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The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Looking ahead at postseason baseball madness

Every October, millions of people around the world sit down to watch the MLB postseason. Six playoff teams and four Wild Cards all compete in a quest to win a World Series.

Some teams like the Dodgers and the Yankees look to continue its historic winning tradition. Others like the Brewers and the Rockies are looking to win its first trophy. These teams all hope to have a long month ahead of them and it all begins Thursday with the Rockies taking on the Brewers in Milwaukee.

American League:

Boston Red Sox

Why they’ll win:

The Boston Red Sox are a stacked team in the AL East and they have dominated its competition for the entire season. It’s no wonder it was able to fly by in the toughest division in the league, beating teams like the Yankees and Rays, to end with the best record in baseball.

Having the top two highest batting averages in the league by Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, they are also complimented by two shut-down pitchers in Chris Sale and David Price, the Red Sox have all the pieces they need to win its ninth World Series.

Keys to victory:

The Red Sox may be top three in the league in almost every stat, but it is important that it doesn’t play down to the opponent. Since the start of the postseason 48 years ago, the team with the best record has only won 12 times.

Although the Red Sox may have an amazing record, it is still a huge challenge to actually win a World Series and the Red Sox can’t forget that.

Houston Astros:

The Astros storm the mound after they won game seven of the 2017 World Series. Image from Getty Images, photo by Jim Bradbury.

Why they’ll win:

The defending World Series champs have a lot to prove this postseason and if we learned anything from last October, it’s that the Astros play well when it has something to prove.

In a stunning game seven, the world witnessed the Astros take down the favored Dodgers in what was arguably the most intense World Series in a long time. The Astros haven’t changed much about their team since it won in 2017, and with Jose Altuve, Justin Verlander and George Springer playing their best baseball, the Astros may repeat as champions.

If the Astros want to win the World Series for the second straight year, they need to play with the same energy as in 2017 and not make any costly errors.

Keys to Victory:

The Astros statistically have the best defense in all of baseball, but this will come to the test as it’ll likely have to face at least one of the many high powered offenses featured in this postseason.

These teams include the Yankees, Dodgers and a lot more who are averaging almost five runs per game. This includes the Indians, who are the Astros’ first opponent.

If the Astros want to win the World Series, they need to play their best defense and not allow these elite offenses to get the better of them.

Cleveland Indians:

Why they’ll win:

With teams like the Astros and the Red Sox in your conference, it’s easy to get overlooked in the American League. However, the Indians have the third-most runs per game and the second-highest batting average, proving why it managed to win its division and make the playoffs.

With amazing bats like Francisco Lindor, Josh Donaldson and Jason Kipnis leading the way, the Indians should be able to easily out-hit its opponents and win ballgames.

Keys to victory:

The Cleveland Indians are one of the most dominant teams on offense, but defense ultimately wins championships.

Cleveland does have a good pitching staff, but in terms of playoff teams, its ranks among the bottom. Its team ERA is 3.77, which is way too high this late into the season. Especially when two of their rivals have ERA’s less than 3.40.

In order for the Indians to win the World Series it’ll need to tighten up on pitching and have a good stretch during the playoffs.

New York Yankees:

Aaron Judge homers in Wednesday's Wild Card game against the A's, in which they won 7-2. Image by Getty Images, photo by Al Bello

Why they’ll win:

As the odds on favorites to win the AL East coming into this season, according to ESPN, the Yankees have had to deal with a lot of high expectations all throughout the season.

And while some may think that the Yankees have failed to live up to the hype, they did end up finishing with the third best record in the MLB. They got an 100-win season and proved its worth in a 7-2 win against the A’s in the Wild Card game.

Now it’ll face Boston in the first round, in what should be an extremely competitive series.

Keys to victory:

The Yankees have the best power hitting lineup in the MLB. They hit 267 home runs this season and are 32 ahead of its closest competition in the MLB.

However, while hitting may be amazing, its pitching is way below average for a playoff team. They have the highest ERA of any team in the MLB playoffs, at a time when pitching is incredibly important to have.

The Yankees either need to figure out how to pitch at an elite level within a few days, or their bats need to score at least five per game.

