It’s October, and that means it’s a great time to be a sports fan. College football and the NFL are heating up, preseason basketball is underway and the NHL season begins tonight. But, most exciting of all, it’s time for postseason baseball, and there’s nothing quite like it. With one Wild Card game down and another to go tonight, the DC Sports staff makes their picks for which teams will face off in the Fall Classic, and who will hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.
Matt Barresi, Staff Writer
The Houston Astros won the World Series last year in part due to tremendous talent but also thanks to terrific decision-making. Yes, Alex Cora, the Astros bench coach was a World Series champion too. At the helm this year, Cora has done a fantastic job getting the most out of his roster. The Red Sox won 108 games this year. That’s the most in baseball. Typically, the best teams win the most games. The best team would also be the most likely to win the rest of their games. This is simple logic. Occam’s razor states that the simpler explanation is more probable. Let’s not overthink this one. On the National League side, give me the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only do they have the potential MVP in Christian Yelich, they have him hitting the ball as well as he has been all season right now. They have an elite bullpen perfectly equipped for the recent trends in postseason baseball. Am I sure in either of these picks? Not really, but I think that means it’s going to be a fun October.
Jorge Eckardt, Campus Correspondent
It’s going to be a repeat champion for the first time since 1999-2000. Yes, the Houston Astros are going to establish themselves as a dynasty and win the crown with ease. While all the focus is on the Red Sox, and even the Yankees, who could very well be eliminated by the time this is published, the Astros have somehow gone under the radar. Don’t sleep, they are just as deadly as last year. They lost no major pieces, still hitting Springer, Bregman, Altuve and Correa at the top of the lineup. However, that is not even their biggest asset; it is their rotation. Their rotation is just nuts, made up of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Charlie Morton (all three were All-Stars) and Dallas Keuchel, it blows any other rotation out of the water. Sure, the Red Sox and Yankees also have killer lineups, but what they don’t have is a pitching staff that you can count on. The Astros have a much better chance at shutting down opposing lineups than they have of being shut down, which will ultimately win it for them. As for the National League, I don’t believe any team has a realistic chance against any American League team, but I have to pick the Brewers to have the best one. They have all the momentum and arguably the best lineup and bullpen in the National League. However once they come face-to-face with the Astros, it’s game over.
Luke Swanson, Staff Writer
You could go to other numerous, unnamed publications to get the experts on the sport giving their highly-informed opinions on which teams have the pitching staff, lineup and bullpen to get to this year’s October Classic.
Or you could listen to my predictions, in which I will use the most important advanced statistic of all to determine the World Series matchup and winner: teams with players who went to UConn.
The National League is easy. The Rockies are the only team left in the playoffs with a former Husky on the roster, so they get an automatic bye into the World Series. Scott Oberg has been, funnily enough, their best reliever even as they went and backed up the Brinks truck for bullpen help this offseason.
Now for the American League, a much tougher prospect given three teams have a Hook C alumnus on the team: the Indians have outfielder Rajai Davis, the Red Sox have reliever Matt Barnes and the Astros, of course, have George Springer.
We can eliminate the Indians first, since Davis never actually set foot in Storrs, playing two years at UConn Avery Point. Then we’ll have to go down to a tiebreak for the Sox and the ‘Stros, given that Barnes and Springer are both integral parts of their squad.
The Astros have two players who played high school ball in Connecticut: Pitcher Charlie Morton grew up in Trumbull and went to Joel Barlow in Redding, while Springer was born in New Britain and went to Avon Old Farms.
This pushes the Astros over the Red Sox and gives them the edge over the Rockies - who don’t have any other players who are from Connecticut - in a potential World Series matchup. Hey, it worked last year.
Neil Simmons, Campus Correspondent
My heart tells me to pick my hometown Red Sox to go all the way, but my brain is completely sold on the bullpen to confidently pick them to win it all, or even the American League. That’s why my pick is the Houston Astros to repeat as the AL representative in the Fall Classic. The reigning World Series champions had the best pitching staff during the regular season and returned every significant contributor from last year’s top ranked offense. They are the most complete team in the AL and have a very strong shot at winning it all again.
For the sake of variety, my National League pick is going to be the Dodgers. The Brew Crew are getting all the love, but the Dodgers were one win away from the title last season and just wrapped up their sixth straight division title. Their pitching staff is still among the league’s best and deadline pickup Manny Machado adds power and depth to an already formidable lineup.
In this hypothetical 2017 World Series rematch I’ll take the Dodgers to win it in game seven, with Clayton Kershaw turning in a Bumgarner-esque performance.
Mike Mavredakis, Campus Correspondent
As much as I’d like to choose the 108-win Boston Red Sox to represent the American League in this year’s Fall Classic, I cannot. The Oakland Athletics are putting their foot down and winning the pennant. The Red Sox have a losing record this season against every other AL playoff team and do not have the bullpen to have a real chance in modern postseason play. I cannot trust anyone in the Red Sox bullpen outside of Craig Kimbrel and Ryan Brasier. The Red Sox also got no-hit by A’s starter Sean Manaea earlier this year, who they will undoubtedly face should the A’s make it past the AL Wild Card game.
