Tuesday, April 3, 2012

2012 MLB Predictions

American League

1 – Rays
2 – Yankees
3 – Red Sox
4 – Blue Jays
5 – Orioles

The Yankees are the favorite to win the East, but I’m sticking with the pattern that’s developed in recent years. Since ’08 the Rays and Yanks have alternated years as division champs, and with the Yankees winning last year, guess whose turn it is this year? They may have the best pitching in baseball and get to trot out the dominating lefty Matt Moore as their 4th starter. Evan Longoria should bounce back in a big way, and Ben Zobrist is the glue that really holds that lineup together. I’m intrigued to see what Desmond Jennings can do in a full season. Robinson Cano is an elite player, but the Yankees will need more consistency from both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez this year if they’re going to walk away with the division as many expect them to. Teixeira’s average has fallen off the map the last two years, and A-Rod’s overall numbers have dropped in each of the last four. Adding Michael Pineda behind CC Sabathia for Jesus Montero was a bold move, and he already dealing with a shoulder issue. They also won’t get another dominating season from Ivan Nova. Boston won’t turn it around quite yet, Toronto is in the wrong division, and the O’s are still awful.

1 – Tigers
2 – Royals
3 – Indians
4 – White Sox
5 – Twins

Detroit could win this thing with last year’s lineup, but adding Prince Fielder is almost unfair. The Tigers are one of the preseason favorites to win it all, and it would take a huge upset for them not to finish first. I look for a big season from Brennan Boesch hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera and Fielder. Justin Verlander may not repeat as MVP, but he’ll be a front runner for Cy Young. That guys gets scary dominant at times; 97 in the 9th?! I do worry about the rest of their pitching and think, barring an in-season acquisition, that will be their weakness in the postseason. If a team is to challenge the Tigers, I think it’s the Royals. I love Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas looks like he’s destined for big things. I think Alex Gordon can repeat his big year, and I expect Lorenzo Cain to make a few highlights. On the other hand, there’s still not enough pitching and Joakim Soria needs Tommy John. Cleveland will finish around .500 while Chicago and Minnesota fight it out for the cellar.

1 – Angels
2 – Rangers
3 – Mariners
4 – A’s

I’ll see your Fielder and raise you a Pujols. The Angels’ acquisition of El Hombre (a nickname Pujols doesn’t like out of respect for Stan Musial) is enough to reclaim ownership of the West. Despite the league change and elderly age of 32 I expect a solid rebound from last year’s “down season”. I think Howie Kendrick really benefits from the addition of Pujols, and if they can successfully turn Mark Trumbo into an everyday third basemen, you’re looking at a lineup with Pujols, Kendrick, Trumbo, Peter Bourjos, a healthy Kendrys Morales, and eventually, super prospect Mike Trout. If that wasn’t impressive enough, look at the pitching. They stole CJ Wilson from Texas’ (their best starter) and slot him in behind two aces in Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. If that wasn’t enough, there’s Ervin Santana; one of the game’s best 4th starters and a guy with a no-no in his pocket. For the Rangers I’m expecting a down year from Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and as a result, a pitching staff minus Wilson should struggle. I’m anxious to see what Yu Darvish has, and I think Nelson Cruz will be the team’s MVP. I just don’t think it will be enough and that this race doesn’t play out terribly close over the course of the entire season. Seattle and Oakland are really bad.

National League

1 – Phillies
2 – Braves
3 – Nationals
4 – Marlins
5 – Mets

I’m projecting a Phillie first place finish, but who isn’t? Not having Ryan Howard or Chase Utley to start the year will hurt, but damn that pitching is awesome. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hammels would be #1s on most teams in the league, and Jonathan Papelbon should bring more stability to the closer role. I look for Hunter Pence to pace the offense and make a strong push for league MVP. Jimmy Rollins looks like he’s still got plenty left, and the versatile Ty Wigginton should help plug some holes, at least in the short term. I don’t see any team other than the Braves getting close to the Phillies, and I do like their chances to make things interesting. I’m a Freddie Freeman fan and would like to see Dan Uggla show up for the first half of the season this year. I believe he will. I think their biggest question will be the pitching, specifically Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens, two starters who struggled with injuries down the stretch. I expect Hanson performs as a #1 but Jurrjens experiences quite the regression from last year’s performance. I’m guessing the Marlins don’t quite live up to the hype and finish one game behind the Nationals. The Mets firmly grasp the fifth spot.

