And it is finally the greatest time of year again.
Over the course of the week, we have seen playoff races go absolutely berserk, managers get fired, guys getting choked out, and champagne being shot everywhere. Who knows what the next three weeks will be chock-full of?
2015 MLB Postseason
Just like last year, the previous year's World Series champs are nowhere to be seen. While the San Francisco Giants made a good run, they were stopped dead by another team vying for revenge. One thing you're going to notice is that most of these teams really made the most out of the trade deadlines and nailed some great deals. Because of that, we're seeing giants of another form rise all throughout the league. It's gonna be a hot October for sure. Shall we begin?
National League Contenders
New York Mets (90-72) - This team has a lot of younger talent, and they're driven for power and success. Guys like Wright and mid-season gem pickup Cespedes have been here before and can easily balance out both nerves and uncertainly. At face value, their starting rotation is going to be a tough one to beat, and they're going to use every trick possible to keep the party going. Considering where they were in July, and how they were dueling with Washington, we're seeing a team getting hot, and you know what that means...
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2006, and I still think Carlos Beltran is standing where the plate was at Shea Stadium waiting for a good one to swing at... Nevermind--you'll see why.)
St. Louis Cardinals (100-62) - Every time I do this, I truly ask if there's ever any doubt that I won't be writing about the Cardinals here. Well, as it seems, that's never going to happen. This team as a whole is like a ninja. They pelt you with either really hard shots or a bunch of Chinese stars (aka "small ball"), and then their bullpen is just like "NOPE." As usual, these guys are going to be rough to get past. Luckily for them, their future opponent will be extremely familiar...
(Last time they were in the Postseason? lol I'm not even going to bother here.)
Los Angeles Dodgers (92-70) - As expected, these guys get on base and they threaten by ways of speed and smarts, unlike most car chases you'll see in LA. In any case, these guys have been groomed for the stage, but it's a matter of whether the pitching is actually going to show up this time around. Heck, it's a running gag at this point for Clayton Kershaw. Maybe the others will pick up the slack? We'll have to wait and see.
(Last time they were in the Postseason? Last year, but their middle infielders were involved in their beatings in back-to-back NLCS appearances in 2008 and 2009. Take good care of Rollins and Utley, guys. I'm still crying on the inside over it.)
[Wild Card] Pittsburgh Pirates (98-64) - What you see right now is what you're going to get. That isn't to say that the Bucs are a one-trick pony, but they've been following the same formula for quite some time, and they follow it to a T. If they want to advance, it's up to the pitching to stop oncomers in their tracks. Are we doing it for AJ this year? Sure. Why not?
(Last time they were in the Postseason? Last year, and that was a heartbreaker and a half.)
[Wild Card 2] Chicago Cubs (97-65) - I have to say this now--THE BACK TO THE FUTURE PROPHECY CONTINUES. *ahem* Anyway, this team is no joke. Remember the "sleeping giants" comment from last year? Look at this. Boom, awake. After many years of rebuilding and such, we've finally got a lineup that's ready to roll along with a fearsome rotation. Prepare for a slugfest on Wednesday. [Will we see a pitch get Schwarber'd?]
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2008--But let's be honest, it always seems like ages with these guys.)
American League Contenders
Toronto Blue Jays (93-69) - If there was one team that totally hit it big during the trade window, it was these guys. They're totally not the same team from the first half, and they don't want you to remember that kind of stuff. They come through in the clutch with guys like Donaldson, Pillar, and good 'ole Joey Bats, they have enough power and speed to make the plays. Canada's got a chance to show that baseball still matters up there, eh?
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 1993, when Joe Carter destroyed a ball low and inside and they went back-to-back in titles.)
Kansas City Royals (95-67) - They obviously have unfinished business.The lineup looks even more consistent and synchronized, and even more so, they have the capability to totally pound you late in the game and not think twice. Guys like Hosmer, Cain, Morales, and Moose are in top form as they were before, but now, they have the swagger that'll give them that extra boost toward the World Series. Even the pitching looks more stellar after the acquisition of Johnny Cueto. Simply put, I feel sorry for a lot of other teams right now.
