It's October. And as the leaves fall from the trees, so do each of the teams in Major League Baseball—fall from contention, that is.
Eight remain. Who will hoist the trophy at year’s end?
Here are KP’s picks*. Who do you have winning it all?
Red Sox vs. Angels
Anaheim—er, Los Angeles—has too much talent all over the field, and, coupled with the confidence of beating the Sox during the regular season, the Angels finally get that Boston playoff monkey off their back. But not until after the Red Sox push them to the brink.
Angels in five.
White Sox vs. Rays
After going against the Rays midseason, this writer isn't about to make the same mistake again. Besides, having Carl Crawford back, plus a full house at "The Trop," this team will move on to its first ever ALCS—and Ozzie Guillen will have a cow after it happens.
Rays in four.
Dodgers vs. Cubs
Sure, Derek Lowe is on fire. Sure, Joe Torre can manage. Sure, Manny can hit in the playoffs. Sure, the return of Rafael Furcal should provide a spark. But this is a Cubs team with solid starting pitching, a deep bullpen, and enough bats to move on. Keep the hope alive, North Siders.
Cubs in four.
Brewers vs. Phillies
CC Sabathia has come up huge for Milwaukee, and the sacrifice of Ned Yost late in the season at least resulted in the first playoff berth in more than two decades. Still, this team is young and is traveling to take on a Phillies team with playoff-experienced power bats and power starters. Plain and simple—this is a tall order for the Brewers, who are likely running on empty after giving it all they had just to get into the playoffs.
Phillies in four.
LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES
Phillies vs. Cubs
Steve Bartman won't likely be in the stands, unless he disguised himself and had a sex change. Moises Alou won't be there either.
These two teams have virtually the same overall team ERA. While the Cubs have a better overall batting average, the Phillies have belted more home runs, have a better fielding percentage, steal more bases, and get caught stealing less. Plus, Ryan Howard has been hitting the cover off the ball, batting .352 with 11 homers over the final month of the season.
All in all, it adds up—in this wide-open race, an underdog has to slide through at some point, and chances are it will be against the team that has waited 100 years to win a title. Over a deep-dish pizza, Chicago cries—again.
Phillies in seven.
Rays vs. Angels
While it's tempting to use inexperience as a negative against the Rays, it would be silly to do so as Tampa Bay has proved its critics wrong all season long.
Therefore, instead, the Angels get home field advantage. Not that it entirely matters for L.A., because as a team the Angels had 50 wins each on the road and at home Tampa Bay, however, had a losing record away from home.
The Rays have a question mark in the closer spot, as Troy Percival has not been 100 percent healthy.
The Angels' defense up the middle is solid, and the acquisition of Mark Teixeira added a major spark to an already potent offense.
Combine that with consistent starting pitching and the hottest record-holding closer in the game, and you have an Angels team that should have enough to get it done.
Angels in six.
Phillies vs. Angels
If Philadelphia gets this far, the Phillies certainly have enough firepower with guys like Cole Hamels on the mound and the Ryan Howard-Chase Utley combo hitting 81 homers and 250 RBI during the regular season.
Still, if the Angels can escape Boston and then use their talent, small ball, and overall experience to make it to the World Series, the momentum generated plus the talent across the diamond should be enough to give the Halos another World Series title.
Angels in six.
Originally posted at 2:00 pm via FOX Blogs. Delayed until after the B/R MLB Playoff Prediction Contest.