Nolan Writin’ Division Winners And Playoff Predictions


The other day I sent an email to the other three writers for Nolan Writin’ — Mike G., Clayton and the other Eric — asking for their picks on (a) who will win each of the six MLB divisions, (b) who will subsequently be the wild cards in either league, and (c) who will eventually play who in the World Series.

Since there is no direct consensus, but still a fair amount of similarities within the ballots, there will be no table filled with analytics. I’ll just say what everyone thinks, and we’ll take it from there.

For instance, all of Mike, Clayton and Eric like the Yankees to win the AL East. I like the Red Sox (if for nothing else that they will rebound from a dreadful Bobby-Valentine year in Boston).

In the Central, naturally everyone picked the Tigers. I’m not sure a rational case can be made for any other team in that division. Detroit could very easily win the Central by 15.0-20.0 games.

As far as the AL West is concerned — the division of most importance to this blog — both Mike and Eric believe the Angels will supplant the Rangers, though they each have Texas as a wild card. Conversely, both Clayton and I think Texas wins the division, with the Angels as a wild card.

I’ve been very critical of the Rangers this offseason. From failing to sign Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton — when Nolan Ryan said the Rangers could land both — all the way through the Justin Upton saga. I think the Texas needed something extra to put them over the top, however, with the money and prospect currency saved from not making moves, it puts them in position to make a run at David Price, Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez at some point leading up to the trade deadline.

Therefore, in picking the Rangers to win the West, I’m also exercising some blind faith, or suspending my own disbelief, simply because I believe some type of blockbuster will go down this coming year. If it doesn’t, it’s my assumption that the Angels take the West, with Texas as one of the two wild cards.

As for World Series picks:

Mike — Tigers over Braves

Clayton — Tigers over Nationals

Other Eric — Giants

Me — Nationals over Rangers

Now that I’ve come to the National League, I realize that I don’t care about it. So I’m just not going to write about it.

However, when is baseball going to smarten up and just get rid of the pitcher hitting? I think with Houston going to the American League, the next domino to fall will be the inclusion of a universal DH between the two leagues. With the divisions balanced out at 5 apiece — creating an odd number of teams in each circuit — I’m curious how long it will take for this idea to gain some traction.

To me, it’s just part of the natural evolution of baseball. It would create 15 new jobs for hitters, and what with being a game all about revenue sharing and overall uniformity, the permanent DH in both leagues would seem to be an organic transition into a new era of baseball.

Of course, there would probably be quite a few baseball “purists” — the same people who deny the existence and practical application of sabermetrics — who would throw a big fit. Don’t get me wrong, pitchers stepping to the plate is in the grass roots of America’s pastime, and it’s been the essential differentiator between the AL and NL since I’ve been alive. That has to count for something, right?

The point is, there’s no reason to subject pitchers to playing offense. It doesn’t add or subtract from the strategy of the game, because all you do is have them bunt, or if they aren’t pitching well you pinch-hit for them. That’s it. It would actually help in determining how good a pitcher really is, because I don’t think you’d find many NL hurlers who believe it’s more difficult pitching to pitchers than it is a DH.

Anyway, food for thought. I guess.