Thursday, October 2, 2014

AL DIVISIONAL SERIES MATCH-UPS

By: Connor Glowacki

Kansas City Royals vs. Los Angeles Angels
Figure 1. Hosmer batted  .270 with nine home runs in the regular season.
(Courtesy of mlive.com)

     The Royals came back from a 7-3 deficit in the 8th inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 9-8 in a win or go home playoff on Tuesday night. Led by first baseman Eric Hosmer (3-4 with 2 RBIs), the Royals were able to collect 15 hits against Oakland's pitchers. That included eight runs and six hits against the ace of the Athletics staff, Jon Lester.
Figure 2. Trout led the Angels with 36 home runs this season.
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
     The Royals now travel to Los Angeles to take on the Angels, who had the best regular season record in all of baseball this season at 98-64. Center fielder Mike Trout and first baseman Albert Pujols will lead the Angels' offense after combining for 64 home runs and a whopping 216 RBIs during the regular season.
     But the big question will be how outfielder Josh Hamilton fits into the batting lineup after missing 21 of the last 22 games. When Hamilton was healthy this season, he had a .263 batting average with just 10 home runs and 44 RBIs. For the Angels to be considered the prohibitive favorite this postseason, Hamilton has to resemble the MVP caliber player that he showcased with the Texas Rangers.

PITCHING MATCH-UP FOR GAME 1

KC: Jason Vargas (11-10, 3.70 ERA) vs. LAA: Jered Weaver (18-9, 3.59 ERA)

PROJECTED BATTING LINEUPS

       ROYALS                                                                          ANGELS
1.) SS Alcides Escobar                                                    1.) RF Kole Calhoun
2.) RF Norichika Aoki                                                     2.) CF Mike Trout
3.) CF Lorenzo Cain                                                        3.) 1B Albert Pujols
4.) 1B Eric Hosmer                                                          4.) 2B Howie Kendrick
5.) DH Billy Butler                                                          5.) SS Erick Aybar
6.) LF Alex Gordon                                                         6.) 3B David Freese
7.) C Salvador Perez                                                        7.) DH Josh Hamilton
8.) 2B Omar Infante                                                         8.) LF Collin Cowgill
9.) 3B Mike Moustakas                                                    9.) C Chris Iannetta


Detroit Tigers vs. Baltimore Orioles

Figure 3. Scherzer is 3rd in MLB with 252 strikeouts.
(Courtesy of guardianlv.com)
      The Baltimore Orioles accomplished the unthinkable in 2014 by not only winning and clinching the dreaded AL East division, but by winning in such convincing fashion. With a 96-66 record, the O's finished with a 12 game lead over the 2nd place New York Yankees and led the majors in home runs. With sluggers like right fielder Nelson Cruz, center fielder Adam Jones and first baseman Chris Davis, the Orioles knocked away 211 home runs and a .256 combined batting average.
Figure 4. Jones led the O's in batting average this season at .280.
(Courtesy of totalsportslive.com)
     They will face the AL Central division champions Detroit Tigers. LIke the Orioles, Detroit (90-72) are an offensive firepower after finishing 2nd in the majors in runs with 757 and 1st in batting average at .277. Designated hitter Victor Martinez had a monster year finishing with a .335 batting average and 32 home runs. Add in first baseman Miguel Cabrera and second baseman Ian Kinsler and the Tigers have enough offense to match the Orioles.
     The big difference has to be the pitching. Detroit has three former Cy Young award winners in its rotation, consisting of Max Scherzer, David Price and Justin Verlander. It will be interesting to see if some of the Orioles' starting pitchers, like Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, will be able to match up with the Tigers' playoff battle-tested veterans in this series.

PITCHING MATCH-UP FOR GAME 1

DET: Max Scherzer (18-5, 3.15 ERA) vs. BAL: Chris Tillman (13-6, 3.34 ERA)


PROJECTED BATTING LINEUPS

        TIGERS                                                                                    ORIOLES
1.) 2B Ian Kinsler                                                                     1.) RF Nick Markakis
2.) RF Torii Hunter                                                                   2.) LF Alejandro De Aza
3.) 1B Miguel Cabrera                                                              3.) CF Adam Jones
4.) DH Victor Martinez                                                            4.) DH Nelson Cruz
5.) LF J.D. Martinez                                                                 5.) 1B Steve Pearce/Chris Davis
6.) C Alex Avila                                                                       6.) SS J.J. Hardy
7.) 3B Nick Castellanos                                                            7.) 3B Ryan Flaherty
8.) CF Rajai Davis                                                                    8.) C Nick Hundley
9.) Andrew Romine                                                                  9.) 2B Jonathan Schoop
       

Who do you think will win these series and advance to the ALCS? Leave a comment below or tweet me your comment at @ConnorGlowacki.

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