Not all of us can be as fortunate as Biff Tannen. We all don’t have access to a time machine (or a Delorean) so we can go back in time and pick up a copy of Grays sports Almanac. We have no way to predict the future here, but using our keen intellect and extensive baseball knowledge that’s exactly what we are going to attempt to do. Here are the Assembly’s wild card predictions for the 2014 season. We all have our own personal favorites and opinions, but hopefully between the 6 of us we can come to some sort of consensus. But what about the division winners? Don’t worry, I’m sure they’re wrapped up in another box, you’ll just have to wait patiently.
Washington ousts St. Louis 2-1: Stephen Strasburg wins the duel with Adam Wainwright on the strength of a 2-run 8th inning bomb from Bryce Harper. In two extremely close races, Washington and St. Louis each emerge as second best.
Texas Rangers vs Detroit Tigers. I expect some setbacks in the Detroit rotation plus the loss of Fielder will cost them the division, but they will bring their A game here and beat the Rangers in a one game showdown.
Atlanta Braves vs Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates need A.J. Burnett to sign for this to happen, otherwise we could be seeing the Cincinnati Reds here. Either way I expect the Braves to win this one after losing a close division race.
Angels over Rays. Rays will find a way to make it again, though if they trade Price it could be harder in 2014 (and I might choose Oakland or KC). Angels will see rebounds from Hamilton and Pujols, and the team will be better in 2014. NOTE: I originally wrote that the Rays would win, but then LAA traded for Skaggs and Santiago. Needless to say, that makes LAA a better team — it’s the very weakness I felt they need to address the most. I am even more optimistic about their chances.
Braves over Reds. Atlanta has the rotation but needs some rebounds from hitters. Reds had good hitting, good pitching, but quite a few weak/average pieces in lineup and bullpen that may work for a season but not in the playoffs. Edge to the Braves in this matchup, because I expect the Uptons (and maybe even Uggla) to bounce back some, whereas it’s hard to expect big surges from Frazier, Heisey, Cozart, Mesoraco.
Texas beats Tampa Bay. Last year’s play in game will be this year’s wild card game. The difference is that TEX will be able to start Darvish.
Cincinnati beats Atlanta. After a disappointing season, Billy Hamilton avenges himself by stealing multiple bases and scoring the winning run.
Seattle beats Tampa Bay. Strong rotation carries Seattle to a story book finish. Rookie of the Year Taijuan Walker shuts down the Tampa Bay offense. Cano provides solid leadership and some of the younger guys like Smoak, Miller, Ackley produce. As for Tampa Bay, the lack of a true ace proves to be their undoing. Longoria, Myers and a true breakout from Jennings covers this loss during the season. Unfortunately, in a one game playoff they’re doomed.
Cincinnati beats Atlanta. Hamilton disproves the old adage “You can’t steal first”. In a one game playoff, he can’t be stopped. Mesoraco proves to be a solid number one catcher, and Cincinnati eases into the playoffs prepared for the one game show-down. Brandon Phillips dispels the notion that he’s “done” and makes a bold prediction for the World Series. Atlanta suffers October failure once again after a tumultuous season (but more on that later). Freeman carries offense as they overtake Arizona for the final wild card spot.
Boston beats Oakland: The Boston Red Sox turned in an improbable season for the ages in 2013, in a year when the city needed a feel great story. The Sox lineup has a few holes that still need to be addressed, but even in their current state, this is a 88-90 win team. The Athletics continue to be a playoff team but can they take the next step this year? The Red Sox move onto the ALDS thanks to Jon Lester continuing his postseason dominance.
Atlanta beats Pittsburgh: Atlanta appears to have rekindled the magic of a deep and impressive pitching staff. Justin Upton turns in an MVP-caliber season and Atlanta has visions of a deep playoff run. But the Pirates are out to prove that 2013 was the beginning of a new era not a fluke. Gerrit Cole, a leading Cy Young candidate in his second season, takes the mound against Julio Teheran in what is a classic pitching duel between 2 young aces in the making. In the end, Craig Kimbrel nails down another 1-2-3 save and the Braves advance to the NLDS.
As you can see, opinions vary when it comes to the American League and there is no clear-cut favorite. The National League is a different story as Atlanta seems to be the front-runner to win one of the wild card spots and they will be playing either Cincinnati or Pittsburgh.