The Pre-Season Predictions: 2011 Edition
The time has come to make bold predictions that will invariably be shown to be false over the course of the season. I have done the standard awards along with standings for the upcoming season, with a short explanation on each. More than anything these are based on hunches (as in any real prediction), I did not use any statistical modelling, I didn’t run through any simulators, I just took what I know about the players, their past statistical performances, incorporated that with some players having changes of venues affecting their park factors, and went with it. I did look at a lot of projections but ultimately I agreed with some, didn’t see others. So here without further adieu are my picks for the season, (full Oakland A’s predictions come tomorrow in the season preview):
American League West
1. Oakland A’s – I have said all winter long that I felt that the Rangers were the better team, in the past week that has changed. The Rangers’ already somewhat shaky starting pitching has eroded in quality just in the last weeks of spring training. When I thought all along that Oakland was two or three games worse than the Rangers, this is a difference maker. Now speaking of Oakland, the offensive upgrades and bullpen upgrade I think will more than compensate for a slight regression in the starting pitching staff. Bold prediction is that Brandon McCarthy/Tyson Ross/and anyone else who serves as 5th starter this year will be an improvement over Ben Sheets. I anticipate Trevor Cahill to regress, Brett Anderson to do slightly better, Gio Gonzalez to be slightly better and Dallas Braden to be either the same or slightly worse. I anticipate bounce backs from both Kevin Kouzmanoff and Kurt Suzuki, which ought to organically help the offense along with the offseason acquisitions.
2. Texas Rangers – The loss of Cliff Lee in my mind has been overblown. He is a very good pitcher, but realistically the Rangers got themselves into the playoffs in spite of him as opposed to due to him last year. The problem really is the injury to Tommy Hunter and the ramifications of that to everyone else in the rotation including the movement of Alexi Ogando to the rotation. I know it was big news all winter regarding Neftali Felix potentially moving into the rotation but ultimately for this year at least he is best kept at the back-end of the bullpen. The other big offseason story with the Rangers of course was the scuttling of Michael Young as a starter into some sort of super-reserve/designated-hitter role and its effect after some frosty comments that he made regarding Rangers GM Jon Daniels. I think Young is a professional, and even if he is upset it won’t effect his performance, furthermore if he still does in fact want out (and I presume he does) he knows his contract is an albatross and has to know that further accompanying it by poor on-the-field performance will only deteriorate his value further.
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – The Angels in the outfield look to be very good. Despite his terrible contract, Vernon Wells is a capable player and him in left with Torii Hunter in right framing Peter Bourjos makes for a dynamic trio. The left side of the infield is a bit weak, and Howie Kendrick never has seemed to meet his expectations. The fact that Kendrys Morales (the ‘s’ added this offseason) is out to start the year is a bad sign, but after his stellar spring I anticipate big things out of Mark Trumbo (see more later…). With a big year from Trumbo, either Morales or Bobby Abreu (with the Angels covering a good deal of his salary) could become trade bait if the Angels stick around in contention. The rotation which looked to be a strength coming into the spring, doesn’t look so hot now with Joel Pineiro starting the year on the DL and Scott Kazmir looking less and less like a capable fifth starter. The Angels despite their imperfections are a good team and Mike Scioscia is a capable manager, and I expect this no expectations club to compete and be a thorn in Oakland and Texas’ side all summer long.
4. Seattle Mariners – The Mariners had minor upgrades and no big moves this offseason, which is for them a good thing. The biggest move they made was a non-move, despite what I am sure were numerous Yankee overtures, they did not move Felix Hernandez. Hernandez is in my estimation the best pitcher in baseball. He can be near unhittable any given day of the week and never seems to be fazed by any situation. That’s a good thing because in Seattle he will be pitching in tight games continually with little run support. Despite last year’s 61-101 campaign with record anemic offensive, I suspect the Mariners offense is not as bad as they appeared. The loss of center-fielder Franklin Gutierrez with a stomach ailment will hurt to open the campaign (more so to the pitchers than to the offense) but expect a much better season from Chone Figgins. Rookie Michael Pineda I think will be very strong in a no-pressure situation as fifth starter, but whereas Hernandez was able to overcome a poor W-L record to snag a Cy Young, his relatively anonymous stint (with what I assume will be a poor W-L record) in the Pacific Northwest won’t garner him Rookie of the Year contention that I think he will earn.
