Why They Will: They’re the most appropriately named team in the league right now (unless the Sting are an actual sting operation, which would explain a lot). The Bats lead the league in all batting categories except walks (2nd). They’ve shattered home run records with 263 on the year. four players have batted in 90+ runs. No safe zone in their line up for opponents
Why They Won’t: For a 100 win team, their records in one run games (26-25), and extra inning games (8-12) are worrisome. This can be traced back to their biggest weakness, which is the bullpen (4.58 ERA). For Bats to win it all, their starters will need to pitch deep into games.
Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Why They Will: As flawless a team as you can find in this league. The Scrappers are historically good on defense and very good on offense. Their insane +251 run differential leads CBL. On average they give up 3.1 runs each game, and We all know what wins championships.
Why They Won’t: As much as they’ve beaten up on weaker teams, They haven’t exactly dominated elite competition. In fact their combined record against the other four HL playoff teams is 20-21, taking the season series against only one of them (Portland 4-2). that means each potential round will be a struggle.
Richardson City Blood Raven
Why They Will: It’s what they do. At this point you can’t even hold being a wildcard team against them. They’ve already won the cup twice in seasons they won less than 90 games. The Blood Raven are top five in all major statistical categories except one (Stolen bases, 8th), a very balanced team. They are not burdened by any major injuries either. They’ve already repeated once, so why not again.
Why They Won’t: They started the season just ok, then seemed to have put it all together in May, but things seem to have fell apart in September, when they went 11-17, due in no small part to going 1-6 against Portland. Guess who they’ll face in the wild card game.
Why They Will: Since May, They’ve improved their winning percentage each and every month, ending the season with a league leading 20-8 September record (Tied with Surf Dogs). Chris Flexen hasn’t recorded a loss since mid-June. He may never lose again.
Why They Won’t: The way this team has been playing lately, It’s hard to find a fault. However, their inexperience may be their undoing. This is their first play off appearance in the history of the franchise and playoffs are a very different story than regular season. They will need to beat teams with years of playoff experience.
Why They Will: They can hang tough win any team. Quick look at their schedule shows they took the season series from Bats (5-1), and their in-division rivals Scrappers (12-11). they also don’t allow many home runs (124, 1st in league), which always comes in handy in the playoffs.
Why They Won’t: Stephen Strasburg, their best player and arguably the best pitcher in the history of the league will be out with injury. They will surely miss his 2.34 career postseason ERA. They are also the bottom offensive team in the playoffs with a league worst .239 batting average.
Why They Will: This is the best this team has played in a very long time. Their 87 wins this season is a franchise record. The Outlaws have a deadly middle of the line up, with Farrell (37 HRs), Trahan (31), and Bogaerts (24). Seth Beer leads the league with a whopping 62 doubles.
Why They Won’t: Put a left handed pitcher in front of them and they choke. Their record against left handed starters is an abysmal 14-25, which isn’t surprising since their line up is mostly comprised of lefty batters.
Why They Will: If we trust the numbers, It’s hard to imagine any FL team being able to go toe to toe with the Canadians. They lead the league in pretty much everything (although only second in defensive efficiency, Sad!). Jose Fernandez has earned every penny of his 30 M$ contract, and in only his second full season Grifin Keller led the league in BA (.349) and OPS (.967)
Why They Won’t: They’ve been quite dominant throughout the season, but their best months record-wise came early. In fact since beginning of September they’re 15-12, losing quite a lot of close games. But I think at the end of the day It will come down to whether they can beat FL teams. Their records against the Blood Raven (0-4), and the Scrappers (1-3) makes you wonder.
Why They Will: Seemingly out of contention, They went 9-1 in their last ten games to make the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season (wow!). When your team is that clutch, anything is possible, even if they barely made it to .500. Also, after 9 fruitless play off runs, 10th time might be the charm.
Why They Won’t: Better Calgary teams have tried and failed. Unless there is a sudden turnaround, defense will not keep this team in games, so the offense, particularly the home run hitters, will need to carry most of the burden, as they did in the closing stretch of the regular season. And given the teams they’ll go up against, that’s as tough a task as any ball club will face this postseason.
San Diego Surf Dogs
Why They Will: Another team that has peaked just in time. They went 20-8 in September. Jose Arvizu is the home run machine he’s always been and Nick Castellanos has 41 RBIs in 55 career postseason games.
Why They Won’t: Their September record is actually misleading. They demolished weak competition but went only 3-5 against other play off teams. Michael Wacha is 4-13 in career post season games.
Traverse City Bullet Club
Why They Will: They’re good in areas that can make for a successful postseason. Stolen bases (83, 2nd), Home runs allowed (168, 3rd), and walks allowed (440, 3rd). We’ve all seen those playoff games when a single stolen base or an overthrown pitch makes all the difference. Besides, while no one has hit more than 28, everybody in this line up can hit home runs. Opposing pitchers will always need to be on the lookout.
Why They won’t: They’re not particularly great at anything, which means for a championship run to succeed nothing can go wrong. Also, outside of Rodon, non of their starters has any postseason experience.