The 2016 MLB League Championship Series

A couple weeks ago, I ranked the ten MLB playoff teams this season. I also made predictions about who’d win. Well, the Wild-Card games and the four League Division Series are over, so let’s see how they (and I) did before looking ahead to the two League Championship Series.

AL Wild Card Game: Toronto was the more complete team and the team with more drive. I was correct predicting they’d beat Baltimore.

NL Wild Card Game: The Giants are a lock when Madison Bumgarner pitches. They beat the Mets as I predicted.

ALDS Blue Jays-Rangers: In a repeat from last year, these teams faced off in the ALDS again. Last year, I correctly predicted the Blue Jays to win. This year, I thought that Texas—with the best record in the American League—would win. Well, I was wrong. Toronto dismantled the Rangers in a three-game sweep and return to the ALCS.

ALDS Red Sox-Indians: What happened to the league-leading offense of the Red Sox? What happened to the solid starting pitching from the Red Sox, especially when up against later-rotation starters from the Indians. Honestly, I credit the better management of Terry Francona, motivating a team with significantly less star power to sweep the Sox. Congrats, Cleveland, even if it means my team lost and my prediction was wrong.

NLDS Giants-Cubs: I finally got one right! But it did look scary in Game 4, when the Cubs were down 5-2 in the bottom of the 9th. A loss wouldn’t have eliminated Chicago, but it would’ve forced them to face Johnny Cueto (who pitched tremendously in Game 1 for a 1-0 loss). They took care of things in a last-inning 4-run rally to return to the NLCS and end the Giants’ even-year championship pattern.

NLDS Dodgers-Nationals: The only series to go five games, and that final game was a nail-biter, with an hour-long seventh inning that saw the Dodgers rally from down 1-0 to up 4-1, only to have the Nationals almost catch up at 4-3. Both Dusty Baker and his Nationals couldn’t battle their postseason demons, and Dave Roberts showed why he should get the NL Manager of the Year Award (even though voting is based on the regular season). I got this one wrong, but it was a great series.

Success rate of my predictions: Wild-Card Games 100% correct (2-0), Division Series 25% correct (1-3). I did terribly this year compared to last year.

Now to the League Championship Series, where we have the two teams (Blue Jays & Cubs) that made it there last year but lost. Will they repeat? Or are they World Series bound?

 

American League: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Cleveland Indians

      

I don’t think this series is going to get the national attention it deserves because the Indians don’t have many well-known players and are a smaller market. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays play in Canada. But this is going to be a phenomenal series. The Blue Jays are HOT, and they have playoff fever and experience since last year. Meanwhile, the Indians are scrappy and plucky and have one of the three best MLB managers in Terry Francona. This is going to be an epic series between two teams who haven’t been to the World Series in 23 and 19 years respectively. And that latter team hasn’t won it all in 68 years.

Prediction: I said the Blue Jays last year, but they didn’t win. This year, I’m going against them. Indians in seven games.

 

National League: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago Cubs

     

So the Cubs got here last year but were surprisingly swept by the New York Mets. Last year was supposed to be the Cubs’ year—according to Back to the Future II, anyway. I have no problem with them not doing it last year because the Kansas City Royals were an awesome team last year. But this year, the Cubs won the most games in all of baseball. This is their year. Last year was just enough to whet their appetite. They’re the odds on favorite. Although the Dodgers have a legitimate ace starting pitcher (Clayton Kershaw) and solid offense, the Cubs have some too. The Dodgers have a rookie manager in Dave Roberts (I love the guy from his steal as part of the Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS), who made some great out-of-the-box moves in Game 5 of the NLDS to get here, but he’s up against one of the three best MLB managers in the Cubs’ Joe Maddon (the other is San Francisco’s Bruce Bochy). The Dodgers both have great momentum from the Game 5 victory and an overtaxed pitching staff from that game, so I give the first game to the rested Cubs. But after that…

Prediction: Cubs in six games.

Play ball!

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