The baseball playoffs are here. October sure got here fast. Here are my thoughts on the Division Series. First off, in the American League, the best team in the league did not make the playoffs. Using run differential and the pythagorean record, the best team in the American League was the Cleveland Indians. While this fact bodes well for a young team going forward, it does nothing for them now.
Boston Red Sox vs Chicago White Sox:
I can say without a doubt that the Sox will win. The Red Sox score runs, and the White Sox prevent them. However, for all the talk of Chicago playing 'small ball' and 'smart ball' they actually outhomered the Red Sox 200-199. Chicago's starting pitchers all had good seasons, but they don't strike a lot of people out. If you don't miss bats against the Red Sox you are in trouble.
Prediction: Red Sox in 4
New York Yankees vs Los Angeles Angels:
Don't confuse these Angels with the 2002 version. That team could put runs on the board and this team struggles to score. However, the pitching is on par with the 2002 version. The Yanks do not struggle to score, but did have trouble preventing runs. I'm not buying Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon continuing their hot streak into the playoffs. These are two average pitchers who got hot once they arrived in New York. Scioscia will use his bench and bullpen to take advantage of the Yanks weaknesses.
Prediction: Angels in 4
Houston Astros vs Atlanta Braves:
Houston's Big 3 of Clemens, Pettite, and Oswalt pose a significant challenge to this young Braves team. Surprisingly Atlanta finished 4th in the National League in runs scored so these are not the same Braves teams of the past that struggled to score (they finished 5th in runs allowed so they are balanced). The Braves haven't won a Division Series since 2001, losing 3 in a row. The laws of probability say they are due.
Prediction: Atlanta in 5
San Diego Padres vs St. Louis Cardinals:
The baseball playoffs are a crap shoot. You play 162 games, only to then try your luck by rolling the dice in the postseason. In a 162 game season, having a bad 5 game stretch is not that unusual. However, if you have a bad 5 game stretch at the end of the season, you go home. St. Louis will have a tougher time than expected, but will advance.
Prediction: St. Louis in 5