Wednesday, October 03, 2007

MLB predictions

The predictions are not, I hope, based on wishful thinking (at least not largely), but rather on obscure stathead metrics like the Pythagorean and equivalent run record (generally closer to measuring a team's true strength than win-loss), and "secret sauce" rankings (Baseball Prospectus's formula of postseason success based on strength of important pitching and defense metrics). Oh, and some observations resulting from having actually watched a bunch of baseball games this year. I gotta give more weight to the metrics, since pretty much every commonly-accepted stathead tool indicate that the Red Sox are the best team in baseball this year, whereas my own eyes tell me this team has a lot of problems.
ALDS 1 - Red Sox over the Angels in 4. The Angels would be a fearsome team if they didn't get screwed by some late-season injuries, and if they didn't suck at Fenway. Right now, the Sox catch the ball better, hit the ball better, and throw the ball better. I'll be going to Game 3, yay me.

ALDS 2 - Indians over the Yankees in 5. Key is Wang. If he outduels Sabathia in the opener, the Yanks prevail. Otherwise, the Indians, closer aside, are an exceptionally balanced team that should end up outlasting a loaded Yankees team that's short on dominant starting pitching, which happens to be the most important element in postseason baseball. Just make sure Betancourt is toeing the rubber at the end of a close game.

NLDS 1 - Rockies over Phillies in 4. Going by stathead metrics, the Rockies are the best team in the NL (outside of the departed Mets, anyway). They also have lightning arms in Morales and Jimenez and play terrific defense, the epic Monday night game aside. Rox should end up outslugging the offensive juggernaut from Philadelphia, who have a staff getting by on Cole Hamels's flowing locks and pins and needles (JC Romero?, Kendrick?, are you kidding me?).

NLDS 2 - Cubs over Diamondbacks in 4. Basically a sentimental pick, though the Diamondbacks are the only team in the playoffs with negative run-differential. That means they might be just a bit lucky. Superior bullpen usage accounted for the Snakes' strong record in one-run games, but the Cubbies are a slightly better team. It comes down to the two Webb versus Zambrano matchups.

ALCS - Sox over the Indians in 7. Pretty even matchup; Indians probably win this if they had home field.

NLCS - Cubs over the Rockies in 7. Rockies are probably better, but not by much. That leaves room for a good story.

World Series - Sox over Cubs in 4. Sentiment only takes you so far though. In an uncertain world, we still need little comforting certainties, like the persistent futility of the Cubs. So we have more agony for the North Siders. But it's not their fault. Any of the AL teams would beat any of the NL teams in 5 games or less. The gap between the leagues remains that wide, last year's fluke aside.