2013 Preview: The HardballTalk staff predictions

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Oh, great Oracle. Tell us what the future holds!
source:

Actually, we’re usually way wrong with this stuff. All of us picked the Phillies to win the NL East last year and that didn’t work out too well.  But at least unlike a lot of outfits, we come back to these in October and remind everyone how wrong we were, so the wrongness of it is underscored all the more. If you can’t tell, we don’t take this exercise entirely seriously. No battle plan survives engagement with the enemy and such.

Whatever the case, it’s fun to try to predict the future, darn it, so here we are:


CRAIGsource:

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Brewers
Cubs

NL West

Giants
Dodgers
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees
Orioles
Red Sox

AL Central
Tigers
Indians
Royals
White Sox
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
AL Wild Card: Indians, Rangers
AL Pennant Winner: Tigers
World Series Champ: Tigers over Nationals

source:  AARON

AL East
Rays
Blue Jays
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
White Sox
Indians
Royals
Twins

AL West
Rangers
Angels
A’s
Mariners
Astros

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Cubs
Pirates

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Padres

AL Wild Cards: Angels, Blue Jays
NL Wild Cards: Braves, Cardinals
AL Pennant Winner: Tigers
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
Word Series Champ: Nationals over Tigers

source:  JOE (only division winners because I sorta hit Joe up for his picks last minute)

NL East
Nationals

NL Central
Cardinals

NL West
Giants

AL East
Nobody. I’ll say Blue Jays for the fun of it.

AL Central
Tigers

AL West
Rangers

AL Wildcard: Angels and, yes, Royals. Why not?
NL Wildcard: Cardinals, Dodgers.
World Series Champs: Nationals over Rangers.


source:  D.J.

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Brewers
Cubs

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Padres
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
Indians
Royals
White Sox
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Cards: Braves, Dodgers
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
AL Wild Cards: Rays, Rangers
AL Pennant Winner: Tigers
World Series: Nationals over Tigers

source:  DREW

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Pirates
Brewers
Cubs

NL West
Dodgers
Giants
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Padres

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
Royals
White Sox
Indians
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant Winner: Nationals
AL Wild Card: Rays, Rangers
AL Pennant Winner: Angels
World Series Champ: Angels over Nationals

source:  BILL

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Pirates
Cubs

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
D-Backs
Padres
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Yankees
Rays
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
White Sox
Indians
Royals
Twins

AL West
Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Card: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant winner: Nationals
AL Wild Card: Rangers, Yankees
AL Pennant winner: Blue Jays
World Series champ: Nationals over Blue Jays

source:  MATTHEW

NL East
Nationals
Braves
Phillies
Mets
Marlins

NL Central
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Pirates
Cubs

NL West
Giants
Dodgers
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

AL East
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees
Red Sox
Orioles

AL Central
Tigers
Royals
White Sox
Indians
Twins

AL West
Rangers
Athletics
Angels
Mariners
Astros

NL Wild Cards: Braves, Cardinals
NL Pennant Winner: Braves
AL Wild Cards: Rays, Athletics
AL Pennant Winner: Blue Jays
World Series Champ: Blue Jays over Braves

That’s all, folks! Take ’em to the bank. Or don’t. You’ll do just as well either way.

Astros vs. Dodgers is a match made in heaven

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A lot of people who work at the league office or who take paychecks from the Fox network probably wanted to see the Yankees and the Cubs in the World Series. They won’t admit it, of course, but I suspect that many did, as the ratings for a Cubs-Yankees Series might’ve broken modern records. If they are at all disappointed by the Astros and Dodgers winning the pennant, however, they should let that go because they’ve been gifted by a wonderful matchup from a purely baseball perspective. Indeed, it’s one of the best on-paper matchups we’ve had in the Fall Classic in many years.

Before the Dodgers went on their late-August, early-September swoon, this was the potential World Series pairing most folks who know a thing or two wanted to see. At least I did, and I don’t think I was alone. It was certainly the matchup which represented the teams with the two best regular season records and storylines at the time. While Cleveland ended up winning more games than Houston did, for the first time since 1970 we have a World Series pitting two 100-win teams against each other.

Like that Orioles-Reds series in 1970, which featured Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and a host of other All-Stars, the Dodgers-Astros provide us with an embarrassment of big names and future Hall of Famers. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw and Astros DH/OF Carlos Beltran are destined for induction already. Astros ace Justin Verlander may very well join them, especially if his late 2017 surge is evidence of a second career peak. Houston second baseman Jose Altuve‘s first seven years and Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen‘s first eight are the stuff upon which Cooperstown resumes are made as well. People will be arguing Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley‘s Hall of Fame case for years once he retires.

Youth is served as well in this matchup, with each club featuring a handful of the game’s best young players to accompany their big name veteran stars.

The Dodgers will bat their no-doubt N.L. Rookie of the Year first baseman Cody Bellinger second or third in the lineup every game. 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, who sat out the NLCS with a bad back, is expected to be activated for the Series where he’ll be the Dodgers shortstop. The Astros are actually an old team on paper — Verlander, catcher Brian McCann, starter Charlie Morton, first baseman Yuli Gurriel, outfielder Josh Reddick and DH Evan Gattis are all over 30 while Beltran is 40 — but young players are essential to their attack as well. Shortstop Carlos Correa just turned 23 and he’s one of the game’s brightest stars. Third baseman Alex Bregman, also 23, made the play that may very well have broken the Yankees’ back during Saturday night’s pennant clincher. Age aside, the Astros are the product of a major, multi-year rebuild and many of their players are making their first national splash this postseason.

Beyond just the names and resumes, though, the Dodgers and Astros represent a fantastic strategic matchup. The Dodgers attack this postseason has featured admirable plate discipline, with third baseman Justin Turner, right fielder Yasiel Puig and center fielder Chris Taylor all letting balls out of the zone pass them by while abusing pitches left out over the plate. Astros pitchers not named Justin Verlander, however, have lived by getting the opposition to chase bad balls. Game one starter Dallas Keuchel did this by relying on his very fast sinker. Lance McCullers pitched well starting Game 4 of the ALCS and pitched spectacularly closing out the final four innings of Game 7 mostly by virtue of his curveball, which Yankees pitchers could simply not lay off. Indeed, his final 24 pitches of Game 7 were all curves, many of them low and away. Who will give in first in this series?

On the side of things, Dodgers relievers have made a living by pumping in strikes. Particularly strikes high in the zone from Jansen and Brandon Morrow. There may be no better fastball hitter in all of baseball than Jose Altuve, however, and the team as a whole was one of the best in the bigs in dealing with gas in the zone. This was a big reason why the Astros struck out less than any team in baseball this year while simultaneously boasting the best offense in the game. The Dodgers throw strikes. The Astros make you pay when you throw them strikes. Again, something’s gotta give.

Maybe the suits in New York wanted the Yankees and Cubs. But everyone else is getting exactly what we want: a matchup of the two best teams in the game. A matchup of strength against strength. What is, from a purely baseball perspective, the best World Series we could’ve possibly hoped for.