By: Andrew Oak
Now obviously last years World Series Champs, The Boston Red Sox, had an epic ride into immortality as the Red Sox overcame plenty of obstacles to obtain the World Series Trophy. This year, there are many different teams that have the potential to win it all. This postseason will be headlined by elite pitching, elite superstars searching for their first title and a lot of new players to the big show.
I think there are 7 out of 10 teams that can actually win the whole championship this season. Lets analyze the field.
Best Hitter: Alex Gordon - He leads the team in HR's, RBI's, and OBP. The weird thing is, he regularly bats sixth in the Royals lineup. Their glooming superstar will need to play his heart out if he wants to get KC back to the postseason in future seasons.
Best Pitcher: Greg Holland - 46 saves, 90 K's with a 12.99 K/9 innings ratio. He has been the best closer in baseball quite frankly and if the game is close and the end is near. You can pretty much lock it up. The Royals have the best RP in MLB this season.
X-Factor: Lorenzo Cain - Cain doesn't hit for power, but he hits consistently and often. Then, when he gets on base, he's going to try to steal and he will put the pressure on the base paths by causing havoc to anyone that wants to test him.
Will Win It All If: They let the magic ride. Kansas City hasn't been in the postseason since 1985. They have the pitching to bring them far in the playoffs. They need more than clutch hitting though to advance, hopefully their moment in the Wild Card game can lead to some upsets along the way.
Prediction: Lose in Wild Card Game
Best Hitter: Josh Donaldson - He is by far the best hitter on the Athletics, the power in the lineup has significantly decreased since Cespedes got traded to the Sox. Look for pitchers to pitch around Donaldson and go after other hitters in the lineup.
Best Pitcher: Jon Lester - Its a great thing that he is starting the Wild Card Game because if he wasn't, the Athletics would not be advancing past the Wild Card Game. Their pitching has been so inconsistent since the trade, that the one piece they actually received for Cespedes has panned out to be everything they were looking for.
X-Factor: Sean Doolittle - Reason being, he was such a dominanting closer when he took the job in the summer, that his last month's hiccups have been well noticed and he has been widely critiqued for not stepping up in the clutch in September. I can guarantee you that the Athletics will be in low scoring, close ball games. Doolittle needs to be at his best for the A's to have a chance in the postseason.
Will Win It All If: Lester, Kazmir and Gray can live up to other AL pitching trios. Lester can stand up with anyone, but in the postseason, its impossible to tell what Kazmir and Sonny Gray have in store.
Prediction: Lose in ALDS
Best Hitter: Miguel Cabrera - Victor Martinez has been a better hitter this season statistically, but everyone knows who the real deal is on the Tigers. The back to back MVP has another shot to chase a title.
Best Pitcher: Max Scherzer - They certainly have the best trio of pitchers in the game, but Scherzer is the key here as he needs to start off games well because Detroit tends to have a tough time coming from behind to win games. Thats due to their shaky bullpen as well. He needs to pitch 7+ innings (along with every other starter) for the Tigers to go far.
X-Factor: Ian Kinsler - The Detroit second baseman has put up some of the best statistics in his career thus far. He has career highs in Hits and RBI's and will have another opportunity to prove people wrong this postseason.
Will Win It All If: Justin Verlander returns to form. The Tigers lineup is filthy no matter how you assemble the lineup. Scherzer and Price will stay in any game this postseason but what exactly will Verlander bring? Will he be pre-allstar break Verlander (8-8 4.88 ERA, 12 HR's allowed) or post-allstar break (7-4 3.97 ERA, 6 HR's allowed).
Prediction: Lose in ALDS
Best Hitter: Nelson Cruz - By far the best bargain this offseason, the Orioles need to ride the hot hand with Chris Davis and Manny Machado out for most the playoffs.
Best Pitcher: Chris Tillman - As the ace of the staff, he deserves more credit than he is getting. Granted the bullpen has been spectacular this season, but Tillman has lead the charge of being a more consistent big game pitcher. We will wait and see how he performs in the postseason.
X-Factor: Steve Pearce - No one has really heard of him because he has played in less than 100 games this season. He has 21 HR's in 338 AB's this season and leads the entire team in SLG%. He needs to fill the void that Chris Davis left and he has potential to do it.
Will Win It All If: Their pitching depth remains solid. Tillman, Chen, Norris and Gonzalez are their main four guys. Prior to the year, you probably have only heard of two of them. If they can carry the spotlight a little longer, they can make a run to the title.
Prediction: Lose in ALCS
Best Hitter: Mike Trout - The 2014 MVP (most likely) will have to step up on the big stage this year.
Best Pitcher: Jered Weaver - With Garrett Richards done for the season, Weaver hasn't missed a step in producing another glorious campaign. When he is on his A game, he's still one of the more dominating pitchers in the league.
X-Factor: Albert Pujols - Pujols is a .330 career hitter in the postseason. His protection of the Angels lineup will be criticized the most if the Angels fall short. He has the experience, the mentally and the power to put the team on his back in the playoffs. The machine needs to return to form after underperforming (slightly) in the second half of the year.
Will Win It All If: They hit with RISP. Producing runs in the postseason is like pulling teeth some time. Even with the stacked lineup of the Angels, they will be facing some dominant pitching in the playoffs. Can they break through in tight spots and execute at the right times. That will be the question.
Prediction: Will Reach the World Series
Tomorrow - NL Preview + Champion of 2014.