5 Reasons Home Field Advantage Won't Help the NL Win the World Series
For the first time in 14 seasons, the NL finally won the All-Star Game 3-1. They displayed a great show of pitching, defense, and just an all-around great performance.
It will be the first time an NL team has home field advantage since the Diamondbacks had it back in 2001. The only problem is, it's not going to help them win the World Series this year.
The AL will reign as World Series Champions and here are five reasons why.
Dominant Pitchers Not Making The Playoffs
This year’s playoffs will likely be without some of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Josh Johnson is arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now, who is unfortunate to be playing for the Florida Marlins that find themselves 10 ½ games back of the Braves.
He has posted a 9-3 record along with a league-leading 1.76 ERA. Need I say more?
Ubaldo Jimenez has been lights out this season with an astonishing first half record of 15-1.
One problem, he plays for the Rockies. If they do scratch the surface of the playoffs, they won’t make it past the first round.
Sorry, Tim Lincecum, not only will you not be receiving your third consecutive Cy Young award, but you also won’t make the playoffs.
The offense is extremely weak besides the two bright spots with veteran Aubrey Huff and young rising star Buster Posey. You can’t have two players carry a team offensively.
Pitching isn't everything if you don't have any offense, San Francisco.
Last but certainly not least, you have Roy Halladay with the struggling Phillies. They need another starting pitcher and they need the Atlanta Braves to cool off, but that doesn’t look like it will be happening anytime soon.
In fact, they may end up third in their respective division after making it to back-to-back World Series.
Those are only a few select star pitchers who more than likely will not be seeing the playoffs this season.
Other Notables: Johan Santana (Mets), Adam Wainwright (Cardinals), Matt Cain (Giants), Roy Oswalt (Astros), and Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)
Even though an American League team will get the pleasure of playing with the DH rule in the World Series, they won’t need it.
The AL lineups are far superior to those that the NL have to offer. From top to bottom the only weak link you will see in an AL lineup during the playoffs is the pitcher's spot.
That can’t even be said for any team in the NL. At most you will see a team like the Braves, Phillies, and Dodgers actually have about six quality guys in their lineups.
Yes, the Reds and Rockies are towards the top of the league in every offensive category but can you really name five players in their starting lineups without looking at their rosters
I am not talking about the sports fanatic either; I am talking about an average fan who doesn’t even follow a specific team.
Some fans may argue and say, “Well wait a minute, the NL has the best pitching in the game.” Yes, they did show in the All-Star game that they have quite the pitching in the NL.
They were able to dominate the AL; there was no question about that. Here is the little secret though: It was the All-Star Game.
Every pitcher knew they would only get two innings at most, so they were able to rear back and let loose. They didn’t have to worry about a pitch count or even facing the same guy twice.
I know that the NL has the three best ERAs in the game, but they are also facing NL lineups. Their lineups that aren’t solid one through nine like the AL's. Some teams may not even be solid one through five in the NL.
What pitching staff will want to face the likes of the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Rays, Twins, White Sox, or even the Red Sox if they pull a Criss Angel and magically make the playoffs?
With all that being said I can almost guarantee that not many pitching staffs want to face those lineups. For crying out loud, the AL pitching staffs don’t even like having to face these lineups.
How Many Pitchers Can You Name?
The teams that led their respective divisions in the NL were looking up from the middle of the pack last season. The difference in records at the halfway point for those teams is a horse of a different color.
The Braves lead the NL East with a 53-36 this year while they were 43-45 last season.
NL Central-leading Reds are sitting at 49-41; last season they were 42-45 and sitting in fourth place of that division.
How about those San Diego Padres, from last to first. They were laughable to watch last season as they sat at 36-52 and 15 games out of first place at the halfway point.
This season they are the team laughing, as they are on top of the NL West with a 51-37 record.
The big question is how this turn around happened in less than one season. Neither teams acquired a “huge” free agent in the off season.
Oh that's right, it’s those players that you have never heard of that have made these teams the ones to compete with in the NL.
Forget about those day to day starters, focus on the starting pitchers. Can you name more than one or two starting pitchers on both the Padres and Reds?
Of course, the true sports fans should at least be able to name three or even the entire starting rotation.
Padres: John Garland has helped lead a bunch of no names to the league's best ERA at 3.27 and seems to be quite the journeyman in the NL West the past two seasons.
He played for both the Diamondbacks and Dodgers last season. Kevin Correia has been in this division ever since he came up to the big leagues with the Giants.
The only reason I even know of Mat Latos is due to the fact that he is one of the pitchers on my fantasy team.
Have you ever heard of Wade Leblanc or Clayton Richard? Other than that I am not to sure anybody but Padres fans can name their entire rotation. Then again I am not even sure they can do that.
Reds: Aaron Harang has been with this team forever and has normally been their go-to guy, but he has struggled a lot this season.
Mike Leake, who won the fifth and final starting spot in the rotation during spring training. has given himself a shot at winning the Rookie of the Year in the NL with a 6-1 record.
Then you have Bronson Arroyo who I know very well, considering I saw him battle my Yankees for three seasons.
Arguably their best pitcher this season, Johnny Cueto, who has been with them for three seasons now, seems to finally be finding his form.
