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FanGraphs Staff Playoff Predictions

After Wednesday night’s madness finally set the playoff series, we asked our writers to chime in on what they thought might happen over the next few weeks. Trying to predict the outcomes of short baseball series is a fool’s errand, but I do think there are some interesting things to be learned from the collective opinions of some pretty smart people who follow the game closely. My individual predictions might be worthless, but there’s strength in numbers, and the overall assessment of what our staff is expecting produces some interesting results.

ALDS: Rays vs Rangers: Texas (12), Tampa Bay (10)

I was surprised at how even the split was here, given that the Rangers have been able to setup their rotation for round one while the Rays are scrambling a bit after getting in on literally the last play of their regular season. Still, even with rookie Matt Moore on track to start game 1 and the Rays limited to just one start from ace David Price, a good portion of the staff here thinks TB pulls off the upset.

ALDS: Tigers vs Yankees: New York (13), Detroit (9)

Given the presence of Justin Verlander and how well the Tigers have played lately, plus questions surrounding all the NY starters not named Sabathia, it feels like the national opinion is swaying towards Detroit in round one. However, most of the voting authors here feel that New York will still be able to advance – I’d imagine there’s some residual skepticism about whether overachievers like Doug Fister and Jhonny Peralta can keep up their strong performances from the regular season.

ALCS: New York (7), Texas (6), Detroit (5), Tampa Bay (4)

Here’s where the parity really shows up, as no one is an obvious favorite, and everyone gets a decent amount of support for the AL Championship. This seems like a pretty fair assessment of the actual odds of these teams winning the pennant to me.

NLDS: Brewers vs Diamondbacks: Milwaukee (20), Arizona (2)

Yeah, so much for parity – nearly everyone on staff thinks the Brewers are going to win. Despite 94 wins, an MVP candidate, and two quality starting pitchers, the Diamondacks still don’t seem to appear as on par with the big boys, and Milwaukee’s strong rotation and powerful sluggers are expected to carry the day.

NLDS: Phillies vs Cardinals: Phidelphia (21), St Louis (1)

Speaking not being given much of a chance, hello St. Louis. They clearly have a better than 4.5% chance to win the series, but with the Phillies steamrolling the National League all season and the Cardinals throwing Kyle Lohse in Game 1, it’s tough for anyone to justify actually picking St. Louis in the first round. Just given the nature of baseball and a five game set, the Cardinals probably have something like a 30-35% chance of winning the series, but they’re pretty clearly the biggest underdogs of round one.

NLCS: Milwaukee (13), Philadelphia (9)

Surprise! If you put any stock in the consensus among our staff members, the Brewers are the team to beat in the National League, not the Phillies. Just to appease the angry hordes from Philadelphia, I will note that there was no discussion among the writers about who was picking who, and no one’s selection was influenced in any way. The Phillies will almost certainly be seen as favorites from the national perspective, but the Brewers are a good team and an NLCS between the two should be a good fight. That said, I’m still surprised that the majority of our staff went with the boys from Wisconsin. I’d peg the Phillies as slight favorites in a straight up battle, and I think they have an easier path to the second round. But, hey, that’s why we’re giving you the consensus opinion and not just my ramblings.

World Series: Milwaukee (7), Philadelphia (7), Texas (3), New York (3), Detroit (1), Tampa Bay (1)

The NL teams lead the charge, as the teams with the two strongest sets of starting pitchers are considered the favorites to take home the whole enchilada. The four more balanced AL squads each get some support, while not surprisingly, neither of the two NL squads who got much support to advance past round one are represented here. I do think that Philadelphia and Milwaukee are probably the two most likely teams to win it all, but this kind of voting process likely overstates those odds. In three weeks of baseball, anything can happen, and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the eight teams still alive was having a parade at the end of the month.

And, for transparency and to make accusation’s of bias easier, here’s the vote by staff member.