2013 Predictions. The World Series Winner Is….

Anybody who tells you they can accurately forecast the World Series in April is lying to you.

Bob Costas once said he was coming around to the expanded (now re-expanded) post-1994 playoff formula. “Just so long as the World Series doesn’t become ‘The MLB Finals.'” Of course it has. Of course it has actually become something a little less exalted, because you could conceivably get there after playing the artificial and utterly unfair Wild Card Play-In Game.

The Play-In Game was hurriedly designed to try to force-replicate the drama of the inadvertent Play-In-Night that ended the 2011 regular season. What could not be replicated was the fact that the 2011 games were the results of weeks of what was left of the regular season pennant race while the 2012 games featured at least two teams that had all but secured the slots weeks earlier.

You remember Robert Andino and the Dan Johnson and Evan Longoria homers from 2011. What – unless one of them happens to be your team – do you remember of either 2012 Play-In Game?

Right. A vexing invoking of The Infield Fly Rule.

If that isn’t symbolic of those two games I don’t know what is. Don’t get me wrong: I’m at peace with the wild card, even with two wild cards. I’m at peace with pitting them against each other, Gladiator Style. But the randomness of one game just erases the remaining fairness of the thing. Make it three, but throw in a little torture. Make it best-of-three, and play a day/night doubleheader in one city. If one team wins both games, they go in. If not, everybody has to travel to the other city for a night game, the next night. You retain a little of the dice roll of the compressed time frame without the strong possibility that the better team will just happen to lose the only playoff game it gets after eight months of spring training and the 247-game regular season.

I mean, there are unfair weighted variables that you aren’t going to be able to control. To my knowledge nobody’s done the research but I would suggest an unusually high percentage of playoff teams since 1997 have been the ones with the softer inter-league schedule, and inter-league has gone from a set rotating division-versus-division plan to games assigned either for maximum tv ratings or for geographical convenience.

Worse yet is the advantage teams in divisions with extremely weak clubs have for home field advantage in the first round, and especially Wild Card eligibility. The American League East contenders used to have the doormat Devil Rays to fatten up against. Now (presumably) the National League East and American League West clubs will gain immeasurably by getting 19 opportunities to beat up the Marlins and Mets, and Astros respectively. There is no such dead wood in the A.L. East and N.L. Central, for example.

So those are the caveats – and the potential fixes – for anybody trying to forecast the playoffs (not that I’m saying they should be fixed to make forecasting easier; they should be fixed because theoretically you don’t want the true best team in the game wiped out by avoidable biases).

I’ve already picked the Rays, Indians, and Athletics to win the A.L. Divisions. I’m guessing Tampa Bay will still have the best record in the league and draw the wild card winner (which I’m thinking will come one each from the East and West, and the more I look at them the more I like Baltimore again – and L.A.). In lieu of flipping a coin I’m thinking the Orioles will be the better team by then and prevail again (I know; it’s a quaint notion that the ‘better team’ would win a one-game playoff). That would set up Tampa Bay-Baltimore and Cleveland-Oakland in the ALDS. An A’s pick is an easy one; I think the Rays-Orioles would be the full seven thriller and Tampa would finally prevail. So in the ALCS two great pitching staffs meet. Tampa’s is a little greater and they get a clutch home run from – who knows? Wil Myers? – to decide Game Seven. That puts them in the World Series.

In the National I already took the Nationals (waaay out on a limb there, I know), Cardinals, and Giants. The runners-up, Atlanta, Cincinnati and Los Angeles, will all be very good teams (although the Dodgers could easily have switched managers by mid-season). I’m forecasting kaboom-style disasters in Texas and for both L.A. teams so I might as well go whole-hog and say the Dodgers don’t even get the Card. So that’d be Braves-Reds and I’m assuming the Braves can survive their second such game in two years. That’d set up Washington-Atlanta and Cards-Giants and I’m afraid the obvious is true in both cases: Washington and San Francisco pretty easily. And as much as I like the Giants’ team I have already suggested the Nationals are going to have one of those triple-digit years so while I suspect San Francisco could give them a seven-game series I just can’t pick against this amazingly deep team from DC.

The World Series: two great pitching staffs, two great managers, two dynasties that were built quickly. But the Washington bats will overwhelm even the Rays’ rotation, and you-know-who will be the star. This will be Bryce Harper’s year (one assumes the first of many) as the star of …your World Champion Washington Nationals.


