The AL Playoffs Will Be a Bloodbath

The American League playoff picture has already been mostly set, even though it is only early August. The American League will almost certainly be represented in the playoff bracket by the Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, and the New York Yankees as the three division winners and one of the wild card teams.

The Seattle Mariners will most likely be the second wild card team, but the Oakland A’s are looming and are now in a virtual tie for the second spot. The Mariners lead this race by just one game in the loss column. It could go either way, and it is far from a foregone conclusion.

The four aforementioned teams, however, are going to absolutely tear each other to shreds once the playoffs come around. Any possible combination of those teams meeting up in the AL side of the bracket is going to be wildly entertaining.

The Red Sox have the best record in all of baseball, and they are on a 112-win pace. Mookie Betts and JD Martinez are having insane seasons and are helping the rest of the team succeed. The Sox are showing virtually no signs of slowing down, and they upgraded at the deadline by adding Nathan Eovaldi to their rotation and Ian Kinsler to their infield depth.

Not to mention the Sox’s rotation– Chris Sale just started his second consecutive All-Star Game, David Price is one of the best pitchers in baseball when he is right, Rick Porcello is just two years removed from a Cy Young Award, and Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are capable of being very productive arms for them.

The Yankees have the second-best winning percentage in baseball, but unfortunately, they play in the same division as the Red Sox. They remain on pace to win over 100 games, but will still probably have to play in that Wild Card Game.

The Yankees’ lineup speaks for itself. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius. Not to mention, they have two of the best rookies in baseball: Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.

Even Aaron Hicks, who is very much a forgotten man on this roster, is becoming an absolute beast. Hicks has the second best WAR among AL center fielders, and it’s not particularly close. Here are the leaders in fWAR, among AL center fielders:

  • Mike Trout (7.6)
  • Aaron Hicks (3.2)
  • Brett Gardner (2.3)
  • Leonys Martin (2.1)

The closest player to Hicks is Gardner, his own teammate. Gardner has his split time between left and center this year, playing center when Hicks was out with an early DL stint. Gardner is awesome, too!

The Yankees’ pitching staff is often maligned, but it is honestly better than advertised. Luis Severino, despite recent struggles, is a Cy Young candidate. Masahiro Tanaka seems to be in second-half mode. CC Sabathia will always give a gutsy start, and the Yankees stabilized the back end of the rotation by adding vets JA Happ and Lance Lynn. Lynn is expected to spend some time in the bullpen.

The Yankees also have the best bullpen. Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances are kind of the locked in eighth and ninth inning players. This allows manager Aaron Boone to run former closers David Robertson and Zach Britton other times in the game, with Chad Green and Jonathan Holder acting as elite middle relief guys.

The Astros are the defending champs and, if they’re healthy, they still have one of the best lineups around. They have reigning MVP Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer, and those are just the big names!

The Astros also have probably the best starting rotation in the league: Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, and Charlie Morton.

The Indians are really the forgotten team in all of this. They narrowly lost in the ALDS last year, and as a result, many fans have forgotten how great they were a year ago. The Indians also play in the worst division in baseball. They play in thhe AL Central, where the Twins are in second place with a record of 49-58 at the time of this writing.

Cleveland, though, has a stacked lineup. 1-7 is as good as anyone other team mentioned thus far. Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Edwin Encarnacion are Cleveland’s biggest names, but the whole team is very solid. Cleveland also recently acquired Leonys Martin, who is the fourth best center fielder in the AL based on fWAR.

Cleveland’s rotation is still pretty nasty, led by two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

Cleveland also revamped the bullpen, adding Brad Hand and Adam Climber in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Cody Allen has been one of the best closers in baseball for the last several years. If Andrew Miller comes back from his injury and is as productive as he was before, then they might have the best bullpen– besides the Yankees– in all of baseball.

All four of these teams are packed with talent from top to bottom. The World Series winner may come out of the American League. The only team who may be on the same tier as these four from the NL is the Dodgers, and maybe the Cubs if they are healthy and clicking.

This American League playoff bracket is going to be an absolute bloodbath, and fans cannot wait to watch.

 

Featured Image via Flickr/Philipp

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