2014 Championship Round Preview

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I don’t think anyone pegged this matchup when the playoffs started, but here we are with the Sharks versus the Avalanche. The Avalanche are certainly less of a surprise as the Sharks had to upset the top seeded Lightning to make it to the finals. The Avalanche have arguably the best starting rotation in the entire PBDL, but their team isn’t without its flaws. The team ranked 6th in overall offense this year and only managed a .239 team batting average. Combine that with a merely average bullpen and the team could be prone to losing some close games when the starting pitching has to come out early. But if the pitching can make it 7, or more precisely 8 innings, then Ed Allen – who is a very capable closer – can come in and close it out.

The Sharks will be getting back Jim Landers for the finals who was first in Gold with an OPS of 1.086 during the season. The fact that he was out for the first round makes their advancement even more puzzling, but his return will certainly be a sizeable boost for an offense that was certainly run starved during the year. On paper, the Avalanche have the much better rotation, but the Sharks have a superb defense…in fact they led the league with 74 double plays turned during the season. After those starters come out though, the bullpen depth is horrid, even worse than the Avalanche so starting pitching going deep in games will be key for both teams.

Prediction: Avalanche 5-4 (we are sticking with our preseason call and going with the Avalanche in a down to the wire series, this one will be fun to watch!)

It’s the Yankees versus the Athletics, PBDL style. Well not quite that extreme, but the Wild have built a low budget team with several talented youth coming up through the ranks and still under team control. The Stars on the other hand have an $11.2 million payroll (~$4 million more than the Wild) and have several big name, big budget players such as Steve White, Javier Alvarado, Hector Romero and Angel Feliciano. In fact, those four names get fairly close to the Wild’s entire payroll. But enough about money, the Stars boast a solid defense, an above average rotation, and a door slamming bullpen. The clear edge in pitching and defense goes to the Stars. That’s not to say the Wild are slouches in this department. In fact, one could easily argue that the Wild have the better rotation. But in terms of overall run prevention, Dallas’s bullpen plus superior defense gives them the edge.

Regarding run production, the Wild are built around extra bases. They led the league in both extra base hits and home runs while coming in 6th in terms of batting average. Nevertheless, their league leading slugging % was good enough to lead them to first in overall run production during the regular season. Dallas was second in run production, but by a decent margin (431 versus 401). For the Wild to win this series, guys like 2B Tommy Drake and LF Antonio Contreras are going to have to have huge series.

In the end, the Wild are young and inexperienced while the Stars have the "been there, done that" bravado after winning last year’s bronze championship. Add in the old mantra about pitching and defense winning championships, and we think the Stars will simply be too much to handle for the upstart Wild.

Prediction: Stars win series 5-1.

Wait what, the Ducks are in the finals? Yup, that’s right folks, and they made it in glorious fashion by completing the first postseason sweep in PBDL history against the Blues in the first round. After finishing in eighth last year in Bronze, the Ducks conducted an aggressive offseason with several pivotal signings that have paid off for the team. It was a bold move that could’ve bankrupted the team if success didn’t quickly follow, but GM Chris Duda’s work has been vindicated at least for the time being. The team on paper, is outmatched by Toronto in nearly every way. The Ducks are built on speed with 82 stolen bases during the year (good for first and well ahead of Toronto’s 27)…this speed could allow them to “generate” some run production and eek out some wins against what is a very solid offensive team in Toronto. To equalize this gap, Juan Silva is going to have to have the series of a lifetime and both Bob Brown & Billy Byrd are going to have a monster series.

But the game isn’t played on paper after all, its played on the field. And the Ducks have managed to find ways to win games all season long. They beat out their Pyt record by 5 games during the season, then managed to beat out a very good St. Louis Blues team in five games. Sometimes destiny is simply on your side and that’s how this series feels. Juan Silva (who was signed to a 5 year deal earlier this year) has been very vocal in the clubhouse all season long and several teammates have commented on the leadership void that his signing helped fill. Sometimes it’s the intangibles that win ballgames, should be a fun series.

Prediction: Ducks win series 5-3

Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 August 2014 09:26