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The One Thing I Missed

Well, I was wrong. The Rays aren’t going to the World Series. You all know that by now. I still maintain that the Rays were the best team in the American League, but as you know, the best team doesn’t always win. Sometimes that’s because of luck, as I believe was the case when the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006. Sometimes, though, it’s because the postseason doesn’t always benefit the best team, but rather the best top end talent on each team, especially in a five game series.

A short series allows a team to completely get rid of their fifth starter, and in the case of some teams (or a five game series with too many off days) their fourth starter. A short series against the Texas Rangers is about as tough as it gets in the American League, at least from the teams who qualified for this little tournament. I’ll give you a hint why. It’s not Tommy Hunter. No, the Rangers have two top flight left-handed starters. A legitimate ace and a legitimate 1A, now the requisite to win in the playoffs.

The Rays just couldn’t compete with that, and I don’t believe the Yankees will be able to either. Cliff Lee in his career against the Yankees is 6-4 with a 4.42 ERA which doesn’t seem all that special, but remember, last year he won two games vs. the Yankees in the World Series. He’s a very different pitcher since his magical 2008 season. Most of the Yankees damage came before his reformation into a stud pitcher. C.J. Wilson struggled a little against the Yankees this year, but his game appears to be elevated to an entirely different level in the postseason. The two of them will potentially start four games in the ALCS with Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter, both very good, #2-3 type pitchers starting the other three games.

So how does this relate to the Royals? Well, it doesn’t too terribly much except for the fact that with a bit of influx in talent that appears to be on the horizon, the Royals might actually be a good bet to succeed in October…if they ever can get to the postseason. You look at a team like the Twins who have struggled to win a series in the playoffs, especially against the Yankees, and it’s easy to think that’s what it’d be like if and when the Royals finally make it. While the Twins have Liriano and he had a great season, he’s not on Greinke’s level. He’s a true #1 starter while Greinke is a true ace. Semantics aside, there is a difference and it’s the difference in making the Royals a World Series contender rather than a playoff contender.

The other side of the coin is the offensive side. Dayton Moore has paid lip service to on base percentage for a long time, but the results haven’t really been seen. They’re on the verge of being seen, though. By my count, the opening day 2011 lineup could feature as many as six or seven guys with above average OBPs in DeJesus, Butler, Betemit, Ka’aihue, Gordon and Blanco (if he starts). Pena and Aviles would presumably fill two of the other spots and both are good for a .330ish OBP while the last spot is Betancourt. That’s eight guys with OBPs that will not embarrass you. On the farm, there’s more coming with Hosmer and Myers as big OBP guys which will be supplemented by Moustakas’ prodigious power.

The point here is that if just a couple of the young left-handed starters work out that the Royals will have a very formidable playoff team. Do you really think a team wants to have to come into Kansas City and face Greinke, Montgomery and Duffy or Lamb or Dwyer? I don’t. It seems odd to be stockpiling lefties, but if you can pair two or three of them with a right-handed stud or two, that’s a recipe to succeed in the playoffs. Just look at the Rangers.
Now that the ALDS is over and I did pretty well with my predictions, here’s what I think will happen in the LCS:

Yankees at Rangers: I discussed this above, but I think the Rangers are a bad matchup for the Yankees. I like the Rangers in this series in six games with Colby Lewis pitching the clincher.

Giants at Phillies: Who can beat the Phillies in the National League? Well, they’re facing about the only team who can match up well with their pitching, but I just think they’re too good and too postseason tested. A third consecutive National League pennant for the Phightins comes in five games.

  1. Patrick
    October 14, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Most probably World Series, Yankees vs Phils, (that’s the cynic in me) with the Phils winning.

    Most interesting would be Rangers vs. Giants. Either winning would be pretty awesome.

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