Yesterday we brought you our choices for the three major awards in each league. Today, is what everyone really cares about, "how far will my team go?" Just as it goes for individual predictions, pre-season playoff predictions often look silly at the end of season. We can do a relatively good job at forecasting how talented a team is, but have no clue what type of good and back breaks a team will incur throughout the season.
The first chart is who we see as the division and wild card winners this season. The charts that follow go through the playoffs until the World Series champion is crowned. As with yesterday, we each provided an explanation and reasoning for out picks.
|NL Wild Card||AL Wild Card|
|NL Division Series||AL Division Series|
|NL Championship Series||AL Championship Series|
"The Nationals have improved via trades (Really, Detroit?) and other transactions, and most of the guys who had down seasons last year probably won't have down seasons this year. With that being said and despite losing Beachy and Medlen, the Braves are returning most of the roster that won the division by 10 games last season. I can't see the Braves regressing by 10 games, nor do I see the Nats improving by 10. It'll be a closer race, but it's still a race that the Braves will win. As far as the rest of the league is concerned...the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. Most of their starting fielders project to be 3+ win players, and their projected rotation is solid from top to bottom. That's a good combination for a team with World Series aspirations to make a run at it, and they'll definitely be the team to beat if anyone else (especially our tomahawk-clad team) wants to make a run at it." - Demetrius
"The biggest surprsie in the final standings for the NL is that Diamondbacks knock off the Dodgers and Giants to win the division crown. Goldschmidt and Trumbo combine to hit 80 home runs and the pitching pays off in Arizona. The Braves and Nationals battle it out in the division until the very final day of the season with Atlanta coming out on top in dramatic fashion. In the American League East the Rays play the spoiler role for Jeter in his last season and own the Yankees in regular season play, which holds them out of the playoffs. Boston remains in the race and locks the wild card. In the NL Championship Series the Braves bats get hot against the Cardinals and win a slugfest series to meet up with their almost twin of a team in the AL. David Price however stymies the Braves in the World Series and they win in seven games as he goes the distance for the win. What a unpredictable season it would be." - Patrick
"I feel confident that the Cards and Dodgers will repeat as champions of their respective divisions in 2014 and advance to the playoffs. I wavered between picking the Nationals and Braves as the East champions, but overall, I just think the Nationals' insanely strong rotation, bolstered by their offseason robbery, er, acqusition, of Doug Fister, combined with a breakout season from Bryce Harper, will propel them to the division crown. Despite a pitching staff hurt by injuries, I think the Braves' offense will take a step forward to compensate, and they'll join the young and interesting Pirates as the wild card teams, and that luck will break our way and that we'll actually win that game this time. They playoffs are a crapshoot, more or less, but I think that the Dodgers are the strongest team overall in the league (provided that they stay relatively healthy), so I'll pick them to come out of the NL in the playoffs. And yes, I'm picking the Braves to once again lose in the divisional round. To our favorite team from DC, no less!
The AL felt a bit more difficult to forecast for me. There was only one easy pick as far as the division winners go (the Tigers), and I expect there to be many, many teams vying for those two wild card spots. I think the Rays will win the AL East on the strength of their fantastic pitching, and that the Rangers will win the West in a close race with Oakland and Los Angeles (sorry, Seattle). I expect the Red Sox to put together another strong season, and I think the A's will sneak into the playoffs with the final wild card slot. I'll take the Rays as my AL champions and World Series champions, based on their fantastic pitching staff, with guys like Matt Moore, David Price, Chris Archer, and Alex Cobb. I think Evan Longoria will be excellent, as per usual, and that Tampa will get solid contributions from newcomers Jake Odorizzi and Ryan Hanigan. Oh, and I haven't even mentioned Wil Myers yet. I think the Rays finally bring home a title in 2014, but there are many, many capable teams who could take home the Commissioner’s Trophy in 2014. Let's play ball." - Ian
"I realize my predictions look much like how the playoffs shook out last year, but that's no coincidence. I don't think there's much reason to believe that most of the division winners don't make it back. In the NL, I think the Nats will bounceback enough to ensure a wild card spot. I think the Braves get just enough wins to avoid the Cards or Dodgers in the NLDS, which will be huge. In the AL, call me a sucker, but I still believe in the Angels. They have the best player in baseball, and I think Albert Pujols is due for a nice bounceback, assume his plantar fasciitis is behind him. Ultimately, I think the Tigers get more playoff offense this time around, and their triumvarate of Scherzer, Verlander, and Sanchez is just too good. Braves and Tigers meet in the World Series. Braves win in 7 games, Jason Heyward is your World Series MVP. B.J. Upton scores the game-winning run." - Dan
"I always like the AL East behemoths and think the Rays have built a quality squad with tons of depth. The Cardinals to me are the best team in baseball top to bottom, including the minor leaguers." - Ben
"I think the Dodgers and Cardinals will win their divisions pretty handily. As for the NL East, I it will again be a two team race, but the Nationals will ultimately take the division. Their rotation will prove to be too dominant and be a big reason for success in 2014. The Braves will keep it with in striking distance, but will ultimately win the first wild card spot, but will again lose to the Dodgers in the NLDS. In the AL, I have ton clue what to make of the East. The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays will all be in the mix, but the Yankees stay healthy enough to win the East. The Angels sneak in the final wild card spot and Trout finally "carries his team to the playoffs" and wins MVP. In the end, the two best teams, Dodgers and Tigers play in the World Series and LA's rancid spending plan prove to be too tough to beat." - Andrew