American League Central
1. Chicago White Sox – At the top this division really is the tightest of any in baseball. The three contenders, Chicago, Minnesota and Detroit could hardly be closer and a pick of any of them to win this division would be completely reasonable. I pick Chicago because I like their ability to stay healthy and also because they to me offer the most consistency from members of their team. The addition of Adam Dunn – someone whom I am not a fan of but who is unarguably a good hitter – will tremendously help this offense. The pitching staff too is strong and will only become stronger once Jake Peavy is fully ready. Whereas in the bullpen the addition of Jesse Crain in the bullpen further beefs up that unit as well.
2. Minnesota Twins – If all things were equal the Twins would win this division, but alas they are not. The health of Justin Morneau suffering from the effects of a concussion last summer mean that a potent bat in the Twins lineup will not be one that can necessarily be counted on all summer long in Minneapolis. Their starting pitching is steady and deep though not stellar and strong I still can’t understand how Kevin Slowey is not a better option in the rotation than Nick Blackburn. If Morneau can stay in the lineup all year long that could be the edge they need to pass Chicago, but I don’t anticipate he is in the lineup consistently.
3. Detroit Tigers – The Tigers are an intriguing team, a mix of young and old. Aggressive in the offseason with the acquisitions of Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit they’re an odd lineup equal parts very good (Martinez, Magglio Ordonez, Austin Jackson, and one of the best in baseball and MVP-candidate Miguel Cabrera) and very weak (Jhonny Peralta, Will Rhymes, Alex Avila). Their pitching staff looks to be above average assuming that Rick Porcello mimics his 2009 campaign as opposed to his 2010 campaign. Max Scherzer looks to be a star in the making and Justin Verlander is relatively quietly one of the best pitchers in the American League. The Tigers biggest weakness is their extreme lack of depth, should any of those starters they have go down (and Brad Penny would seem a good candidate) there is a major drop-off and their chance at contention becomes much more a function of White Sox or Twins missteps.
4. Kansas City Royals – This team’s future looks very bright, their present – not so much. This year we likely should see the debuts of Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer as the Royals begin to graduate their prospects to the Major Leagues. However the 2011 edition won’t be impressive – not with the likes of Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera eating up lots of playing time and Bruce Chen featuring prominently in the rotation. The bullpen has some nice parts, particularly Joakim Soria but also the overlooked Robinson Tejeda.
5. Cleveland Indians – The Indians are a mess, with a payroll that has been halved in the past three seasons, and well over half of their payroll committed to Fausto Carmona (who will be traded midseason), Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore (injured to start the year) they showed a complete reluctance to spend on anything this winter with the big additions being re-tread Austin Kearns, Travis Buck and the inexplicable signing of a middle-reliever for a non-contending team in Chad Durbin. The Indians need Michael Brantley and Matt LaPorta to show they made the C.C. Sabathia trade worthwhile, but they won’t. Expect them to sell of any usable parts by July 31st but really there isn’t much for them to peddle to contenders anyhow.
American League East
1. Boston Red Sox – The Boston Red Sox are practically an All-Star Team masquerading as a normal 25-man roster. The offseason acquisitions alone are better than the core of many teams around the league as they added Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler among others. This team will be the class of the American League all summer long and everyone else will fight to keep up. Their strength really is their amazing depth, not only on the bench but also at Pawtucket, that allow the Red Sox to survive any injury scenarios. This is a team where David Ortiz could be considered the sixth best hitter on the club and with Gonzalez taking pot shots at the Monster this offensive will generate a ton of runs. Their pitching is a little more suspect, but with a deep bullpen and the depth to really make significant midseason moves, it’ll overcome any poor outings by Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Jon Lester at the top of the rotation should be a strong candidate for a Cy Young. Though it doesn’t matter he could easily win near 25 games this year which will grant him a lot of attention in award voting.