  1. SamYanksGiantsMets

    One thing I notice about David Price is he’s not very good in big games (Opening Day being a fairly big game too). The Dan Johnson/Evan Longoria game 162 of 2011– Price was awful. Not very good in the playoffs either. But he could get better like a lot of other aces who initially struggled in those situations. If I were judging from one game (very smart idea) I’d say I shouldn’t have picked the Blue Jays to be in the ALCS. Their dumb retread manager Gibbons had Arrencibia catch Dickey’s knuckleball (or try to) instead of Blanco. And is Dickey maybe just a little bit high maintenance? Thole helps him win a Cy Young but Dickey chooses Blanco so Josh is sent down. The jerk in me is rooting for a disaster in Toronto (and is also calling Gibbons dumb).

    But the thing about predicting the World Series is you have to assume that at least one of the teams will be a surprise. All the extra rounds mean the hottest and luckiest teams will prevail. Brian Cashman doesn’t get enough credit for putting together the best 162-game team in baseball– $200 million doesn’t hurt either, but in previous years he had depth on the roster when the big money guys went down. The pattern I see since 2002 is the curses/droughts keep ending. Angels, Red Sox, White Sox (the Astros in the WS for the first time, then the Rangers, twice), Phillies (1980 isn’t 1918, but still), Yankees (the Bush years were torture, literally, in Yankee terms and global terms), Giants … and Brewers. The Brewers are due. The team you see now isn’t the team you will see in August and September. Other teams will have injuries, trades, slumps, you name it. The Brewers’ owner has shown he’ll get a big time player– Sabathia 2008, and Greinke 2011. I’m not sure there is any great pitcher on a lousy team who could be traded to help a team get to the World Series (and the types of trades that usually make the biggest difference are under-the-radar trades like Marco “Blockbuster” Scutaro, or Javier Lopez striking out left-handed Howard and Hamilton in the 2011 playoffs). Ricky Nolasco might be the the Anibal (not Annabelle– as it is often mispronounced) Sanchez of 2013. The Dodgers should have got him (and Anibal) in the first place, then they might be in first place. Giant-killers, both.

    Will the Yankees be sellers? Maybe even trade Cano if he won’t sign an extension? He’s got 99 problems but a Boras ain’t one, to paraphrase Jay-Z.

    I like Keith’s Cleveland prediction. I really wanted to pick them– I’m a fan of Francona (though not a friend) and Masterson showed last night what I thought he was capable of doing for most of this year. “Bat Masterson” would be a better nickname for a hitter but I still call him “Bat.” Lonnie Chisenhall– the next star third baseman. It’s a golden age for catchers and third basemen, with the short stop position in decline. Weird not seeing Jeter at short stop.

    Sorry for being long-winded. Two days (plus Sunday Night Baseball), a bunch of baseball games, and I’m fired up!

  2. Pingback: Keith at the MLB Opening Day and his AL predictions (updated) | Countdown with Keith Olbermann - Unofficial Fanblog
  3. Mary Caruso

    I do not have a predict-a-ball handy so I really can’t say what will happen. I made a comment on another blog that I had an idea of a bi-coastal contention. I thought maybe LA or Seattle? It may end up to be the East coast only after all. If Bryce Harper can hit as well as he had with two homers in the last game, then I’d say the Nationals have a fighting chance. They almost made it last year so maybe they are due. Right now I can’t tell from the games because they have just begun and teams are playing against lesser combatants. So now is when they build up their standings. It’s mid-season that things start to shake out. I know this season will not be such a yawn like when the Yankees win again, they won’t. That’s alright by me. Give someone else a chance. I’m really excited that the games are underway and I am paying as much attention as I can. This could be addictive. Hmm. Love your insight and expertise. Let’s see what kicks out at the bitter end. 😉

  4. patriciaellynpowell

    So happy! Our local sportscaster at KALB predicted the same the other night! I tweeted Bryce! And followed him! Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Thanks for all your expertise! Makes it more fun! 🙂

