AL Playoff Picture bAbY

Posted: October 6, 2016 by souldysfunction in General Sports Rant

Well I was 0 for 2 with my Wildcard picks so you may be wondering why you want to read this article. I don’t have a great answer for that question but PLEASE READ IT, I put a lot of words into it 🙂

With the Wildcard games out of the way we now look towards the matchups and series that will kick off tonight.

You may be asking “Oh great seerer behind the pole what visions do you have?”… Okay maybe you aren’t asking that but I’m going to lay some projections down anyways.

Sox vs. Indians

Lets start with Tha Boston Red Soxxx and Cleveland Indians. Yes Cleveland you have another reason to cheer and it doesn’t involve Lebron.

Boston Strengths

Hit the cover off the ball – 191 Homeruns by starters, 17 homeruns by bench players. The have the highest runs per game average in the entire league at 5.42. This means they also have the highest Total Runs(878), Total Hits(1,598), Doubles(343), RBIs(836), On Base Percentage(.348), Slugging(.641), OPS(810), and Total Hits(2,615) in all of MLB.

Big Papi Magic – How many times have broadcasters said David Ortis should NOT be retiring this season? Seriously Big Papi has already crushed records for over 40 and last season of play. 38 homeruns, 48 doubles, and 127 RBI’s is incredible for any season much less a season a guy is to be retiring after. ESPN has him listed at seeing just under 4 pitches per at bat and hitting a homerun every 14.1 at bats.

Defense is above average – Boston has only committed 76 errors this season which is 4th lowest in MLB. Baseball-Reference.com’s Defensive Efficiency rated them 7th best in the league with a .695 (Don’t ask me to explain their formula as it’s crazy complex but in essence it is the Percentage of balls in play converted into outs. So nearly 70% of balls put into play by the other team Boston gets an out.)

Boston Weaknesses

Almost a nonexistent ‘Small ball’ style of play – Boston has only 8 sacrifice bunts all 2016. This is dead last in all of MLB with the average being 34 SH in 162 games. They are also just at the average in Sacrifice Flies with 40 in 162 games. With these kind of stats it is no wonder they are 4th in the league with leaving men on base with 1,162 LOB.

Pitching… All of it – Bostons pitching was suspect going into this season to start with. Clay Buchholz was a huge question mark for most of the season with his inconsistency. Steven Wright and Rick Porcello were really the biggest surprises of the season even though Wright hit the disabled list and won’t be available for the ALDS. David Price has not been the Price of seasons before but he has been good but after that the drop off makes the Marianas Trench look like a bunny hill. What about the Bullpen? Porcello game 1, Price game 2 and then …. lets hold on to our butts. Pomeranz and Rodriguez can be effective but there is no certainty they will be from this seasons performances. The bullpen has not looked any better especially the last week or two. Kimbrel has not looked like he can see home plate much less pitch over it, Uehara while looking good since he has come back from injury has not pitched back to back games, Robby Ross Jr has a terrible mullet. I could go on but lets just say Boston wants to out score you not shut you down.

Catching depth – While Sandy Leon has been a good catcher for them especially with his .310 average. He isn’t a threat behind the place like some catchers can be. His game calling skills are average and he only sports a .412 Caught Stealing Percentage. Behind him you have Holiday and Vazquez which are both a large dip in average and only Vazquez had a better CS% (.517) but that was last season.

Indians Strengths

Starting Pitching – The Indians are 7th in the league in team ERA at 3.84 and have 14 shutouts this season(11 combined, 3 complete game shutouts). That is even with the huge injuries to Salazar and Carrasco. Cory Kluber or as the MLB commercials call him Klubot is going to be back from the Injured Reserved list for the ALDS. Bauer has been great for them this year(12-8) and Tomlin has been a huge surprise going 13-9.

Thievery! – Cleveland steals bases like they are going out of style. 134 this season with only being caught 31 times. They are fast and sneaky and likely to steal you blind.

Above average in nearly every hitting category – At first that might not sound like a strength but really it is. As a team they hit for percentage, they hit for power, they hit with men on base, and they will play small ball with sacrifice bunt or fly. They don’t have a problem getting dirty and playing which ever way will get them the win.

Defense is above average too – The Indians only give up and average of 4.20 runs per game and have a .696 Defensive Efficiency rating per Baseball-Reference.com. They also have only committed 89 errors this season which is below the league average.

Indians Weaknesses

A strength can also be a weakness – They are average or above average in so many categories that they remind me of the “Jack of all trades, master of none” adage. While taking away one thing won’t necessarily hurt them to much if you can just be slightly better then them in several areas they could really be in trouble.

Bullpen includes who besides Miller? – The pickup of Andrew Miller from the Yankees was huge for the Indians as their bullpen really had no identity. Even with him added however it is definitely not a strength. Cody Allen their listed closer has 32 saves(out of 35 chances so that’s not terrible) but also has 5 losses with a 2.51 ERA. There are only 3 other pitchers in the bullpen, including Miller, that have ERA’s lower then that. Otero(1.55) and Merritt(1.54) are the other two. The rest of the teams ERA is above 3, okay Joba Chamberlain is at 2.25 but… but gnats hate him.

Who wins?