2. New York Yankees – The Yankees spend, spend, spend and this winter was no different though their huge spending was to lock up Derek Jeter (far above market price), Mariano River and Rafael Soriano (also above market price). The Yankees Achilles heel will be their starting pitching with Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia filling out the final two rotation slots at present moment. Bartolo Colon and recent signee Kevin Millwood might circle in those roles as well, but while there is a lot of speculation that the Yankees being the Yankees they can go out and acquire a pitcher when they need one, I just don’t so many available and the overpay in prospects would likely be huge so I doubt they make a significant move. The offense remains very strong and deep and will carry this pitching weak club.
3. Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays lost Carl Crawford, Matt Garza, Carlos Pena and virtually their entire bullpen, yet a minor-league system ready to churn out the next big thing, should keep the Rays well above .500 but ultimately not up to speed with their AL East big money rivals. The Rays will continue to do more with less counting on heavy contributions from rookie Jeremy Hellickson in the rotation and Ben Zobrist in the lineup. I expect a good year from new-additions Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez and continued greatness from recent AK-47 theft victim Evan Longoria.
4. Toronto Blue Jays – The Blue Jays are poised to become an AL East power, but not yet in 2011. Last year a home run happy, low on-base-percentage club managed one of the quieter 85-77 seasons in memory despite a league leading 54 home runs out of Jose Bautista (somewhat out of nowhere). The big departure of the offseason was Vernon Wells and more so his huge contract, though the loss of Shaun Marcum in the rotation leaves an opening for Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Drabek to show why he was a top-rated prospect all these years.
5. Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles will be much improved and probably will be the best last-place team in baseball (if not in record, definitely in talent). Buck Showalter will help this young club continue to improve but they face a long road ahead of them before they will even sniff contention in the American League East. The additions of Vladimir Guerrero (overpaid), Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds will help out the offense but in the case of Guerrero and Lee seem to be bridges to the future as opposed to a real role in helping the Orioles contend. The pitching staff is so-so, led by Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz and likely will be upgraded once prospect Zach Britton is brought to Camden Yards.
National League West
1. Colorado Rockies – The Rockies don’t feature an amazing offense but an above average one led by the likes of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki. I do like their depth though especially as a National League club that’ll need to use their bench as they can supplement their offense with Jason Giambi and Ty Wigginton. Their pitching will be led by Ubaldo Jimenez who is unquestionably the best pitcher ever to don the purple pinstripes of Colorado, though Jorge de la Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin also are very good pitchers ahead of a strong bullpen with the likes of Rafael Betancourt and Huston Street. In a tight division, the Rockies’ depth really sets them apart.
2. San Francisco Giants – The returning World Series Champion Giants got by last year on the strength of their pitching and 2011 will be no different as the same very strong and very good five of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito will carry the Giants very far. The offense remains very suspect – there is absolutely no way Andres Torres is a 6.0 WAR player ever again in his career, Mark DeRosa, Aaron Rowand or Nate Schierholtz aren’t particularly inspiring as starting right fielders though it is a matter of time before Aubrey Huff moves there once Brandon Belt is called up. Buster Posey is the real deal and I expect a bounceback campaign from the noticeably trimmer Pablo Sandoval. Not having Brian Wilson to close out games will hurt, as Santiago Casilla and Guillermo Mota aren’t guys I’d trust in that closer role – not sure why Bruce Bochy is against using Sergio Romo.
3. San Diego Padres – The offensively challenged Padres lost Adrian Gonzalez which is a remarkable loss in the middle of their lineup. Despite that, the Padres have a lineup well suited to their pitching friendly ballpark. Year in year out, I am always overly optimistic on the Padres (last year the one year I wasn’t – go figure), and this year is no different as I again expect them to be a surprise club in the National League. The additions of Jason Bartlett and Orlando Hudson were good moves, and I expect their young staff led by Mat Latos (though he starts the year on the DL) to continue to improve. The bullpen remains a strength as Heath Bell closes for San Diego but the group is really led by the amazing Luke Gregerson.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers – Frank McCourt’s club is a mess after the rotation looked to be a point of depth, the injuries to Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla leave a fifth starter unclear to begin the year. The bullpen has good pitchers in Hong-Chih Kuo and should-he-improve Jonathan Broxton but otherwise is somewhat empty with Lance Cormier (3.92 ERA in 2010 versus 5.22 FIP, care of a 0.88 K/BB ratio) and Mike MacDougal (5.8BB/9 in 2010) sure to have the Dodgers lose lots of game late. Rafael Furcal is no longer a good baseball player, Matt Kemp looks equally disappointing, so aside from Andre Ethier there is little to write home about from the lineup also. Late-arriving Dodger fans should plan to leave-early to beat the traffic before things get truly messy.
