It was a wild, record-breaking season in baseball. 2017 saw both the most strikeouts and the most home runs in the history of a baseball season.
This was perhaps evidenced most the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who hit the most home runs ever by a rookie (52) and set the record for consecutive games with a strikeout.
Giancarlo Stanton hit 59 homers, Chris Sale struck out 308 batters, Jose Altuve might be the best contact hitter since Pete Rose, and Mike Trout is maybe the best baseball player ever.
Ever since the steroid era of the late 90s and early 2000s, baseball has had some problems with viewership and star power. Scores fell dramatically and pitchers saw the greatest renaissance since the league lowered the pitching mound in 1969.
For whatever reason, be it the change in the swing trajectory of most players (you’ll hear the term ‘launch angle’ throughout the playoffs), the possible ‘juicing’ of balls, or the juicing of players, homers are back, offense is back, and baseball is BACK.
Or not. There’s still problems with young viewership as baseball competes with the star power of the NBA or the political and social subplots of the NFL, but this baseball season was pretty damn entertaining and the playoffs look to offer more of the same.
The postseason has a bunch of really good teams from big markets with star players, so the league offices are surely happy about that.
Another thing that’s added some serious intrigue to the MLB postseason is the new double wildcard playoff game. Instead of one wildcard team making it to the postseason, now two make it and play one game FOR ALL THE MARBLES.
Without further ado, let’s check out the 4 squads in the wildcard games.
Earlier this season I tried to figure out the MLB team that I had seen the least amount of in my baseball-viewing life. I settled on the Colorado Rockies as the answer. Anyways, the Rockies are back in the playoffs for the first time in 8 years in the 1-game playoff against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As per usual, the Rockies have a dynamic lineup with young star Nolan Arenado (a future MVP candidate), center fielder Charlie Blackmon (a current MVP candidate who won the NL batting title), and young stud second baseman DJ LaMahieu adding a little punch to the lineup. But as is always the case, the Rockies’ pitching is their main issue.
They’ll send Jon Gray, who is good but not great, to the mound in Wednesday’s playoff game against the Diamondbacks where they are a huge underdog.
The Rockies have the second-lowest odds to win the World Series, according to Vegas, but with their collection of bats, which may just be the best in the postseason, it could be a fun bet to make… if you’re into that kind of thing.
The Diamondbacks might be the most slept-on 93-win team in MLB history. This team is good.
Ace Zack Greinke seems to have shed whatever led him to suck last season after signing a 6-year $205 million contract the year before. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is a legitimate star, jacking 36 dongs and putting up a .966 OPS this season.
Center fielder A.J. Pollack is a stud, Jake Lamb jacked 30 of his own dongs, and the rest of the Diamondbacks lineup is filled by serviceable, good players.
Should they get past the Rockies on Wednesday, the D-backs will be very well positioned with Greinke, southpaw Robbie Ray, who struck out 218 batters in 162 innings, and Taijuan Walker in the rotation.
If the lineup can get on in front of Goldschmidt and Lamb, the D-backs could present some problems for the Dodgers in the next round.
And while the Dodgers will be heavy favorites no matter who they face next round, the D-backs had a 11-8 record against Los Angeles. Just sayin’.
New York Yankees
The Yanks are back, folks. The Bronx Bombers haven’t won a playoff series since 2012, but with a new crop of young homegrown talent and one of the best bullpens ever, the Yankees could be primed for a deep run in October.
Aaron Judge is a giant man doing absolutely ridiculous things to baseballs, catcher Gary Sanchez, aka El Gary, led major league catchers in every offensive category besides batting average, shortstop Didi Gregorius is a marvel in the field and has developed into a very solid hitter, and second baseman Starlin Castro has found a home in New York.
While their starting pitching is slightly suspect, they’ll send 23-year-old flamethrower Luis Severino to the mound in the wild-card game, the Yanks posted the 3rd-best ERA in the AL and if they jump out to an early lead, their bullpen is truly unhittable.
The Yanks’ bullpen arms of Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances, Chad Green, and Tommy Khanle have been as hot as anyone in the league.
It’s hard to imagine the Yankees being underdogs, but most experts have the Indians or Astros advancing from the AL. That is still more likely, but don’t be surprised if the Yanks make a run.
Ah yes, the Twins. The Twins are back in the postseason for the first time since 2010 and they’ve got some players and shit.
Center fielder Byron Buxton is one of the most exciting young players in baseball and Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario, and Miguel Sano all jack major dongs.
Unfortunately, Sano is out for the wildcard game, so the Twins will need some serious offensive help on Tuesday night. The ancient Joe Mauer (who is somehow only 34 years old) would surely love to write another chapter in his long career.
If it doesn’t happen for the Twinkies this season (I’m pretty sure they’ve never beaten the Yankees in the history of baseball) they’ve got a very intriguing young core in Sano, Dozier, Buxton, Rosario and pitcher Jose Berrios.
All signs point to the Yankees winning on Tuesday night and a Twins win would be a massive upset, but with veteran hurler Ervin Santana taking the hill, nothing is a given.
I’ll check back with you baseball-loving fools on Thursday for a complete preview of the NL and AL division series. May the dongs be plentiful.