Even though my favorite Cubs are out, I’m still excited for these MLB playoffs. There are some teams I may like more than others, but I would rather see great games throughout the playoffs than any one team win or lose. With that being said, I’ll cheer for my current predictions.
Thanks to stats from teamrankings.com, I was able to see how teams rank in what I considered to be important categories: Runs, OBP, Strikeout Percentage on Offense, Opponents’ OBP, ERA. It seems pretty obvious these metrics would important – score runs and keep the other team from scoring runs to win games. Aside from just the runs, getting on base and keeping other teams off base is another sign of a good team and one that I feel can make for a tough out in the playoffs. Strikeout percentage probably isn’t as important as the others, but finding ways on base and putting the ball in play keeps your chances alive.
Couple notes I found interesting:
Since 2009, seven of the last ten World Series winners (and each of the last four) were first in at least one of the five categories.
Also since 2009, nine out of ten winners were top three in at least one of those categories.
The 2019 Astros are really good – they ranked no lower than third in any category. As expected, Dodgers, and Yankees also looked good, and the Nationals and Twins appeared better than I expected. The Cardinals and Rays both ranked better at pitching than hitting, and the Braves didn’t really stand out any one category. For many reasons, the playoffs of course are not the regular season, and because of that, I didn’t and wouldn’t just take any numbers and figure that will transfer – I just wanted to use these factors as a guide to highlight teams’ strengths and weaknesses while seeing how they compare to previous years and then make my own picks:
AL Divisional: Yankees over Twins. Astros over Rays.
ALCS: Yankees over Astros
NL Divisional: Nationals over Dodgers. Cardinals over Braves.
NLCS: Nationals over Cardinals
World Series: Yankees over Nationals
It’s definitely fair to say Astros and Dodgers should be favored in respective leagues, but I think the Yankees and Nationals beat them. The Nationals ranked well in the above categories with a strong top of the lineup and starting pitching. The bullpen is a concern but that will be managed differently in the playoffs and it’s not like any team in the NL has a Mariano Rivera. They Yankees battled injuries all regular season and still led the MLB in runs. According to baseballreference.com lineup splits, the Yankees 9th spot in the lineup was 3rd in OBP, followed by the 7th spot at 4th, and the 8th spot in 5th – the 3rd through 6th spot in the lineup were the worst at getting on base. There is no break in the lineup for the team that hit the second most home runs. Combining the lineup depth and home runs with a deep bullpen, the Yankees are my pick to win the World Series.