5. Arizona Diamondbacks – The Diamondbacks really aren’t that far away from the Dodgers, though moving in the opposite direction as they are improving as opposed to declining. While Joe Saunders seems to get worse year after year (his 2010 campaign numerically looks better largely because he was again getting worse, but the switch the NL benefited him 4.67 AL FIP to 4.43 NL FIP) Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson appear to be decent pitchers. Aside from having a bullpen with the most pitchers whose names end in “z” (Juan Gutierrez, David Hernandez and Esmerling Vasquez) there are few strong contributors here once the non-dominant starters are pulled.
National League Central
1. Cincinnati Reds – By default really the Reds win the Central. The club is strong offensively, have a good deal of pitching depth and should repeat. While the Brew Crew really made the big moves to compete now, the injury to Zack Greinke coupled with the uncertainty regarding the health of Shaun Marcum help the Reds hang onto the division title. The Reds have good depth to their lineup, and a ton of depth to their pitching that they should be able to hold off anyone and keep pace in the National League with virtually any club. Aroldis Chapman is going to be in the bullpen again tossing 105mph darts, but by 2012 I assume he will be a candidate to start.
2. Milwaukee Brewers – As mentioned above, the Brewers’ injury that befell Zack Greinke and the uncertainty surrounding the health of Shaun Marcum put this club at a disadvantage to the Reds. Without these bumps in the road perhaps Milwaukee becomes the team to beat in the Central. Yovani Gallardo continues to be one of the most underrated pitchers in baseball, but look for him to get a bit more attention this season as the Brewers contend and he plays a major role in it. The bullpen, led by John Axford looks to be strong, the addition of Sergio Mitre should give them some flexibility. This lineup will continue to hit, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Casey McGehee and Rickie Weeks are all the real deal and their bench is rather deep.
3. Chicago Cubs – The Cubs I think will be a surprise club in 2011. Their lineup is solid, as is their bench but what I think sets them apart is their starting pitching. Andrew Cashner, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Randy Wells and Carlos Zambrano make a pretty good rotation – far more impressive that what St. Louis (most people’s #3 team in the Central) can put up there. The bullpen also is greatly improved by Kerry Wood setting up (a role he thrived in in New York) Carlos Marmol. While I don’t expect the Cubs to win this division, a few lucky breaks and they could – they will be a team that no one saw coming in the 2011 National League.
4. St. Louis Cardinals – The injury to Adam Wainwright is huge. It makes Jake Westbrook a good third starter a number two, and Jaime Garcia a good four and number three. Chris Carpenter who always seems a step away from injury is now vital and if he goes down St. Louis’ battleship has effectively been sunk. Offensively the Cards aside from the duo of Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols are a little thin as well. Colby Rasmus is good, but Lance Berkman is potentially beginning to show his age (glad the A’s did not sign him) and David Freese and especially Ryan Theriot are subpar.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates will have their 19th consecutive losing season in 2011, but they are an improved club and should steer clear of being Major League Baseball’s only sixth place team this coming year. Offensively they are still challenged, Garrett Jones does not look to be more than a semi-flash in the pan, and any lineup relying on Lyle Overbay as a clean up guy is in trouble. The addition of Kevin Correia, while not an All-Star gives them a decent pitcher in the rotation, and Ross Ohlendorf was the best 1-11 pitcher around (sort of a compliment?).
6. Houston Astros – Any baseball fan able to name 75% of the Houston Astros 25-man roster this upcoming season deserves a prize and needs to get a life. Houston has a decent top three starting pitchers in J.A. Happ, Brett Myers and Wandy Rodriguez that give way to a weak backend and weak bullpen – which is to be expected for a non-contender. Michael Bourn is an exciting play at the top of their lineup but otherwise the cupboard is pretty barren for the Astros.
