It's that time of year again: The stretch drive to the MLB Playoffs. It's also time to re-visit those picks we all made for who would be in the World Series in 2011 way back in April. There were the die-hard Pirates fans got excited about the team's the start and said, "It's going be our year, we're going to take it!" Conversely, there were the realists who predicted a Yankees versus Phillies title series. Everyone had their own opinion, and now it's time to predict and preview some possible World Series match-ups that we could see unfold come October 19th, 2011.
Without a doubt, there are going to be questions as to why certain teams will be left out of the following match-ups, but we are looking at the best possible World Series match-ups and not ones that have the potential to be four-game sweeps.
Over the course of this slideshow, five separate potential World Series match-ups will be broken down, and there won't be many surprises.
Let's be real: Everyone loves a rematch, and there is no doubt that fans would love to see the Giants take on the Rangers for a second consecutive year. Of course, in order for this to happen, both the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers need to win their divisions and get through the LDS and LCS series.
The 2010 World Series battle between didn't garner as many ratings as previous World Series, mostly due to the lack of exposure both teams get on national television. Nonetheless, it was a good series with two darkhorse teams battling it out until San Francisco eventually won in five games.
To date, the Rangers are second in the league in overall batting average at .277, and the Giants have the second lowest team ERA at 3.15. As it was last year, it will be a battle between the strong pitching staff of the Giants, and the big bats of the Rangers.
Michael Young leads the Rangers with a .333 batting average and 80 RBI's, accompanied by Nelson Cruz and his 75 RBI's. Unfortunately this season, the Rangers are without ace Cliff Lee as he returned to the Phillies for the 2011 campaign. Luckily, CJ Wilson and Alex Ogdano have picked up the slack, with both posting 11-5 records thus far.
Even with two budding star pitchers, the advantage on the mound still goes to the Giants. The trio of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Ryan Vogelsong are just too good. If Carlos Beltran can figure out his struggles at the plate and the Giants can get their small ball going again, this will be a much tighter match-up than 2010.
A World Series final with the Rangers and the Giants is highly unlikely, and a lot has to happen in order for it to occur, but rest assured, if it did happen, it would be a barn burner.
The Boston Red Sox haven't met the Atlanta Braves since June 2009, but the 2011 World Series has potential to see the two sides battle yet again. It would be the first meeting of the former Boston Braves and Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Atlanta currently has the historical edge, going 27-24 in 51 games against the Red Sox.
The Braves are having a surprising season, and are leading the NL Wild Card race right now by four games over the San Francisco Giants. In a year where so many teams have jockeyed for position in the NL, it is nice to see the Braves in the hunt for the playoffs while playing in the same division as the powerhouse Philadelphia Phillies.
If the playoffs started today, the Braves would have the lowest scoring offense of any team in the Fall Classic. Luckily for them, they would also have the second best ERA at 3.43. Pitching has saved the Braves this season. The Braves have two of the top 25 pitchers in the majors with veteran Tim Hudson and Jair Jurrjens. If, however, the Braves plan on competing with the Red Sox for the title of World Champions, they need to get their offense going.
The Red Sox, once again, seemed poised to join the AL East-leading Yankees in the playoffs as the AL wild card representatives. The Red Sox are the opposite of the Braves. With a high powered offense lead by veterans Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis, accompanied by young guns Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury, the BoSox lead the majors in both overall batting average at .281 and RBIs at 619.
The match-up of the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves would be quite the spectacle. With each major aspect of the game dominated by one team each, this one could go the distance.
Here we go again folks, another storied rivalry to be renewed. Although the match-up is unlikely, it is sure to be an instant classic if it occurs. The two teams have met a total of 47 times in their storied rivalry, with the Yankees leading the way with a 25-21-1 record overall. The original subway series was not the Mets vs Yankees, but rather the Giants vs the Yankees. The last time the two teams met in the playoffs was in the 1962 World Series, when the Yankees defeated the then-New York Giants in 7 games.
At present day, the Giants obviously aren't a lock for the playoffs, but there is a good chance by October they'll be in there. The Yankees, on the other hand, are all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs.
The Giants currently have the lowest average run output on a game-to-game basis with just over 3 runs per game, but they also have the second best ERA in the majors. Conversely, the always powerful Yankees have the second most RBIs in the league with 616 and have a team ERA of 3.52, just above that of the Giants. Unfortunately for the Yankees, their starting pitching has been struggling as of late with the exception of CC Sabathia.
Dreaming aside, this could be a real classic, old school rivalry renewed, and surely die-hard Giants and Yankees fans would love to see this match-up.
A World Series match-up between the Boston Red Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies comes a close second as the best match-up for baseball enthusiasts and casual fans alike. The Red Sox and Phillies would be destined to put on an offensively show. In 46 meetings between the two sides, the Red Sox lead 27-19. The Sox also won the season series in June 2011 two games to one.
This match-up takes two of the league's top teams and puts them head to head. The downside in the series for the Red Sox will be their pitching. After losing Clay Buchholz to the 60-day disabled list due to a stress fracture in his back, the BoSox cannot compete with the big three of the Phillies in Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee. The Phillies have a league best 3.09 team ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. The Red Sox don't even come close these stats, but again their high powered offense may be able to overpower the veteran Phillies pitching staff for a game or two, and steal some victories.
All in all, this has the potential to be a very entertaining series. Look for this potential series to go six or seven games.
Finally, it is time for the No. 1 potential match-up in the 2011 World Series. Baseball fans have been waiting for this one since the Yankees defeated the Phillies in six games back in 2009. A rematch between the Phillies and Yankees has been two years in the making, and the league is ready.
One definitive advantage the Phillies have over the Yankees in 2011 is that of pitching. Back in '09, the Phillies staff was not nearly as dangerous as it is today. Accompanying 2009 pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. Meanwhile, the Yankees will be without Andy Pettitte, who won two of the four winning games for the Yankees back in 2009, and Joba Chamberlain has been nothing short of a disappointment for the Yankees since the World Series victory.
Although the Yankees may not have the advantage on the mound, they certainly have it at the plate. With Shane Victorino missing time on the field for the Phillies due to injury, it has left just Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez to lead the offensive push for the Philadelphia, and they aren't the players they once were. Meanwhile, six of the nine regulars in the Yankees lineup are having stellar years, including a 94 RBI season from Curtis Granderson, and Robinson Cano hitting .304 with 84 RBIs. There is a clear advantage at the plate for the Yankees, but that isn't to say the pitching staff of the Phillies can't shut them down.
In the World Series, it all comes down to who is hot at the right time, and who can come in through the clutch. For the Yankees, this comes in the form of first ballot hall-of-famer Derek Jeter, and Cy Young ace Roy Halladay for the Phillies.
This series has the potential to be the most watched World Series in history and could be the most entertaining one in a while. Look for the Yankees and the Phillies to push this one to the distance. Enjoy, ball fans!
No matter the eventual match-up is, the 2011 World Series will be a success not only for the league's popularity, but also in the eyes of fans. All of the teams in the hunt for the playoffs to date have a shot at the title. Not all of the teams that could possibly make the playoffs were mentioned in this list, but that does not mean they won't make the finals, just that the list went through the best possible match-ups. Anything can happen in the MLB Playoffs. No one expected the Giants or the Rangers to make the World Series last year, and look what happened.
If a team gets hot at the right time, watch out, because a series can end in a flash.
One thing is sure: The 2011 World Series will most definitely be fun to watch.