I might be influenced by my boys love of David Ortis but I think the Papi Magic is going to propel them past the Indians. While Tito is a great manager and Francona used to work with Tito I still think the student surpasses the master here. While Boston’s pitching can be really suspect I think Cleveland’s pitching can not shut down the Sox offense, and no matter how dirty the Indians get they cannot keep up. I’m calling this 3-1 Sox.

Blue Jays vs. Rangers

YAY Round two of Odor vs. Bautista. I bet Bautista carries his bat with him all the way to second.

Blue Jays Strengths

     LOOoOoOooOOoooOOoOOoOOng Ball – They proved it again in the WildCard game this team destroys the ball with severe malice. I think they all may have been beaten by a baseball shaped mascot when they were children. 221 homeruns during this past regular season is 4th in the league (First was Baltimore who they just beat). If you leave just one pitch over the plate anyone in the Blue Jays lineup can put it into the stands.

Pitching from top to bottom – The Blue Jays have a team ERA of 3.78 which is 6th best in the Majors. They also have 10 combined shutouts this season and 43 saves, hopefully Osuna isn’t actually injured after he left the Wildcard game early. With Estrada, Happ, Sanchez, and after that performance Stroman they have a very solid starting pitching staff. Add in the bullpen who can really shut down a great offense(Orioles) which surprised me obviously.

Pillar, Tulo, Donaldson, Travis… lets just say Defense – Baseball-Reference.com has Toronto listed as a .703 Defensive rating which is second best in the league. That is over 70% of the balls put into play by the other team Toronto converts to outs. Pillar is incredible in center field, he seems to be in every Web Gems highlight on ESPN. We know how good Tulo and Donaldson are in the infield and Devon Travis is a very solid second baseman. Russell Martin is excellent behind the plate, and the fact they can rotate in Upton, Carrera, and Saunders depending on the situation really makes that defense top notch.

It’s okay we will just walk – When they aren’t crushing the ball into the stand they seriously are picky about what they swing at. They are second best behind the Cubs in walks taken with 632 on the season.

Blue Jay Weaknesses

Strikeouts and Stealing or the Not Stealing – Two spots on serious concern for the offense are Strikeouts and the serious lack of stealing. 1,362 strikeouts this season which is way above average for the league. They also only have 54 stolen bases during the 2016 season. 6th worst in all of MLB. I guess this shouldn’t be much of a surprise when over half their roster is built for the long ball but in a close game this could be a huge factor.

Hit it faaaaaar or really not far – Hitting the ball far doesn’t seem to always translate to extra bases unless it’s in the stands. Toronto is below the league average in doubles and second to LAST in hitting triples. They also leave a ton of men on base 1,120 to be exact. It seems unless they are hitting homeruns they are only walking or hitting singles.

Rangers Strengths

It’s outta here! – The Rangers are fans of the long ball hitting 215 this season. It’s not to the extreme of the Orioles or Blue Jays but they definitely can hold their own. The other thing about the Rangers homruns is they seem to be more clutch then some other teams, Odor, Desmond, Beltre and cast just seem to have a knack for hitting perfectly timed clutch homeruns. I don’t think this is something you can practice but if you could these guys have it down to a science.

All Your Base belong to us – Sorry for the geeky reference but I couldn’t help it. The Rangers like to steal, if you have a sandwich they take it, if you have a planet… Most of the players on the Rangers roster are fast and they have no problem swiping a bag or two. They had 99 this past regular season which is above average for the league and they have only been caught 34 times.

Are you Saved, we can help with that – Texas lead the league with 56 saves so they really know how to win close games. Sam Dyson their listed closer has 38 saves, Tolleson has 11 saves and then they have Jefferess who came over from Milwaukee with his 27 saves. Not only can they save close games but with three actual closers they can potentially shorten games in the late innings.

Double dip – This season Texas lead the league in turned double plays with 190. Odor and Andrus are quite a combination when it comes to getting those so very important pitching saviors.

Rangers Weaknesses

Bunt? Is that a type of cake? – It’s a good thing the Rangers can steal bases because from the numbers they can’t bunt. Only 18 on the season which is the 5th lowest in all of 2016. While they have great at bat presence giving yourself up isn’t on the menu.

Starting pitching needs a new starting point – After Cole Hammels and his 15 and 5 record the starting pitching talent drops majorly. Now with Yu Darvish back in the line up that should help but three of their starts have ERA’s near 5. This could be really detrimental against a lineup that can constantly put the ball in the stands. *cough Blue Jays cough*

Anyone have a spell checker? – While 97 errors for the season isn’t terrible it is above the league average of 89. Odor and Andrus lead the team with 22 and 17 respectively, and that could spell ISSUES for turning those needed double plays.

Who wins?

So I am a huge Adrian Beltre fan, dude is awesome. I want so badly to pick the Rangers as the winners of this series. I like the way they do things, scrappy yet sophisticated. However I think the Blue Jays changed my perception of them in the Wildcard game. They can seriously hang with anyone and with just one missed location they can put big numbers on the board. There is also the fact since 2010 Texas is 21 and 34 against Toronto. I’m gonna take the Blue Jays but I think its going to take all 5 games. Blue Jays 3-2

SD Signature

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