World Series Prediction: Sox on Top

Sam Linnerooth

The calendar has turned over to October, and postseason baseball is officially underway. As the playoffs wear on, we can begin to reassess where some of the remaining teams now stand as well as make projections for the remainder of the postseason.

If I had been asked to predict the eventual World Series champions anytime over this past season, I would have picked the Detroit Tigers without a second thought. They are just too good when everything is working for them. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, and the Tigers stumbled into the playoffs with a 13-13 record during the month of September. I never thought I would say this, but I see Miguel Cabrera as the biggest question mark for the Tigers’ postseason hopes.

The reigning American League Most Valuable Player and Triple Crown winner has been playing with lingering groin and abdominal injuries for the past month and it’s showing. Cabrera hit 44 home runs this year, but has only had two extra base hits since the

beginning of September. Without Cabrera’s power, the Tigers have only able to score 3.73 runs per game during the same time frame; for reference, there were only three MLB teams that scored less runs per game this

past season.

To finish the regular season, the Tigers were swept by the Miami Marlins in a three-game series where they were only able to score three total runs. If this trend continues, I would not be surprised if the Tigers fail to even make it past their first round matchup with the Oakland Athletics.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Los Angeles Dodgers are poised to make a lot of noise in this year’s postseason. The emergence of their budding superstar, Yasiel Puig, combined with their nearly unbeatable second-half of the season, made the Dodgers one of the most exciting teams to watch in Major League Baseball this year. While injuries will force Matt Kemp out of the rest of the season, the Dodgers have the ability to make it to the World Series on the strength of their pitching alone.

Clayton Kershaw also happens to be the best pitcher on the planet right now.

After finishing the year with a 1.83 Earned Run Average (ERA), Kershaw could very reasonably win two games of each series by himself. Aside from Kershaw, the Dodgers have two more legitimate aces in Zack Greinke and Korean rookie Hyun-jin Ryu, who posted 2.63 and 3.00 regular season ERAs, respectively.

Even if the Dodgers don’t win with their pitching, their offense is certainly capable of picking up the slack. Led by Hanley Ram?-rez, Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, the Dodgers finished in the top-ten in almost every major offensive category over the second half of the season. I expect the Dodgers to make a World Series appearance in 2013.

This leads in to my pick for the World Series champion: the Boston Red Sox. I’ll admit that this is not a very exciting or unexpected pick – Las Vegas odds makers have had them as World Series favorites for a while now – but it is a smart pick. After what many thought would be a rebuilding year in Boston, the Red Sox have been the best team in baseball.

The Red Sox offense finished first in runs per game, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and the team has only gotten better as the season has progressed. The team nearly averaged an absurd seven runs per game over the entire month of September. Boston’s offense simply has the ability to take over any game of a series.

What puts the Red Sox over the top is the surprising quality of their pitching staff. Clay Buchholz has been as good as any other pitcher this year and would have been a lock for the American League Cy Young Award if he had stayed healthy the entire season. Additionally, veterans John Lackey and Jon Lester have both had bounce-back years, and Koji Uehara has statistically been the most dominant

closer in baseball since taking the job in June.

After finishing last season 13 games below .500 and at the bottom of the American League East, the Boston Red Sox have surprised nearly everyone this year en route to becoming division champions and securing the league’s best regular season record. While anything is possible in postseason baseball, the Boston Red Sox are the smart choice to finish the season as World Series champions.They might even make it look easy.

Contact Sam Linnerooth at [email protected]u.