The 2011 MLB playoffs have finally arrived, but not before some late drama on the final day of the season. Baseball fans witnessed two of the biggest collapses in the history of the game with both the Boston Red Sox and the Atlanta Braves failing to hold on to sizable leads in the wild card during the final month. Each of the eight remaining playoff bound teams have earned the right to play into October and all have decent chance to be crowned champions this year.
Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have been led all season long by ace Justin Verlander who compiled a very impressive 24-5 record this season. Following Verlander in game two will be surprise trade pick-up Doug Fister. Since his Tigers debut on August 3, Fister has gone 8-1 with a microscopic 1.79 ERA. However, the Tigers are known for their offense led by consistent slugger and American League batting title winner, Miguel Cabrera as well as Victor Martinez.
New York Yankees: The Yankees battled injuries all season, but still managed to end with the best record in the American League. With an injury to Phil Hughes at the beginning of the season, the Yankees have fought through with a very thin starting rotation behind ace CC Sabathia. However, the Yankees high power offense has kept them strong all season with Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano. The Yankees expect Alex Rodriguez to play regularly in the playoffs after returning from an injury, which will also boost their already slugging offense.
Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays trailed the Boston Red Sox by nine games going into the final month, but with a strong last month and a horrific Boston collapse, the Rays found their way into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. The Rays have been a hot team and have potential to make noise in the playoffs behind ace David Price as well as sluggers Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and rookie sensation Desmond Jennings.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers put together another solid season after they lost to the Giants in the World Series last year. Many people were worried how the Rangers pitching staff would fare after losing Cliff Lee, but C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando stepped up to make Lee’s departure feel unnoticed. The Rangers have a deadly offense with Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli. With the consistent pitching that they had all season, and if the offense is able to keep pace, the Rangers are poised for another late postseason run.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks surprised a lot of people this season as most sports writers and fans alike entirely wrote them off. However pitching duo Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson kept the Diamondbacks alive all season. The Diamondbacks offense is often sporadic but MVP candidate Justin Upton has been consistent and kept producing runs. The Diamondbacks do not have many big name players, but are a pesky team that can win a series very quickly.
Milwaukee Brewers: The Brewers have been the hottest team in baseball since the all-star break. From the beginning of the season, it was clear that the Brewers were all in to win it this year after trading multiple top prospects for Zack Greinke. The Brewers have a scary top three pitchers headed by Greinke then followed with Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum. This pitching rotation accompanied by an offense featuring Prince Fielder, Ryan Bruan, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks could find the Brewers winning their first World Series in the team’s history.
Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies were expected to have a very successful regular season and lived up to expectations, with a new franchise record of winning 102 games. The Phillies lived all season off their starting rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and rookie sensation Vance Worley. The aging and inconsistent offense will be the only worries for the Phillies throughout the postseason.
St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals battled through the entire season without their expected ace Adam Wainwright, who underwent Tommy John surgery during Spring Training and missed the entire season. Despite trailing the Braves by 8 ½ games in the wild card coming into the end of the season, the Cardinals battled back behind super star Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. The Cardinals have a solid offense to complement their bullpen and could prove to be a difficult opponent during the playoffs
First Round Predictions:
Yankees Over Tigers
Rangers Over Rays
Phillies Over Cardinals
Brewers Over Diamondbacks