National League East
1. Philadelphia Phillies – The Phillies are the best team in the National League and the difference between them and anyone else is significant. Despite the loss of Chase Utley for who knows how long and the loss of Brad Lidge into May, this club still is head and shoulders better than the rest. It all starts with their once-in-a-generation pitching staff featuring Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt. This rotation is amazing. Blanton – a number five on this club – is a number one on quite a few major league rosters and a two or three on a lot of contenders. This isn’t an offense that’ll score a ton of runs, the loss of Jayson Werth will hurt, but they are capable enough to backup that strong rotation. Not only that but the bullpen – if they ever need to even be used – is tough too.
2. Atlanta Braves – I am never high on the Atlanta Braves. Maybe in the mid-1990s I was but that was then and this is now, and I am still not high on the Braves. Despite that the Braves are the second best team in the NL East. They have a very strong front four (Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Jair Jurrjens and Derek Lowe) who would get a ton of attention were it not for the fact that they were playing in the same division as the aforementioned Phillies. The Craig Kimbrel/Jonny Venters closing combo too is very impressive. The lineup is less than stellar, counting on contributions from a rapidly aging Chipper Jones, a hasn’t been good at all recently Nate McLouth, and bound for regression Martin Prado and Dan Uggla. Defensively, Alex Gonzalez is going to need to scoop up everything hit left of center in an infield that features two very subpar fielders in a declining Jones and defensively challenged Uggla, eventually the porous defense will cost these talented pitchers runs.
3. Florida Marlins – Despite a lineup that largely flies under the radar, the Marlins should be a good club. Mike Stanton should be a real star and along with Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson will be the real centerpieces of this club as they play their last season as the Florida Marlins. The rotation is very solid and the bullpen addition of Ryan Webb will be big for this club despite its relative anonymity this offseason as he is a very high quality arm in that pen.
4. Washington Nationals – I expect the Nats to turn some heads in our Nation’s Capital this coming season. Their big move to get Jayson Werth will pay dividends in the near-term though the cost for his return is terrifying high. Unlike recent seasons people should recognize the names of some of the Nationals pitchers even with the injury caused absence of Stephen Strasburg. Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen are two of the better relievers in all of baseball though they won’t get the attention they deserve being in Washington. Michael Morse had a big spring, not sure that he will keep it up, and I am not a fan of Rick Ankiel in center, but overall their lineup will be good enough to allow the Nats to win 75-80 games.
5. New York Mets – The Wilpons financial mess will precipitate a fire sale. I would be surprised if Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes and even Francisco Rodriguez are with this club come August. The Mets seem to somehow think Rule-5 pick Brad Emaus is the best bet at second base, which is merely indicative of the lack of sense coming from this organization. Sandy Alderson should be a force to be reckoned with in the huge New York market but the Wilpons have effectively handcuffed him from turning the Mets into contenders. Their pitching staff is extremely weak with Johan Santana on the disabled list and his return date being unknown – Mike Pelfrey will get the nod opening day, and if he is your best starter you know the others aren’t All Stars either and they arent. The bullpen is equally unimpressive, it’ll be a long season in Flushing for Amazin’s partisans.
American League Most Valuable Player
Take one of the home run hitters out of home run suppressing Petco Park and put him into Fenway and what do you get? Your 2011 AL MVP Adrian Gonzalez. Last year 5.3 WAR Gonzalez, hit 11 home runs, .279/.383/.438 at Petco, now 81 games of his will be at hitter friendly Fenway in the middle of a lineup that features some of the American League’s best hitters. He should put up monster numbers and be the catalyst for a team that will run circles around the American League all summer long. That is valuable, some might say the most valuable.
American League Cy Young Award
The writers have shown they’ve learned advanced statistics tell us far more than wins and losses (about time!) and named Felix Hernandez as the American League Cy Young Award winner in 2010. He turns twenty-five in a week and a half. He is only going to get better. He may only win 12-15 games this year but he is by far, no doubt, unquestioned, the best pitcher in the American League, as such he will win this award even if Jon Lester and everyone else in the Red Sox rotation wins 20+ games.
