OK, I know ----- prognosticating is not my strength, but I'll give it a try!
#1 Atlanta vs. #8 Boston (season series: Atlanta 4-2) - The Braves led wire-to-wire in the weak Killebrew division and sport a balanced attack by finishing fourth in the league in runs scored and fourth in runs allowed. Atlanta has an abundance of homerun power with A. Jones (41HR's), Palmeiro (32), C. Jones (23), Jeter (21) and Posada (19). Pitching is equally balanced with Millwood (15-6 3.92), #1 draft pick Lackey (9-3 3.70), Maddux (10-11 4.00) and Moss (12-4 2.96). Atlanta finished 46-26 against teams within their division, but just 23-19 vs. the other playoff teams.
Boston made a late season push to make the playoffs finishing 44-35 the last three months of the season. One of the reasons for the late season turn around was a trade that acquired Damon and Sweeney. Pitching is the Red Sox' strength: Martinez (12-6 2.60), Lowe (19-4 2.76), Wakefield (12-7 3.06) and Glavine (14-12 3.53) and #1 Pick Smoltz (35 Saves).
Prediction: Red Sox Pitching gives Braves all that they can handle in tough series ATLANTA WINS IN 7 GAMES
#2 Arizona vs. #7 San Francisco (season series: Arizona 5-1) - Having Randy Johnson (23-8 2.15) and Curt Schilling (22-11 3.11) on the league's best pitching staff is certainly the D-Backs strength. Arizona finished with a league leading 3.42 ERA with a league record 17 shutouts. Paul Shuey supports the back end with 33 saves. Magglio Ordonex lez Arizona with 32 HR's and 93 RBI's
San Francisco is counting on Bonds to carry them through the playoffs. Barry set league records in batting average (.368) and slugging percentage. Overlooked player Ellis Burks hit .310 with 25 HR's and Jeff Kent had a monster year: .278, 44HR's and 140 RBI's. Livan Hernandez (18-12 3.70), Joel Pineiro (16-9 4.13), and Rob Nenn (36 Saves) led the pitching.
Prediction: Arizona combo of Johnson and Schilling just too tough ARIZONA WINS IN 5 GAMES
#3 Seattle vs. #6 Philadelphia (season series: Philadelphia 4-2) - Although his average was down, A-Rod had an incredible season: 59 HR's and 160 RBI's. A-Rod's 160 RBI's placed second in league history. But Seattle's offense is not just limited to A-Rod as Olerud (.316 30 HR's 107 RBI's) and Marinez (.304 22 HR's 79 RBI's) can also do some damage. Seattle placed fourth in team ERA and are led by O. Hernandez (15-5), C. Lidle (14-8), Moyer (18-12) and Garcia (11-12). Sasaki chipped in again with 30+ saves.
The Phillies, playing in Coors Field, have an offensive minded team: Guerrero (.352 44 HR's 147 RBI's), Pujols (.337 36 HR's 124 RBI's), Tejada (.305 29 HR's 104 RBI's), Chavez (.302 31 HR's 102 RBI's) and the list goes on.....But this season, Philly has good starting pitching with Lopez (17-4), Jennings (16-5) and Redman (16-10). Vizcaino got 32 saves, but also lost 10 ballgames.
Prediction: Philly batters wear down Seattle's starters PHILADELPHIA WINS IN 6 GAMES
#4 New York vs. #5 Pittsburgh (season series: Pittsburgh 4-2) - The Yankees have had a remarkable run this season - Paul Byrd's 24 wins, a 53-28 home record, and second in the league in runs scored (908). New York has three players with 30+ homers: Soriano (35), Klesko (33) and Ventura (39). However, besides Byrd, only Valdes has double digit wins. New York has one of the strongest bullpens in the league with Rivera and Foulke. The Yankees made several trades during the season picking up D.Wells, Foulke, Valdes and Klesko. New York only finished 27-27 against playoff teams.
Pittsburgh has five starters with 10 wins or more: Oswalt (15), Wood (15), Zito (13), Clement (13), and Baez (11). Despite an 0-6 record, B. Kim notched 37 saves. On offense, Brian Giles led the Buccos with a .291 average, 41 HR's, 124 RBI's and 124 Walks.
Prediction: Two evenly matched teams in an exciting series; I'll go with PITTSBURGH TO WIN IN 7 GAMES