The Major League Baseball playoffs begin tonight and as I’ve done in previous years, I’d like to offer my opinions on which teams I would like to succeed and which teams I expect will actually win. This is an interesting year in that both of my favorite teams – the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox – are participating in postseason play. This makes me nervous because I don’t want to see them play against one another in the World Series because I’d hate to see either team lose to the other. The last time this happened in 1999, I was ready to lean towards the Red Sox in a World Series matchup since they were in the midst of their famed championship drought. Now, if forced to choose, I’ll lean toward the Mets since the Red Sox have won a World Series more recently (2013 compared to 1986) and have won more championships in the last 12 years (3) than the Mets have in their entire history (2).
The 2016 Mets have shown that living well is the best revenge. Their 2015 World Series opponents, the Kansas City Royals, were eliminated while the Mets returned to the postseason by winning the first Wild Card spot. Who would have predicted that last November after the Royals dismantled the Mets in five games? Or even as recently as August 20th of this year when the Mets were 60-62. Of course, if the Mets are to win the World Series they’re going to have to face Chicago, Los Angeles, and/or Washington, all of whom will be seeking revenge on the Mets for 2015 . These teams may not recognize the Mets who show up to play in 2016 as there seems to have been a lot of roster changes since last autumn. Daniel Murphy moved to the Washington Nationals during the offseason, while David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Stephen Matz, and Wilmer Flores are all injured. Instead the Mets are relying on newcomers like Asdrubal Cabrera, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Rene Rivera, T.J. Rivera, Jay Bruce and a returned Jose Reyes. It will be fun to see how far the Mets go with this squad, but even if they don’t achieve much it gives hope for future seasons that – should everyone be healthy – the Mets will have so much depth to choose from.
The Red Sox won the American League East after what I consider a successful 4-year rebuilding period. As would be expected during a rebuild, the Sox finished in last place 3 of those 4 seasons, but more unlikely, they won the World Series in the other year. Nevertheless, the important thing is that the Sox rebuilt their farm system and held on to talented young players who form the core of this year’s team and I believe will make the Sox contenders for years to come. These include Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Travis Shaw, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Steven Wright, and Andrew Benintendi. They’re joined by veterans acquired via trade David Price, Rick Porcello, and Hanley Ramirez. And of course, Sox old-timers Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. This is notably Ortiz’s final season, and one of the best reasons I have for the Sox to go all the way this season is to see Ortiz win his fourth World Series with Boston before he retires.
There are a lot of intriguing possibilities considering the other teams in this year’s postseason. 8 of the 10 teams have significant championship droughts greater than 20 years: Toronto (1993), New York (1986), Baltimore (1983), Washington (no championships since franchise began in Montreal in 1969), Texas (no championships since the franchise began in Washington in 1961), Cleveland (1948), and most notoriously Chicago (1908). At the other extreme, the remaining two teams – the San Francisco Giants (2014, 2012, & 2010) and the Boston Red Sox (2013, 2007, & 2004) – have combined for half of the World Series title in the last 12 seasons!
Some interesting World Series matchups include:
- Chicago versus Cleveland – the two longest droughts head to head as well as an original NL team versus an original AL team
- Boston versus Chicago – an original AL team versus and original NL team, playing in MLB’s two oldest ballparks
- New York versus Baltimore – rematch of the 1969 World series
- Washington versus Boston – the Amtrak Northeastern Corridor Series
- Boston versus San Francisco – which team will get the fourth title of the 21st century?
- Washington versus Texas – which team will win their first World Series? (also, former Washington team versus current Washington team)
- Washington versus Baltimore – an All-Chesapeake Series
The League Championships Series may also have some interesting storylines:
- Chicago versus Washington – each team has a lengthy pennant drought, the Cubs last appeared in 1945 and the Nationals have never won a pennant since the franchise was born in Montreal in 1969
- San Francisco versus Los Angeles – classic West Coast rivalry for the first time in the NLCS
- New York versus Washington – a younger East Coast rivalry but I think it’s a fun one
After all that, here’s the ranking of my preference of which teams I’d like to see win the World Series:
- New York Mets
- Chicago Cubs
- San Francisco
- Los Angeles
And here is my prediction of how I think this postseason may actually shake out.
Wild Card Games:
- Toronto defeats Baltimore
- New York defeats San Francisco
League Division Series:
- Boston defeats Cleveland
- Toronto defeats Texas
- Washington defeats Los Angeles
- Chicago defeats New York :(
League Championship Series:
- Boston defeats Toronto
- Chicago defeats Washington
- Chicago defeats Boston
Let’s hope I’m wrong. What are your picks for the MLB postseason?