Friday, July 25, 2014

Expect West Coast Baseball Teams to Dominate MLB Playoffs

While there is still a long ways to go in the baseball season, the hazy playoff picture is beginning to gain clarity.  Among the best teams in baseball are 4 clubs based on the west coast, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants, the Oakland Athletics, and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  Not only do these clubs have the best current records in the sport, but they also possess some of the most talented players in the game.  Therefore, I am predicting a west-heavy October with a potential ALCS and NLCS matchup between the 4 clubs.

The team that seems most powerful to me is the Los Angeles Dodgers.  While they haven’t dominated quite like their tremendous run of this time last summer, that may actually be a good thing.  You want your team hitting their stride in October, and these guys may be building towards that.  Their squad oozes of amazing talent and we are starting to see the payoff of their massive investment in the team.  Clayton Kershaw is baseball’s top pitcher while Hyun-jin Ryu and Zack Greinke are studs as well.  The batting lineup of Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, and Adrian Gonzalez is extremely formidable, making the Dodgers my favorite to win the 2014 World Series.

But one also cannot overlook their NL West division rivals, the San Francisco Giants, who actually have won recent World Series, both in 2010 and 2012.  Led by Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey, the Giants have title-winning experience and seem to always get sizzling hot right at the best moment.  While they never wow anyone or showcase the game’s biggest stars, they harbor a solid staff built around effort and teamwork, and fortune has recently fallen their way.  Anyone who counts this team out right now is asking for trouble…

In the American League, the team that has caught everyone’s attention is the Oakland Athletics.  A great team made up of relatively inexpensive players, the A’s have one of the best pitching lineups in baseball, featuring Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, Jesse Chavez, and the recently traded-for Jeff Samardzija.  With pitching often the key ingredient for championship success, the Athletics must be feeling pretty good about their chances.  Additionally, decent hitters like Derek Norris, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, Coco Crisp, and Brandon Moss give them enough run support to be true contenders.

But down south of this hot club, also in the AL West, are the big-money Los Angeles Angels.  Two superstar hitters in Albert Pujols and Mike Trout complement the solid pitching arms of Jered Weaver and Garrett Richards, making the club definite challengers for the title.  Due to recent failed seasons (and the success of the A’s), the Angels are bit of an after-thought and are currently flying under the radar.  This could be especially beneficial to them considering their wonderfully talented superstar leaders, who could certainly take over the month of October.

The interesting part about this western dominance of the 2014 baseball season is that two of these teams will have to play in the single-game elimination wildcard games.  Winning the AL West or NL West therefore becomes especially important, meaning that these clubs are in for some thrilling end-of-season races!  But regardless of who claims these divisions, I think we may see some dramatic west coast playoff series and maybe even a World Series featuring two of the teams!  My money is on the Oakland Athletics squaring off against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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