The regular season has come and gone, and we're now entering the inaugural Renegade Reporter postseason!
Before we preview this weeks' series, let's recap what happened last week. The biggest news was that a win by EyeOnTheMendozaLine and a loss by WHATS A SABRE (by just 15 points!) resulted in a last minute tie in the Southern Division. And, due to the total points advantage of the Mendozas, who finished the season with the second-highest point total in the league, BLee's squad is the surprise winner of the Southern Division! Condolences go out to WHATS A SABRE, who had headlined that division since the 6th week of the season.
If there's any consolation to losing the division title, however, it's that the SABRE's might have drawn an easier matchup as a wild card than the Mendozas get as the 3-seed--at least based on total points. But let's not get ahead of ourselves...
Preview of the Quarterfinals
#1 Blocking Janish vs. #8 Marxists
The Marxists held on to the 8th seed with a decisive victory over the Sabremorticians last week, but their prize is a first-round matchup with the best team in the league, Blocking Janish. Kris's squad won two more series than any other team, and ultimately held more than a 600-point lead over the second-best team in total points. They easily had the best pitching in the league (a team 3.28 FIP!!), and feature three of the top 13 pitchers by total points (Halladay, Santana, and Lester). But on top of that, they ended up 4th in hitting points as well, thanks to a combined attack by Miguel Cabrera (top overall point-getter this season) and Carlos Gonzalez. The Marxists, for their part, were the second-best hitting team in the league, though their pitching lagged well behind Janish's this season. You can see a scenario in which an upset could occur here...but you have to give the edge to Janish, especially with a substantial early lead.
#2 Zach Sanders vs. #7 The Grues
Sanders' squad has been excellent all season long, and has never been anything less than tied for first place in the very competitive Northern Division. His team has a balanced attack, with the 5th-ranked offense as well as the #6 pitching staff by overall points. This week he matches up with my squad for the third time this season. While the Grues have a very slight edge in overall points this season, Sanders squad has won (handily) each of the prior two encounters. The Grues are more of a pitching team: they rank 3rd in pitching points, but are middle of the pack in hitting...and are lacking a number of their top hitters due to injuries (Justin Morneau, Magglio Ordonez and even Carlos Guillen). The teams are matched in terms of their number of starts, though the Grues got off to a good start yesterday and have the early lead in this series.
#3 EyeOnTheMendozaLine vs. #6 Tied For First
The Mendozas won their division fair and square this year on the strength of excellent pitching and above-average offense. This week, they match up against a formidable opponent in Tied for First. TFF was involved in the only tied series this season, and the result is that they are 13-8-1 compared to the Mendozas 14-8 record. But they only trail the Mendozas by 220 points on the season, amazingly ranking just behind the Menzodas in both offense and pitching. This is a series that could easily go either way. Not to disappoint, as I write this, it is the only playoff series in which both teams have already cleared 100 points.
#4 Jeff Zimmerman vs. #5 WHATS A SABRE
This match-up is hitting vs. pitching, plain and simple. Zimmerman's squad posted the highest hitting points total in the league, but their pitching was 5th from the bottom. The SABREs, on the other hand, had the second best pitching in the league behind Janish, but their offense was 12th in the league. I love this: there's more than one way to build a winning team in this league, and these two teams are extreme on either side. The expectation, I think, is that Zimmerman's squad should post a more consistent point total as a hitting-oriented squad. The SABREs, on the other hand, can fluctutate from very good to very bad, depending on the what the week brings his pitchers. So far, early returns are good for the SABREs.
Good luck to all of the playoff teams. I'm looking forward to seeing how this turns out. Next week will include the semi-finals, as well as the first consolation round for those playoff teams who lose this first week.