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World Series Prediction 2021

Houston Astros vs Atlanta Braves:

How They Got Here:

The Astros took over first place in the AL West and never really looked back, cruising to another division title.  In the postseason, the Astros took down a talented and up and coming Chicago White Sox team 3-1 to advance to the ALCS.  There, they took down the Jekyll and Hyde Boston Red Sox 4-2 to move on to their third World Series in five seasons.

The Braves endured a roller coaster season, which included inconsistent play, as well as the loss of their best player, Ronald Acuna Jr. to a season ending injury.  Atlanta benefitted from playing in the mediocre NL East and righted the ship to win their third consecutive division title.  The Braves eliminated the Milwaukee Brewers in 3-1 in the division series.  In the NLCS, Atlanta took down the defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 to secure their first trip to the fall classic since 1999.

Offense:

Both teams possess plenty of firepower.  The Astros have the likes of Michael Brantley, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, and ALCS MVP Yordan Alverez up and down its lineup.

The Braves, despite the loss of Acuna, have talented guys who can swing the bat, as well, including Freddie Freeman, Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Joc Pederson, Jorge Soler, and Adam Duvall.  Meanwhile, Eddie Rosario had three home runs to go along with his 14 NLCS hits.

EDGE:  Astros.  It’s a slight edge, but the emergence of Alverez on the big stage gives that edge to Houston.

Starting Pitching:

No Lance McCullers for Houston once again.  However, because of the emergence of Framber Valdez and Luis Garcia in the ALCS, McCullers’ absence is not a death knell for the Astros.  Should Houston’s top two staters neutralize Atlanta’s top bats, it’s advantage in the bullpen (more on that later) could be the determining factor in the series.

Max Fried and Charlie Morton should toe the rubber for the Braves in the first two games.  Morton has considerable World Series experience, playing a huge role in the Astros’ 2017 championship.  Ian Anderson waits in the wings for game three.

Edge:  Braves.  Another slight edge, given Morton’s postseason history. 

Bullpen:

The Astros feature Kendall Graveman, Ryan Pressly, Phil Maton, and Ryan Stanek as part of a solid, if unspectacular bullpen.  None of the four gave up more than one earned run in the ALCS.

The Braves feature closer Will Smith, as well as Tyler Matzek, Luke Jackson, and AJ Minter.  Jackson and Matzek have had rough outings in the postseason.

Edge:  Astros.  Again, this matchup may decide the whole thing.

Manager:

Houston plays under the steady leadership of longtime baseball man Dusty Baker, who had the unenviable task of replacing AJ Hinch, who was let go as part of the team’s sign stealing scandal in 2017.  Baker has done a fantastic job in both the regular season and the postseason, albeit without drawing much attention to his abilities.

Meanwhile, Atlanta’s Brian Snitker has quietly had a successful run as the Braves’ manager, finally guiding the team over the playoff hump and into the World Series. 

Edge:  Even.  Both managers are vastly underrated.  This fall classic may be decided on the field.

Prediction:

Astros in 6.  Houston’s bats are able to score enough to get Atlanta’s starters out of the game and into the bullpen.  Here, the Astros control the late innings and win a couple of one-run games in the late or extra innings.

Disclaimer:  I got both league championship series predictions wrong, so DO NOT use this post as a means to go to the betting lines!

The Beauty of the Game

Durham Bulls Athletic Park; Durham NC; Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

It’s the fire in the belly; The steeled determination in the eyes; They haven’t accomplished anything yet

It’s the pull for their teammates; Some will become lifelong friends; They’re competing against them at the same time; For only a handful make it to the show

It’s the eagerness to sign their name to a plethora of items; Hats, gloves, jerseys, balls, programs; The spoils at the top have yet to render them inaccessible; Nobody cared this much at their high school games

It’s the conversations in the dugout, the clubhouse; Some appropriate, most not; The card games during the long, overnight bus rides

It’s the few daily dollars for fast food; Still kids-Burgers, pizza, and fries do not betray them yet

It’s the summer of being a Mud Hen, a Wildthing, a Rumble Pony

It’s the smells of the ballpark, the crack of the bat, loosening up on the field; In Midwest Americana, the Deep South, the Pacific West; Lansing, Birmingham, Sacramento

It’s the mascots, the sack races, the hula hoop competitions

It’s Mrs. Johnson in Section 8, Row A; She’s been coming here for 43 years; It’s the hopeful youngsters pleading at anyone in their vicinity holding a baseball; One day, some of them will be out here

It’s our greatest game in its purist form; So close to glory, yet never having been pampered by it; It’s a game still being played by kids who would rather be doing nothing else; Most will not make it, but that matters little right now; Responsibility will have to wait

There’s nothing in this world like Minor League Baseball