Guest Post: 2012 MLB AL Playoff Predictions

Author: admin


The National League may have won the All-Star Game, but it's hard to deny that the American League is stronger on a team-by-team basis. Between the Yankees, Rangers, Angels and White Sox, the AL is arguably home to four of baseball's top five teams. Because the league is so top-heavy, what happens in the AL Playoffs is going to be critical to the rest of Major League Baseball: Whatever team wins the AL Championship is likely to win the World Series, too.


Making this season even more interesting is that it's the first year that fans will see the new Wild Card format, which will feature the top two teams that don't win their division in a mini-playoff of one game. Based on the standings right now, that game would feature several teams including the Angels, Tigers and Rays, although every division is still tight enough that these teams could change. The Angels look like they're in the best position to win the Wild Card game: Despite losing Dan Haren, they have a solid bullpen and their batters are strong enough that the explosiveness is there to win in the do-or-die circumstances presented by the new Wild Card format.


Regardless of what happens in that Wild Card game, it will likely end up being for nothing: The winner of that game gets the questionable reward of a series against the Yankees. The story's the same for the Yankees every year, and this season is no different. Despite normally efficient batters such as Alex Rodriguez being in slumps right now, they're still winning games and giving their fans hope that 2012 is the year they can win it all again. Sports usually try to project the motif that anything can happen, but none of the potential Wild Card teams are going to be the Yankees.


With that said, things will get a little more interesting once the Yankees make it to the AL Championship Game. That's because, if the playoffs match up with the standings from right now, they're going to be greeted at the door to the AL Championship by a feisty Texas Rangers club. As most fans know, the Rangers have won the last two AL Championships and then managed to come up short in the World Series. These 2012 Rangers are stronger than both the 2010 and 2011 incarnations, and they're not going to have any trouble dispatching any of the other AL contenders once the playoffs begin.


The stage will be set for a Yankees vs. Rangers AL Championship series that should be the most exciting one that the MLB has to offer this year. The Yankees are more talented than the Rangers when it comes to pitching and limiting opposing offenses by throwing the ball. At the same time, the Rangers are a team that's built to exhaust pitchers and fielders. Anchored by Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, Texas can use its power to force their way through the Yankees defense. A slew of complementary hitters helps to ensure that the squad can keep it going, and a strong bullpen that features Yu Darvish and Matt Harrison can stop the Yankees during a series.


For both teams, the stakes for this series couldn't be higher. If only one of those team makes it to the AL Championship, that team will easily make it to the World Series and likely win it all. If it comes down to Yankees vs. Rangers, though, fans will be in for a real treat - this match-up would trump anything that the World Series could offer. Both the Yankees and Rangers are built well enough to win a series against whoever the National League trots out for the World Series, and that's why the AL Playoffs are going to be more exciting than ever this fall.
By Don Phan - Just another sports enthusiast.


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