2012 MLB Playoffs: Predicting All of the Division and Wild Card Champions
Thursday September 20th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: As the season wraps up, the divisional races become tighter. Some races are close while others are blowouts. Here are the teams that I believe will be playing in October (and their predicted final records).
AL East: New York Yankees 93-69
The Yankees are too good to not win the division. Although Mark Teixeira is injured and Mariano Rivera is not coming back for the rest of the year, the Yankees have enough pieces to make it to the ALDS without having to go through the Wild Card game. The Yankees have the pitching that the Baltimore Orioles lack in C.C. Sabathia. The powerful Yankee offense will be enough to help the team avoid the Wild Card game.
AL Central: Chicago White Sox 91-71
Francisco Liriano and the resurgent Adam Dunn will be the keys to the success of the White Sox once they make it to the playoffs. Trading for Kevin Youkilis early in the season will also be looked upon as an important move. As good of a team as Detroit has, I do not see them overcoming the current three game deficit that they are saddled with. Although the Tigers have great pitching in Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer (not so much now that Scherzer is injured), the White Sox have played better.
AL West: Texas Rangers 97-65
The Rangers have been the frontrunner in the West for the majority of the season. Many thought the Angels would give the Rangers a run for their money, but that has not exactly come to fruition. Ryan Dempster has helped fill in for the injured Colby Lewis, and the call up of highly touted prospect Jurickson Profar will provide a boost. Look for the Rangers to make a strong push to win the World Series once and for all after losing in two consecutive years.
AL Wild Cards: (1) Oakland Athletics 93-69, and (2) Baltimore Orioles 91-71
The A’s have kept up this hot streak for way too long to not win a Wild Card. Their young pitching will continue to carry the surprising offense. We will see the American League Wild Card game played in the Oakland Coliseum. The A’s are the Cinderella story of this year win or lose, and will be talked about for years to come should they succeed. The A’s have overcome huge doubts with the Angels and Rangers in their division. The Orioles are also surprising. In a division with Boston and New York, no one thought that the Red Sox would be over ten games back while the Orioles play in the playoffs. It was really a toss-up as to who would be the number one Wild Card.
The A’s have a small lead, but they also started a ten-game road trip on Tuesday. They finish up with six games at home. I see the A’s winning the Wild Card game. The team will be well rested coming off a home stand and the Orioles will be tired after flying to Oakland. The A’s will most likely use Brett Anderson in this game (if his injury is not too serious)—if the rotation lines up. I like the way that Anderson has been pitching lately and he should be able to take care of the Orioles.
NL East: Washington Nationals 97-65
The Nationals are not a surprise. Starting with the hot streak at the beginning of the season, many believed that the Nationals were for real. Once the Phillies fell out of the divisional race, the Braves became the only competition. The Nationals have a sizeable lead against the Braves and will have no problem in the playoffs with the pitching that they have (yes, even without Stephen Strasburg).
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds 98-65
The Reds are arguably the best team in the majors. Their pitching has been solid recently and Joey Votto’s return has helped. They have a sizeable lead over St. Louis and will have no problem clinching the division in the next few days.
NL West: San Francisco Giants 92-70
The Dodgers have really collapsed over the past week or two, and the Giants have taken advantage of that. Tim Lincecum has improved after the All Star Break, and the hitting has been as good as possible without Melky Cabrera. The Giants, too, have a strong lead over the Dodgers and—pending an unlikely implosion—should dispatch the Dodgers soon.
NL Wild Cards: (1) Atlanta Braves 92-70, and (2) Los Angeles Dodgers 85-78
The Braves have been the frontrunner for the number one Wild Card spot ever since the Nationals took off, so this is pretty much a lock. The Dodgers though, will overtake St. Louis and end up playing in the Wild Card game. The Dodgers’ offense is too potent to miss out on this game. I see the Braves moving on, especially if the Dodgers cannot use ace Clayton Kershaw.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
***Today’s feature was prepared by Bernie Olshansky, Baseball Writer & Facebook Administrator. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Bernie on Twitter (@BernieOlshansky)***
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Posted on September 20, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged 2012, a's, athletics, baltimore, baseball, cincinnati, division winners, giants, mlb, new York, oakland, oriloes, playoffs, rangers, reds, San Francisco, texas, wild card, world series, yankees. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.