Thursday, October 4, 2012

The MLB Postseason Slant for 2012 - Halloween Havoc

I'm reppin' the WCW just because I'm unoriginal.

I guess WWE owns this logo now. Thanks, you guys.

Sweet baby Jesus. Did ANY of you guys bother watching baseball despite the fact that there is so much more going on with the NFL and NHL? I salute you! You have obviously watched a ridiculously close AL West race, a crazy-amazing NL Wild Card chase, and a hullabaloo of players striving for the top titles in MLB. Yesterday we saw Miguel Cabrera become the first man in 35 years to with the Triple Crown (AVG, HR, RBI) in the American League and watched the Oakland Athletics beat the odds and win the AL West despite having a pretty darned low payroll. Oh, we've had fireworks indeed. After numerous changing of the guards in the leagues (as well as some dismissals of managers), we're back in postseason in good 'ole October fashion. The question is, are we ready?

2012 MLB Postseason

You can actually tell this season that the first half might have been slow for a lot of these teams this year. The second half had a lot of twists and turns, and for the first time in a while, we have two teams in a division that has lost more than 100 games. Have fun in the AL West, Astros! Ha. Anyway, let's take a look at the now ten teams that are fighting for a spot for glory. I didn't forget about the individual winners, you sillies. I'll make my predictions there too.

National League Contenders

Washington Nationals (98-64) - Being a person with a team in the NL East, writing this team's name was incredibly weird to write. Why? In the past six seasons before, they never really had a legitimate chance due to every team that isn't the [Miami] Marlins. Now, with a strong starting rotation (where's Stephen?) and some flashy bats from ROY candidate Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Roger Bernadina, and many more, this now healthy squad is looking to make leaps and bounds in their first postseason since their rebirth as the Nationals. And, like I've been saying for quite a while, old Expos fans are still crying.

Cincinnati Reds (97-65) - I have legitimately never doubted Dusty Baker's squad since 2010. I'm serious. These guys look good all around the field. Their pitching staff is as dangerous as ever, and we've got great utility and situation hitting coming from all ends of the park (Joey Votto, yes. Brandon Phillips, yes.) What's amazing is is the fact that their staff has stayed healthy for the most part this season. Hopefully that's no reason for them to burn out in the first round.

San Francisco Giants (94-68) - These guys made me extremely nervous in the first half. They just didn't look like they were going to get anywhere with the injuries and other issues plaguing the team. Buster Posey picked up where he left off before last year's disaster and is putting up MVP-like numbers, and the fielding has been crisp and precise enough to keep opposing hitters at bay. Oh, and that Matt Cain guy? He's a threat. I'd like to see him pitch a lot in October.

[Wild Card] Atlanta Braves (94-68) - Quite poetic, if you ask me. They make the Wild Card in Bobby Cox's last season as manager and they're back in a Wild Card spot in Chipper Jones' last season in the hot corner. The question is, will it be different? The offense and the pitching work in great harmony game in and game out, so even though they don't look like they're the strongest team on paper, don't let that fool you. They could give plenty of beatings this month if they advance out of the Wild Card round.

[Wild Card 2] St. Louis Cardinals (88-74) - Oooohhhh it's the comeback kids! After their underdog World Series title win, they're back here with pretty much the same squad in looks (no Pujols to be seen here) and in feel. Only difference is, the management is slightly different, and the fact that they're back again even under new management is impressive enough. Guys like Matt Holliday and Kyle Lohse are having impressive seasons and look to lead these guys to a repeat. Let's just hope the guys above them don't prevent that from happening.

American League Contenders

New York Yankees (95-67) - Again. Anti-Yankees fans, they're never going away. There's Jeter, there's Cano, there's Swisher, there's Sabathia. C'mon, it's getting kind of hard to write about these guys because what they're doing is effective and that's why they can keep coming back. Even with Mariano-saurus out of the equation this year, they haven't collapsed. This is just more for anti-Yankee fans to hate this team even more.

Detroit Tigers (88-74) - Man, I don't know about these guys. They'll probably surprise me, but their squads need to play more in sync with each other. Prince Fielder has had a major resurgence and Miggy Cabrera has solidified himself as the monster of this team, and Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have been workhorses for the team. I'm serious. They need to surprise me and make it to the next round unscathed for me to take their Central win seriously.

