At this point, I always like to take a glance at how each playoff team did against the better clubs during the season. So…
Last year, the bottom 3 clubs were 3 of the first 4 teams to be eliminated. They were each below .500 against teams that were over .500. So I’m thinkin’ we can pretty much count out the under .500 teams on this list from reaching the LCS too.
If that’s true, then the NLCS will be Nationals vs Cardinals, while the ALCS will likely feature 2 of the 3 remaining AL clubs – Tigers, Orioles, & A’s. The Angels might slip in on the strength of their offense though. They led the AL in RPG with 4.77 this year.
Last year, the Red Sox won the AL, after leading the league in OBP & SLG. This year the Tigers led the AL in those same categories. I’m not sure Detroit’s pitching and defense is good enough to win a World Series like Boston’s was. The Tigers have allowed 4.35 RA/G. Last year, the BoSox allowed 4.05 RA/G but they were scoring 5.27 RPG to offset that.
I think the Orioles have the best chance to come out of the AL. Their offense features the 3rd best OPS in the league (.734), behind only the Tigers and Blue Jays. Their pitching and defense allows the 3rd least amount of runs (3.66), behind only the Mariners and A’s.
Between the Cardinals and Nationals, I’m not quite sure who looks best to head to the World Series. The Nationals pitching staff led the NL in RA/G (3.43), FIP (3.17), and WHIP (1.158). Their offense is 3rd in the league in RPG (4.23) and 4th in OPS (.714), while the Cardinals are below league average both categories, 9th in RPG (3.82) and 8th in OPS (.689). On the other hand, the Cardinals have won the head-to-head matchup 5 games to 2 this year, and 6 games to 0 last season. So there’s no question that St Louis knows how to beat this Washington team despite the Nats greatness.
So I think the 2014 World Series will have the Orioles facing either the Cardinals or Nationals, and I’m leaning towards St Louis. Keep in mind that the O’s & Cards franchises met in a World Series way back when the Orioles were known as the Browns, and played their home games in the same stadium the Cardinals did.