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2014 ALDS Preview & Predictions

By Andrew Perna

The Kansas City Royals set the playoff field in the American League on Tuesday night with a dramatic extra-inning victory over the Oakland Athletics. The division series kick off on Thursday with the Royals traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Angels and the Baltimore Orioles hosting the Detroit Tigers.

Tigers vs. Orioles

The Orioles will host this series because they were six wins better than the Tigers over the course of the regular season. Detroit won five of the six games the two clubs played in 2014, but all six of the contests came within the first seven weeks of the season. The Tigers will have to win at least one game at Camden Yards to advance to the ALCS, but all the stats are in their favor.

Detroit had stiffer competition in the AL Central, having held off the Royals, who remain alive, while Baltimore ran away with the AL East. That's not necessarily a knock on Buck Showalter's club, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox had down years and Baltimore was the class of the division. The Tigers, meanwhile, traded for David Price at the deadline and still nearly coughed up the division title down the stretch.

The Tigers bested the Orioles in OPS (.757 to .734), runs per game (4.7 to 4.4), quality starts (90 to 78) and strikeouts per nine innings (7.70 to 7.23) this season. Baltimore's pitching staff had the better ERA (3.43 to 4.01) by a wide margin.

It's no secret that pitching has become the name of the game and in a five-game series who you throw out on the mound is vital. The Tigers will trot out Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, David Price and Rick Porcello over the first four games, while Showalter has only committed to starting Chris Tillman in the series opener.

Baltimore is expected to use some combination of Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris and Miguel Gonzalez over the remainder of the ALDS.

For the first time in Major League history, a team will start the three AL Cy Young winners from the past three seasons over the first three games of a series. Scherzer, Verlander and Price are the reason why it will be hard for the Orioles, who have had a great season, to reach the next level.

Even Porcello, Detroit's "weakest" postseason starter has the numbers in his favor. The right-hander started twice against the Orioles this season, recording a 1.42 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in 12.2 innings (both victories).

Prediction: Tigers in 4

 

Royals vs. Angels

The Royals are easily the best story of the 2014 postseason. Not only did they end a postseason drought that lasted nearly three decades, but they also rallied multiple times against the Athletics in the Wild Card game to ensure a longer playoff appearance.

Kansas City faces an entirely different beast in the Angels, who ran away from the Athletics in the AL West thanks to a strong second-half and Oakland's stumbles. Los Angeles finished the regular season with 98 wins, most in all of baseball. At 52-29, they also had the best home mark in the sport. The two clubs faced off six times, just as the Tigers-Orioles, but this matchup was much less one-sided. Each team won three times with all the contests coming before the All-Star break.

The Angels were much better offensively in the regular season, posting a better OPS (.728 to .690), hitting more home runs (155 to a MLB-low 95) and averaging more runs per game (4.8 to 4.0). The only real offensive advantage the Royals have is once they get on base. Kansas City led baseball with 153 stolen bases and flashed that skill against Oakland on Tuesday night. Los Angeles swiped just 81 bags in 2014.

Ned Yost enjoyed a slightly better pitching staff in terms of ERA (3.51 to 3.58), but Mike Scioscia's group was better at recording strikeouts (8.15 per nine to 7.25). Both starting rotations are significant question marks entering the series and while the Royals might have the edge in the bullpen, the Angels simply have too good a lineup not to end KC's magical run.

Predictions: Angels in 4

 

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MLB Rankings For End Of 2014 Regular Season

By RealGM Staff Report

The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA). 

In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.  

All statistics are through the end of the 2014 regular season.

Rankings from last week are in parenthesizes.

(1) Washington Nationals – 4.11

(2) Los Angeles Dodgers – 3.98

(3) Baltimore Orioles – 3.91

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.87

(5) Oakland Athletics – 3.78

(6) Los Angeles Angels – 3.70

(7) Seattle Mariners – 3.59

(8) Detroit Tigers – 3.56

(9) Cleveland Indians – 3.50

(10) San Francisco Giants – 3.49

(11) Milwaukee Brewers – 3.41

(T12) St. Louis Cardinals – 3.39

-- Kansas City Royals – 3.39

(14) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.36

(15) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.28

(16) Atlanta Braves – 3.27

(17) New York Mets – 3.24

(18) Miami Marlins – 3.16

(19) New York Yankees – 3.12

(20) San Diego Padres – 3.07

(21) Cincinnati Reds – 3.02

(22) Chicago Cubs – 2.93

(23) Colorado Rockies – 2.88

(24) Philadelphia Phillies – 2.86

(25) Boston Red Sox – 2.83

(26) Houston Astros – 2.81

(27) Chicago White Sox – 2.79

(28) Minnesota Twins – 2.56

(29) Arizona Diamondbacks – 2.52

(30) Texas Rangers – 2.40

 

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MLB Rankings For The Week Beginning September 15

By RealGM Staff Report

The Opsera is a statistic RealGM Executive Editor Chris Reina created in order to objectively rank teams by how well they hit (OPS) and pitch (ERA). 

In order to determine the Opsera rating for each, we take their OPS, multiply that number by 10 to move the decimal point over one place to the right and then subtract their ERA from that number.  

All statistics are through Sunday, September 14.

Rankings from last week are in parenthesizes.

1. (1) Washington Nationals – 4.05

The Nationals are the team to beat in the National League thanks to their +118 run differential.

2. (2) Los Angeles Dodgers – 4.02

Washington may have a slightly better record, but who wants to face Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the first two games of a playoff series?

3. (5) Baltimore Orioles – 3.86

Nelson Cruz, who signed a one-year, $8 million deal after a controversial 2013 season, is having the best effort of his career. The 34-year-old is hitting .263/.331/.526 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI.

4. (6) Los Angeles Angels – 3.85

The Angels are red-hot and have left the once-infallible Athletics in the dust.

5. (3) Oakland Athletics – 3.83

Oakland must fight off a handful of teams for a Wild Card berth after cruising for a majority of the season.

6. (4) Seattle Mariners – 3.77

7. (7) Pittsburgh Pirates – 3.76

8. (10) Detroit Tigers – 3.60

9. (8) San Francisco Giants – 3.58

10. (9) Cleveland Indians – 3.49

11. (16) Toronto Blue Jays – 3.41

12. (14) Milwaukee Brewers – 3.40

T13. (11) Atlanta Braves – 3.39

-- (12) Tampa Bay Rays – 3.39

-- (15) St. Louis Cardinals – 3.39

16. (13) Kansas City Royals – 3.35

17. (17) Miami Marlins – 3.20

18. (18) New York Yankees – 3.14

19. (19) New York Mets – 3.13

20. (22) Cincinnati Reds – 3.08

21. (20) San Diego Padres – 3.02

22. (21) Chicago Cubs – 2.89

23. (23) Philadelphia Phillies – 2.86

24. (24) Boston Red Sox – 2.82

25. (26) Chicago White Sox – 2.79

26. (25) Colorado Rockies – 2.77

27. (27) Houston Astros – 2.72

28. (28) Arizona Diamondbacks – 2.59

29. (29) Minnesota Twins – 2.50

30. (30) Texas Rangers – 2.21

 

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