Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 MLB playoff predictions: not-at-all-biased, semi-wishful thinking edition

Well, the MLB playoffs are upon us. (or just about, since they start tomorrow)  For the first time since I was four, the Tigers won their division, and for just the first time since that insane finish, they'll be in the playoffs.  Will Fister prove to be the 21st century Doyle Alexander?  Will Kirk Gibson revel in postseason glory once again?  Will the world yawn as the Yankees buy another World Series?  I don't know, but this seems like as good a time as any for some predictions:


Diamondbacks (94-68, West champs)
Brewers (96-66, Central champs):
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson likes the playoffs--
At first I was like...
And then I World Series'd.  Again.
Arizona is the NL team I'm most rooting for because of two Michigan connections:  Gibby and comeback stud closer J.J. Putz.
Oh look, he mentioned a Michigan player again, how surprising...
Breakout star Justin Upton and former Yankee prospect Ian Kennedy, a Cy Young contender, headline this team.

But Milwaukee has a motivated Prince Fielder, Hebrew Hammer Ryan Braun, and an excellent playoff-caliber pitching staff led by Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke.

Prediction:  Brewers in 5--the Brew Crew pitching holds the D-Backs offense at bay and Cecil the Younger puts up big numbers in his final season in the Cheese State.


Cardinals (90-72, NL wild card)
Phillies (102-60, East champs):

The Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs on the final day of the season thanks to a major collapse by the Braves.  Still, they finished with 90 wins in a decent division that also included the playoff-bound Brewers, so nobody should write them off.  Most of their offense is this guy, whom you might've heard of,
and their pitching is a bit of a grab bag compared to other teams.  Still, this group includes some guys that won rings the last time the Tigers made the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Phillies steamrolled their way to baseball's best record by a whopping five games, and they were the only 100-win team this year.  Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino headline a potent offense, though in the postseason there's no denying this guy's credentials:
I often come up big, like the size of my enormous head
MAN I wish we still had Polanco.  Fortunately, since their entire rotation has won the last 30 Cy Youngs, it might not matter who else is on the field.

Prediction:  Phillies in 4--Pujols supplies enough offense to win one game and keep at least one other close, but the Phillies' dominant roster is too much for the happy-to-be-here Cards.



Rays (91-71, AL wild card)
Rangers (96-66, West champs):

Tampa took a path similar to the Cardinals to get to this matchup, but in many ways they're a better team.  That they needed the wild card to sneak in isn't a huge surprise in a division that includes the Yankees and Sawx, plus one other .500 team, a resume no other division can match.  The Rays boast an offense featuring superstar Evan Longoria, who'll win at least one game in this series with his bat, plus former Tiger Matt Joyce, the lesser Upton brother Justin and playoff stalwart Johnny Damon.  A star-studded pitching tandem of James Shields and David Price bodes well for the Rays.

Texas is a bit more balanced in several ways, with its offense spread among Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre,
Am I a free agent after this season?  No?  Screw it, I'm just gonna hang out over here then...
Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler.  The pitching isn't a one-man show either, with C.J. Wilson, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis and Alexi Ogando all owning double-digit win totals this year.  The Rangers are likely starving for another shot at a title after falling short against the Giants last year in the only successful playoff campaign in the team's history.

Prediction:  Rays in 3--yep, I'm predicting an upset AND a sweep. Tampa comes in with a ton of momentum, still flying high over stealing the last playoff spot, and Evan Longoria dominates this series, allowing Shields, Price and stud pitching prospect Matt Moore to shine.


Tigers (95-67, Central champs)
Yankees (97-65, East champs):

I spent most of the year bitching about Jim Leyland.  I still don't like him and no matter what happens, I still don't want him back.  But the fact is, he's got an excellent team, in many ways an improvement over the '06 version. (with the exception of POLANCO GODDAMMIT WHY DID WE LET HIM GO?!)  Fister was the cream of the trade deadline crop, Victor Martinez was the best free-agent signing, and the existing cast of Cy Young dominator Justin Verlander,
MVP-caliber batting average/blood alcohol champion Miguel Cabrera,
Giant Potato and off-balance sky-pointing closer of unshakable certainty Jose Valverde,
and a very good supporting cast make this a team to watch.

New York, in addition to its overpriced, aging, star-studded roster, has benefited from the presence of one Curtis Granderson,
who would be an extremely good non-Cabrera choice for the MVP.  But he's got plenty of help in a lineup that features an aging but you still know he'll make a ridiculously important play and stock prices for smelling salts will skyrocket thanks to all of ESPN fainting from delight Derek Jeter.  Equally impressive second baseman Robinson Cano, slugger Mark Teixeira and some guy shopping for purses
will help score a bunch of runs for a rotation anchored by CC Sabathia,
Actual photo of Sabathia
excellent rookie Ivan Nova, guess Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon?  Those guys are about 100 years old combined, but they have that important quality often found in Yankee fan favorites--they're not A.J. Burnett.  Should the offense and pitching produce a lead going into the ninth, Greatest Closer Ever Yes I Said It So You Can Shut Up Now Mariano Rivera
will be there to shut the door (a large door, if it's one Sabathia and Colon can fit through) assuming the Tigers don't bring back Luis Gonzalez.

Prediction:  Tigers in 4--in a prognostication that in no way could be construed as wishful thinking, I just can't see Detroit losing games one and two started by Jesus Verlander and Doyle Fister.  I predict that the Yanks pull off a laugher against Max Scherzer, who gets his terrible start out of the way early, then looks more serviceable in the latter rounds.  I couldn't pick against Detroit if I wanted to, but I really do have good justifications for thinking they'll win this series comfortably, and that doesn't even include karma, so we got that goin' for us.


NLCS:  Phillies over Brewers

ALCS:  Tigers over Rays

World Series:  Tigers over Phillies

We're due, so let's bring a title back to Motown, boys!


  1. I wanted to make a sign for the game if i had gotten tickets. "our drunk is better than your drunk 24>7." Alas tickets sold out quickly.

  2. Okay, I'm a Yankees fan, but my grandfather pitched for the Tigers (Hal White). With that being said I propose this to you... Game five, bottom 9, toe score, Granderson hits homerun.... Does the universe collapse into a black hole?