Saturday, June 21, 2008

S2 Division Championship Series Previews

The pressure is heating up for our final eight teams and for this writer. After correctly predicting three series and the last one for having a "Little" (who got injured) difference, it's time to choose my team to win...I mean, time to adequately evaluate the second round of action.

American League
Las Vegas (107-55) v. New York (93-69)
Season Series: Las Vegas 6-4
Regular Season BA: Las Vegas - .281 New York - .264
Regular Season ERA: Las Vegas - 4.38 New York - 4.46

Las Vegas comes into this series with the best record in the American League, New York arrives in Nevada with momentum. The Hokies are hoping to become the Munson World's Cinderella squad despite being last year's defending AL champions. With performances like Albert Sardinha's Game Two shutout with 8 strikeouts, New York has a lot going for them. The Viagras, however, have Jimmie Ramirez (21-7, 3.16-1.23) and 8 players with over 20 home runs led by Troy Hansen (.278 48-142).

Prediction: Las Vegas bats and pitches .40 points worse at home than they do away. New York pitches and plays better on the road as well. It looks as though home-field advantage doesn't work favorably for the Viagras. But if the Viagras can win one at home, they can try to win the series in New York where the stats DO favor them. Ramirez should be up to the challenge in game one. Las Vegas in 4.

New Orleans (102-60) v. Madison (101-61)
Season Series: New Orleans 6-4
Regular Season BA: New Orleans - .279 Madison - .294
Regular Season ERA: New Orleans - 4.30 Madison - 5.13

In the first round, the bash brothers of Madison were like an overgrown kid with three arms: awkward yet still effectively scary. Andre Kydd lived up to expectations with a .357 average while Van Hatten only managed a measly .067. With a crucial series against the Ragin' Cajuns, everyone from the Mud Holes is going to have to contribute. Especially if they have to go up against New Orleans' underrated lineup who boast four players with similar numbers to Harvey Glaus' .288 avg, 36 HR and 105 RBI. Danny Davies (22-5, 3.42-1.15) is looking forward to backing this stellar lineup with solid pitching and a few victories in what should be a hard-fought series.

Prediction: Madison fans have every reason to be excited. The Mud Holes climbed out from the cellar, made a large amount of trades just before the deadline, and are now sitting seven wins away from a World Series trip. There's that one thing though...what was it called? Oh yeah - PITCHING! A 6.02 ERA at home is not going to cut it. New Orleans is too balanced and hungry after last year's injury fiasco to let this series slide out of control. The Big Easy in 4.

National League
San Francisco (111-51) v. Dover (94-68)
Season Series: San Francisco 6-4
Regular Season BA: San Francisco - .279 Dover - .277
Regular Season ERA: San Francisco - 3.55 Dover - 4.09

Two candidates for the MVP and two candidates for the Rookie of the Year Award Cy Young candidacy for Donaldo Lunar? Lunar's sophomore slump (18-3, 2.97-1.15) would be a welcome addition to any ball club and especially if that included Rafael Rodriguez and Joe Gordon who each have an average over .300 and have hit 40 HRs. The reigning World Champions have a long and tough road ahead of them if they hope to repeat. The Derelicts managed to pull off a sensational win on the road in Game Five to advance to the Second Round. But if they want to get past the Gothams, they'll have to do better than a .237 team average.

Prediction: Dover is a consistent team; San Francisco is consistently pitching. Both clubs' averages are nearly identical with the major difference being the Gothams ML-leading 3.55 ERA. If the Derelicts need to win, they'll have to create some hits in pitcher-friendly San Francisco. They'll also need Newhouser, who has a 2.57 ERA in 2 post-season starts, to produce. The problem is that the Gothams are better than they were last season, which was pretty damn good. Frisco in 3.

Buffalo (98-64) v. Little Rock (95-67)
Season Series: Tied 5-5
Regular Season BA: Buffalo - .264 Little Rock - .280
Regular Season ERA: Buffalo - 3.56 Little Rock - 4.50

It's a classic pitching versus hitting matchup. Or is it? Buffalo has their entire pitching staff under a 4.0 ERA except for 3. Ten pitchers have a WHIP under 1.3. Little Rock is the best hitting team left in the NL while they averaged .306 in the first series against Austin. The problem for the Ridge Runners is that the Snappers have pitching weapons of their own: Bucky Whitehead (1-1, 2.08-1.38 in post-season) and Corey Mantei (1-0, 1.29-0.21 in post-season). Buffalo has one of the worst lineups in the league and a .254 average at home has left fans very disappointed over the season.

