The MLB playoffs are finally upon us. After a year of dominance in Boston, disappointment in Washington and surprise in Oakland, the road to the Fall Classic kicked off Tuesday night with a Wild Card win by the Colorado Rockies over the Chicago Cubs, followed by the Yankees beating the A’s yesterday. The MLB presents the most unpredictable postseason of all the major sports, but the Campus Citizen sports staff will give predictions a shot anyway.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox – Zach Griffith
The Case for Betts – No contest here. Mookie has been the best player in baseball since Opening Day and really hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. Betts is the driving force behind a Red Sox team that has set franchise record for wins and is clearly the team to beat in the American League. On the season, Mookie’s got 32 homers, 178 hits and 80 RBI’s while also joining the exclusive 30-30 club (30 HR and 30 stolen bases in a season), a list that includes all-timers like Willie Mays, pre-steroids Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin and Mike Trout. That sounds like an MVP to me.
JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox- Caleb Lynn
The case for Martinez– He signed a contract up to 5 year/ $110 Million with Boston this off season and has helped stabilize the Red Sox lineup with averaging close to a triple crown this season. Martinez has been able to deliver an On-base plus slugging of 174 and the average is normally around 100. Martinez in this lineup has taken the Red Sox to a whole different level. His teammate Mookie Betts has the evidence this year to get it but I think Martinez will take it home.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox – Ryan Gregory
The Case for Betts – Much like a certain Mets pitcher is an unquestioned lock for a postseason award, Betts is going to run away with the AL MVP. He’s leading the AL batting average race with a .346 (!), 16 points above teammate J.D. Martinez. Most players who bat with that level of consistency don’t mash dingers. Most players aren’t Mookie, who has 32 homers on the season. I still believe Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, but Mookie has had the better season and deserves this one.
Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox– Noah Wolfgang
The Case for Betts– Mookie has been the driving force behind a historic Boston squad. This season, he leads the AL-entire MLB actually-in batting average with a .346. He’s managed to smack 32 home runs. He notched 80 RBI’s. He’s stolen 30 bases, which means that he will join the 30-30 club for the first time in his career. The list of accomplishments goes on and on. Not to mention that he has a strong defensive presence that has been slightly overlooked this season.
Javier Baez, Cubs – Zach Griffith
The Case for Baez – The race for the National League MVP has been as up-for-grabs as the League itself; there’s really no clear front-runner, so you kind of just have to take your pick. For me, it’s Javy. It’s pretty funny how this works out because if you’d told me in 2015 that Javier Baez would be an MVP candidate, I would’ve told you to get back to me when you were sober. Now, Baez seems to be the best bet for the honor, thanks to 171 hits, 34 home runs, 110 RBI’s and an impressive .294 batting average. The Cubbies are primed for another deep playoff run, so Baez will have every opportunity to prove that he’s the man.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves – Ryan Gregory
The Case for Freeman – Freeman is the leader of the new kids on the block. The talented youth the Braves have on roster like Ronald Acuna Jr., Johan Camargo, and Ozzie Albies has made the team fun again. Freeman, only 29 himself, has set the standard for the team. He’s hitting .308 on the season and has plated a team-high 95 baserunners. He gets the nod over capable parties like Javy Baez because the Braves absolutely sucked as recently as 2016 and he’s mainly to thank for the quick turnaround.
Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers- Noah Wolfgang
The Case for Yelich- In a much tighter NL MVP race, Yelich stands out to me. He’s the leader of a Brewers squad that managed to rip the NL Central pennant from the Cubs’ grip. He has posted a stellar .326 batting average this season to go along with 36 home runs, 110 RBI’s, and 22 stolen bases. At the end of the regular season, his OPS stands at 1.000 compared to Javier Baez’s .881 OPS. It will be a tight race but Yelich will take home the award.
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves- Caleb Lynn
The Case for Freeman – Freddie Freeman has been as stable as they come for this young Atlanta Braves squad. The Braves were not even supposed to be this good so soon, but Freeman has been a leader and showed consistency once again this season. With the Braves being in the spotlight due to their great young talent, it has allowed him to shine and why I have him as the NL MVP.
