2021 Division Series Breakdown
Tampa Bay Rays vs Boston Red Sox
Vegas: Rays -150
Who to watch: (TB) Wander Franco and (BOS) Kyle Schwarber
The hobby and sports number one prospect Wander Franco makes his postseason debut with Tampa. He rolls a 43 game on-base streak into the playoffs.
Kyle Schwarber is the Red Sox hottest playoff hitter. After cranking a 430' bomb off Gerrit Cole in the Wild Card game, Schwarbo brings his 1.018 postseason OPS to take down the Rays.
Underrated Contributor: (TB) Mike Zunino and (BOS) Kiké Hernández
Mike Zunino is an underrated contributor in that he's such a force.....defensively. he's in the 94th percentile of catcher framing, which plays well into the deep pitching staff that Tampa Bay has. Oh yea, he's also the league leader in Barrel at 24.3% of pitches squared up, beating Shohei Ohtani by 2%.
Keeping with defense in mind, Kiké Hernández has been the ultimate Swiss Army Knife for the Red Sox. He's played the middle infield and center field for them effectively. He's been the best outfielder in terms of jump, and his arm helped gun out Aaron Judge in the Wild Card game.
Chicago White Sox vs Houston Astros
Vegas: Astros -125
Who to watch: (CHW) Luis Robert and (HOU) Kyle Tucker
Since returning from injury, Luis Robert has batted .350 with a 1.011 OPS. Couple this with his top-tier center field play, LuBob will be the impact player to push the White Sox past the Astros.
Kyle Tucker looks to stop that. He was held down in the minors because Houston had no room for him. Excluding last year's COVID season, this was Tuckers first shot at a full season and did not disappoint. On top of playing above-average defense, Tucker was in the tops for xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG.
Underrated Contributor: (CHW) Adam Engel and (HOU) Jason Castro
Adam Engel is known for his speed and outfield play but has upped his offensive game this year. Engel has seen career highs in every category. He's slugging .951 on fastballs this year. Pair this with his ability to steal bases, and we could see a version that Billy Hamilton wishes he was.
To find an underrated contributor, you would have to sift past the top names of Altuve, Yordan, Tucker, Gurriel, and Correa because calling them underrated is out of the question now. Jason Castro has been splitting time with Martin Maldanado all year, and that does make sense. Maldanado is one of the best defensive catchers in the game. Castro brings offense to the catcher position for the Astros. He's got a better Hard Hit % than Altuve and Gurriel, a better Barrel % than Kyle Tucker, and a better xSLG than Correa. Look for some late-inning magic from Jason Castro in this series.
San Francisco Giants vs Los Angeles Dodgers
Vegas: Dodgers -145
Who to watch: (SF) Brandon Belt and (LAD) Corey Seager
Brandon Belt is the thump in this Giants offense. He finished near the top in Barrel % and Walk % which is a wonderful combination to have. He’s even upped his success against lefties, hitting a .832 OPS, the best he’s done in five years against southpaws.
After an almost two-month stint on the IL, Corey Seager caught fire, hitting for an OPS of 1.009, and was a pivotal part of the 44-14 run the Dodgers went on in his return. It helps when your best hitter is your shortstop.
Underrated Contributor: (SF) Tyler Rogers and (LAD) Will Smith
Tyler Rogers’ funky delivery is what sets him apart from every pitcher in the league. Players have had a hard time squaring him up as well. While his pitches rarely are whiffed on (bottom 1% in the league), his arm slot mixed with his pitch movement propel him to the tops of the league in Barrel %. If there’s any pitcher in the league that can neutralize this Dodgers offense, it’s Rogers.
Will Smith may have been the best catcher all year, but Salvador Perez’s big home run year eclipsed any media attention to the young catcher. For catchers, Smith was in the top 10 in most categories. Hitting around the potent Dodger offense will put Smith in plenty of RBI chances.
Atlanta Braves vs Milwaukee Brewers
Vegas: Brewers -140
Who to watch: (ATL) Tyler Matzek and (MIL) Corbin Burnes
This series will be all about the pitching staff. Tyler Matzek had a five-year hiatus from Major League baseball, but after transforming into a reliever, Matzek became elite. He finished in the top 7% for wOBA, Barrel %, xBA, xSLG, and xwOBA.
Corbin Burnes wrestled with Gerrit Cole on the record for most strikeouts without a walk to start the season. He ended the season by only allowing an OPS of .521 with an xSLG of .254. Essentially, no one is scoring runs in this series.
Underrated Contributor: (ATL) Austin Riley and (MIL) Avisaíl García
There are two players that could break up these 1-0 games. It's easy to say you're an underrated contributor with two MVP-level players on your team in Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. Austin Riley has been right there with them offensively. he's second on the team in slugging, and led the team in home runs (Adam Duvall finished with 38, but he was acquired at the deadline).
Avisaíl García has been the Brewers' best offensive player this year. He lead the team in every category and was in the top 20% for every offensive category. While he's not the best defender (actually one of the worst) his offense could crack the great pitching of the Braves.