Monday, September 29, 2014

The MLB Postseason Slant for 2014 - No, Your Eyes Aren't Mess Up

October baseball. I already have Andy Williams cued up in my head, in case you were wondering. Here's to another awesome postseason, my friends.

If you follow me on Twitter, I've said it a million times that this year has gone by so fast and I feel like it should still be May. But no, the bus won't stop. Because once you hit your 20's, you're 35 by next Tuesday. Because of that, we're already hitting the strides of the NFL season, and now this:

2014 MLB Postseason

Well, now that we've got all of the #RE2PECT stuff out of the way (which, all in all, was a great gesture) in regard to the now-retired Derek Jeter (don't forget that Paul Konerno retired too, you guys), we've made it to the 2014 MLB Postseason. Last year's World Series champs, the Boston Red Sox, are nowhere to be seen. In fact, they actually finished dead last in the AL East. My, how the times have changed.

Admittedly, this was my face while reading last year's Postseason Slant.
So basically, we're in for a boatload of surprises. Remember, when you read this, you might come to expect a lot of things. There may be others in which you do this. You have been warned. Let's get started.

National League Contenders

Washington Nationals (96-66) - These guys are a high-octane, momentum-driven team with a strong pitching rotation and some fireworks in the heart of the lineup. Okay, I'll be honest...they seriously ran away with this one this year because they had no competition in the NL East whatsoever. I digress. They've earned their record, and their star power can get them places.
(I'm still waiting for Jayson Werth to cut his hair. I seriously don't think he's touched it since he left the Phillies. True story.)

St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) - After an expected slugfest in the NL Central, they're back for more. The pitching is as tough as ever, and their collective experience in the postseason is really going to come in handy as far as their next opponents in the team mentioned below here. Patience and taking things one game at a time is important here. Wanting their second ring in four seasons is their destination, and they're the team to push to that limit. Yadier Molina has to set the tone for this team like he usually does.

Los Angeles Dodgers (94-68) - With a rather-stacked lineup in tow, it comes as no big shock that they've made it back here for the second straight season. With a fearsome rotation holding guys like Kershaw, Ryu, and Greinke, you're bound to see some low-scoring games. With absolute strength in a hard-hitting offense with some speedy assets, we're bound to hear a bunch of Randy Newman this October. I actually went to a game of theirs this year too, so pfft.
[Note: Once I get issues with the SNB e-mail straightened out, I'll be able to access Flickr and get those photos up from that game. It was good times.]

[Wild Card] Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74) - They fought hard for this spot this year, and since they were here last year as well, they're not going to settle for anything less. Led by 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen and an always scary-looking pitching staff, it looks like Pittsburgh fans will have something to cheer for when the Steelers don't show up to their games.
[Wild Card 2] San Francisco Giants (88-74) - Despite some frail players on the team (here's looking at you, Buster), their pep talks from Hunter Pence have certainly been the fuel for late-game heroics and effective pitching not only from the rotation, but from the bullpen as well. To make it far, they need to remain focused and keep their patience in check. It could get ugly otherwise.

American League Contenders

Baltimore Orioles (96-66) - Get all of your PED jokes out of the way now regarding Chris Davis. Done? Good. A young and hungry team, these guys have come a long way since being the laughingstock of the AL East for the past decade. Their pitching is crisp, and their clutch hitting can often lead to problems for the opposition. With their matchup against the team below here, their durability and their nerves will be tested for sure.

Detroit Tigers (90-72) - Ah, a fourpeat in AL Central pennants. And for good reason too. You can probably name a good amount of this lineup because they can absolutely kill you at the plate. Then you've got pitchers like Scherzer and Verlander that are killing to go past the ALCS this time around and get the job done. If they thought the AL Central was a tough customer this time around, it's only going to get rowdier from this point forward. This is also going to be a great time to follow Detroit sports fan and soccer commentator Ray Hudson. You will read gold.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (98-64) - Not to sound like "that person," but there was never any doubt that these guys wouldn't make it just by looking at their team on paper. While there were some health scares in the beginning of the season, we have a stellar list of power despite the youth and the old age on the team. In fact, it's a pretty healthy marriage when it comes to that (see the Pujols/Trout dynamic). But marriages also have their struggles. We don't want to see an Angelic divorce this October, now do we?

