Check Down Roundtable: World Series Predictions

 

Who does the Check Down staff like to win the World Series this year? Read what Mando, JMac, Hempdad, and Father Pat have to say.

 

Mando 

I was tempted to pick the Cubs because they were the best team in the regular season by a mile. But then I realized this: Favorites don’t win in baseball. In the last ten years, the team with the best record in the National League has only advanced to the World Series once. The results are better in the American League, where four of the last ten teams with the best record have advanced to the World Series (including last year’s Royals). Taken together, however, that means only five of the last twenty teams to have the best record in their league advanced to the World Series. That’s a Billy Goat-esque curse.

So why not the Dodgers? For starters, they basically have no weakness. According to Fangraphs’ WAR rankings, they ranked 5th in offense, 3rd in pitching, and 8th in defense for the 2016 regular season. But let’s look specifically at their pitching. Los Angeles’s bullpen finished the year with the lowest ERA in the Majors. As Kansas City proved the last two years, a great bullpen can take you places in the postseason. Moreover, Clayton Kershaw–the best pitcher in baseball–is finally back after he missed most of the summer due to injury. Kershaw was lights out before he was sidelined and he’s been just as good since he returned, compiling a 27/2 strikeout to walk ratio since early September. Los Angeles also has another strong starter in Rich Hill, who finished the season with a 2.12 ERA.

The pressure on the Cubs to break their 100+ year curse will simply be too much. They’ll fall to a Dodgers team with very strong pitching in the NLCS, and then Los Angeles will sneak past Cleveland to win their first World Series since 1988.

 

 

JMac 

It’s hard for me to go against my hometown Red Sox, but all signs point to a North Side party this October. That’s right, I’m going with the Chicago Cubs. The lovable losers from Wrigleyville will win their first World Series since 1908, and they’ll do it with a roster that is certainly the best in baseball.

The Cubs are deadly at the plate. From top to bottom, everyone is capable with coming up with at least a clutch single or double, which we all know is crucial in October. However, if the Cubbies need power, they have it in Kris Bryant, who slugged 39 home runs to pace Chicago. Another notable talent at the dish is Anthony Rizzo, who put up another spectacularly consistent season, hitting .292 with 32 homers and 109 driven in. Equally strong is the pitching department. Jake Arrieta followed up an incredible 2015 campaign with similar numbers in ’16. We’ve also seen the re-emergence of Jon Lester, who is once again among the best in baseball following a 19-5 regular season that saw him strike out 197 batters and carry an enviable ERA of 2.44. And if the starters can’t get it done–which is rare–this team has a hell of a bullpen that can pick up extra innings if needed. And when the game goes to the ninth, count on Aroldis Chapman to blow 102-MPH cheddar past the Giants, Mets, Dodgers, or Nationals on the way to the Fall Classic.

I expect a Red Sox-Cubs series this year, a matchup that would have been a dream if we were to go back to 2003, when both teams lost in the league championship series round in heartbreaking fashion. The Sox have won their titles, but Chi-town keeps searching. I strongly feel that 2016 is the year the Cubbies will find what they’re looking for.

 

 

Hempdad 

Have to take my hometown boys from Boston this year to take their 4th World Series Title in 12 years. Sure, I may be biased to the Red Sox, but there’s not a lot stopping me from picking the #1 hitting team in the league with 3 hitters in the top 5 in the American League in batting average and RBIs, as well 2 of the top 5 winningest pitchers in the AL as well.

The Divisional Series against the Indians may seem like a pretty tough match-up for the Sox, but it won’t be. Boston hitters batted .338 against Cleveland pitching this year during their 6 game season-long series that the Sox went 4-2 in. Our pitching has also been very successful against them as well. The Red Sox will square up against Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, and Josh Tomlin in the first three games. Bauer’s ERA of 12.91 against Boston, for instance, isn’t intimidating at all. In contrast, Boston starters haven’t allowed more than 2 runs to the Indians in any of their starts, and went 2-1 when visiting Cleveland. This series shouldn’t be much of a stress for the Beantown Bombers.

The League Championship Series and World Series is where it gets tough. Both the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays have incredibly deep lineups that can wear down any pitching staff. I’m most worried about David Price this postseason… The key to his success will be able to keep at-bats short against the right handed power-hitters. He led the AL in innings this year, and I hope to see him allow no home runs in the early innings like he did all of the regular season. Guys in the NL like Kris Bryant and Yoenis Cespedes would absolutely ravage him in early innings. Price’s postseason career is rather forgettable, so I’d love to see him turn it around.

How will it play out? Red Sox in 4 against Cleveland; Red Sox in 6 against whichever team they play in the ALCS; and then Red Sox in 5 against their World Series opponents, hopefully the Cubs. That would be Epic.

 

 

Father Pat 

The Rangers have too much experience and too much talent not to make a run at this year’s World Series. One of the best postseason hitters in MLB history, Carlos Beltran, and Adrian Beltre (another potential Hall-of-Famer) headline a scary lineup that includes Elvis Andrus, Rougned Odor, and Jonathan Lucroy. The former World Series MVP, Cole Hamels, pairs with one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball, Yu Darvish, to round out a top-of-the-line rotation. Texas has the perfect mix of veteran presence and youthful energy, the ideal balance between clutch hitting and dominant pitching, and the right chemistry necessary to hoist the World Series trophy in late October.


Logos courtesy of Sportslogos.net; Photo courtesy of Sporting News

Posted by Mando

Co-Founder of Check Down Sports. Die-hard Boston sports fan: Patriots, Celtics, Bruins- in that order. I haven't been that interested in the Red Sox since they traded Manny. If you're a fan of Leslie Nielson movies and/or think Entourage is overrated, we'll get along.

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