Look, I’m no Craig Glazer. All of my hair is real, I’ve never had to be treated for the clap, and when it comes to picking winners, I’m shakier than Michael J Fox in a vibrating massage chair from Sharper Image.
My record speaks for itself. In the divisional series, I had Tampa Bay, New York and Philadelphia advancing. Wow.
1 out of 4 ain’t bad, right? No, it is. And that’s fine. I’m not THAT kind of sports writer. I’m more of the kind that tries to pretend that he knows what he’s talking about and hopes that a majority of the readers won’t notice. And that’s fine. Just wanted to throw that out there—that I shouldn’t be trusted.
That being said, here’s who you should pick in the Championship Series and why… And yeah, I get it. We’re already a game in on each side. Hey, that’s what happens when you’re a normal dude with a normal job. You have to make some concessions when it comes to living out your lifelong fantasy of covering sports for a third tier news, entertainment and leisure website.
So, here’s how it works…
Pitching: This nod goes to the Rangers. Look, Verlander was the subject of bad wizardry in game one and he’s going to get at least one more start, possibly a bullpen outing. But beyond Verlander, the Tigers’ rotation is wholly mediocre. Max Scherzer is average at this point in his career. So is Rick Porcello. Brad Penny is… fat. And old. Doug Fister looked sensational after coming over to the Tigers late in the year, but his inexperience showed in the Divisional Series against the Yankees.
Meanwhile, Texas straight-edger CJ Wilson is quite good, despite getting lit up against the Rays in the first round. He rebounded nicely in Saturday’s win and should get another start late in the series. Colby Lewis seems to shine in the postseason. Throw in Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Alexi Ogando, and you’ve got yourself a decent little rotation, fella.
Though the bullpens are fairly even, Detroit gets the edge because: A) closer Jose Valverde was pretty danged amazing this season, and B) Al Alburquerque has the greatest, phoniest sounding name ever (oh, and despite his struggles late in the season and in the first round against the Yankees, he’s an nearly unhittable when he’s on… and I’m sure he’ll get his act together).
Still, though, it’s all about the rotation, and I just don’t think Detroit can keep up.
Defense: Occasionally, Jhonny Peralta will make you forget his name is spelled so terribly with a really pretty defensive play. Austin Jackson is usually pretty great, but good God, did you seem him drop that routine fly ball in game one? Sweet creeping Jesus, that was unforgivable. I don’t feel like I can trust him now. He’s betrayed me for the last time, girlfriend. Brandon Inge is like, 45 years old and a shell of his former self.
Meanwhile, Texas has Ian Kinsler at 2nd and Adrian Beltre at 3rd. But wait, there’s more! More, like, their defense isn’t very good. Like, 12th in overall fielding percentage. Out of 14. This despite possessing former Royals heavyweights like Andres Blanco and Endy Chavez.
Yeah, while neither is a defensive dream, we’ve gotta hand it to Detroit off sheer ability to not be maddening when it comes to stopping, throwing or catching a ball.
Offense: This really boils down to power—as in, who’s got it and how do they plan on wielding it?. The Rangers were second in the AL in homeruns. Ian Kinsler hit 32. Adrian Beltre re-discovered his… something… and hit 32 as well. Mike Napoli— Mike Napoli? hit 30 and Nelson Cruz—who apparently decided to reel it in a bit, hit 29. What a bunch of bangers. Oh—AND they also managed to put stick to wood WITHOUT crushing it—they led the AL in batting average with .283.
Meanwhile, the Tigs were seventh in HRs, third in BA and tied for third in on base percentage (with the Rangers, it should be noted). Aside from Miguel Cabrera, they’re pretty pedestrian.
Rangers win offense.
And therefore, Rangers win all—in 6 games.
Pitching: Chris Carpenter has had a fine postseason thus far. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve seen a more dominant effort than the decisive game five victory he pitched against the Phillies. Simply epic.
But beyond that? It’s a mixed bag. Jaime Garcia is good, but young. Jake Westbrook–much like the old gray mare–just ain’t what she used to be. Kyle Lohse had a solidly crafted season, but it feels like he’s pitching a bit over his abilities, and that usually meets a brick wall at some point.
The Brewers, meanwhile, have Zack Greinke (really struggling this postseason, which is a shame to see), Yovani Gallardo (actually out-aced Greinke this year and has looked great so far in October) and Shaun Marcum (let’s hear it for Excelsior Springs!). Great rotation—if Greinke can get his act together.
Oh, and they have John Axford closing out games, a frighteningly mustached man who had 46 saves this season and strikes out more than a batter per inning.
The Cardinals have ex-Royal Octavio Dotel. That’s all you need to know about that.
Pitching goes to the Brewers by a nose (or a long, gangly mustache, if you’d prefer).
Defense: This one is tough. On one hand, you’ve got Albert Pujols grass-picking balls like he was the king of croquet and defensive bad-ass Yadier Molina gunning down runners like they insulted his mother or something. On the other, you’ve got Yuniesky being Yuniesky. Funny side note: Yuniesky Betancourt used to live in my building when he played for the Royals. And… that’s it. Guess it’s not that funny. Although I DID see him picking up a sandwich delivery order in the lobby once. Surprisingly short and stubby… Yuniesky, not the sandwich.
Anyway, he hasn’t looked as bad defensively as we’d expect. And neither has Ryan Braun… or Prince Fielder, actually. Imagine that.
Overall, however, the team was 11th in fielding for the regular season. Oops.
But get this– so was St. Louis.
This one’s almost a push, but I think you give it to St. Louis—barely—because of Molina. Because, you know, catching is important or whatever.
Offense: Matt Holliday hasn’t looked fully healthy in a fortnight. Lance Berkman found the fountain of youth. Pujols is… well, he’s still Pujols. He’ll be a deep threat even when he’s a withered old man, whittling wooden gnomes on his front porch. But beyond that, the Cardinals’ offense just isn’t that deep.
The Brewers, meanwhile have it in spades. Corey Hart—who is probably really tired of the ‘Sunglasses at Night’ jokes—sets the table for what is one of the more explosive batting orders in the National League. MVP candidate Braun is having a torrential postseason, Nyjer Morgan can run like a gazelle and if you touch Prince Fielder’s cake, he will flat out kill you.
What I mean to say, is that Prince Fielder treats each pitch like the baseball being thrown is a guy telling him that they’re all out of sausage.
Top to bottom, the Brewers have the better offense by a pretty decent margin.
Therefore, I think the Brewers win the series in 7.
So there you have it, my take on the AL/NLCS. Make sure to check back next week so I can explain why the Tigers will beat the Cardinals in the World Series.