1 – Reds
2 – Cardinals
3 – Brewers
4 – Cubs
5 – Pirates
6 – Astros

This one figures to be a really tight race, at least with the top three teams. I’m counting on the Reds to end up on top despite losing newly acquired closer Ryan Madson for the year this spring. I like Joey Votto, and apparently the Reds do too judging by that $225 million deal he just signed. Jay Bruce has yet to hit his ceiling as a hitter, and that’s scary if you look at his yearly progressions. Brandon Phillips is a great leader and one of the best second basement in the game. Mat Latos joins Johnny Cueto atop the rotation to give them a pretty solid 1-2 punch in a division with some solid hurlers. For St. Louis the loss of Albert Pujols will be great, but bringing in Carlos Beltran will help. He and Pujols’ replacement, Lance Berkman, had nice bounce back seasons in ’11. They’ll both need repeats as well as another typical solid season from Matt Holliday if they’re going to have a chance of defend their title in the postseason. Losing ace Chris Carpenter for any substantial period certainly won’t help. Ryan Braun keeps his MVP and won’t face suspension, but I’m not sure Aramis Ramirez is enough of a replacement for Fielder. What will Mat Gamel bring? Milwaukee will go as far as their pitching takes them, and with that staff, it won’t be too hard for them to put together some decent win stretches. The Cubs aren’t jinxed. They’re just never any good. Pittsburgh regresses, and Houston again brings up the rear.

1 – Diamondbacks
2 – Dodgers
3 – Giants
4 – Rockies
5 – Padres

Arizona had a return to glory kind of season last year, running away with the West and setting high hopes for ’12. I’m really big on this team and believe they’ve got the talent and moxie to remain atop a very winnable division. Justin Upton is one of the game’s elite young talents and a future MVP. Paul Goldschmidt has big time potential, and I’d love to see Chris Young have one really solid season. Love the pitching. Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson are studs, and I like the Trevor Cahill addition as a third starter. Finally, the McCourt days are behind my Dodgers, and the Magic man has taken over. This will be a year of evaluation with eyes on big changes in ’13. Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, and Brandon Phillips would look great in Dodger Blue. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw were the league’s best hitter and pitcher last year, and with little done to upgrade the rest of the roster, they’ll need to do it again this year for the Dodgers to meet my second place projection. I think Andre Ethier will bounce back, but James Loney’s blah bat at first base is really limiting them offensively. Getting Buster Posey back is great, but I don’t think the Giants pitching will allow them to win as many 2-1 or 3-2 ballgames this year. Colorado has two studs in Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, but the pitching is putrid. San Diego is worse.


Here’s how I see the postseason playing out:

Wild Cards
AL – Rangers and Yankees
NL – Cardinals and Braves

Division Round
Angels beat Yankees
Rays beat Tigers
Diamondbacks beat Braves
Reds beat Phillies

League Championships
Angels beat Rays
Diamondbacks beat Reds

World Series
Diamondbacks beat Angels

Award Winners

Here are my predicted final vote tallies for year end awards:
Manager of the Year
AL –
1 – Mike Scioscia
2 – Joe Maddon
3 – John Farrell
4 – Jim Leyland
5 – Ned Yost
NL –
1 – Kirk Gibson
2 – Dusty Baker
3 – Fredi Gonzalez
4 – Charlie Manuel
5 – Don Mattingly
Rookie of the Year
AL –
1 – Matt Moore
2 – Yu Darvish
3 – Jesus Montero
4 – Mike Trout
5 – Jacob Turner
NL –
1 – Bryce Harper
2 – Drew Pomeranz
3 – Yonder Alonso
4 – Anthony Rizzo
5 – Zack Cozart
Cy Young
AL –
1 – Justin Verlander
2 – Jered Weaver
3 – Felix Hernandez
4 – James Shields
5 – Ricky Romero

NL –
1 – Cole Hamels
2 – Clayton Kershaw
3 – Ian Kennedy
4 – Roy Halladay
5 – Zack Greinke

AL –
1 – Albert Pujols
2 – Evan Longoria
3 – Robinson Cano
4 – Miguel Cabrera
5 – Nelson Cruz

NL –
1 – Matt Kemp
2 – Justin Upton
3 – Troy Tulowitzki
4 – Joey Votto
5 – Ryan Braun

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