National League:

Milwaukee Brewers:

Why they’ll win:

Coming off of a game 163-win against the Cubs and securing its spot as the best in the National League, the Brewers look to continue momentum. The Brewers have a talented team. NL MVP favorite Christian Yelich has lead this team to a 95-win season: its best in seven years.

The Brewers also have not had a playoff appearance since that 2011 season and they are hoping to win its first-ever National League Championship in this one. The Brewers solid pitching staff and power hitting rotation could lead it to win the Series this year.

Keys to victory:

As it stands now, the Brewers are the best team in the National League. They have great hitting, solid pitching and even better defense.

However, the pressure that the postseason can put on the Brewer’s inexperienced players, could cause its abilities to plummet. This can be seen with Cody Bellinger last season and Jason Hayward in 2016.

It is not always the case, but the Brewers need to ensure that all players have the right mentality coming into their series against the Rockies.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The Dodgers celebrate after winning game 163 against the Rockies, securing their spot as the second seed. Image from Getty Images, photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea.

Why it’ll win:

The reigning National League Champions are out to take that final step and finally win the World Series. It won the Divisional Series in 2016, the Championship Series in 2017 and finally are preparing to win the World Series in 2018.

The Dodgers have traded for power hitters like David Freese, Brian Dozier and Manny Machado, which have given them the late season push to win the NL West. It has four hitters with over 20 home runs and the lowest team ERA in the National League.

Los Angeles has a team that is capable of winning a championship, as long as each player plays their best.

Keys to victory:

The Dodgers have had problems in the past with players, notably Clayton Kershaw, struggling to play well in big games. For example, Kershaw’s career ERA is 2.39, but his postseason era is 4.35. Hyun-Jin Ryu actually got the game one start, and it could’ve been Buehler had he not thrown game 163 against the Rockies.

In order for the Dodgers to win the Series this year, its ace pitcher needs to be throwing his best stuff.

Atlanta Braves:

Why they’ll win:

The Braves have put together a solid season for themselves, which is a rarity for Atlanta. Its solid pitching, along with a good mix of veteran and young players could be enough to bring a championship to Atlanta for the first time since 1995.

Some great players on the Braves include Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Dansby Swanson, who have all played key parts in the Braves’ success this season.

Keys to victory:

The Braves are a good team, but they’re at the bottom of the ranks for postseason teams. For the Braves to win the World Series they need to play their best baseball in every game, not make unforced errors and shut down opposing offenses.

The Braves do have solid pitching and defense, so if it plays lights-out defense in almost every game and gives up only two or three runs per game, its offense should be able to pick up the slack. The Braves could be the 2018 World Series Champions.

Colorado Rockies:

Trevor story scores the game winning run off of the RBI from Tony Wolters in the National League Wild Card game. Image from Getty Images, photo by Stacy Revere.

Why they’ll win:

The Rockies have a great pitching staff and batting lineup, giving them potential to win this year’s World Series. Despite losing the division title to the Dodgers, the Rockies had a strong season.

It proved it could compete when it beat the Cubs in Chicago, allowing only one run in 13 innings in the Wild Card matchup. If the Rockies can bring this energy to the rest of the postseason, it can definitely win the World Series.

Keys to victory:

The Rockies are a very streaky team. When it wins, it wins big. Before coming into the tiebreaker against the Dodgers, it won nine of its last 10 games. Before that, however, it lost four of the last five.

The Rockies cannot be this inconsistent in the postseason for long, because good teams will be able to capitalize and win every game where the Rockies aren’t playing at 100 percent. This is made harder against the top seeded Brewers, who will undoubtedly be playing its best baseball.

Connor McPherson can be reached at [email protected] or @theGOATMcphers1 on Twitter.

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About the Contributor
Connor Mcpherson, Reporter
Connor McPherson is a junior at CSU Chico, who has an interest in sports and politics. He is a journalism major in his fourth year of school. When Connor is not writing for the paper, he is either watching some sports game, playing video games or biking.  He was born and raised in Moreno Valley, a city in southern California. However, he only goes for east coast teams, which he picked when he was 6, like the Mets, Wizards and Steelers. He hopes to be a sports journalist for one of his teams’ broadcast companies, such as SNY and NBC sportsnet Washington.

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