My Divisional Series predictions did about as well as Detroit’s bullpen or Washington’s offense, but since the one I did get right was the Orioles, I’m happy. At this point, I’m predicting a bird lover’s World Series and here’s why:
Baltimore versus Kansas City Both teams are coming off sweeps and both divisional series were closer than first appears. The Royals were taken to extra innings in the first two games by the Angels, while the Tigers lost by only a run in Game 3 and had an 8th inning lead in Game 2. Despite the sweep, Kansas City put up some truly anemic numbers against Los Angeles, batting just .198 with a .275 on-base percentage (OBP) against a struggling Angels’ staff. They managed to win by posting a stellar 1.74 ERA.
The Orioles, on the other hand, batted .263 with a .330 OBP against three Cy Young Award winners (and a horrendous Tiger bullpen.) For the season, the Orioles’ team OBP was .311, but the Royals were only three points higher. Meanwhile, KC’s .376 slugging percentage was 48 points below the Orioles’ .422.
These numbers suggest that Baltimore is actually the hotter club right now and possesses a better offense overall. They also possess a healthy and productive pitching staff unlike the one the Royals just faced. The Birds have home field advantage, and since both teams are built for their respective parks, this gives an edge to the Orioles. Furthermore, Buck Showalter should be the Manager of the Year, while Ned Yost consistently employs strategies that make you go, “What?”
Key to the Series If Baltimore can get early leads and negate the impact of KC’s excellent bullpen, then the Royals offense can play for one run at a time all they want. As Earl Weaver used to say, when you play for one run, most of the time that’s all you’ll get.
Bonus Predictions: At least one announcer will use the phrase “small ball” 142 times before the first four innings of Game 1 are over, singing the praises of the bunt and the hit and run, both of which should have been abandoned as serious strategy in 1920. The Royals do those things because they have to; they would gladly trade their stolen bases for the Orioles home runs.
You’ll also hear some know-nothing blabber on about Camden Yards being a hitters’ paradise. It is not. According to baseball-reference.com OPACY actually favors the pitchers by a very slight margin. You can look it up. Here.
San Francisco versus St. Louis It seems foolish to pick against these two teams; no matter their faults and flaws they manage to get where they need to be. The Giants and Cardinals have passed the National League pennant back and forth since 2010. Neither team pounded the ball with the exception of the ten runs that the Cardinals put up in Game 1 against the Dodgers. In fact, you could dress up as the Giants offense for Halloween because their series .275 OBP and .278 slugging percentage are downright scary. Four games is no sample size at all, but I do think St. Louis has a better offense and since the pitching matches up pretty evenly and since the Cardinals have home field advantage, I’m going with the Cardinals.
Bonus Prediction: Some announcer will talk about how exciting National League baseball is because of the double switch. No one, as in not a single person, comes to a game to watch a manager employ a strategy that any 13 year old with a Strat-o-matic table top baseball game can figure out. In fact, watching most pitchers wave a bat around while trying not to hurt themselves is far LESS exciting than watching Nelson Cruz swing the bat.
World Series Prediction: Orioles over the Cardinals. By the way, the New York Times picked these two teams to meet in the World Series before the season began.