AL CY YOUNG
Corey Kluber, Indians – Zach Griffith
The Case for Kluber – Much like the NL MVP race, the American League Cy Young predictions are all over the place. I’m going with Kluber, who leads the impressive Cleveland rotation yet again. In 32 starts, Klubot has a 20-7 record to his name along with an impressive 2.83 ERA. He’s also boasting 216 strikeouts over 210 innings pitched, and he’ll lead the Indians pitching staff for another postseason run. Kluber’s numbers aren’t quite living up to his 2014 and 2017 Cy Young-winning seasons, but he’s once again in the mix for the hardware.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays – Ryan Gregory
The Case for Snell – Personally, I believe wins are the most worthless stat recorded for a pitcher. So many factors out of the pitchers control influence the W/L record. That being said, Snell has 21 wins this season. That doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by fanning 211 batters and allowing only 37 runs in 30 starts. Snell has been fantastic for the Rays, who have done nothing to thank him as they’ve been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays- Noah Wolfgang
The Case for Snell– Snell boasts a 21-5 win-loss record, which is impressive, even on a decent Rays squad. 21 wins is crazy. In 180 innings pitched, he has a 1.89 ERA to go with 221 strikeouts. Enough said.
Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox- Caleb Lynn
The Case for Sale – Chris Sale has put out a marvelous season for the dominant Boston Red Sox as he leads the AL in WAR, and his strikeout percentage of 38.3% is the highest ever for a starting pitcher since Randy Johnson. His performance has been off the charts despite 2 DL stints, ERA+, which takes earned run average and takes in for factors like a ballpark environment and quality of opponents before it compares a pitcher against the league average is set at 100. Sale’s 224 means that he has been two times as good as the average pitcher. He’s never been able to secure the trophy, however I think the AL Cy Young should be Sale’s.
NL CY YOUNG
Jacob deGrom, Mets – Zach Griffith
The Case for deGrom – To give you an idea of how good deGrom has been this season, I’ll say this: Max Scherzer is still dealing for the Nats, yet deGrom is the surefire winner for this award. deGrom has outshined Scherzer–the two-time defending Cy Young winner–despite playing for a sad Mets squad. He most likely wrapped up his season this week, finishing with 269 K’s over 217 innings, along with an unreal 1.7 ERA and giving the Mets every chance to win.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets – Ryan Gregory
The Case for deGrom – Duh.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets-Noah Wolfgang
The Case for deGrom– deGrom has been great this past season. Grabbing more wins (10) than losses (9) on a very meh Mets team is an accomplishment given that there are so many problems with his supporting cast. Ten wins is always an accomplishment anyways. In 217 innings pitched, deGrom has an absolutely fantastic ERA of 1.70 to go along with 269 strikeouts.
Jacob deGrom, New York Mets– Caleb Lynn
The Case for deGrom- DeGrom with a 1.70 ERA, takes over games when he is on the mound. Despite his record being 10-9 due to a poor season for the Mets, he has delivered in every way. He finished with 269 strikeouts over 217 innings and has done all he could do to try to give the Mets some wins.
AL SLEEPER TEAM
Houston Astros – Ryan Gregory
The Case for the Astros – It seems odd to call the defending World Series Champions sleepers, but that’s exactly what they are this season. All of the playoff chatter in the AL has been focused on the East. The Red Sox are very good this year, as are the Yankees. But, the Astros are still the Astros. Confidence as the reigning champs and a little guy named Jose Altuve make the Astros my favorite for the AL.
Cleveland Indians – Zach Griffith
The Case for the Tribe – Thanks in part to a terrible division, it feels like the Indians clinched a playoff spot 3 months ago. Still, don’t overlook Tito Francona’s group; coming off of their third consecutive Central Division title, Cleveland boasts one of the best rotations in the league (Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco), strong relievers (Andrew Miller, Josh Tomlin), and outstanding offensive power (Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion). Depending on how the Josh Donaldson addition pans out, don’t be shocked if the Indians show up in the ALCS yet again.