  5. Sandy M.M.

    Very interesting, Keith. I liked it up to the part where you have the A’s beating the Indians in the ALDS. Then, not so much. LOL “An A’s pick is an easy one”? That’s not what you were supposed to say! You should have lied and said that the Indians would go on to win the World Series! But that would REALLY be going out on that “crazy” limb, wouldn’t it? I did like the fact that you picked Cleveland to win the division though. At least it’s something. Every year I “live” on that crazy limb thinking & hoping the Indians will do well that year. And each year my hopes are dashed. I had such hope in 2007 where we started out very well beating the Yankees (always a joy) in the first round. In the second round against Boston (a constant nemesis), we started off great and then it all fell apart. Typical. It was very disappointing. I really thought we actually had a shot at winning the World Series that year. But it was not to be. And it hasn’t been since then. This year I’m somewhat encouraged by having a new manager, some new additions to our lineup, and your optimistic words about our team. But we all know it is very difficult to pick who will go to the World Series (unless you have a crystal ball). There are so many variables. Just look at what happened to Washington last year. And no one thought SF would do as well as they did. So, we just have to wait and see. Who knows? Your predictions may come true. I just hope those “variables” work in Cleveland’s favor this year. But I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s been a long time since 1948 and our last WS title, so I’m hoping and praying that we get a miracle (it’ll probably take one) & somehow make it to the World Series. How exciting that would be. But there are still 161 games to play and so much can happen between now and October, and I will be sitting here with my fingers crossed for the next 6 months. Whatever happens, I’ll always be an Indians fan. GO TRIBE !! As always, Keith, very well done, even if you didn’t pick Cleveland to get to the WS! LOL It’s all right. You’re still a brilliant writer and I have nothing but the utmost respect for your opinions (even if you may get something wrong once in a while). Good job! (P.S. Can you send out good thoughts so that the Indians beat those “Damn Yankees” next Monday in their home opener? Just asking. LOL)

  6. justme2

    Picking Dodgers to not even make playoffs? You’ll never have to pay for a drink in SF again. Though judging from early season, Giants pitching staff can stand head/shoulders alongside Nationals; hope Tim Lincecum has his groove back tonight. If they can actually get run support, both Cain & Bumgartner could be 20 game winners this year.

    • Emerson Burkett

      “You’ll never have to pay for a drink in SF again.” How true! what I cannot figure out is Keith’s sudden fondness for the Giants; after writing them off in 2010 and 2012. But, they have only gotten better, and we will see a lot more offence this season.

  7. ShoeBeDoBeDo

    Plucky Dodgers fan here – not at all fazed by their loss to the Giants last night *cough, cough* – hoping the Blue Crew makes it to the World Series. It’s only been 25 years since their last WS win. Isn’t it time for another? Yes, it is! 🙂

    As an aside, I’m looking forward to seeing the film “42”. Saw the trailer for it and it looked pretty good. Hoping you’ll see it too, Keith, and offer us your thoughts and insights. 🙂

    • Emerson Burkett

      Well Shoe, I figure one shutout deserves another. Looks like we will be seeing a lot of Giants/dodgers games like that this year. May the better team (Giants) win. Honestly, they will be close.

      • ShoeBeDoBeDo

        Bumgarner did a fabulous job pitching last night. And Pablo Sandoval, despite his size, moves like a gazelle, although how he manages it I’ll never know. Oh, bloody hell, I just saw Sandoval hit a homerun!
        Hey, I was happy when the Gigantes won the World Series in 2012. As long as it’s a California team, I’m at peace with it. But believe me, I’d be a whole lot happier if it was a Dodgers’ win.
        And I just wish Keith was sitting here next to me explaining, over and over again, what some of this stuff MEANS. Keith, I’m adding you to my ‘Bucket List’! 🙂

      • Emerson Burkett

        I agree with you, always considered the rivalry to be a friendly one. Just no reason for baseball to be dirtied by belligerence or anger towards players or other fans. Was extremely happy to see the new Ownership take over the Dodgers; the McCords just about ran the franchise into the ground and used it as their personal piggy bank. They scrimped on maintenance, security and fielding the best team possible. Because of them Giants fan Brian Stow was beaten, almost to death, in their parking lot. Really liked the way both teams come on the field, at ATT, to condemn violence and ill will, as it has no place in Baseball.
        Yes, “Madbum” was fantastic Tuesday night. Timmy, on the other hand, looked pathetic last night, 7 walks? His teammates picked him up with their bats. Was great to see Hunter Pence finding his stroke, his BA was down last year (but did get 104 RBI’s). One of the reasons I see more offence out of the lineup this season.
        Dodgers will be highly competitive and should make the playoffs, at least as a Wild Card.

