10/07/2022 7:11 AM
Article By: Ben Sinins
When the Moneyball Billy Beane character asked how one could not be romantic about baseball, this rhetorical question predicted what awaits fans in the 2022 MLB playoffs. There will be fairytale career endings, heroes and heartbreak. Running through all this drama are the stories of amazing seasons from some of the league’s best, including dozens of Cape Cod League alumni leading their teams to the promised land.
World Series Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals over Houston Astros in 6 Games
This writer certainly counts himself as a baseball romantic. What perfect baseball love story would not end with The Machine securing World Series MVP after leading his St. Louis Cardinals to victory in his final MLB season? So putting aside statistics and objective analysis of batting, pitching, baserunning and WAR, I stand by my prediction that Albert Pujols will ride off into the sunset clutching some very large trophies. Even though Pujols never played on the Cape.
The reason this prediction may very well come true is because the Cardinals have some of the most powerful hitters in baseball. Their lineup includes 25-year-old Lars Nootbaar (Orleans 2017), Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Not to mention Brendan Donovan, Tommy Edman (Yarmouth-Dennis 2015) and Pujols. Also do not forget about legendary catcher Yadier Molina, playing his final season.
Having focused on the top NL pick Cardinals, let’s talk about the American League for the rest of this early look.
The post-season offers even more baseball excitement for Cape League romantics and fans of all the playoff-bound AL teams as well. The Houston Astros, perhaps the most complete MLB team on both sides of the plate, feature former Cape players, first baseman Trey Mancini (Harwich 2012), and pitchers Ryan Stanek (Bourne 2011) and Hunter Brown (Cotuit 2018). DH Yordan Alvarez is having an amazing season, batting .306 with an OPS of 1.019. Justin Verlander and Framber Valdez are just two of the dominating pitchers on the Astros staff.
The young upstarts from the Cleveland Guardians feature no less than 10 Cape alums! Stud pitcher Shane Beiber (Yarmouth 2015), Will Brennan (Falmouth 2018), Steven Kwan (Wareham 2017) – the leadoff hitter is batting .295 having a remarkable rookie season – Owen Miller (Harwich 2017), Luke Maile (Cotuit 2011), Aaron Civale (Hyannis 2015), James Karinchak (Chatham 2016), Kirk McCarty (Orleans 2016), Zach Presac (Wareham 2015), and Nick Sandlin (Hyannis 2017). The Guardians will be a threat and could knock off their AL rivals.
But most well-known among Cape players is this year’s home run king, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (Brewster 2012), who recently secured the American League all-time single-season home run title with 62. The Yankees are sure to make a strong playoff run and lead the league in homers. Judge has Josh Donaldson (Harwich 2006) and speedy centerfielder Harrison Bader (Bourne 2014) to help the effort.
The Toronto Blue Jays are my pick to advance from the AL Wild Card. The Jays have 10 former Cape players. The Blue Jays’ ace, Alek Manoah (Chatham 2018), a 24-year-old superstar is definitely the MVP of the team. Manoah in his first full season led the team with 16 wins and had a tremendous 2.24 ERA. The other Cape alums from the Blue Jays are listed below.
Rounding out the AL Wild Card teams are the Seattle Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays. The Mariners have 5 Cape alumni, while the Rays have 3, all pitchers. Both are solid teams but are not destined for fairytale endings this season.
American League Playoff Teams Cape Cod League Alumni (not listed above):