Take Me Out to the MLB Playoffs


Sporting News

The 2018 MLB Playoffs are officially underway and each team has a shot at a championship. Who will it be ?

Daniel Toll, Sports Editor

With the arrival of autumn, the 2018 Major League Baseball (MLB) season continues to inch closer toward its end. The air gets colder and denser, and snow will cover the vast majority of major league fields. However, until then, the greatest moments of the 2018 season are yet to be seen in what is the most eventful month of America’s pastime: October. It is in this month that heroes are made, legacies are cemented, and champions are crowned. October is the month in which the 162-game season reaches its pinnacle, where the fate of the season relies on every single pitch thrown. This is the MLB Postseason. Below is a brief analysis of the 8 teams that qualify for playoff contention this season, and what strengths each of them possess that could propel them to reaching the ultimate goal: a World Series Championship.

Atlanta Braves (NL East Division Champions)

The Atlanta Braves enter the postseason as the sole representative of the National League (NL) East division with an astonishing record of 90 wins and 72 losses, compiling a .556 win percentage. Especially considering the youth of this team, the Braves really surprised the league throughout the regular season, including all of their division rivals. Much of the Braves’ success this year could be attributed to the potency of their young bats in the lineup, like Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr. For a large portion of the year, the two young phenoms were simultaneously in the discussion for the Rookie of the Year Award, and for good reason. However, the team remains in the hands of team captain Freddie Freeman, and his presence on the team is critical to the playoff push of a young team with a weak pitching staff that ranked among the worst in the National League.

Colorado Rockies (NL Wild Card Winners)

The NL West’s Rockies were one of the four teams that participated in the first Game 163 tiebreaker game series in MLB history. Battling against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West Division title, they lost a well-fought game by a score of 5-2. However, this did not exempt the Rockies from taking part in the postseason, as they would play in the single elimination Wild Card Game versus the Chicago Cubs. After a four-hour game consisting of 13 innings, they Rockies would ultimately prevail over the Cubbies in their home field by a score of 2-1. The victory ensured their prolonged participation in the MLB Postseason, and gave them a ticket to play with the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Division Series (NLDS). Boasting an array of star-studded talent in the names of 4-time All-Star and 5-time Gold Glove Winner Nolan Arenado, the MVP-candidate Trevor Story, and young southpaw pitcher Kyle Freeland, the Rockies are one of the favorites to take the NL Crown.

Los Angeles Dodgers (NL West Champions)

The LA Dodgers have been one of the most, if not the most, consistent team in the decade, riding into the playoffs with their sixth straight NL West title. The 2017 runner-ups were faced with several drawbacks early on in the season, particularly the loss of their All-Star shortstop, Corey Seager, to Tommy John Surgery. However, this propelled them to make several expensive additions before the end of the trading deadline on July 31. Their most notable stars are Brian Dozier, a well-established veteran second baseman from the Minnesota Twins, and Manny Machado, a young infielder from the Baltimore Orioles. These acquisitions, in addition to the depth of their bench, pitching staff, and versatile players, will benefit the Dodgers as they push for back-to-back World Series appearances.

Milwaukee Brewers (NL Central Champions)

Sporting the best record in the National League at 96 wins and 67 losses, the Brewers have risen to the occasion in 2018, taking their division and league by storm. After their 2017 campaign, the Brew Crew made it renowned their mastery of the game. Falling just short of the Wild Card, their young core and highly ranked prospect system represented bright signs for the future. However, flurry off-season moves brought All-Star outfielder Lorenzo Cain back to the Brewers, and sent some of these prospects to the Miami Marlins in a 3-for-1 trade for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich. Yelich, a first round draft pick out of high school, has done nothing short of impress, as he has posted career numbers in every offensive metric, ranked top three in RBI and home runs, and has won himself a batting title with a .326 batting average. The combination of Cain and Yelich as catalysts atop the order, in addition to a well-improved pitching staff and bullpen, will propel the Brewers moving forward.

Boston Red Sox (AL East Champions)

For the Boston Red Sox, the playoffs are nothing out of the ordinary, as this is their third straight year taking the American League (AL) East division title. Finishing with the best record in all of baseball with 108 wins and 54 losses, the Red Sox have put up a season for the ages. Leading all of baseball, in batting average, RBI, runs, and on-base percentage, the Red Sox’s offense will be their greatest weapon throughout the playoffs. Led by AL batting champ Mookie Betts and near triple-crown winner J.D Martinez, the Red Sox showcase two MVP candidates in their starting nine and will definitely serve to be a formidable opponent for the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series (ALDS).

Cleveland Indians (AL Central Champions) 

The Indians have also been the champions of their respective division each year for the past three years and have experienced very few differences in the building of their team since their trip to the World Series in 2016 with the Chicago Cubs. With the return of their franchise player Michael Brantley, the Indians saw a lot of success around their other valuable pieces, including Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez , who set a career high for himself in home runs and RBI. The blossoming of several pitchers have also contributed to the Indians’ fortunes this season, as their starting rotation has one of the lowest earned run averages (ERA) in all of baseball. If all their talented pieced function in unison, there is no reason to believe the Indians won’t be able to repeat what they accomplished in 2016, and even go beyond that.

Houston Astros (AL West Champions)
The 2017 World Champs have had very few roster changes since they were crowned last year for the first time in franchise history, and many can argue their players have only gotten better since last year. The core of second baseman Jose Altuve, third baseman Alex Bregman, outfielder George Springer, and pitchers Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander have all improved upon last season’s storybook year. Altuve has remained consistent following his MVP year, hitting .316, and Bregman has posted MVP-caliber numbers in his own right, with a slashline of a .286 batting average, 31 home runs, and 103 RBI. The composition of this team has remained relatively stable since last season and, given the depth and versatility exhibited by this team at the plate and on the field, winning consecutive championships is much more than a mere possibility for the Astros.

“In my opinion, the Houston Astros are going to win it all again. Their team is so complete and they have much a better 25-man roster than any other team,” junior Jimmy Perez said.

New York Yankees (AL Wild Card Winners)

Although the Yankees did not take their division, that is not to take away from the historical season they have put forth. With the off-season acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, the Bronx Bombers lived up to their name and broke the home run record for a single team in a season at 264. Much of their production has come through their own system, like the phenomenal rookies seasons of Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, but they have made several mid-season moves as well. Throughout the year, they have only been adding tools to their already well-built lineup of hitters, including shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria and former MVP Andrew McCutchen. Additionally, the team’s captain, Aaron Judge, has returned from a wrist injury and joins the team just in time for the postseason. With a lineup as potent and powerful as it is, the Yankees will surely give their rivals, the Boston Red Sox, a tough match-up to beat.

“The Yankees look really good this year. They have a talented, and powerful lineup this year and I have them going the distance,” sophomore Andres Arzola said.

As of right now, the Division Series for both leagues are officially underway with two games having been played for each team. Considering the array of dispersed talent spread across these eight teams, who do you have to take the World Series?

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