Prediction: It's not pitching v. hitting but team pitching v. superstar pitching. Buffalo works together as a unit while Little Rock is led by their Cy Young candidate and #2 phenom. Buffalo's unit works extremely well over the course of a season. In a five-game series, the Snappers can have both of those pitchers pitch twice. Little Rock in 4.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Season 2 Division Play-In Series Previews

American League
Madison (101-61) v. Cleveland (89-73)
Season series: 7-3 Madison
Team BA: Madison - .294 Cleveland - .265
Team ERA: Madison - 5.13 Cleveland - 4.66

The best remaining hitting club is going up against one of the worst. Madison added to their already budding lineup which includes Andre Kydd (.322avg 62HR-141RBI) with Jason Van Hatten. Cleveland can only muster Torey Castillo who has 51 HRs but is batting a mediocre .268. Cleveland has the advantage with pitching but only because Madison (6.02 ERA at home) is just that worse. Wendell DiSarcina (14-10, 3.75ERA-1.21WHIP) represents the Cuyahoga's' best chances.

Prediction: Madison in 4. The Mud Holes will outhit the Cuyahoga's to the next round. There's just too much firepower in the lineup and Cleveland doesn't have superstar responses from the rotation.

Syracuse (92-70) v. New York (93-69)
Season series: 7-3 Syracuse
Team BA: Syracuse - .269 New York - .264
Team ERA: Syracuse - 4.03 New York - 4.38

The Syracuse Athletics have a not-so-secret weapon: Omar Little (21-1, 2.90-1.12). Singlehandedly, he can change any series and especially ones that are shorter. Dummy Alexander won't let that statement refuse him credit where it's due, especially after posting season numbers of a .284 avg with 41 HR, 111 RBIs and 45 SBs. How does New York counter this dual attack? For starters, they have the best lead-off hitter, Ham Davey, who scurried around the base path all season long with 138 SBs. Couple that with balance in the rotation (3 starters with ERA under 3.8) and there is definitely hope for a New York team that won 93 games in the best division in baseball.

Prediction: Both teams are nearly identical in terms of overall numbers. The difference is Little (haha, get it?) who will win Game One, allowing the Athletics to do what they do best: win on the road. Syracuse in 4.

National League
Little Rock (95-67) v. Austin (86-76)
Season series: 6-4 Little Rock
Team BA: Little Rock - .280 Austin - .272
Team ERA: Little Rock - 4.50 Austin - 4.59

What do you get when you have one of the best right-fielders in Marino James (.352-48-146-75) and one of the best pitchers in Corey Mantei (19-7, 2.81-1.02)? A third-place seed. Tough luck equals hunger and the city of Little Rock is more upbeat than during the 1996 Presidential Election. The reason is because the club's opponent is their division rival, Austin Powers. However, the Powers should not be underestimated. Their lineup boasts great balance with 7 players who have hit over 20 HRs. Also, they have been hot of late including a run of 14 wins in 16 games which boosted them to the final wild-card spot.

Prediction: Little Rock in 3. Austin put together a great season and GM zephyrsad should be proud. Balance over stars can work but not against the likes of James and Mantei.

St. Louis (91-71) v. Dover (94-68)
Season series: 5-5 Tie
Team BA: St. Louis - .271 Dover - .277
Team ERA: St. Louis - 4.27 Dover - 4.09

Dover is a scary team because they are consistent. They have the exact same batting average no matter where they play and the difference between home and road for the pitching staff is below .05 ERA. Add in Carl McNeil (.366-33-112) and Jeremy Newhouser (15-7, 3.66-1.20) and you have a legitimate World Series contender. Yet, the Derelicts should be careful about getting too confident. St. Louis did win their division and do have Vic Kennedy (.317-40-127) and Ronald Burnett (18-10, 2.90-1.12). They also got swept by San Francisco last season and are looking for a second-round grudge match. Don't forget Jeremy Anderson (.339-36-97) who is always ready to hit pitchers around.

Prediction: This series should be the most entertaining of them all. With stars on offense, both teams will look for the bats to carry them to the next round. However, neither team is able to take advantage of each other by splitting their games at home, forcing a deciding Game Five. This game will be surprisingly a pitching battle, forcing the determining factor to be the bullpen. Dover's Ernie Houston (42 SV-47 SVO, 2.98-1.06) will give the Derelicts the win. Dover in 5.