…not one of the powerhouse franchises known as the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox.
Let’s all rejoice at the fact neither team will have a chance to add another World Series ring, with both missing the postseason simultaneously since 1994.
I don’t know about you, but this makes the 2014 MLB Postseason much more enjoyable for me. With the exception of the Dodgers and Tigers, eight of the 10 playoff teams are outside the top five in terms of Opening Day payroll, with four teams (Orioles, Royals, Athletics, and Pirates) ranked 15th and below.
It’s not a surprise to see the defending National League champion St. Louis Cardinals in the hunt, while three teams enter this year’s field after missing the postseason in the 2013.
Two teams from Cali, the Los Angeles Angels and San Francisco Giants, with the third being my 2014 World Series pick.
The Washington Nationals.
It’s almost too obvious to pick the Nationals. With a near-perfect starting rotation combined with a powerful lineup, Washington should be considered the favorite to win the World Series. It does make me nervous picking the clear-cut favorite to hoist the trophy, a team with little postseason experience compared to other NL teams on top of that, but I’m not over-thinking it. Give me the team who dominated the NL East, winning by a remarkable 17 games.
How will they get there and who will they play? Those questions will now be answered as I run through my predictions in each bracket.
AL Wildcard – Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals (Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. on TBS)
The pick: Oakland
The reason: Too much pressure on Kansas City playing at home. Despite their downs after the All-Star break, the Athletics holds an incredible run differential of +157. If they can rattle James Shields early, it will give way to Jon Lester to find his groove, then pass the baton to the Oakland bullpen.
NL Wildcard – San Francisco Giants vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. on ESPN)
The pick: Pittsburgh
The reason: A hostile environment at PNC Park to go along with Pittsburgh starting pitcher Edinson Volquez. Volquez has gone under the radar with a 13-7 record and 3.04 ERA, and now faces a Giants team who ranks 16th in the league in on-base percentage. Give me the Pirates.
ALDS #2 vs. #3 – Baltimore Orioles vs. Detroit Tigers
The pick: Detroit in 4
The reason: Starting pitching edge. This should be a great series early on with two high-powered offenses. Even though Baltimore has some good, underrated arms, I just don’t think they can match what Detroit brings with David Price, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander.
NLDS #2 vs. #3 – St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The pick: LA in 5
The reason: Clayton Kershaw twice in one series. The fact that this match-up comes in the NLDS with both teams has two and three seeds is unreal. The Cards and Dodgers met last season in the NLCS, with St. Louis moving on to the World Series. But Kershaw only started once during that series, and this time around he’ll make two appearances, while Zack Greinke gets the ball in Game 2.
ALDS #1 vs. #4 – Los Angeles Angels vs. Oakland Athletics
The pick: LA in 5
The reason: The Angels have Oakland’s number. Mike Trout and company have won six of the last seven meetings against the A’s, and will now have home-field advantage over their rivals in this five-game series. I think it will still be a competitive series, but the best team in baseball, in terms of record, will prevail.
NLDS #1 vs. #4 – Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
The pick: Washington in 4
This leaves us with the Angels vs. Tigers and Nationals vs. Dodgers.
I have to side with Detroit over the Angels due to their pitching advantage. However, the NL side could go either way. I had an urge to pick the Dodgers, but overall, it’s hard to go against those four starters in our nation’s capital despite the talent LA has.
My World Series shapes up to be Detroit vs. Washington. I’d be thrilled to see these two in a seven-game series with great pitching match-ups in each game. I’m still nervous about it, because the Tigers may come back to haunt me, but I’m taking the Nationals in six games.
Feel free to comment below and make your World Series pick. May your October be full of excitement.