2014 MLB Playoffs: Predictions

October 1, 2014

This is the first time in three years that I haven’t covered baseball at least semi-regularly on Around The Corn. There were no preseason predictions, no Power Rankings, no Midseason Report and, before a few hours ago, not a whole lot of motivation to publish a 2014 postseason predictions article.

But I know that of the few consistent readers that I have left, the majority of them will pick up the remote and at least keep an eye on the action unfolding on the diamond this October. When it really comes down to it, I’m writing to entertain my readers.

Plus, I have a hat for every team in the MLB, ditto for the ice cream helmets and also have a slew of minor league hats in my collection. Do you really think I just stopped being a baseball fan over the past six months?

Hell no. It’s playoff time. Here’s what I think will happen.


Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles (Game 1: Thursday, approx. 5:37 PM ET – TBS)

It’s been awhile since Detroit has entered a playoff series not being the team with the more dominant pitching staff. But statistically such is the case, as Baltimore has both a better overall ERA and has given up 112 fewer runs over the regular season. Still, it’s hard not to be at least somewhat intimidated by the reality that you’ll be facing Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price in consecutive outings. In addition, Detroit is the better offensive team and will be difficult to hold to 4 or fewer runs every game of this series.

Baltimore has home field advantage in this short series, but it’ll be a win if the Orioles aren’t down 2-1 by Game 4 in Detroit. There’s just too much power throughout the Detroit lineup, and you have to figure that the three headed monster on the pitching staff will make things even more difficult for the O’s.

Prediction: Detroit in four

Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels (Game 1: Thursday, approx. 9:07 PM ET – TBS)

If the Wild Card game is any indication of how the rest of Kansas City’s playoff experience will go, then we’re in for an exciting series. The Royals have hit for average all season, finishing as the second best team in the American League in the category. But the Angels hit for runs, which is normally the recipe for success in the playoffs. Kansas City will need to make the Angels work on the mound, which isn’t something the Royals are particularly good at; the team has seen the second fewest pitches of any team in the AL.

I’d love to see the party move on to the Championship Series, and there is no doubt that the Royals will receive more media attention than any other team as long as they’re still playing. But the Angels are just too complete on both offense and defense to succumb to the darlings of the playoffs.

Prediction: Los Angeles in five


St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Game 1: Friday, approx. 6:37 PM ET – FS1)

If you’re looking for the heavyweight matchup of the Divisional Series across both leagues, then this is your ticket. Quite frankly, the team that makes it out of this series has the best chance to hoist the World Series hardware. St. Louis is solid in the pitching department across both starters and bullpen, which makes the team difficult to score against. But in Los Angeles you’re getting a team with the third best average in all of MLB and sixth best slugging and run production.

Game 1 will set the tone for this series. If Los Angeles can get the win, the team will have St. Louis right where it wants them. Clayton Kershaw having a bad outing not only gives an experienced playoff squad like the Cardinals a boost, but it negates any momentum that the Dodgers are carrying into the series after a strong September. Los Angeles is the more likely of the two teams to fold, but it definitely has the advantage offensively. St. Louis will be tough to beat if this series goes the distance, though.

Prediction: Los Angeles in four

San Francisco Giants vs. Washington Nationals (Game 1: Friday, approx. 3:07 PM ET – FS1)

This isn’t a bad series by any stretch, but it is overshadowed by a couple of the other ones in the Divisional Round. The Nationals aren’t necessarily head and shoulders above San Francisco…offensively, at least. No one in the National League allowed fewer runs than Washington this season, which will serve the Nationals well against a Giants team that would like to win high scoring games. Throw in the fact that Madison Bumgarner won’t be available until the latter end of this series after pitching in the Wild Card game, and the advantage is clearly with Washington on the mound.

Still, San Francisco is not a team to take lightly with Bruce Bochy as manager. In many pitching categories, the Giants were second to the Nationals in the NL. Chief among them is opposing OBP, where both teams held teams to under a .300 average. The Giants may have a hard time scoring in this series, but it won’t be easy for Washington, either.

Prediction: San Francisco in five


Detroit Tigers vs. Los Angeles Angels (Game 1: Friday, October 10 – TBS)

When both the Tigers and Angels began making expensive offseason deals a couple of years ago, many people figured that we’d see this ALCS matchup for many years to come. It took a couple of seasons, but we will finally get to see it in 2014. We’ll find out just how good the Los Angeles pitching staff is against the loaded Detroit lineup, because the Angels won’t be able to avoid Cabrera & Co. for seven games (which this series will go).

The question for the Tigers becomes whether or not there is enough depth on the pitching staff to stay competitive deep into games. The Angels can score, too, so it would be silly to suggest that Detroit could rely solely on the starting pitching to get the team through to the World Series. Neither team will be able to do that, but I think that Los Angeles will put its bullpen in a position to close games more often than needing to play catch up in the late innings.

Prediction: Los Angeles in seven


San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Game 1: Saturday, October 11 – FOX)

Assuming that this actually ends up being the NLCS matchup, it is guaranteed that those of us living in the Eastern time zone will have to deal with the later start times for a few of the World Series games. The thing about this series is that it pits a team that would prefer to win low scoring games against one that would just as gladly put ten runs on the board. The Dodgers need to be careful here; San Francisco is fifth in the NL in runs scored this season and is a deceptively adept offensive team.

Scoring runs alone will not guarantee a World Series berth. A complete team effort will be needed to advance from the National League, so it’s difficult to determine which team will emerge victorious. The Dodgers will enjoy home field advantage if this series goes the distance, but I don’t think that it will. One of these teams will find a groove on the mound and stifle the opposing hitters, which will surprise a lot of people.

Prediction: Los Angeles in six

World Series

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Los Angeles Angels

The Crosstown Rivalry will extend to Major League Baseball for 2014. I’m not going to give a preview for this one just yet, as I’ll revisit the prediction arena once this matchup is set in stone. But since I’ll probably be wrong a lot throughout the next four weeks, I’ll give you my winner right now.

Prediction: Angels in six

Be sure to keep checking Around The Corn for MLB playoff coverage.

– K. Becks

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