For the 7th and final installment of my preview series of the 2012 baseball season will be how the playoffs could turn out. It will certainly have alot to live up to with last year’s exciting version. The addition of another wild card is a dramatic change to the postseason and while purists will continue to grumble all season long, it’s a great addition for many reasons. The divisional games in September will be that much more important, not to mention games in general. We all saw how exciting the end of last season was and the second wild card will create more of that.

American League
Wild Card Playoff
(5)Angels defeat (4)Yankees
Sabathia will likely start for the Yanks but Pujols will rise to the occasion and have big game to lead the Angels to the win.

Divisional Round
(1)Rays defeat (5)Angels in five
(2)Tigers defeat (3)Rangers in five
The Rays will ride their starting pitching and timely hitting to end the championship dreams of the Angels, while Verlander and the Tigers’ offense will overpower the Rangers, not a small feat given what the Ranger hitters are capable of doing.

(1)Rays defeat (2)Tigers in seven
This will be a matchup of the Rays’ pitching vs the Tiger offense. That will be the key in this series as the Ray starters will contain Cabrera and Fielder just enough for their offense to score the necessary runs.

National League
Wild Card Playoff
(5)Cardinals defeat (4)Braves
Both teams are able to score runs, bit the Cards being able to have Carpenter or Wainwright start will be the deciding factor in this one.

Divisional Round
(1)Phillies defeat (5)Cardinals in four
(3)Giants defeat (2)Reds in four
Being able to trot out Halladay, Lee and Hamels will get the Phillies out in front for the series and will be too big a hole for the Cards to overcome. The same goes for the Lincecum/Cain/Bumgarner triumvirate for the Giants and their improved offense will take care of the rest.

(3)Giants defeat (1)Phillies in seven
A rematch of the 2010 NLCS will have the same amount of drama and October moments. The Giants were able to beat the Phils back then with their usual great pitching and some opportune hitting. The pitching is back and the offense will be improved. It will be a tense seven game series, but ultimately the Giants will be victorious.

World Series
Giants defeat Rays in seven
Ok so some of you jump on me for making a homer pick in the Giants. But as I said in the NLCS bit, they won it all in 2010 with stellar pitching and hitting that came through at the right times. This time around the offense is better and that will be the difference. Both teams aren’t known for their mashing hitters, but for their pitching. David Price can be dominant as anyone for the Rays and Lincecum and Cain have proved they can deliver in the postseason. With the game on the line in the ninth, Brian Wilson is a much better option then Kyle Farnsworth or whomever will be the Rays’ closer at that point. Still, it won’t be an easy task for either team as they have the same strengths and weaknesses. This will go the full seven games, but with a better closer, I’ll give the edge to the Giants.