[And if I could see more Paul Rudd, I'd be cool with that.]
(Last time--Oh, nevermind... I still think about that ninth inning, by the way. I almost lost everything inside of me that night. For real.)
Texas Rangers (88-74) - Excuse me while I put my eyeballs back in their sockets. Here's another team that is a totally different one from the first half, and admittedly, they did not look the least bit stable or healthy at first, but once people came back and after minor league [blood] sacrifices were made, they truly showed that they had the tools to get where they needed to be. They were never a lousy team to begin with--they just had to wait a little while, is all. (Hey, Cole Hamels.)
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2010, and most media outlets make it sound like they haven't been there since 1910. I wish I were joking.)
[Wild Card] New York Yankees (87-75) - Yeah, dude. They're back. They tripped and fell a little bit on the way, but they kept their composure the entire time. This team had a bit of "rebuilding" of their own, so it isn't entirely right to say that A-Rod was the sole reason the Yankees are playing well enough. Of course, we've got an "older-looking" team here yet again, but age almost always means wisdom.
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2012--Yes, it's ACTUALLY BEEN that long. Oh...HI, CARLOS BELTRAN!)
[Wild Card 2] Houston Astros (86-76) - If you can still believe it, I'm still screaming like Schwartz' mother over here. This almost didn't happen, but this is a big sign that this team is willing to fight and capitalize on mistakes. Youth and inexperience may be a bit of a factor here, but many of these guys have to remember how they got there and why. Small ball might not be their main go-to, but if they don't want to face disappointment, they might have to channel that to move forward.
(Last time they were in the Postseason? 2005, when Craig Biggio and Roy Oswalt ruled the field, and Jeff Bagwell was on his way out.)
NL MVP - Bryce Harper (Washington Nationals) - This was a bit of a no-brainer, considering that he was a huge driving force on the team for the entire season. At the ripe young age of 23 and putting up the best numbers of his career thus far, he's a definite shoo-in for the award.
Next Best Choice: Joey Votto (Cincinnati Reds)
NL Cy Young - Zack Greinke (Los Angeles Dodgers) - Now, hear me out on this one, okay? Record and ERA may be a big factor in determining the winner of this prestigious pitching award, but one thing that needs to be taken into account as well is consistency. Greinke has brought that the entire year and hasn't screwed up very much at all. How many consecutive scoreless innings did he have? Exactly.
Next Best Choice: Jake Arrieta (Chicago Cubs)
NL Rookie of the Year - Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs) - If you don't think he's deserving, you're a silly, silly person. He's shown consistency the entire year, and while he didn't burst out of the starting gate like most rookies did this year, he's been the iron man of fielding and hitting. That's good enough for me.
Next Best Choice: Matt Duffy (San Francisco Giants)
AL MVP - Josh Donaldson (Toronto Blue Jays) - This is definitely the closest AL MVP race I've ever covered. Both choices here have stellar and clutch offenses with little to distinguish the two. However, what it might come down to is how they have helped in getting the team to the Postseason. I hate saying that, but that's usually the final nail in the coffin.
Next Best Choice: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
AL Cy Young - Dallas Keuchel (Houston Astros) - Stats-wise, he's got this in the bag. He's been tops almost the entire year, and he hasn't showed any signs of letting up. I'd be more than surprised if this award doesn't have his name scribbled all over it by now.
Next Best Choice: David Price (Tampa Bay Rays)
AL Rookie of the Year - Francisco Lindor (Cleveland Indians) - If we're looking for the most solid, all-around performer, it's this guy. Not only can he master the small ball, he can flash the leather and get runs in. The lack of Postseason shouldn't really hurt his chances much at all.
Next Best Choice: Carlos Correa (Houston Astros)
Another season is done, and now I am forced to resort to playing MLB The Show on my PS3. Sure, I can watch other sports, but baseball is a special one for me, like it is with a lot of you who follow the sport. We'll all find a way to get by. Enjoy this October. After that, see y'all in February.