Double-A Playoff Preview


Our second installment in a three-part playoff preview, today we look at what to watch for in the Double-A playoffs. Click Here to see what we said about Triple-A yesterday.

Double-A – each league has their own playoff format and own champion. The Eastern League allows for the top two teams of each division to advance, for a total of four berths. The division-mates play each other in a best-of-5 series, and the winners advance to a best-of-5 Eastern League Championship. The Southern League and Texas League season is divided into two halves, with the first half and second half winners from each division advancing to the playoffs. These winners play each other in a best-of-5 series to determine the division winner, and then the division winners play a best-of-5 championship series to determine their respective league’s champion.

Eastern League: In the Eastern Division, the Binghamton Mets (NYM) and the Trenton Thunder (NYY) will face off in a Double-A Subway Series. Binghamton was by far the better team in the regular season, currently holding a 12.5 game lead over the Thunder, but it will remain to be seen whether or not they can win it all. Eastern League MVP Allan Dykstra (no relation to Lenny) has paced the B-Mets in hitting, slugging a solid .497 and posting a .933 OPS in 366 ABs.

In the Western Division, the Harrisburg Senators (WSH) and Erie SeaWolves (DET) will be advancing to the divisional round. Harrisburg currently leads Erie by 1.0 games, so it’s looking like they’ll enter the playoffs with the Western top seed. The SeaWolves strikeout leader, Matt Crouse (112 in 145.0 IP), enters the playoffs with his team looking to ride his arm to an Eastern League Championship in their first playoff appearance since 2010.

Top Prospect to Watch: Brian Goodwin (40th in our rankings) – Senators: A first round pick by Washington in 2011, Goodwin has been solid this year for Harrisburg (.254/.358/.411 in 120 G). Drawing comparisons to Denard Span, but with more power, it is easy to imagine Goodwin embracing Natitude by next summer.

Prediction: The Binghamton Mets have been a dominant force in the Eastern League entire season, and don’t expect this to change. Binghamton wins the Eastern League Championship 3 games to 1 over the SeaWolves.

Southern League:  The first half division race in the North Division was quite a bore, as the Birmingham Barons (CWS) easily clinched, finishing nine games ahead of the second place Chattanooga Lookouts (LAD). Dan Black has been the offensive sparkplug for the Barons all season, posting an .885 OPS, a career high for the 25 year old. Things were a bit more interesting in the South Division, as the Mobile BayBears (ARI) were barely able to hold off the Mississippi Braves (ATL), ending the first half 1.5 games up, with the Montgomery Biscuits (TB) and Jacksonville Suns (MIA) close behind at 2.5 and 4.0 games back, respectively.

The division race in the North was a bore in the second half again, but this time for another reason. The Tennessee Smokies (CHC) ran away in the second half, posting a league best 42-26 record in the latter half. The Smokies received a significant upgrade at shortstop when top prospect Javier Baez was promoted at the beginning of the second half. In the South, the second-half division title is still up for grabs, with the BayBears and Suns tied atop the division heading into the final game tonight. If the BayBears win, they automatically advance to the Southern League Championship.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Top Prospect to Watch: Javier Baez (11th) – Smokies: Baez has posted ridiculous power numbers this season, crushing 37 home runs (across two levels), hitting to a sky-high 1.001 OPS, and leading all of the Minors with 111 RBI. Cubs fans have to be excited about Baez, who is due to reach the Majors sometime next season.

Prediction: It seems like this section is all Baez, Baez, Baez. Well, the playoffs will be too. Baez will lead Tennessee to a Southern League Championship over the BayBears, three games to one.

Texas League: In the first half of the season, the Tulsa Drillers (COL) and the Corpus Christi Hooks (HOU) won their divisions. Tulsa eked out a berth by finishing the first half merely a single game ahead of the Springfield Cardinals (STL) and 1.5 games ahead of the Arkansas Travelers (LAA), despite ending the season with a 34-34 record. Meanwhile, the Hooks feasted on the rest of the Texas League, finishing a first-half best 42-28. Erik Castro led the Hooks in most offensive categories, hitting .283/.371/.485 in 406 ABs over the full season while Domingo Santana led the team in runs scored (70).

In the second half, the Travelers handily won their division, up five games with one left to play. Taylor Lindsey, a former first round pick, leads the team over the full season in batting average (.276), on-base percentage (.342), and slugging percentage (.444), and is second on the team in hits (139). With one game remaining, Corpus Christi remains tied atop the second half standings with the San Diego Missions (SDG) at 40-29. The Missions have clinched a spot in the playoffs due to the fact that Corpus Christi won the first half division title..

Top Prospect to Watch: Eddie Butler (3rd best Rockies prospect on – Drillers: Butler was recently promoted to Tulsa and spent time at three different levels this season. In his six starts since being promoted, Butler has been lights out, posting a 0.65 ERA and a 0.687 WHIP with 25 Ks in 27.2 IP. Tulsa will look to ride Butler’s arm, especially since they played worse in the second half than the first.

Prediction: There’s no stopping Corpus Christi, who recently broke their franchise record for wins in a full season. The Hooks beat the Travelers in the finals, sweeping the best-of-5 series.