With the World Series around the corner, we’ve made our predictions for the winner and loser of this year’s Baseball title.
American League Division Series:
New York Yankees over Cleveland Indians (3-2)
What’s a baseball season without a couple of surprises? Cleveland had everything going for them: a dangerous lineup, a deep roster, and the top spot on FiveThirtyEight’s predictions chart. After taking the first two games at home, the second one on an exhilarating walk-off in the 13th inning no less, the Indians flew to Yankee Stadium with confidence to spare — and why not? During the regular baseball season, Cleveland won five out of seven contests against New York. So the respective 1–0 and 7–3 losses were quite the wakeup call and an annually-needed reminder that nothing is guaranteed in baseball. Twenty-two game winning streaks are impressive, but they don’t automatically present a ‘collect 200 and pass go’ to the World Series.
As a team, New York only batted .201, which was still better than Cleveland’s collective .171 – the lowest of any Division Series team. But these low batting averages are a testimony to the strength of the pitchers on both teams; the Yankees’ roster finished with a respectable earned run average of 3.06 and the Indians’ with a league-leading 2.68. Shortstop Didi Gregorius gave New York all the offense they needed, hitting back-to-back homeruns in the deciding game 5 of the ALDS; a match the Yankees would go on to win 5–3. The Wild Card team stunned the best team in the American League, and in doing so, reminded baseball fans everywhere that nothing is ever written in stone.
Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox (3-1)
in the first two months of the baseball season never quite returned after dipping in the summer — not even when they picked up the Justin Verlander from Detroit. However, Houston reminded everyone what the hype was all about — and then amplified it. Beating Boston in four games, the one 10–4 victory in Fenway was all that prevented the Red Sox from getting swept in the Division Series for the second year in a row.
In the first game of the series, on October 5, probable AL MVP Jose Altuve hit three home runs, cementing himself in Astros history as the first player to hit three home runs in a playoff game. The home runs came off of Red Sox ace Chris Sale, who collected two of his team’s three losses in the series. Justin Verlander, on the other hand, collected two of his team’s three wins, making the already-stellar trade that brought him to the Texas city even more of a triumph. Houston proved their power, both defensively and offensively, and confidently silenced any doubters.
American League Championship Series
Houston Astros over New York Yankees (4-3)
Yet again, the Yankees fought until the very end. Their journey was not one ever expected for a team that is ‘rebuilding,’ but alas, the seemingly-improbable campaign came to an end against the Houston Astros, in a well-fought seven-game series. Houston took the first two games at home, making the Yankees’ return to New York a similar story to before; and they didn’t ignore the reoccurrence, winning all three games at Yankee Stadium, effectively turning game six in Houston into an elimination match.
Some stellar defensive plays made this series one to remember — namely, gems in the outfield from the Astros’ George Springer and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. Justin Verlander only strengthened his legend, again picking up two wins, and even pitching a complete-game shutout in game two. And the power of Jose Altuve could not be overlooked; his batting average topped the ALCS. Aaron Judge also redeemed his uncharacteristically poor Division Series performance by hitting three home runs and collecting seven runs batted in (RBI).
The Houston Astros have proven their resilience and talent; they will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
National League Division Series
Los Angeles Dodgers over Arizona Diamondbacks (3-0)
The only sweep of the postseason so far came at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, arguably one of the league’s most dangerous teams. Arizona won the Wild Card at home against the Colorado Rockies, but evidently, neither their roster nor their lineup was a match for that of LA’s. Though he earned the win, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw allowed four solo home runs in the first game, becoming the first National League pitcher to ever do so in a playoff game. J.D. Martel and Ketel Marte each collected four hits for Arizona, but the offense was not good enough to keep the team in contention.
And with their series-ending win on October 9, the Dodgers became the first National League team to sweep a Division Series since the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies sweep of the Cincinnati Reds.
Chicago Cubs over Washington Nationals (3-2)
Last year, Chicago shattered the Billy Goat curse with their first World Series win in 108 years. This year, they prevented the breaking of other teams’ apparent curses; entering the NLDS, the Washington Nationals had never, as an organization, won a playoff series and, five games later, the statement still stands wholeheartedly true.
The Cubs were resilient and quick to overcome their mistakes: they came away with the victory in game one, despite being held hitless for the first five innings, and in game three, despite committing four defensive errors. Barely leaving the field, the Nationals’ Michael Taylor’s grand slam in game four pushed the series to five games, introducing an intensity the Dodgers-Diamondbacks matchup lacked. Bryce Harper, who collected only four hits throughout the series, ended the series with a strikeout, as the Cubs’ quest for a repeat of 2016 was kept alive.
National League Championship Series
Los Angeles Dodgers over Chicago Cubs (4-1)
Losing All-Star shortstop Cory Seager to back problems didn’t stop the Dodgers from asserting their dominance. The rockiness and inconsistency that plagued Chicago in game one — where along with getting only four hits, manager Joe Maddon was ejected for disputing a tag at home — never seemed to go away. As a team, Chicago hit only .156 — well below the Dodgers’ average of .258. And the Cubs’ lack of offense was especially glaring when compared to the powerhouse of the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger, both of whom collected seven hits.
But when it comes to offensive excellence, no one compares to the Dodgers’ Enrique Hernandez in game five; hitting three home runs — one of which was a grand slam — he collected seven RBIs to set an NLCS record. There was really nothing and no one in the way of Los Angeles.
World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros
Final Predictions: I think it’s Los Angeles’ year — it’ll be a hard-fought series, but the Dodgers will come out on top at the end.