Every year the prognosticators have their darlings. This year the Chicago Cubs are that team. Joe Maddon will be NL Manager of the Year despite Terry Collins’ ability to get his New York Mets into the playoffs despite overcoming many obstacles. Kris Bryant will almost certainly be awarded NL MVP over Daniel Murphy who I consider more deserving. And Jon Lester will win the NL Cy Young Award over teammate Kyle Hendricks. This is just how things go when the voters have their minds made up before the season begins. Don’t get me wrong, the Cubs have a great team and were made better by acquiring closer Aroldis Chapman at the trade deadline. However, the Cubs struggled against teams with winning records, and as we know, everyone is susceptible to upset in the post-season. Who will beat them? I think they make it to the World Series. No one in the NL is a pushover, but most teams are hobbling into this week’s games like Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
The Boston Red Sox appear to be the team to beat and here is why:
Record 93-69 good enough for the 3 seed in the AL, also worst record of any division winner in the league. However, at home 47-34, not bad and worst of AL’s division champs. On the road: 46-35, second only to Chicago’s 46-34 among MLB post-season contenders. Where does their series begin? At Cleveland against former Red Sox manager Terry Francona’s Indians in best of 5 series beginning Thursday.
Pitching The Sox team ERA of 4.00 is 3rd among AL contenders behind Toronto and Cleveland, 2nd in strikeouts, 3rd in walks allowed and 1st in home runs allowed. And as we know often times it’s the bullpens that decide short play-off series, the Sox boast 2 AL Cy Young candidates in David Price and Game 1 starter Rick Porcello. Clay Buchholz has pitched well of late also. Cl
Hitting While we will all hear about Toronto’s top 5, the Rangers, and the Orioles powerful lineups, Boston’s features a more balanced and higher-powered attack. In the Majors over the course of the regular season, the Sox outscored everyone, including Chicago. They hit more home runs than the vaunted Cubs although fewer than the O’s, Jays and Rangers. But what Boston does well is hit for average and power, a .282 TEAM average (20 points higher than Texas’), a.348 0n-base percentage (nearly 20 points higher than Toronto’s and Cleveland’s), a .461 slugging percentage (18 points higher than Baltimore, 30 points higher than Texas, Cleveland and Chicago), and a team OPS of .810 (38 points higher than Chicago’s). Yes they will have to do this in shorter series, but this lineup is solid from top to bottom and has shown they can put up runs against anybody. I’m looking forward to watching for sure.