2014 American League Wild Card Preview

I may be in the minority, but I think the “one and done” wild card games are the best. It basically guarantees two games a year that are essentially “Game 163”, and who doesn’t like a game 163? It’s 9 innings of desperation from both sides that keeps fans on the edge of their seats. Yeah, it sucks that there’s the chance that you’re bounced out of the playoffs after one game, especially after a long season, but that’s why it’s so important to win the division.

Both teams involved in the AL Wild Card game had their opportunities to win their respective divisions, but failed to do so. On one hand, the A’s collapsed so badly in August and September that they almost missed the playoffs (they were tied for the division lead on August 25 and ended up finishing behind the Angels by 10 games), while on the other hand, the Royals couldn’t put away the Tigers at the end of the season, losing 4 of their last 6 games against them, and going 6-13 against Detroit over the course of the season.

Pitching Matchup

Jon Lester vs. James Shields

Starters

EDGE: Athletics, but not by much. Lester has been better in 2014, but Shields is obviously no slouch. This pitching matchup has me super  excited about this game.

Bullpens

In order to keep things simple, I’m only including the top 3 relievers here (according to fWAR).

Relievers

 

EDGE: Kansas City

Offense

Offense

EDGE: Kansas City, and here’s why. The Oakland offense did most of its damage before the All-Star break, when it scored more runs than any other team except for the Angels. Since then, they have not been the same unit, and have actually been a worse offense than the Royals according to wRC+ (89 for the A’s, 93 for the Royals).

Baserunning

Baserunning

EDGE: Oakland. The A’s are a slightly better baserunning team overall, but no team in baseball is better at stealing bases than the Royals. If they can reach base, they could do some damage.

Defense

Defense

EDGE: Kansas City

Verdict

Anything can happen in a single game, and I’ll be honest, I’ve changed my mind a few times as to who I think will end up winning this one. In the end, I think the Royals will be able to muster up just enough offense to squeeze out the victory.   At this point in the season, I think they have the better team.

*DEFINITIONS: FIP, wRC+, UBR, wSB, DRS, UZR/150

One Response to “2014 American League Wild Card Preview”

  1. […] semi-coherent analysis of the Baltimore Orioles « 2014 American League Wild Card Preview […]

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