Houston Astros– Caleb Lynn
The case for the Astros- Well, the Astros are the defending champions. They know what it takes to be a hungry postseason team and they have a pitching rotation that Houston should feel good about. Depth in the rotation is always critical in the postseason. Astros manager AJ Hinch, can insert Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Charlie Morton in a 5 game series. Also, they have two starters guy who have been dependable for the Astros in the past with Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers too.
Oakland Athletics– Noah Wolfgang
The case for the A’s- My belief in the A’s in rooted in my belief that they will beat the Yankees in the Wild Card. I think this win will give them momentum that will carry them much deeper in the playoffs than anyone expects. They are a young, talented team with no household names, although Khris Davis’ probably deserves to be. Often in baseball-in any sport even-these types of teams tend to shock people in the postseason. They also have a strong bullpen that’s led by Blake Treinen. Oh, and they won 97 games in the stacked AL. Don’t count out the A’s.
NL SLEEPER TEAM
Atlanta Braves – Zach Griffith
The Case for the Braves – After a few down years, the Braves are back in the playoffs thanks to Freddie Freeman and an outstanding young core. Guys like Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Johan Camargo will be leading the charge into the postseason. Throw in Freeman’s power hitting and a pitching staff featuring Sean Newcomb, Julio Teheran and Mike Foltynewicz, Atlanta could be ready to make a jump ahead of schedule.
Milwaukee Brewers – Ryan Gregory
The Case for Milwaukee – The acquisition of Christian Yelich was an important turning point for the Brew Crew. The last time the Brewers won 90 games in a regular season was 2011. This year, they have 92. After years of mediocrity, this team is finally ready to break through.
Milwaukee Brewers– Noah Wolfgang
The Case for the Brewers- All season, the Brewers were the second best team in the NL. The “best team” in the NL is in their division. After beating this team to take the NL Central division title, they take the mantle of top NL team. For this reason, there chatter surrounding the Brewers hasn’t been as loud as it should be. They have arguably the hottest player heading into the postseason in Christian Yelich. Don’t be surprised to see the Brewers go deep into the month of October.
Atlanta Braves- Caleb Lynn
The Case for the Braves- The Atlanta Braves remind me of teams in the past such as the 2016 Royals who were so young, yet they just play hard. The braves have some great young talent, and a player in Freddie Freeman that many know. However, I feel like they are out to prove their fans that the wait was worth it. The starting pitching led by Mike Foltynewicz unexpected campaign has been under the radar which leads me to picking them to possibly shake up the National League.
Boston Red Sox – Zach Griffith
The Case for the Sox – It seems foolish to bet against the Red Sox this season. They’ve got the two leading candidates for the AL MVP award (Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez), an unbelievable starting rotation (Chris Sale, Rick Porcello, David Price), a dominant closer (Craig Kimbrel), a defensive anchor in center field (Jackie Bradley Jr.) and the likely candidate for Manager of the Year (Alex Cora). The Sox have everything going for them right now, so I’m going with Boston to take its fourth World Series title in 14 years.
Boston Red Sox – Ryan Gregory
The Case for Boston – When a team plays baseball as good as the 2018 Red Sox did this regular season, it’s hard not to give them the AL crown. With 108 regular season wins, this club is obviously doing something right. It’s hard to pinpoint a weak spot on this team. It would take a spirited effort to win a series against these guys.
Boston Red Sox– Noah Wolfgang
The Case for the Red Sox- What do I even need to say here? They won 108 games this past season. 108 games won is a crazy good number! A record like this was, by the way, earned in an AL where all playoff teams boast at least 97 wins. With their incredibly well-rounded roster, I just don’t see anyone in the AL denying the Sox a trip to the Fall Classic. Not to mention that they have home-field advantage. The AL pennant is the Sox’ to lose.
Boston Red Sox- Caleb Lynn
The Case for the Red Sox- While the field in this American League Postseason is competitive and full of experience, I still have a tough time thinking that Boston won’t be in the World Series. The way they have played throughout this season has been remarkable. With the best lineup in the MLB, and pitching that will be led by Chris Sale leads me to thinking they will win the American League.