  8. fakeconsultant

    it’s early april, and it is a magic time in seattle. we’re right in the middle of that six weeks or so when the mariners have begun spring training, and they aren’t yet mathematically eliminated from the post-season fun. by mid-april, it’ll all be over, but for now…well, hope still abounds, eh?

  9. NHL Raven & MLB Salt

    My predictions for this years “surprises” are Seattle, Kansas, Cleveland.
    The Rockies bats are also incredibly hot atm, if they get their rotation together they might have something going as well. Totally off-topic tho

  10. scott

    I’m sorry Keith, but INDIANS?????? I’m a true-blue Tribe fan and wish it would happen, but even well before the debacle of the last 2 nights vs NYY, I could not see them as even being a .500 team this year, despite all the hype from Francona, Swisher, Bourn, Giambi, et al. No way do they win the division. No way do they even hit .500 come October.

  11. StubbornFool.com

    Toronto may be a surprise this year, which may throw off your predictions… Washington should be battling it out for the World Series. There time has come

  12. Kyle Ralph Anthony

    Keith, I believe you are one of the last intelligent people when it comes to sports. Bill Simmons, the clowns like the old white guy who is on the show with Stephen A., and considers himself intelligent are killing what used to at least not try to be controversial or the devil’s advocate with insane statements. But you are mistaken… it’s clear that the Astros and Cubs are destined to be the last teams standing.

    AL MVP – Josh Hamilton
    NL MVP – Bryce Harper
    AL Cy Young – Bud Norris
    NL Cy Young – Bryce Harper cause he’s so awesome that he doesn’t have to pitch to get it.
    Comeback player of the year – Carlos Pena

  13. Alan Luken

    I don’t think Tampa makes it. Not enough pitching and what pitching they do have is young and does not have much playoff experience. We’ve seen, especially recently, clutch pitching wins games and series. I don’t see the Rays having that kind of pitching. Nationals have a shot though, but I doubt they win it all. My guess is Tigers over Nats. Braves will be right there as well.

  14. rockiestorockies

    What the heck is up with the “I’VE ABANDONED MY CHILD” video, anyway?
    Well, first of all, I do think that the Giant have a chance. I’m not as sure about the Cardinals, though, and I understand what you mean about the Nationals. You might be thinking I’m only saying that the Rockies will make it because I am a fan of the Rockies but that is not true at all. Dodgers are the one that have no chance, thank you. Not sure about Cincinnati. I think the most likely team to win the WS is probably the Braves. Thank you for your time.

  15. Kenneth Barr

    The prediction business sure is easier on 8/1. All I can say is the Red Sox are far exceeding expectations. Tonight they’re down 7-2 going in to the 9th and win 8-7. This is a team with a banged up starting staff and a leaky bullpen and yet they’re up one on the Rays. For us in the Nation, better to not ask too many questionsand enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts.

  16. Buttercup Dickerson

    I read online that Keith wouldn’t be interested in the Fall Classic if Oakland wasn’t involved. That kind of team loyalty is charming and touching. Yet if the As front office studied the clutch makeup of the 70s dynasty, they’d have a comeback clue.
    I have gone up against the intolerance of statistician police who have hijacked this sport by boiling everything down to anonymous numbers. I try to convince the data gurus that heart and chemistry is just as important as OBP and WAR. While I made up my own stat equations, which anyone who knows how to play with math figures can do to qualify and quantify elite performance in the sweet science, when the leaves turn, all numerology bets are off. I knew the A’s were doomed in the fall when Moneyball had no stat for gamers who excel in the playoffs. I wasn’t surprised when the Red Sox won it all after they got former Rangers one man teammate Napoli and let Salty play more as a starter, a chance ironically that no ball club would give him. Suffice it to say that by studying the Big Apple team that everyone loves to hate, one can unlock a researchable roster reason for the 27 champion banners in the Bronx. It’s politically incorrect to point out and offends math pedants who hate sports’ humanity element and will call you names and attack you for telling the truth. But the facts remain that those baseball organizations that marginalize, devalue and segregate olive skin and voweled surnames in MLB do so to the detriment of their chances at October immortality. And trust me, it can be proven in the record books.

  17. Buttercup Dickerson

    Gee wiz. Somebody just signed Nick Punto. Coincidence? Oops, he’s been a part timer sub for so long that they’ll balk if he bombs as a utility guy. But at least he might be good off the bench for a clutch hit in the playoffs. And yet one marginalized token just ain’t enough, folks.

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