MLB Postseason begins
The MLB postseason is a wonderful time. For roughly the next three weeks, baseball’s best teams and players will battle it out for a chance to call themselves champions.
There will be games on almost every night, giving baseball fans who have been stuck watching the Padres a reason to rejoice.
There will be epic pitcher vs. hitter showdowns. There will be mammoth home runs and stellar defensive plays. There will be palpable edge-of-your seat drama, especially for those with allegiances to the West Coast, as four teams from the state of California qualified for the 2014 postseason.
On paper, the California teams with the best chances to win it all make their homes in the Los Angeles area. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim enjoyed one of their best seasons in franchise history, powered by a potent offense and a knack for comeback victories. Mike Trout delivered another phenomenal season, which will be rewarded with his first postseason appearance and a possible American League Most Valuable Player award.
Trout, who led the American League in runs scored and RBI, has also been boosted by the resurgence of three-time MVP Albert Pujols.
It will be crucial for the Angels’ starting pitchers to work deep into games to protect the team’s shaky bullpen unit. They say pitching wins championships, something Angel fans will hope to ignore as they ride their offensively-minded team into October.
In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers are making a strong case as a World Series favorite. Unlike their neighbors in Anaheim, the Dodgers boast one the league’s strongest groups of starting pitchers. Of course it doesn’t hurt that the rotation is headed by Clayton Kershaw, who just finished one of the best regular seasons by a pitcher in the illustrious history of Major League Baseball.
The Dodgers will hope to reach their first World Series since they last won it in 1988. Since then the team has come up just short under the bright lights of October, losing in the National League Championship Series in three of the last six seasons. The pieces are certainly there for the Dodgers to reverse this trend and bring home a sixth World Series crown to the City of Angels.
Outside of California there are still teams with a chance to capture an elusive World Series ring. In the American League the Detroit Tigers will hope to turn their fourth straight postseason appearance into a long-awaited championship. On paper the Tigers might contain the most star power of any team in the league, led by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez as well as a trio of former Cy Young Award winning pitchers.
On the National League side of things, the powerhouse St. Louis Cardinals and the upstart Washington Nationals represent the best teams outside the Golden State. In St. Louis, where the residents have been treated to playoff baseball in seven of the last ten seasons, the Cardinals will field a roster of playoff veterans like Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday.
Another World Series appearance would quietly give the Cardinals five in the last decade and launch them into the same conversation with the San Antonio Spurs for the title of most underappreciated sports franchise. The Nationals are built a little differently, as they will start a group of players with much less postseason experience.
One of the best things about baseball’s postseason is the unpredictable nature of it. Other sports like basketball and football always say it, but in the MLB postseason truly anything can happen. One bad pitch here or defensive miscue there can be the difference between moving on to the next round and going home for the winter. Regardless of who comes out on top, the playoffs surely will not disappoint. So buckle up and enjoy the ride, we’re in for some wonderful entertainment over the next couple of weeks.
World Series prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers over Detroit Tigers