5 Bold Predictions for the 2013 MLB Postseason
As exciting as the Tampa Bay Rays’ win over the Texas Rangers for the wild-card tiebreaker was, the entire month of October will be filled with similar triumphs (and heartbreaks).
Critics are pegging the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox as the World Series favorites, but counting out the St. Louis Cardinals or Oakland Athletics seems too premature. The combination of the Cardinals’ knack for October glory and the Athletics’ overpowering September could quickly skew headlines.
And while the Athletics might be able to ride Josh Donaldson’s bat to victory, it’s possible that Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig can’t be depended upon. Unlike Donaldson, Puig has slumped mightily since his June debut—perhaps making his first postseason tour a forgettable one.
Read on to view all bold predictions for the 2013 MLB postseason.
Oakland Athletics Win the AL Pennant
The Boston Red Sox were arguably the best overall offense in the American League during the regular season. The team posted a .277 batting average (second in AL), park-adjusted 115 wRC+ (first in AL) and 178 home runs (sixth in AL).
The Red Sox even performed well down the stretch, winning 16 games in the final month (for a .640 win percentage).
But in September, no team was more dominant than the A’s. In addition to winning an incredible 19 games (versus eight losses), the Athletics also posted a combined 133 wRC+ during that span.
With a comparable pitching staff to boot (Athletics, 3.83 FIP, versus Red Sox, 3.84 FIP), an Oakland Athletics pennant win doesn’t seem so far-fetched. It also doesn’t hurt having 2013 studs like Bartolo Colon (a 2.65 ERA versus a park-adjusted 141 ERA+) and Josh Donaldson (a .301 batting average versus a park-adjusted 149 OPS+) in tow.
All Wild Card Teams Flake Out
Fans have witnessed an incredible crop of secondary playoff teams in 2013. Both the Pittsburgh Pirates (94-68) and Cincinnati Reds (90-72) have kept the St. Louis Cardinals (97-65) on their toes all season, with the Pirates stealing away the top slot here and there.
And the Cleveland Indians (92-70) and Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) deserve a lot of credit, too. The Indians, who were in a partial rebuilding year, fell only one game short of tying the Detroit Tigers (93-69) in the AL Central. Similarly, the Rays had to continually fend off a division featuring the Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees—all despite a $62 million payroll.
But large triumphs and talents notwithstanding, the 2013 playoff race features far too many superior teams for any wild card winner to prevail. Aside from a favorite Los Angeles Dodgers versus Red Sox World Series, wild card teams would also have to dethrone the likes of the Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, too.
St. Louis Cardinals Win the NL Pennant
Everyone and their mother expect the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series, especially on account of their incredible second-half success (45-23). While that could very well happen, the St. Louis Cardinals always seem to turn it to “11” in the playoffs—making a Cardinals pennant win very feasible in 2013.
For instance, in 2006, the Redbirds churned out only 83 wins during the regular season, but still ended up winning the World Series. In fact, during the 2006 playoffs, the Cardinals defeated the San Diego Padres (88-74), New York Mets (97-65) and then Detroit Tigers (95-67)—all statistically superior organizations.
Unlike 2006, however, the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals would hardly be the underdog. After all, the Cardinals won 97 games, edging the Braves for the league honors.
It’s also worth noting that the Cardinals posted a .269 team batting average, park-adjusted 105 wRC+, 2.71 ERA and 3.18 FIP during September—all within the top three in the National League.
Detroit Tigers Bounced in First Round
The Detroit Tigers are a powerhouse in the American League. Aside from winning 93 games, the Tigers also boast many of the league’s best players, including potential MVP Award and Cy Young Award favorites Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer, respectively. The team also advanced to the World Series in 2012, only to be swept by the San Francisco Giants.
And while Miggy and Scherzer might have something to say about it, it’s possible the Tigers will get knocked out by another Bay Area team. The Tigers will take on the Oakland Athletics in the Division Series, which could prove to be difficult.
The Athletics quietly captured their consecutive division title behind elite performances by Bartolo Colon (a 2.65 ERA versus a park-adjusted 141 ERA+) and Josh Donaldson (a .301 batting average versus a park-adjusted 149 OPS+). Unlike the Tigers, who posted a 13-13 record down the stretch, the A’s won more than 70 percent of their September games.
Yasiel Puig Hits .200 in Playoffs
Yasiel Puig bursted onto the scene by hitting .436 with seven home runs in June, his debut month. While it would be unrealistic to expect Puig to continue hitting at such a rate, the 22-year-old slumped to a mere .214 batting average in September.
It’s possible, given Puig’s lackluster September, that the Cuban import could hit below .200 in the playoffs. The youngster has witnessed a variety of important peripherals tank since June, too. Puig’s LD% (line drive rate) has dropped 21.4 percent with his FB% (fly ball rate) spiking 26.0 percent. The right-handed hitter has also struck out 18.7 percent more in September than he did in June.
Considering Puig swung at 38.9 percent pitches outside the zone in 2013, it’s possible opposing pitchers figured out how to get the Dodgers’ outfielder out.