My Playoff Predictions

At this point, I always like to take a glance at how each playoff team did against the better clubs during the season. So…

2014 Playoff Teams Vs. Teams Over .500
Team W L %
Orioles 51 40 .560
Tigers 49 39 .557
Cardinals 39 33 .542
A’s 44 40 .524
Nationals 23 23 .500
Royals 44 45 .494
Angels 41 43 .488
Giants 27 31 .466
Pirates 33 39 .458
Dodgers 26 33 .441

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.

Clem Labine & Jack Morris

Graham Womack’s recent blog post Why do people still think Jack Morris pitched to the score? got me wondering about a side point. Has anyone besides Jack Morris ever thrown 10 shutout innings in an elimination game in the World Series with a final score of 1-0? Sure enough, someone has and that someone was someone most fans probably never heard of — Clem Labine.

Back in 1956, the Dodgers would’ve lost the series but Clem threw a gem and held off the Yankees offense for 10 solid innings of a 0-0 tie, to keep Brooklyn’s hope alive. In fact, he gave up the same number of hits & walks that Morris did in 1991’s game 7 while facing the exact same number of batters. It’s a very close comparison.

So as great as Morris’s performance was on that October night in 1991, it was not so unique that it couldn’t have been done by someone else in a similar situation.

23 by 23

No matter how Mike Trout’s career ends up, he will always have a good argument for being the best young position player the game has ever seen. He’s already got more fWAR through his age 22 season than anybody else, and now he’s on the verge of accumulating the most rWAR too.

22+ WAR in Their Age 22 Season
Player From-To Age rWAR fWAR G PA
Ty Cobb 1905-1909 18-22 25.5 25.9 595 2486
Mike Trout 2011-2014 19-22 25.4 26.6 416 1852
Ted Williams 1939-1941 20-22 23.6 24.8 436 1942
Mel Ott 1926-1931 17-22 23.5 25.1 677 2644
Alex Rodriguez 1994-1998 18-22 22.9 20.8 513 2271