MLB playoff preview

Manitoban predictions for the 2013 World Series playoffs

American League (AL):
Tampa Bay Rays: The wild card winners were at one time the hottest team in baseball but have cooled off a bit. They boast a solid rotation and a good mix of old and young talent.
Key Players: Evan Longoria, Wil Myers.
Prediction: They’ll lose in the second round.

Cleveland Indians: Their offence is underrated and they have a decent enough pitching staff to get past the Rays in the wild card game. They’ll need a good start and some opportune offensive production.
Key Players: Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher.
Prediction: They’ll lose a close one to Tampa in the wild card game.

Boston Red Sox: No one expected this team to be the best team in baseball, but here they are. The AL East winners have an overachieving pitching staff complemented by an experienced lineup.
Key Players: Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli.
Prediction: They’ll win the divisional series, but will lose in seven games to the Tigers in the AL championship series.

Oakland Athletics: The Athletics have captured their second straight AL West title and will have to play the Tigers in the first round for the second time in as many years. They combine decent pitching with great fielding and a roster that can drive the ball.
Key Players: Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Céspedes.
Prediction: They’ll come close this year in the divisional series but the Tigers have too much talent.

Detroit Tigers: It’s hard to bet against a team that has two of the best sluggers in baseball. Having three great starters in their rotation will help the AL Central champs.
Key Players: Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder.
Prediction: I picked them to win the World Series at the beginning of the season and I’m sticking to it. They’ll have a tough time getting there but I think the Tigers are taking it all this year.

National League:

Atlanta Braves: The Braves came into the season with one of the most stacked teams in baseball. With a lineup as good as theirs, it’s hard to bet against the NL East winners.
Key Players: Jason Heyward, Chris Johnson.
Prediction: They’ll win in the first round but will lose a close series in the second round to the Cardinals.

St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals held off the two wild card teams to win the extremely close NL Central. They have a solid pitching staff, and a lineup loaded with playoff experience.
Key Players: Yadier Molina, Allen Craig.
Prediction: Their series with the Dodgers will be very close, but I think the Cardinals have the experience to win the National League and play for the World Series.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Since their All-Star break, the Dodgers have been the hottest team in baseball. They ran away with the NL West late in the year and have a lineup that would scare any pitcher.
Key Players: Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig.
Prediction: They have one of the best pitchers out there in Clayton Kershaw. It’ll be a close series but I think the Dodgers will lose in seven.

Cincinnati Reds: Led by Canadian Joey Votto, the Reds are good but won’t have an easy time as they battle through a tough National League.
Key Players: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips.
Prediction: I think they’ll win a very close series with the Pirates in the wild card, but will fall in the second round.

Pittsburgh Pirates: For the first time in 21 years the Pittsburgh Pirates have made the playoffs. They have a lot of good players in their roster, including Canadians Justin Morneau and Russell Martin.
Key Players: Andrew McCutchen, Marlon Byrd.
Prediction: It’s going to be a very close game but I think the Reds have an edge on the Pirates. The Bucs will lose a very close wild card game to the Reds.