Article Written by Josh Mellits & Marc Filippino
It’s October, which means three sure things: fallen leaves, midterms and the baseball postseason. This postseason looks to be as dynamic as ever, and we’re here to give you our expert opinions as to who will rock the MLB playoffs in 2009.
East – New York Yankees
Theeeeey’re baaaaaack. After missing the postseason for the first time in thirteen years, the Yankees have the strongest team since the Joe Torre years. The Yankees are by far the best team in baseball with their 102-57 record. The lineup has a reborn Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira tattooing every baseball he sees, and Alex Rodriguez following suit. The pitching has been strong with C.C. Sabathia sporting a cool 3.21 ERA and 19 wins. The rest of the rotation has quite the resume of postseason play with Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett in the two and three spots. Also, the Yankees have had great success at “They Stadium,” but the away game is a little less stable. The Yankees have 12 less wins on the road, and they have 31 more homeruns in the Bronx. Home field advantage gives Yanks the edge, and they could be unstoppable.
Central – Detroit Tigers vs. Minnesota Twins
It’s come down to the wire in the American League Central Division after Detroit seemed to have a solid lock on that playoff spot. However, we benefit, with some free baseball as the Tigers and Twins battle it out in their 163rd game. The Tigers have played really mediocre in the final month of regular season play, limping with a bruised 16-15 record in 31 games. The Twins haven’t performed much better, going 20-10 in the final months. Both teams have struggled, but in the last six times these two teams have faced off the Twins have taken four of six games. The Twins also have the advantage in the season matches going 11-6 against Detroit. It’s going to be a close game, but in the end Joe Mauer and the Twins will take this one from Detroit.
West – Los Angeles Angels
To no surprise the Angels have topped the weak A.L. West division once again, and you can already see the Red Sox salivating. However, this is 2009 and the Angels could have a chance. Even without Vladimir Guerrero performing, the offense is just second in the American League behind the Yankees in RBIs and leads both leagues in team batting average. The pitching staff looks nothing more than average, but the bullpen is the big surprise. After dumping Francisco Rodriguez on the Mets, the Angles picked up Brian Fuentes who leads the A.L. in saves. Also, with Darren Oliver holding down the ‘pen its no wonder the Angels won 94 games this year.
Wildcard – Boston Red Sox
Everybody’s hometown favorite is back in the ALDS for the third straight year, but the question is: How far will the beloved Sawx go? It seems as though the midsummer offensive swoon is over, and the Sox run-scoring machine is back. In September alone the Red Sox scored 152 runs, and were held under 3 runs just six times. Also look out for Jason Bay to come up big in his second playoff appearance. Last year he batted .341 with three home runs and nine RBI’s. Right now he leads the team in home runs (36) and RBIs (115). The really worry point for the Red Sox is the pitching. Once you get past Josh Beckett you have a hard time finding anyone trustworthy as a solid number-two pitcher.
Quad’s Pick: New York Yankees
By far the most dominant force in baseball this season, it’s hard to stop the juggernaut Yankees from barreling their way to the final race to the AL pennant.
East – Philadelphia Phillies
A year removed from the World Series championship, the Fightin’ Phils are getting used to the postseason after clinching a division title for the third consecutive season. Philadelphia will try to repeat as champions for the first time since the New York Yankees won three straight from 1998-2000. You’d have to go back in 1975-6 and the Cincinnati Reds for the last NL repeat. To accomplish this feat, the Phillies will look to their sluggers with 30-plus home runs: Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Trade deadline acquisition Cliff Lee joins last year’s World Series MVP Cole Hamels to anchor a bolstered rotation. But unless they are able to pitch late into games, an imploding bullpen may derail the repeat train.
Central – St. Louis Cardinals
The red-hot Cardinals have all their guns are blazing both behind the plate and on the mound. With the largest division lead in the National League, the Cardinals have coasted back into the playoffs after a year off. Albert Pujols was a Triple Crown threat earlier this season and is still in the top three in batting average, home runs and runs batted in. Matt Holliday joined St. Louis in a midseason trade and has given Pujols the support he needs. But the true strength of the Cardinals is their rotation. Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter could each be considered for a Cy Young award, with Wainwright leading the league in wins with 19 and Carpenter putting up a league best 2.24 ERA.
West – Los Angeles Dodgers
Life is good in Hollywood and in Mannywood as the Dodgers punch their ticket to the postseason for the fourth time in six years. Los Angeles has hung tough to earn its first back-to-back division titles since 1977-78, all despite losing slugger Manny Ramirez to a 50-game suspension for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. Even with Manny’s return, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have picked up the slack in the outfield, with the latter leading the majors in walk-off hits. Jonathan Broxton has been unhittable out of the bullpen and can close any game out if the questionable rotation, headed by Randy Wolf, can let him pitch.
Wildcard – Colorado Rockies
After reaching the World Series two years ago, Colorado is hoping that this month will be Rocktober. The Rockies have overcome early season struggles For the second time in three seasons to surge into the playoffs. Colorado was 12 games under .500 on June 3 and at one point trailed in the wildcard by 9 and a half games. Troy Tulowitzki has exploded with a 30-20 season and Todd Helton leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage. Perhaps the biggest surprise and most important contribution to the Rockies’ resurgence has been the quality of their starting pitching. Jorge De La Rosa and Jason Marquis lead the only rotation with five starters registering double-digit wins.
Quad’s Pick: St. Louis Cardinals
The NL pennant is in the Cards, as their balance on offense and pitching will be a force to be reckoned with this postseason.