Brewers to the Series: Hunch or Dumbest Prediction Ever?

Yep. My prediction. I await your scorn!

In the National League there were nine teams that finished above .500 and the playoff bound top five were so evenly stacked that only the Atlanta Braves won their division without playing a tie-breaker. Any one of them could go on to the World Series and, if the AL winner is indeed artificially powerful, the NL survivor could win the whole enchilada.

The Atlanta Braves arrived at least a year earlier than most analysts thought they would, an achievement assisted by the Phillies' September swoon and the Washington Nationals' annual looks-great-on-paper-stinks-on-the-field season.


·       The ageless Freddie Freeman had another great season and Ronald Acuna was every bit as good as predicted. Inciarte, Albies, Camargo, and Swanson weren't bad either. 
·       Veteran leadership from Nick Markakis and Kirk Suzuki.
·       The Braves beat the teams they needed to beat and finished strong.


·       The pitching has been okay, but not spectacular. Foltnewicz was 13-10 with a 2.85 ERA—good numbers, but not exactly ace statistics. Gausman did well after coming over from the Orioles, but is he the 5-2 in Atlanta Gausman or the perpetual loser from Baltimore?
·        They got nothing from Bautista and dumped him to the Phillies. And then they got less than nothing from Lucas Duda.
·       How will young players react under pressure? The Braves weren't on many radar screens this year.

The Chicago Cubs under performed for much of the year, cranked it up in late summer, but ended up as a Wild Card entry. Most analysts assume they are the class of the NL, but sometimes they look like they're just going through the motions.


·       On paper, Murphy, Zobrist, Rizzo, Baez, Contreas, and Russell are as good a lineup as you'll find in the NL.
·       And… there is Kris Bryant, a stud when healthy.
·       Morrow was lights out as a closer.
·       Justin Heyward finally had a decent season.
·       Jon Lester had a superb season (18-6 3.32 ERA)

·       Schwarber and Happ each had their moments, but the first was all or nothing, the second hit just .233, and neither was consistent.
·       Bryant missed about a third of the season, so one wonders about his health.
·       Call me nuts, but I think Joe Maddon is overrated as a tactician.
·       Has Jon Lester finally grown up, or will he again implode when most needed? He will be needed, as after him is Kyle Hendricks and question marks. Quintana was merely okay, Montgomery wasn't inspiring, and Yu Darvish was a disaster.

Who picked the Colorado Rockies to make it out of the NL West? Like the Braves, a big question is how well this team will perform on the big stage. They tied the Dodgers, but ended up as a Wild Card team.


·       If you don't know 3B Nolan Arenado's name, get used to it, as he will be in the NL MVP mix.
·       Charlie Blackmon has the worst beard in sports, but he's a helluva player. Ditto Ian Desmond. Toss in another solid year from Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra, plus breakout performances from DJ LeMahieu and Trevor Story and this is a lineup capable of great things.
·       David Dahl has been raking lately.
·       Kyle Freeland will get some Cy Young love, as should anyone who pitches in Denver and puts up numbers like 17-7 and 2.85! Young German Marquez also surprised.
·       Wade Davis. If the Rocks are up, Davis will close the deal. 


·       Pitching is usually paramount in the postseason and the Rockies starters simply aren't very deep.
·       The track record isn't good for teams hoping to bash their way to World Series glory, but that's probably the only way the Rockies can get there. Even then, some pitcher (Jon Gray? Tyler Anderson?) has to punch above his weight to take the Rockies deep into the postseason.

Do you know anyone east of San Bernardino who likes the Los Angeles Dodgers? They were expected to win the division going away, but are only here at all because the Diamondbacks forgot to play the entire second half of the season.


·       Experience counts for something and this team has been in the postseason
·       Rich Hill really picked up a decimated staff.
·       Manny. Manny. Manny. If the Dodgers hadn't traded for Machado, they'd not be herel.
·       Puig played up to his potential for a change, and who thought Matt Kemp had such a year in him? Bellinger didn't duplicate his rookie season, but he had a very respectable year. Max Muncy? Who was he before he hit 33 dingers? Grandal didn't hit for average, but you'll take 24 homers and 68 RBIs from a catcher.


·       For most of the year, this was the UCLA Medical Center Dodgers. Who's healthy and who isn't?  
·       If Clayton Kershaw is pitching wounded, the Dodgers aren't going anywhere.
·       Puig played to his potential, but one always wonders if he'll play to his IQ. His is the most volatile personality since Jimmie Piersall.
·       The Dodgers love Joc Pederson. I don't.
·       Try putting together a lineup card when your best hitters are two first basemen, two center fielders, two shortstops, a shortstop who should be at third, and three second basemen who hit near or under the Mendoza Line. Guys playing out of position does not add up to good defense.
·       Dave Roberts as manager? I'm not impressed.

If you were looking for a Cinderella team, the Milwaukee Brewers are for you.


·       Brilliant maneuvers to acquire Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich! Yelich will probably be the NL MVP.
·       Maybe you've never heard of Jesus Aguilar. Does 34/105/.273 get your attention?
·       Ryan Braun had another Ryan Braun year, despite time on the DL .
·       Travis Shaw's average was down, but he still hit 31 homers.
·       Who foresaw Chacin going 15-8?
·       Soria's return from the disabled list can only help a shaky bullpen.
·       They beat the Cubs, so they don't have to play a winner-takes-all Wild Card game.


·       There's no way around the fact that the Brewers pitching isn't impressive. Was Chacin's season an outlier? It had better not be, because after him there is Wade Miley (ugh!), guys who had off years (Guerra, Perlata, Anderson), and a bullpen that contains such non-memorables as Boone Logan, Matt Albers, and Zach Davis.
·       The Brewers got far less from Moustakas than they hoped. Everybody gets far less from (the very overrated) Curtis Granderson than they hoped.  

I'm going to go out on a limb on this, so here goes.

Wild Card:  Rockies over the Cubs. The Cubs strike me as a less-than-meets-the-eye team. And, yes, this makes me the only person east of Denver to pick the Rockies.

Round One:  Dodgers over the Braves 3 games to 1.  Atlanta arrived early. Maybe next year.
                      Brewers over the Rockies 3-2. If I'm right about the Rocks knocking off the Cubs, this will be the most exciting of all the first round contests,

NL Champs: The Milwaukee Brewers. Yep, total hunch, and probably a dumb one given that pitching generally prevails in the offseason. Yet baseball often gives us Cinderella teams that should (but don't) remind us that clipboard analysts are just four-flushers.

World Series Champs: I'd like to say the Brewers, but midnight will strike on Cinderella and the Houston Astros will win in five or six games. 

Win the dust settles.

No comments: