Photo Credit: UPI (featured image), ESPN (team logos)
The MLB may just be the only sport where any team in the postseason has a solid chance at winning the World Series. For example, 16 teams make the NBA Playoffs, yet only two or three really have a good shot at taking home the title. The NFL is slightly better given that their playoffs are one game series. However, of the 12 teams that make it in, usually no more than six have a good chance at winning the Super Bowl. But in the MLB, any of the 10 teams have a chance to win the World Series. From the 103-win Chicago Cubs to the not quite as dominant Cleveland Indians, any team really does have a chance at winning it all. Making a postseason bracket is hard, as each and every matchup is hard to predict. However, the postseason seedings are all set, and I think I have the winners of all of the matchups. But first, here is a short description on each team, and why they have a chance at winning the World Series.
The Chicago Cubs come in to the playoffs with the best regular season record in the MLB. They seem nearly invincible from any side of the field, especially on offense. However, the best team almost never wins in the World Series (the Dodgers were the clear-cut favorite last year). I have made an article about the Cubs already (To all Cubs Fans: The Curse Will Continue), but their pure talent is obviously my reasoning behind them having a chance to break the curse.
The Washington Nationals have an unstoppable pitching rotation, and also contain Daniel Murphy, who tore up the postseason last year and may be the biggest reason behind the New York Mets going as far as they did last year. He is the sole reason Washington could go all the way.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lost a key pitcher, Zach Greinke, last offseason. However, Clayton Kershaw is still incredibly reliable, and with young stars like Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles could finally get the pennant. Aside from that, the Dodgers will have more motivation than ever to win a title after watching their rivals, the San Francisco Giants, win three in the past five seasons.
In the NL wild card, we have the Mets and the Giants. The Mets may be missing their star Daniel Murphy from last year, but they still have the majority of their NL championship team from last year. The Royals went to the World Series and lost in 2014, then won in 2015. Why can’t New York do the same?
The Giants have maybe one of the most clutch pitchers in MLB history: Madison Bumgarner. They have also taken home the pennant the last three even year MLB seasons. In 2016 (an even year), why can’t the experienced playoff juggernaut win the World Series?
The Texas Rangers have the best record in the American League, and get to play a wild card team who will have to start their second best pitcher. Add that to a confident team with excellent bats all around, and the Texas Rangers could go all the way easily.
For Cleveland, the Cleveland Cavaliers just won the NBA Championship, bringing Cleveland its first title in 51 years. The Indians giving Cleveland two championships in one year would be a great story. On the more logical side, Cleveland may have the best pitching rotation in baseball since the Dodgers lost Zach Greinke. They can definitely rely on pitching to win them the pennant.
The Boston Red Sox have the best young team in baseball, and are trying to give David Ortiz his third World Series before he retires. He’s got the team around him to do it. I personally would love to see Big Papi win the pennant in his last game at Fenway Park. To make one final point, David Price is totally worth the money he is getting, as he can singlehandedly make a pitching rotation great.
The Wild Card game for the AL will feature the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles. Toronto easily has the best lineup in the MLB right now with 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and others. If they can get Troy Tulowitzki to play the way he did in Colorado, The Jays could definitely take home the trophy.
The Baltimore Orioles have the potential Cy Young Chris Tillman in their pitching rotation. They also have a good lineup with Chris Davis and Manny Machado. The solid all-around team they have is certainly good enough to win a championship.
NL Wild Card: Giants over Mets.
San Francisco is going for their fourth straight even year World Series victory. They will be starting Madison Bumgarner, and the mediocre New York lineup won’t stand a chance. I also think that whether New York starts Noah Syndergaard or Bartolo Colon, neither will be enough to stop the Giants’ lineup.
AL Wild Card: Orioles over Blue Jays
Earlier this year, I had the Jays as the best team in baseball. However, in a one game series, it is all about the pitching. Chris Tillman is a clear favorite over Marcus Stroman.
NLDS: Cubs over Giants
The simple fact is Chicago won 103 games this season, whereas San Fransisco is a team that barely snuck into the playoffs. In addition, the Giants will not have Bumgarner for a little bit given the fact that they will use him in the crucial Wild Card game against the Mets.
NLDS: Dodgers over Nationals
I would love to see a Giants-Dodgers series in the NLCS, but that’s not going to change my thoughts. However, Clayton Kershaw is a beast, and can keep the rotation at an elite level by himself. I would also favorite LA’s lineup over Washington’s , although it’s close .
ALDS: Rangers over Orioles
Put the best team in a league against a much less talented team with a three game wait before the ace gets put in, and you have an unfair series. Baltimore may only be able to pitch Tillman once, whereas the Rangers can throw their ace, Cole Hamels, twice, pending a Game 5.
ALDS: Red Sox over Indians
I would love to see two titles get delivered to Cleveland in one year, but the Red Sox are just a better team. Their pitching rotation is good enough to compete with Kluber and the rest of the Indians team. Plus, the Red Sox batting lineup is significantly better than the Indians’.
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers
It is extremely hard to rule out a team that wins 103 games. Not putting them in the World Series is not easy. The Cubs’ batting lineup is incredible, or at least better than the Dodgers’. Plus, as good as Kershaw is, the Cubs have a deeper rotation, which will be better in a 7-game series.
ALCS: Red Sox over Rangers
David Ortiz is almost destined to be great this postseason. He is one of the best hitters in baseball already, and he does extremely well under pressure. Plus, David Price is an excellent ace that is ready to make an impact and send Boston to the World Series.
World Series: Red Sox over Cubs
Yeah… maybe I am picking with my heart. I will say that this is definitely possible and even probable to see both of these teams make it this far. No matter the reason, I want to see a Red Sox/Cubs World Series battle. This matchup would feature a team that recently broke its own World Series curse back in 2004 that dated back to 1918 against a team that is still yet to break their own World Series curse that dates back to 1908. The Cubs against any team would draw major attention to the sport. Throw the Red Sox in to magnify the drama, and you have yourself an incredible (hopefully 7-game) series. The reason I pick the Red Sox is not because of talent of each team on paper. If that was the case, I would go with Chicago. I have Boston because they will be motivated to win for David Ortiz. You could also say that about the Cubs, but I’m just not sure how they will handle the situation. Chicago will be more nervous than ever knowing that they are trying to win a World Series for the franchise for the first time in over 100 years. The Boston Red Sox are soon to be World Series Champions.