The A’s have fire power, they have the worst ballpark in baseball and they have my support to go all the way. I am slightly concerned about their pitching, but I believe in Khris Davis to hit the ball out in tiny Yankee Stadium, again in Fenway and then in Houston. His performance determines where this team is going and he has been productive both home and away with an OPS+ of over 120 in both circumstances. He has also managed to hit .247 the past four years in a row, so he must be a magician who’s toying with us.
Every year I pick a National League team that I take to follow throughout the season, this year that was the Milwaukee Brewers. Their offseason decisions to acquire possible MVP OF Christian Yelich and the signing of Lorenzo Cain were blatant win-now moves. Alongside their already solid core of Travis Shaw, Ryan Braun, Josh Hader and friends, Yelich and Cain have worked out tremendously for them. At the deadline, they went out and picked up Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop to supplement their already-powerful lineup. While Schoop hasn’t quite panned out as well as they had hoped so far, Moustakas has been a nice addition at Third.
They hit the second most home runs in the National League as a team, with 218. They are going to produce on the backs of their studs, and hit balls out of sight in Colorado. Their lineup is potent up and down, and they have good enough pitching to back up their offense. The bullpen they possess with Josh Hader, Jeremy Jeffress, and Corey Knebel leading the charge puts them in a good position for the modern game. The Rockies were a combined 1/34 in the regular against the three-headed monster in the Brewers bullpen. The rest of the league did not fare much better against them as they all posted sub-.200 BAA in 2018.
I am sticking with the Brewers team I chose at the start of the season and painstakingly turning away from my beloved Red Sox for the Oakland Athletics. This will be your 2018 World Series matchup, book it.
Ty Reeves, Campus Correspondent
As far as the American League goes, it’s anyone’s game. Boston has been the best team throughout the entire 162-game season without a doubt but it’s October and anything can happen. With that being said, I’m a die-hard Yankees fan and I think we can win the pennant. The Yankees’ line-up is healthy again, and when you have big time players like Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorius mixed with young guns like Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres and the amount of depth they have on the bench with Cutch and Hecahavarria, the Yanks are a force to be reckoned with. With a solid rotation as well that gives us a leg up on most teams in the league. But of course we have to get by the A’s who went on a tear to end the season. Tonight’s game will be an interesting contest with Sevy starting on the mound. I hope he brings the Severino from the first half of the season to the game. In the NL, there’s only one team that comes to mind: the Brew Crew. Those guys are hot and they’re not cooling down anytime soon. Yelich has stolen the show the last month of the season and is a front runner for the NL MVP. Since the break, he’s batting .367 with an OBP of .449. In the last 13 games of the season he was 21-43 with 13 extra base hits and 21 RBI. The kid is unstoppable. Lorenzo Cain’s signing was a key point for this team last offseason, and with solid players like Ryan Braun and Travis Shaw, I think the Brewers have made their case to be a front runner to get to the big dance. That being said, I still think that if the World Series was Yankees vs. Brewers, the Yankees would come out on top. The Brewers are good, really good, but I don’t think they have the pitching while the Yankees have a solid rotation and a solid bullpen even with the Cuban missile having a mediocre season with obvious injuries. Let the fun begin. Let’s go Yankees!
Danny Barletta, Campus Correspondent
I am going to go with the Red Sox vs. the Brewers for my World Series prediction. Although I am not completely confident that the Red Sox have the bullpen to survive against the Yankees or the Astros, I’m hoping to speak it into existence. The Red Sox lineup is deadly, and their starting pitching, though unproven in the playoffs, is solid. It all comes down to their bullpen, which has great potential, but never seems to be clicking all at once. Even so, I do believe the Sox can put everything together and roll through the AL to the World Series.
For the NL, I think the Brewers just have the best team. Their lineup is awesome with Cain and Yelich at the top and guys like Aguilar and Moustakas in the middle. Their starting pitching is not amazing, but it is good enough to get it to their bullpen, which is arguably the best part of their team. I think their biggest competition will be the Rockies, who have an equally potent lineup, but the variety of great bullpen arms that the Brewers have will propel them to the Fall Classic.
So there it is, Red Sox vs Brewers in the 2018 World Series. The winner? I think this series goes to seven games with the Red Sox taking home the trophy. Let’s make it happen!
Jordan Noto, Campus Correspondent
This year, the obvious pick appears to be Boston. They have the best record. They have won 108 games. The line-up is formidable. They scored the most runs of any team with 876. They had the highest on-base percentage of any team. They led the Majors in RBI with 829. So, not picking the Red Sox would seem foolish. I’ll be that fool and pick the Houston Astros. Sometimes, even the fools get it right. The Astros are the real best team in baseball. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Astros Pythagorean win-loss record- a stat that attempts to predict a team’s record based on runs allowed and runs scored- is 109-53. Boston’s Pythagorean win-loss was 103-59. It was the Astros who actually played like a 108-win team, not the Red Sox. Their success is largely due to their pitching. They strike people out more than any team in the league. In baseball’s current environment of high strike-outs, high-walk rates and home-runs, the Astros were number one in strikeouts, second in the AL in walks allowed, and they gave up the fewest home runs of any team. Not to mention the fact that the Astros’ staff gets a lot swings and misses on their pitches. They posted lowest contact percentage of any team. In all the years I have been watching postseason baseball, pitching is what sets teams apart from the rest of the pack. So, the Astros will be the first team to win two consecutive World Series championships since the New York Yankees. I like the Brewers in the NL, but no one has a real chance of winning out of the National League.