His performance this year has been something they had hoped for since they took a chance on him back in 2005. The other starter can’t even be named as they have tried four different pitchers to fill this role.
Braves: Of course most of you would be able to name Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe who have been playing forever. Both have pitched more years in their careers then the rest of the starting staff combined.
Jair Jurrjens was one of their better pitchers for the past two seasons but has struggled to stay healthy this season.
The only reason I have ever even heard of Tommy Hanson was because of his outstanding season he had last year. Also, he has been one of their top prospects ever since he was drafted in 2005.
Think you can name the last one? You probably can’t because even the Braves don’t have a clue who that fifth starter is.
Kenshin Kawakami was a starter to begin the season, but with Jurrjens coming back and a dismal 1-9 record, he will more than likely be headed to the bullpen.
Kris Medlen is another young pitcher who lacks experience but is in the starting rotation for now anyway.
So as an average fan, do you think you would have been able to name more than two starting pitchers from these teams?
Lack Of Playoff Experience
Although managers such as Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox and Charlie Manuel have plenty of experience coaching in the playoffs, most of their players don’t.
The Braves are extremely young and lack the experience as a whole. Would those players be able to step foot in a playoff game, control their nerves and perform the way they did in the regular season?
How about their young arms, will they be able to last throughout the entire season and then the playoffs if they make them?
Derek Lowe and Chipper Jones are the only two that have really had some good quality playoff experience.
Eric Hinske who has played in three consecutive World Series has had some good experience, but is he probably isn’t the guy you would count on to lead your team in the playoffs.
The Reds haven’t been to the playoffs since 1995. Again the same with the Reds as it was with the Braves, only two players that have really had any experience in the playoffs.
Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Cairo have very little playoff experience. This team is also very young, especially when it comes to the pitching staff.
Would they be able to carry everything from the regular season into the playoffs?
With the Padres come very little playoff experience and when I mean very little I am talking about Jerry Hairston Jr. He won a ring with the Yankees last year but saw very limited time in the playoffs.
You could also include Matt Stairs, who seems to have played on every team in the majors when he would get his playing time by being a pinch hitter.
The two best teams as far as experience goes in the NL would have to be the Phillies and Cardinals. Both have been in the playoffs a lot in these recent years. They each have won and lost a World Series over the past 10 seasons.
The Cardinals are probably the most likely to make the playoffs between the two teams, considering the NL Central is much weaker than the NL East.
Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, White Sox and Tigers all have plenty of playoff experience players. The Rangers who are in a battle with the Angels for the AL West have the least experience out of all the playoff contention teams in the AL.
You have got to wonder just how well the young NL teams will fare when the playoffs begin. How will deal with the pressure of being in the playoffs then potentially in the World Series?
American League East
Sure there are other teams in the AL like the Rangers, Tigers and White Sox that will compete for the AL Pennant this season, but when it comes to baseball, there is no better division than the AL East.
Even with all the injuries that the Red Sox have endured this season they still find themselves with one of the best records in baseball.
With that being said, they are still behind the Rays and the Yankees, who respectively have the two best records in baseball.
The Rays (54-34) are consistently contenders in a division that used to be dominated by the Yankees and Red Sox. David Price is having a Cy Young-caliber season showed how he can dominate in the All-Star Game.
They have the fourth best ERA in the league while playing in the toughest division in baseball.
Not to mention, they are the scariest team on the basepaths, stealing 110 bases so far this season. That is 34 more stolen bases than the next best team, the Mets.
What has helped drive the Red Sox (51-38) over the years has been their potent lineup and consistent starting pitching. The ones making the splash for them this season though, are the unlikely heroes.
It’s hard to imagine they have such a good record with the injuries to Mike Cameron, Jacoby Elsbury, Dustin Pedroia (2008 MVP), Josh Beckett, Victor Martinez, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Clay Buchholz.
You can thank those young guys that have been called up and done a great job filling the roles of those that were needed.
The pitching has not been up to par either with Beckett, Dice-K, Wakefield, and free agent acquisition John Lackey all really struggling this season.
No matter what injuries or pitching problems they have had this season, I know that I wouldn’t want to face them come playoff time if they make it.
Then you have the Yankees (56-32), the team that everyone loves to hate. Yes, they pay top dollar for their players, their fans will turn on you at any given chance but they know how to win baseball games.
They too have also had their fair share of injuries so far this season. However, they still have a guy by the name of Mariano Rivera who is the best closer in the game.
Captain Derek Jeter is still the leader and will be until he calls it quits. Good old veteran Andy Pettitte may be having his best season of his career thus far.
Plus, you have CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes who are also having outstanding campaigns this season. Those three have a combined 34-7 record.
No team comes close to having three pitchers with a combined record that good.
Also, let’s not forget about their star-studded lineup that is dangerous from top to bottom. They are in the top 10 in every offensive category, while their defense has only recorded 33 errors all season which ranks them second best.
Looking at these teams and what they have done so far this season makes it hard to believe that any NL team can compete even with home field advantage.
For the past three seasons a team from the AL East has made it to the World Series and two of those times they have won. Since 2000, a team from this division has been in seven of the last ten World Series. Can you say AL domination?
Two of these teams will end up in the playoffs, one will make it to the World Series and that team will win the World Series this year.