2015 AL Division Series Preview

Hey guys! Back with my second post of the day previewing this year’s American League Division Series matchups between the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays , as well as the Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals. The series kick off this afternoon in Toronto at 3:30 ET, followed by the “late” game in Kansas City at 7:30 ET. With that said, in the spirit of organization and chronology, I’ll start by looking at the upcoming matchup between Texas and Toronto.

Texas Rangers (88-74) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (93-69)

Projected Starters: 

Game 1: Yovani Gallardo (13-11, 3.42) vs. David Price (9-1, 2.30)

Game 2: Cole Hamels (7-1, 3.66) vs. Marcus Stroman (4-0, 1.67)

Game 3: TBD vs. Marco Estrada (13-8, 3.13)

Offensive Comparison (including rank among AL teams):

Texas Toronto
.257, 5th BA .269, 2nd
.739, 6th OPS .797, 1st
98, 8th OPS+ 118, 1st
1233, 9th K 1151, 5th
503, 4th BB 570, 1st
172, 7th HR 232, 1st
4.64, 3rd Runs/Game 5.50, 1st

Defensive Comparison (including rank among AL teams):

Texas Toronto
4.24, 13th ERA 3.80, 5th
100, 8th ERA+ 104, 5th
4.34, 14th FIP 4.09, 8th
1.363, 14th WHIP 1.214, 3rd
1095, 14th K 1117, 12th
508, 15th BB 397, 1st
171, 7th HR 173, 9th
119, 14th E 88, 6th
.981, 14th FLD% .985, T-6th
.687, T-11th Def. Efficiency .708, 1st
4.52, 13th Runs/Game 4.14, 5th

Giving these charts a glance reveals one thing very quickly – the Blue Jays offense was good. Led by offseason acquisition and likely AL MVP winner Josh Donaldson, as well as two familiar faces in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, the Blue Jays’ offense was first in nearly every major offensive category. Texas got quality seasons from some important guys (Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland) but didn’t have nearly the firepower over the entire season like Toronto had. The Blue Jays’ lineup is far more reliable from top to bottom. The Toronto pitching staff wasn’t up to par with the offense as far as rankings go, but were only in double-digits (bottom 33%) in one category (K). The Rangers’, however, was far worse – only as high as 7th in any category and in double-digits on all but two (ERA+, HR). The Rangers’ defense also committed the second-most errors and had the second-worst fielding percentage in the AL, while the Jays’ defense ranked #1 in the AL in defensive efficiency. To me, it looks and feels like the Blue Jays are a better team in all three categories by a fair margin. For this reason, I think Toronto has the edge here.

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Toronto in 4

Houston Astros (86-76) vs. Kansas City Royals (95-67)

Projected Starters: 

Game 1: Collin McHugh (19-7, 3.89) vs. Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08)

Game 2: Scott Kazmir (2-6, 4.17) vs. Johnny Cueto (4-7, 4.76)

Game 3: Dallas Keuchel (20-8, 2.48) vs. Edinson Volquez (13-9, 3.55)

Offensive Comparison (including rank among AL teams):

Houston Kansas City
.250, 10th BA .269, 3nd
.752, 2nd OPS .734, 7th
105, 3rd OPS+ 98, 9th
1392, 15th K 973, 1st
486, 5th BB 383, 15th
230, 2nd HR 139, 14th
4.50, 5th Runs/Game 4.47, 6th

Defensive Comparison (including rank among AL teams):

Houston Kansas City
3.57, 1st ERA 3.73, 3rd
113, 2nd ERA+ 111, 3rd
3.66, 3rd FIP 4.04, 6th
1.201, 2nd WHIP 1.282, 6th
1280, 6th K 1160, 11th
423, 3rd BB 489, 13th
148, 1st HR 155, 2nd
85, 3rd E 88, 6th
.986, T-3rd FLD% .985, T-6th
.701, T-2nd Def. Efficiency .701, T-2nd
3.81, 1st Runs/Game 3.96, T-2nd

A review of the offensive chart shows that both offenses here were pretty even in terms of scoring runs (5th/6th in AL in R/G) but did it vastly different ways. The Astros hit a ton of home runs and extra-base hits, walked a lot, and struck out a lot. On the other end of the spectrum, the Royals hardly walked or struck out at all, but got a ton of singles and likely a few well-timed extra base hits as well. The Astros had 5 players with 20+ HR and 11 total with double-digit dingers. The Royals had considerably less pop (3 20+ HR players, 6 in double-digit) but got a ton of production from Kendrys Morales (22 HR, 106 RBI) and Lorenzo Cain (.307 BA, 123 OPS+, 28 steals) as well as solid years from many of the other starters. The Houston pitching staff was top-3 in the AL for all categories except for K (6th). The Royals’ rankings were not as good (only 3 top-3 rankings) but still finished in a tie for 2nd in runs allowed per game, behind only – yes, the Astros. Both defenses were great, finising tied for second in defensive efficiency at .701 despite the Astros being 3 spots ahead in both errors and fielding percentage. Unfortunately, Astros ace Dallas Keuchel pitched 6 innings on three days rest just 2 days ago and isn’t scheduled to pitch until game 3. Because Houston is missing a start from their reliable left-handed ace, I expect Kansas City to come out on top.

OFFICIAL PREDICTION: Kansas City in 5

There you have it, and only a few minutes late! Those are my picks for the 2015 ALDS, and I’m excited to see how it plays out over the next week. Check back in tomorrow for my NLDS preview and predictions. Enjoy the games!

All credit for this article goes to the awesome folks at Baseball-Reference.com!

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4 thoughts on “2015 AL Division Series Preview

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