Confidence

Not sure how much you listen to sports on the radio, but I’m a big fan of Mike & Mike in the Morning.  I think they’re very entertaining, while also providing some quality perspectives and information on sports.  One of the things they do each year for the NFL playoffs is “confidence picks.”  They rate each team in certain areas based on how confident they are in that team’s ability to succeed.  It’s a little subjective, but still based on the empirical information regarding how the teams have played up to that point.  Well, as I often do, I want to take their idea, and apply it to the baseball playoffs which begin today!

Here are the categories in which I will rate each team: Offense, Starting Pitching, Relief Pitching, Defense, and Manager.  At the suggestion of my good friend, Nick, I went ahead and made my “gut” picks before I ranked the teams in their confidence categories.  So, let me first show you what my gut says will happen this postseason:

Wild Card:

Texas Rangers def. Baltimore Orioles & Atlanta Braves def. St. Louis Cardinals

ALDS:

New York Yankees def. Texas Rangers & Detroit Tigers def. Oakland A’s

NLDS:

Washington Nationals def. Atlanta Braves & Cincinnati Reds def. San Francisco Giants

ALCS:

Detroit Tigers def. New York Yankees

NLCS:

Washington Nationals def. Cincinnati Reds

World Series:

Detroit Tigers def. Washington Nationals

Up until the LCS round, I thought making those picks was fairly easy.  But, if the NLCS is Washington v. Cincinnati – wow, that could be good.  7 games easily.  And, the same for Detroit v. New York – what wins out, the Tigers pitching or the Yankees offense?  So, now for the confidence picks.  Here’s how I ranked each team in the 5 categories:

Offense:

  1. Yankees – most consistent and productive all year.
  2. Nationals – good all year, very good of late.
  3. Tigers – tailed off a bit toward the end, but very good.
  4. Cardinals – ditto.
  5. Rangers – still good, but clearly not who they were a year ago.
  6. Giants – really turned it on the latter part of the year.
  7. Orioles – ditto.
  8. A’s – solid, but nothing stands out.
  9. Braves – somewhat inconsistent, and not a daunting lineup.
  10. Reds – a daunting lineup in name only . . . very inconsistent.

Starting Pitching:

  1. Tigers – Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, Porcello & newly acquired Sanchez. They’re good.
  2. Nationals – no Strasburg = no #1 ranking. Still very good with Gio & Jordan at the top.
  3. Cardinals – very good all year, and Carpenter’s back.
  4. Giants – Lincecum isn’t the same, but Cain & Vogelsong are very good.
  5. Reds – Cueto is legit, and Latos has improved as the season went on.
  6. Braves – much improved of late, thanks in large part to Medlen.
  7. A’s – struggled a bit down the stretch; rookies getting tired?
  8. Yankees – who’s going to step up behind Sabathia & Kuroda?
  9. Rangers – Lewis & Feliz both on DL, Darvish is the ace? Bad news.
  10. Orioles – not just the bottom of this list. One of the worst in baseball.

Relief Pitching

  1. Braves – Kimbrel & Co. are nearly unhittable.
  2. Reds – waned a bit toward the end, but still very impressive.
  3. Orioles – very good, out of necessity with that starting rotation.
  4. Giants – quietly impressive (6 with ERA’s under 2.90).
  5. Rangers – good most of the year, but inconsistent lately.
  6. Yankees – ditto.
  7. Cardinals – not great most of the year, but turned it on at the end.
  8. Nationals – Storen & Clippard can be nasty.  But, who else?
  9. A’s – lots of unknown commodities.
  10. Tigers – always an adventure.

Defense:

  1. Braves – unbelievable outfield.
  2. Reds – consistently reliable.
  3. Rangers – cover a lot of ground, and rarely make mistakes.
  4. Yankees – sub-par range, but they don’t mess up what they get to.
  5. Nationals – slightly above average . . . maybe.
  6. Cardinals – average at best.
  7. A’s – great speed, but error prone.
  8. Orioles – slow and error prone; bad combo.
  9. Tigers – not exactly error prone, but not doing their pitchers any favors.
  10. Giants – (see Oakland A’s).

Managers:

  1. Tigers – Leyland is one of the best in the game today.
  2. Rangers – back-to-back World Series – you gonna argue?
  3. Yankees – Girardi’s young, but seems to know what he’s doing.
  4. Giants – [see World Series champs 2010]
  5. Orioles – Showalter is great for this team
  6. Reds – Baker is Mr. Almost – can’t seem to win the big ones.
  7. Nationals – Davey has a championship . . . 26 years ago.
  8. A’s – Melvin has done well in several places.
  9. Braves – Gonzalez’ first playoff experience, in his 6th year as manager.
  10. Cardinals – Matheny’s young and inexperienced.

Here are the total tallies for each team:

  • Atlanta – 26
  • Baltimore – 33
  • Cincinnati – 25
  • Detroit – 24
  • New York – 22
  • Oakland – 39
  • San Francisco – 28
  • St. Louis – 30
  • Texas – 24
  • Washington – 24

So, based on the confidence scores, the playoffs would look like . . .

Wild Card:

Rangers def. Orioles & Braves def. Cardinals

ALDS:

Yankees def. Rangers (barely) & Tigers def. A’s

NLDS:

Nationals def. Braves (barely) & Reds def. Giants

ALCS:

Yankees def. Tigers (barely)

NLCS:

Nationals def. Reds (closest series in the playoffs)

World Series:

Yankees def. Nationals (barely)

But, this is where the fun begins.  Even though the confidence scores suggest the Yankees should continue through to a championship, I’m going to point out something that changes my overall confidence in this happening.  You’ll see that in order for the Yankees to win, they have to play 3 consecutive tight series.  In my opinion, their pitching staff isn’t suited for that.  They need Sabathia and Kuroda to pitch as much as possible.  Therefore, since it would appear to be unlikely that they could set up their rotation as desired for the ALCS against the Tigers (while the Tigers could likely win their Division Series in 5 or 6 games), I’m going to say the Yankees don’t make it past the LCS.

Thus, the World Series matchup would be the Detroit Tigers (24) vs. the Washington Nationals (24).  I find this to be an intriguing matchup.  They have the same total confidence score.  When it comes to offense and pitching, they’re right there together.  Then, Washington has the slight edge on defense, while Detroit has the edge in coaching.  They both would be coming off of tough Championship Series’.  Washington would have home field advantage (thanks to the dumbest rule in baseball).

But, in the end, I think I still would go with Detroit.  While they share the same overall score, I feel as though the gap in the areas in which Detroit is ahead of Washington is greater than the gap in the areas in which Washington leads Detroit.  Detroit’s starting pitching is good and deep.  Leyland is considerably more reliable than Davey Johnson.  So, the bottom line:  Detroit Tigers will be 2012 World Series Champs.  (now watch them lose to Oakland!)

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