four starters that you can pitch in a big game if you need them (Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, and John Lackey) and an offense that can match up with any other offense. Lester had a dominant second half of the season, Peavy has pitched very well since he was acquired from the White Sox in July, Buchholz has been dominant in all starts even after missing the middle of the season with a neck injury, and Lackey has had a great year coming off of Tommy John surgery. The offense is revamped thanks to the additions of Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, who had come up with big hits all season, alongside the usual beasts in that lineup already, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. You put those guys together with young kids like Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, and Mike Carp, plus role players like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew, and you got a very good looking offense. The bullpen has been solid as well. Tampa will be coming off a tough September and two very crucial winner-take-all games and will be in Boston for games one and two and I just think that will all take its toll on them as much as they never give up. This Boston team is just too strong and will be well rested.
ALDS: Detroit Tigers over Oakland A's in four games (3-1) - Before the season began I had picked the Detroit Tigers to win the 2013 World Series in seven games over the Washington Nationals. Obviously my Nationals pick in the NL was way wrong, but I still like my AL pick a lot and will be sticking with them. Detroit bolsters the best rotation of all the playoff teams in my opinion, and have a rotation that is perfectly built for a playoff series. When you have a 20+ game winner going in game one, a former Cy Young AND MVP winner in game two, a young strikeout innings eating machine in game three, and then another pitcher who would be some teams' game two starter going into the playoffs, you have a great rotation. As shocking (at least to me) and great the offense has been this year for Oakland, I just can't see them doing damage to the Tigers' rotation of Scherzer, Verlander, Sanchez, and Fister. Plus, behind Bartolo Colon, I don't see this A's rotation being as good as last years when they took the Tigers to five games in the ALDS. The Tigers offense just got back Johnny Peralta from the biogenesis suspension, to go with an already great lineup that consists of the likely AL MVP in Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez, Omar Infante, Torii Hunter, and Peralta's replacement at shortstop, Jose Iglesias. This lineup is very experienced and knows what it's like to play in the World Series after having been there in 2012. Although Oakland finished with a better regular season record than Detroit, I don't think their strong enough to beat them in a playoff series.
NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers over Atlanta Braves in three games (3-0) - I bet this is the biggest shocker to you guys, but this wouldn't really surprise me. The Dodgers boast a star powered offense that I believe is the best in the NL playoffs and a three headed monster at the top of the rotation in Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu. I also like some of the developments in their bullpen too. I think with Atlanta's offense having so many high number strikeout guys and the Dodgers having guys who know all about strikeouts, it's a recipe for disaster for Atlanta's offense. And with the Braves not having anyone of big notice in their rotation against a tough to beat offense, I don't like their chances even more of beating LA. I see Kershaw and Greinke doing their thing on the road to start the series against Medlen and Minor, respectively, and Ryu, the home field, and the inexperience of Julio Teheran being too much for Atlanta in game three at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers and their star studded team take their show to the NLCS in convincing fashion.
NLDS: St.Louis Cardinals over Pittsburgh Pirates in five games (3-2) - After a thrilling NL Wild Card game victory over the Reds, the fun ends in the NLDS for the Pirates. With a few days off, a red hot rotation and one of the best bullpens in the game, the Cardinals stop the Pirates' party with all that pitching they have. I would've had this series going four games had Allen Craig been healthy, but without one of their best hitters, the Cards suffer just a bit to have this series go the distance. I believe the home team wins every game of this series as well. As good as the Pirates' pitching has been all year and the new acquisitions to their lineup, I just think the Cardinals' pitching is just that much better and is what will have them go deep into the playoffs, if they get deep. Their offense is very good as always but when Allen Craig went down with the foot injury, that was a big loss and hurts them. Craig had become one of their leaders, but with the emergence of Matt Carpenter (.318 AVG, 11 HR's, 78 RBI's, .392 OBP, .481 SLUG, .873 OPS, and an amazing 6.6 WAR) this year and the usual guys like Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Matt Holliday there, this offense won't slip enough for the Pirates to get into the NLCS. It was a fun ride for the Pirates this year and hopefully they can build off it next year, but the Cardinals aren't going down just yet.
ALCS: Detroit Tigers over Boston Red Sox in seven games (4-3) - The two most complete teams in the AL go head-to-head in the ALCS and I will stand by my preseason pick of Detroit. I just love that rotation too much to go against it and that offense is ridiculous, but I'm sure some of you would say that about Boston too, and I couldn't totally argue with you, but I just see this Detroit team as just a bit more powerful and they will only excel off of last years World Series appearance. As good as a playoff rotation of Lester-Peavy-Buchholz-Lackey is, I like Scherzer-Verlander-Sanchez-Fister more and can't see a reason to go against it. Great turnaround season from the Red Sox though, that's for sure.
NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers over St.Louis Cardinals in seven games (4-3) - Another exciting LCS as the Dodgers prevail over the Cardinals thanks to a healthier, tougher, well rested offense and the two aces at the top of their rotation. This Cardinals team is well managed and fights through every play, so they will in no way be an easy elimination. The Cards are praying that Allen Craig will be back for this series, but if anything he'll be back for the World Series, if they make it. I just find it too hard to go against a rotation that has the likely NL Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw and a former AL Cy Young winner in Zack Greinke, and an offense that boasts Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford. Too much power pitching and power offense in my book.
WORLD SERIES: Detroit Tigers over Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games (4-3) - I guarantee that if this is the 2013 World Series, it will go down as one of the greatest ever. Two great rotations and two heavyweight offenses going punch for punch for the biggest prize in the sport? I wanna see it right now! Just think of the pitching possibilities, Kershaw-Scherzer, Kershaw-Verlander, Kershaw-Sanchez, Greinke against either of those guys. The possibilities are endless and two of the best offenses in the sport going against those really great pitchers only makes for better television, story telling, and baseball. Who wants to see Miguel Cabrera vs Clayton Kershaw? Who wants to see Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez, and Hanley Ramirez vs Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander? I know I do and that's why this series will go the distance and will be an instant classic. Detroit gets the edge because of their rotation being deeper, them having home field, and having the best hitter on the planet, with a tremendous supporting cast around him. These two teams are very similar with the great rotations, offenses, and then their inconsistent bullpens, so you'd have to expect seven great games and a heavyweight bout. I love this match up and I don't see anyone stopping these two teams from making the World Series.