After winning two straight AL Central Division titles, the Minnesota Twins flopped and failed a three-peat before things got off the ground. They’ll watch this Postseason from home, but there’s still plenty of exciting talent worth tuning into.
Running from the Wild Card round through the World Series, here’s who I’ve got and why:
AL Wild Card
Yankees over Red Sox
In a one game, winner take all, I don’t think you can bet against Gerrit Cole, and the lineup New York currently has clicking. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton have carried this team for weeks. The club nearly gave it away on the final day, but I think they beat their biggest rival at home. Boston owned a 10-9 record with a +1 run differential over the Yankees this season. New York will attempt to even that out.
AL Division Series
Rays over Yankees
There’s no denying that New York has the better ace, but Tampa has owned this matchup all year. While New York is just 8-11 against the Rays in 2021, they have a -48 run differential. The Yankees do have some veteran leadership on their side, but I don’t know that Corey Kluber is a guy I want to hang my Postseason hopes on. The lineup is peaking, but it may have come a bit too soon. I think a very big X-factor here for Tampa Bay could be the usage of highly-touted prospect Shane Baz.
Astros over White Sox
A very small sample, sure, but Chicago was just 2-5 with a -12 run differential against Houston this season. Although the White Sox may have the better rotation, I’m not sure it’s that much of a discrepancy. Houston has largely flown under the radar this season, and the entire lineup is full of star power. Alex Bregman on a big stage always is must-see television.
AL Championship Series
Astros over Rays
These two clubs played each other just six times in 2021, and they nearly split the action with just three runs separating the contests. Both forward-thinking approaches to the game, this should be a fun series. Tampa Bay is looking for a return trip to the World Series, but Houston gets an opportunity to distance themselves from the cheating scandal.
NL Wild Card
Dodgers over Cardinals
Welcome to a year in which a team that won 106 games is playing in a one-game, winner-take-all, affair. The Dodgers have any number of arms to piece this one together, and their lineup should be expected to cause fits for whoever St. Louis puts on the bump. It’s a tough spot, but this is where’d you’d like to believe the best team shines.
NL Division Series
Dodgers over Giants
San Francisco has been the best story of the season in my mind. A team expected to do so little comes out and wins 107 games. These two clubs nearly split their 19 contests and Los Angeles held a +2 run differential. It’s a lot tighter of a matchup than it may seem, but I think this is a spot where the higher tiered talent rises to the occasion. Clayton Kershaw being out hurts Los Angeles, but if there’s an organization with starting arms to make up for it, they are it.
Braves over Brewers
Initially I wanted to ride with Milwaukee’s pitchers, but Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff can’t do it all. Behind them is a rotation leaving plenty to be desired, and the lineup is more name than it is substance. Atlanta will have to prove that they’re more than an 88-win team coming out of a very mediocre decision, but Freddie Freeman can carry this club. Atlanta seems like a strong flier team, and one worth taking a shot on.
NL Championship Series
Dodgers over Braves
If Los Angeles can get past the test that is their first two rounds, they should be looking at a trip to the World Series. Regardless of who comes out of the bottom half of the National League bracket, they should be facing an uphill battle. This is where Atlanta wears down and the Dodgers go back to seek a second-straight World Series.
The National League has won each of the past two World Series. No team has won back-to-back World Series since the New York Yankees ended their last three-peat in 2000. Houston and Los Angeles faced off during the 2017 World Series, which the Astros won over Dave Roberts. Dusty Baker is at the helm in Houston now and is looking for just the second pennant of his career, and first ring. Again, Houston’s ability has been overlooked much of the season and I think we see a replicated result from 2017. Your 2021 Major League Baseball Champions are the Houston Astros.
Astros over Dodgers