Monday, October 2, 2017

Oldest Ringless Players & Playoff Predictions: 2017 Edition

Yes, it's that time of year again. We're here to look at the soon-to-start postseason and the players who've been waiting the longest for that elusive championship ring. Here we are with the postseason teams (including the stupid second Wild Card that nobody wanted) and their oldest bare-fingered roster occupant:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Fernando Rodney (March 18, 1977)
Boston Red Sox: Rajai Davis (October 19, 1980)
Chicago Cubs: Brian Duensing (February 22, 1983)
Cleveland Indians: Edwin Encarnacion (January 7, 1983)
Colorado Rockies: Ryan Hanigan (August 16, 1980)
Houston Astros: Carlos Beltran (April 24, 1977)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Rich Hill (March 11, 1980)
Minnesota Twins: Bartolo Colon (May 24, 1973)
New York Yankees: Chase Headley (May 9, 1984)
Washington Nationals: Ryan Raburn (April 17, 1981)

Not a bad list. Several names that have showed up here before. Bartolo Colon and Carlos Beltran are two of the three still-active 1990s players (Adrian Beltre is the third), and neither one has managed to add a World Series title to his resume in all that time. If you needed another reason to root against the Yankees (as if there were a shortage of those), there's the fact that their oldest ringless player is the youngest of the bunch.

Now let's shift gears and head to the prediction portion. How do I predict these playoffs will play out? Here you go:

Wild Card Round

Diamondbacks over Rockies
Yankees over Twins

Predicting the outcome of a single game is like predicting the outcome of a coin flip, but since I think both home teams are significantly better than the road teams, the odds would favor them. While it'd be funny to see an upset, since I don't particularly like either top Wild Card, it would also go against my anti-second Wild Card principles, so the fact that both second Wild Cards are more interesting and likable can't be allowed to sway my rooting interest too strongly.

Division Series

Dodgers over Diamondbacks
Cubs over Nationals
Indians over Yankees
Red Sox over Astros

The Dodgers have been up-and-down over the course of the season, so it's hard to know how much confidence to place in them. I'll say they get hot in October though, because they righted the ship at the end.

While I personally love both the Cubs and the Nationals, I feel like Washington is one of those franchises that's snakebitten in October, and it's hard for me to predict them winning a playoff series until I see it. I think the Cubs are confident after last year's run, so they'll take this series for a rematch of last year's NLCS.

I love the Indians too, so it makes me a little nervous to see them facing the up-and-coming Yankees. When October rolls around, there's always that fear that the more favorable media team will get the wind to its back and ride it to an undeserved deep playoff run. I think these Indians are legit though, so they're definitely capable of putting them back in their place. But on that note...

Both the Yankees AND the Red Sox losing in the first round? I won't push my luck that I could ever be so fortunate. Yes, it happened in 2005, but that was 12 years ago. As great a season as the Astros have had, and as great a narrative as it would be to win in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I think it's inevitable that some fanbase's heart is going to get broken big time. The Astros deserve so much better than this, but it is what it is.

League Championship Series

Dodgers over Cubs
Indians over Red Sox

I think the Dodgers and Indians are simply the best in their respective leagues this year, and they have what it takes to win their respective pennants, and the respective respect of their respective competition.

World Series

Indians over Dodgers

In 2004, the Red Sox exorcised the Curse of the Bambino. In 2005, it was the White Sox getting the 88-year monkey off their back. In 2010, the Giants won for the first time since Willie Mays was a youngster manning center field in the Big Apple. And perhaps most memorably, the Cubs in 2016 put to bed any talk of goats, black cats, inopportune fan interferences, or Merkle's Boners. That leaves one franchise with a drought going back to the pre-expansion era, namely the Cleveland Indians, whose fans have been waiting for another since 1948. Is this the year they finally get that one more run that Terry Pluto says they always need? Well, let's just say that they have as good a chance as any Indian club in the past 69 years, and personally, I'm hoping they get it. Good luck, Tribe. Let this be the year.