Tuesday, October 15, 2013

MLB Playoffs, Where they Stand, Who is standing Out

Still Standing

 Dustin Pedroia, Prince Fielder, Yasiel Puig, Yadier Molina(Top Left to Bottom Left)
Left in action for the 2013 MLB play-offs are four medium to large market teams.  The Boston Red Sox, the Detroit Tigers make up the ALCS, and the LA Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals face off in the NLCS.  Ideally for baseball, a LA, Boston match up in the World Series would be the best out come.  These two teams boast huge markets, and are iconic franchises on their respective coasts.  However, this match up becomes quite interesting if we think back to a little over a year ago. 

When the Boston Red Sox and LA Dodgers were not having playoff caliber years, and then the block buster trade went down, and when the dust settled it seemed like Boston traded half its starting roster to the Dodgers.  As a result to trading players Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett the Red Sox were able to clear 270 million dollars off the books for the coming years.  With new ownership the Dodgers spent lavishly at the end of the 2012 season and off season, putting themselves into a win now mode for 2013 and beyond.  Mean while with a depleted roster the Red Sox took to rebuilding by bringing in a large group of mid range free agents such as Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli, among others.  The question for both teams became, would it work and will we be competing in 2013 like we hope to.  Over a year later that question is nearly 100% answered.  Both teams have remarkably made the play offs and have advanced to Conference League play.  However, both these teams aren't in the playoffs just to say they made it to the round before the World Series, they are here to say they won it. 

Lets not forget about the other two teams in this dance, who both by the way have now been in conference league play the at least the last two years.  Last year the Cardinals lost in the NLCS, while the Tigers would go on to the World Series, only to be swept by the San Francisco Giants.  For the Tigers it is about getting back and finishing the deal this time while they still can.  From the Cardinals view they look to get back to the World Series since they won it in 2011.  Currently the Cardinals hold a 2-0 lead in the series of LA while Boston and Detroit sit tied 1-1.

Post Season Highlights

The Pittsburgh Pirates first Post-Season appearance in over 20 years came to an end in Divisional round play against the St. Louis Cardinals.  Taking a 2-1 lead in the series, things were looking great for Pittsburgh.  They could not convert, however, and the Cardinals would ultimately advance.  Pittsburgh should not hang their heads though, they have finally broken through the curse, and have a superstar player in Andrew McCutchen.
Victor Martinez (left), Grant Balfour (right)
Much like the Pirates the Oakland Athletics took a 2-1 lead in the series against their opponent the Detroit Tigers.  Also like the Pirates the A's decided to keel over and let the Tigers win two straight and advance.  This makes it two years in a row now that the A's have lost to the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs.  Game 3 provided some drama (harsh language in video) between A's closer Grant Balfour and Tigers DH/catcher Victor Martinez. Things settled down... eventually, and Game 3 turned out to be the A's last win of the season. One could say that Victor Martinez and the Tigers got the last laugh.

Stand Out Moments

Michael Wacha: The 22 year-old is in his first Post-Season, but don't tell him or his opponents that.  In two starts so far he is 2-0 with 17 K's in 14 innings.  To top it off he has a .64 ERA and .64 WHIP (walks + hits / innings pitched).  It might be his first post season, but he might be the best pitcher on a team looking to prove that they are the best in the National League.

Boston Stays Strong

(From left to right)Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz
In Game Two of the ALCS the Detroit Tigers took a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning against Boston. Despite being no hit in Game 1 for 8 innings and 1 out, and then for the first five innings of Game 2 the Red Sox remained resilient.  That lead would soon be gone as the Red Sox worked hard at the plate, as they have all year, to load the bases by one double, one walk and one single.  With two outs David Ortiz stepped to the plate, and on the first pitch, the man they call "Big Papi" certainly showed Detroit who their Papi was. Ortiz belted one out to right field just out of the reach of known home run stealer Torii Hunter.  Boston would go on to win the game in the bottom of the 9th and by that point the Tiger's team on the field looked a bit discouraged.  

With plenty of innings to go, the stage is set for an exciting finish.  The four remaining baseball teams have stellar pitching and each a potent offense when on their game.   With plenty of big names left in play there will be plenty of more big moments as these teams battle for the World Series.  

headshot.jpgCole Miller, from Haddonfield, NJ, is currently a sophomore Sport Management major at Drexel. Over the summer, Cole volunteered for the 43rd SABR convention, a large convention with many speakers and other events for baseball fans who enjoy the new age statistics being brought to baseball such as WAR ( wins above replacement ).   Cole is a huge fan of baseball, specifically the Phillies.

You can connect on Cole on LinkedIn here.

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