Oakland Athletics (94-68) - Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill did not get these guys here. Money didn't get them here, either. I know, that's cliche of me to say, but that's what makes this so impressive. Most of the men on this team aren't big-named players and even some of them were dumped by bigger teams because they weren't given the proper chance. Frankly, I'd love to see these guys shut some people up. They could do it too. Their pitching is great (Keep getting better, Brandon!) and their hitting is literally hitting the peak of their stride. I like their chances.

[Wild Card] Baltimore Orioles (93-69) - You can rub your eyes all you want. These guys are in postseason for the first time in what seems like literally forever. Forever as in about 15 years when Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. still played for the team and a bunch of losing seasons dwelling in the basement with the Tampa Bay [Devil] Rays. Their bullpen is effective and their clutch hitting is pretty stellar. I'd wanna see this team do incredibly well even though there may be some jitters that will come with the territory.

[Wild Card 2] Texas Rangers (93-69) - Well, even if the Second Wild Card didn't exist, there'd still be a one-game playoff for these guys. After their "collapse," for the lack of a better term, these guys shouldn't be counted out even though the A's had caught up to them. Their overall staff if still relatively strong and has a lot of playoff experience compared to a lot of the other teams in the playoffs this year (no, really, they do). Lack of sync between squad may be an issue, and if it's gonna come down to a one-game playoff, they need to work as a team. What's gonna work? Teeeeamwork.


Individual Winners

NL MVP - Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants) - If you're looking for a good comeback story, look no further. After suffering a massive broken ankle last year, he's been the most effective player in the National League all year. A constant threat in front of the plate and behind the plate, he's a shoo-in for this year's honor.
Next best possible candidate: Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates)

NL Cy Young - R.A. Dickey (New York Mets) - This guy has been absolutely impressive this year. As the lone knuckleballer in the major leagues, he's been doing what men of his craft do best: screwing up every swing possible. He made a lot of the Mets games fun to watch this year, and even though there were a lot of ups and downs in the team this year, he's a good candidate for the award this year.
Next best possible candidate: Gio Gonzalez (Washington Nationals)

NL Rookie of the Year - Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) - This was a tough prediction. Although he has the temper of a teenager and--wait, he still kind of is a teenager, isn't he? Never mind. He's got a spark and a knack for playing good ball, and he's proved all of that in his rookie season. Grant it, I love Wade Miley too, but they rarely ever give a non-pitching award to a pitcher unless if they're Justin Verlander or something.
Next best possible candidate: Todd Frazier (Cincinnati Reds)

AL MVP - Robinson Cano (New York Yankees) - Yes, children, I'm picking a dark horse to win this. He's having arguably the best season of his career and not giving him any sort of mention would be kind of awkward on other people's parts. Sure, you've got Miguel Cabrera winning the triple crown, but you've got Cano who has also been a stellar infielder making great plays along with his excellent hitting feats. Postseason could actually help his cause too. Who knows?
Next best possible candidate: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) [Yeah I went there.]

AL Cy Young - Fernando Rodney (Tampa Bay Rays) - I know I'm not going to get away with just saying he has a 0.60 ERA and is one of the most effective closers in the game today. But really, he hasn't been the strongest-looking of pitchers, which makes this prediction a strange one for most people. He has the power of Aroldis Chapman (an NL CY candidate) but the age and record of a pitcher on the downturn of his career. Weird, right? Not really. This could be the sign of good things to come for him, this being the first step.
Next best possible candidate: Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers) [Sue me.]

AL Rookie of the Year - Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) - One word: DUHHHHHH. I really don't think I need to explain the inhuman season this boy (YES, a boy, he's younger than me, for Pete's sake) has had for this team. He's garnished more talk about the accomplishments he's made more than most of the other players in the running for any other award presented this year. Could he be MVP? I don't necessarily know if he should be put in the same conversation yet, but he's definitely the man with the plan this year.
Next best possible candidate: In paraphrasing Bryce Harper, this is a clown statement, bro.


That about does it for me. It felt weird not trying to avoid bias since the Phillies aren't in the playoffs this year. In any case, this should be an interesting October, and I'm looking forward to watching everything unfold beginning tomorrow.

See you at the end, baseball fans.