[Wild Card] Kansas City Royals (89-73) - WHOAAAAAAAA. One more time: WHOOAAAAAAAOOOAOAOAOO. Welcome back, Royals! After 29 years--with a good amount of them in the basement--we have the most stable squad that is capable of shutting down offenses with a single throw. My assumptions on lack of experience have come back to bite me, and these guys look like viable candidates to make a fantastic run throughout the month. It's totally possible, you guys. Could you imagine?
[Wild Card 2] Oakland Athletics (88-74) - I said it in July, and I'll say it again: WELCOME TO THE LAND OF BEARDS AND GANGS. Let's add saxophones to that too. That's hilariously great. After edging out the Mariners by a game in the Wild Card race, it's up to the offense to back up the pitching and vice versa. They were here last year, and there's no excuse to get kicked out early just yet.
(Side note: Tuesday night is going to be so difficult to watch. I want both of them to win so badly.)

Individual Winners

NL MVP - Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) - A repeat can definitely be a possibility if the stars are aligned correctly. Having almost a carbon-copy season except for a few cleanups, The Cutch has been a huge anchor on this squad, and more fireworks in the postseason can help his cause.
Next Best Choice: Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins)/Jonathon Lucroy (Milwaukee Brewers) -- I couldn't decide here. This one's fuzzy.

NL Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) - He is having the season of his life. If you don't think he's deserving of this award, you might want to check your vital signs or something, because I'm slightly worried about you. He really needs no description, only that you should check his stats and wear a bib, because you'll most likely drool over them.
[NOTE: I hate putting a pitcher as an MVP Candidate when he could just as easily be one for the CY. If he gets both, then good for him.]
Next Best Choice: Adam Wainwright (St. Louis Cardinals) [...But really. This is doubtful.]

NL Rookie of the Year - Jacob deGrom (New York Mets) - For starters (no pun intended), I really like his hair. Secondly, he's been a fantastic asset to an already consistent (and effective) rotation in Queens. Low ERA = high amounts of swagger that'll hopefully carry over for the next couple of seasons.
Next Best Choice: Billy Hamilton (Cincinnati Reds)

AL MVP - Robinson Cano (Seattle Mariners) - He's a dark horse that came from absolutely nowhere. Arguably one of the biggest highlights of this team, his appearance on each lineup has made all the difference, whether it's on the field or at the plate. That definitely accounts for something.
Next Best Choice: Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)

AL Cy Young - Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians) - Strikeout pitchers are a bit of a dying art in today's game, but this guy hasn't faltered at all this year. Great stats across the board means that he's a pure frontrunner in what is always a very hard-fought race to the end.
Next Best Choice: Felix Hernandez (Seattle Mariners)

AL Rookie of the Year - Jose Abreu (Chicago White Sox) - I seriously don't care that he plays for a sub-.500 team, you silly critics. (See Scott Rolen's 1997 season, fools.) His breakout first few months were a spectacle, and despite an injury not too long into the season, his batting average is over .300 and has high numbers in all other stats. I'd say that's pretty convincing.
Next Best Choice: Uhhhh.... There really isn't anyone else that could touch this. I'm dead serious. The rookies upset me in this category this year.

I am often sad when the MLB season starts coming to a close, but to be frank, this is my favorite month of the year for multiple reasons, this being one of them.

Oh...and PS....
I couldn't bear to forget this guy. After all, this is his last MLB Postseason as the Commissioner. Thanks for the Wild Card and the instant replay stuff, y'old whippersnapper.

Until we meet the next MLB season, kiddies!