Milwaukee Brewers – Zach Griffith
The Case for Milwaukee – Now that the Cubs have been bounced, the path to the World Series just got much easier for the Brew Crew. Christian Yelich seems to have put the stamp on his MVP case, their bullpen is off the charts right now, and guys like Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas know what it takes to go the distance. The Brewers are back in the postseason for the first time since 2011, and I think this trip could go longer than expected.
Milwaukee Brewers- Noah Wolfgang
The Case for the Brewers– After they managed to chase the Cubs down in the NL Central, my belief that this squad is dangerous was cemented. Now with the Cubs out, I believe that there is no legitimate threat to the Brewers. Yelich is the hottest player in baseball going into the playoffs, and beyond him, they have a bit of depth. The Brewers are ready to take the NL pennant.
Atlanta Braves- Caleb Lynn
The Case for the Braves- While I already feel the criticism of this prediction, I believe the MLB postseason is as unpredictable as they come. I think that it won’t be exactly what everyone thinks it’s going to be. I am sold on this Braves team and their Manager Brian Snitker who will prep his team to play like they have nothing to be ashamed about.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Ryan Gregory
The Case for the Dodgers – Call me crazy, but I think this is the year the Dodgers finally don’t blow it. The Manny Machado trade back in July is the difference maker for me. A polarizing player on both offense and defense, he’s the spark this franchise has been missing. If the Dodgers (specifically, Kershaw) pitch well, this is a World Series team.
WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS
Boston Red Sox – Zach Griffith
The Case for Boston – As I said, I’d be a fool to go against the Red Sox. In a battle of offensive firepower, the Sox and Brewers will duke it out in what could be another World Series that goes the distance. However, Boston will prevail behind the magnificent Chris Sale and Rick Porcello manning the mound, and the Sox will claim their fourth title since 2004.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Ryan Gregory
The Case for the Dodgers – UPSET SPECIAL! While the Red Sox were the best team in baseball during the regular season, I predict they flame out by the World Series. The Dodgers will pick up a ton of confidence after they sweep the Braves and take down the mighty Brewers. Kershaw will be on the mound when the Dodgers win the series and everything will be right with the world again.
Boston Red Sox– Noah Wolfgang
The Case for the Red Sox-This series between the Brewers and Red Sox almost seems like David and Goliath. One team has been the uncontested best squad in the league since early April, and the other is making their return to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. While the series won’t end with David taking down Goliath, I believe that it will be very competitive. The Brewers are an underappreciated squad that can be dangerous if they aren’t respected. Christian Yelich is great. In the end, the Sox will show why they won 108 games this year.
Boston Red Sox- Caleb Lynn
No roster is as deep as the Boston Red Sox. Despite what I think can possibly be a vulnerable bullpen, their offense will overpower everyone and make it hard for teams to keep up. I think the World Series will end in six games and we will be crowning the Red Sox as the champions.
WORLD SERIES MVP
J.D. Martinez – Zach Griffith
The Case for J.D. – Mookie will rake in the regular season MVP award, but Martinez will snag the big one. I can see J.D. having a Big Papi-esque performance in the World Series, coming up with clutch hits/homers when they’re needed most. Martinez is the most dangerous DH in all of baseball, so he’ll cap off a phenomenal season by being the hero in Beantown.
Cody Bellinger – Ryan Gregory
The case for Bellinger – The World Series MVP is usually a toss up. Bellinger is coming into this series a little under the radar with stars like Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, and Manny Machado surrounding him. If he puts together a solid series and hits a homerun or two, he’ll come away with the award.
Mookie Betts- Noah Wolfgang
The Case for Betts- Mookie will be the force that drives the Sox over the Brewers in this series. I think that he will put up historically good numbers in what I expect to be a competitive series. He will show why he is the AL MVP by snatching World Series MVP honors as well.
Andrew Benintendi- Caleb Lynn
The case for Benintendi- Looking at previous World Series champions, you don’t always get the most projected player to win the World Series MVP. Look at 2016 with Ben Zobrist winning it, or even last season with George Springer. I believe that Andrew Benintendi will give Boston a third dominant hitter, and will show why everyone was so excited about him being the next star in Boston.