American League Rookie of the Year
Sometimes injuries open a door that would have otherwise been firmly shut tight, that is the case in Orange County where the Costa Mesa Angels of Arcadia will have Mark Trumbo win the Rookie of the Year award. Long shut out from contention by the likes of Kendrys Morales being a staple at first, Trumbo who has had a mammoth spring hit 36 home runs for the Salt Lake Bees last season to go along with a .299/.366/.575 slash line. He brings his power parade to Anaheim and will push the Angels to move someone once Morales gets healthy.
National League Most Valuable Player
Troy Tulowitzki signed a big contract extension this offseason and will begin to pay immediate dividends winning the National League Most Valuable Player award this season. His unbelievable Ruthian September from last year won’t quite carry over but the thin Rocky Mountain air will aid Tulowitzki and he will be the driving force behind a strong Rockies team offensively. His new contract which carries him in Denver through 2020 includes bonuses and future salary bumps for winning the MVP, getting a Silver Slugger Award and based on All-Star selections, he’ll earn himself some bonuses and salary bumps in 2011.
National League Cy Young Award
Ubaldo Jimenez pitches in the worst pitcher’s park in America – yet he makes it work. Last season he became the first ever Rockies starter to post a sub-3.00 ERA when he finished at 2.88. His control has been an issue (3.96 BB/9) but it must scare the living daylights out of opposing hitters – especially with all the movement he has on all his pitches – as he owns a career 8.1K/9. When he broke in, in 2006 his fastball averaged (averaged!) 94.6mph and side from a slight blip in 2008 when it “only” was good for 94.9mph it has increased in velocity every year averaging 96.1 last season. Pair those fireballs with a 78.6mph curve and a 87.7mph change and you can see why Ubaldo rapidly racks up K’s. Leading a good Rockies team to a division title, while pitching in a terrible ballpark for pitchers, will win Ubaldo this award while the Phillies pitchers all steal votes from one another.
National League Rookie of the Year
Last May 29th the Giants called up a young catcher from the Fresno Grizzlies to aid a struggling offense. Buster Posey in part helped the club win a World Championship. 2011 will have a similar tale as Brandon Belt will be called up from Fresno and not lead the Giants quite that far, but will come to their aid when their offensive woes continue early this year. Belt has done little but belt balls this entire Cactus League looking as if he is ready already to be a star. Expect him to be, and win the NL Rookie of the Year.
American League Division Series
The Wild Card in the American League will be the New York Yankees. Due to the nonsense of not having the best team play the wild card if they are in the same division the Yankees will square off against the A’s in the first round, while in a battle of differently colored Sox the Pale Hose will take on Boston. The A’s pitching and low expectations will beat the Yankees who have proven vulnerable to upstart teams in the playoffs as of late (Texas, Cleveland), meanwhile the Red Sox will crush the White Sox to easily earn a berth in the ALCS.
National League Divison Series
The league’s best Phillies will face the Giants in a rematch of their 2010 NLCS, this time the Phillies will win. Fool me once… The Rockies meanwhile take on the Reds and the Reds fold again as they did in 2010, and the Rox roll to the NLCS to take on the Phillies.
American League Championship Series
The Boston Red Sox have never won a game in an ALCS against the Oakland A’s losing 4-0 in both 1988 and 1990. This ends in 2011 as they not only win a game but win a series. The Red Sox offensive is just too much for the young (and at that point tired) arms of the Oakland rotation – they say all good teams need to lose once before they can win. The Red Sox are your American League entrants in the World Series.
National League Championship Series
Here is where the Phillies pitching really allows them to shine. Colorado doesn’t stand a chance, and they’re downed by the Phillies who will have the luxury of using guys like Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton in relief if need be. The Phils win the National League, as everyone expected as they are head and shoulders above the rest of the NL field.
The 2011 World Series comes down to amazing hitting versus amazing pitching, just what fans want. While pitching wins ballgames, it doesn’t this go around. The Red Sox pitching is by all means good, their bullpen is deep and can keep the Red Sox in the ballgame. The tipping point is that the Sox’ offense is just so strong, that the arms of the Phillies can’t possibly contain them. You might not have many games that exceed five runs a side but it’ll be a close series with the Red Sox eventually victorious.