The boys of summer are back and that means it’s prediction time. I already gave my Blue Jays predictions here, so today I will make the rest of my 2012 predictions.
1) New York
3) Tampa Bay
The Yanks are ageing, but they are still the team to beat in the East. They have a nightmare of a line-up that keeps them in any game. There are question marks in the rotation, but with an offence like their’s who cares? The Rays have a solid line-up led by a future MVP in Evan Longoria and in my opinion they have the strongest rotation in the East. The Rays will be in the wildcard mix all season long. The Red Sox fell apart in the last month of last season causing them to undergo one of the biggest collapses in MLB regular season history. I think the fried chicken, beer and video games shenanigans continue this season and thus, no postseason. I’m not even going to bother talking about Baltimore…other than what will the over/under be on Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds’ strikeout total? 425?
3) Kansas City
The Tigers are the obvious studs of this division and should wrap this division up by June. The Indians were a pleasant surprise last season and I see them continuing to improve this year. I’m also predicting a huge bounce back season for Ubaldo Jimenez. The Royals have loads of young talent on the MLB level and in the minors; however, when Bruce Chen is slated to be your #1 starter your in deep trouble. The White Sox also have some young talent to show off in the outfield this year, but their line-up depends too heavily on an ageing Paul Konerko. Adam Dunn has been a bust, but he can only go up from last season’s debacle. The Twins who once were yearly contenders for the division crown are now considered to be a team on the decline. The health of former MVP Justin Morneau is still in question and the absence of power from the rest of the line up means this team will struggle to score runs in their spacious home park. I do think Francisco Liriano will have a solid year and will take over the #1 role from Carl Pavano in no time.
2) Los Angeles
The Angels went wild in the offseason blowing $$$ on Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. However, I still think the Rangers are the class of this division. In my opinion they have a deeper rotation and bullpen and a more balanced offensive attack. The battle for the division title will be fun to watch all season long. Oakland and Seattle are several tiers below the Angels and Rangers in terms of talent. Their focus will continue to be developing their young prospects and collecting draft picks. I’m hoping Ichiro bounces back and gets back to superstar status, he is one of my all time favourite players.
5) New York
The Phillies were the favourites to win it all last season until they were upset by the eventual World Series winners the St. Louis Cardinals. They will be the favourites to win the NL East again this season as they have the best rotation in the division, a solid bullpen, excellent defence and a quality hitting line-up. The Braves suffered a heart breaking collapse to end the year to miss the playoffs on the final day of the season. The Braves have a deep rotation, the best 1-2 punch in the bullpen in Venters and Kimbrel and a balance of speed and power in the line up. The Nationals are getting closer to contending with the big 2 atop this division, but are still a few years away. I wonder how long it will take before Bryce Harper is called up for good and the hype machine is pushed into overdrive. The Marlins not only changed their team name, but they also went bananas spending a whack load of cash on Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. The fish could surprise this year if Hanley gets interested in playing again and if Josh Johnson and Reyes can stay off extended stays on the DL. The Mets have a few nice pieces especially Lucas Duda and Ike Davis. However, relying on 2 key cogs from last year’s Blue Jays bullpen (Rauch and Francisco) that blew 25 saves is not a recipe for a dominant bullpen. I am pulling for Johan Santana to make a successful comeback as he is one of my all time favourite pitchers.
3) St. Louis
The Brewers are lucky Ryan Braun’s suspension was squashed because without him there’s no way they contend for the division. The Brew crew may have lost Prince Fielder, but they gained Aramis Ramirez and they still have a very deep rotation and a lights out bullpen. The defending champion Cards are still a solid team even with the departure of Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa. However, I think the departure of Pujols and La Russa will not be easy to overcome and I can see a bit of a World Series hangover letdown this season. The Reds are a strong team, but were dealt a huge blow with the loss of newly signed closer Ryan Madson for the year. I see the Reds pushing for the wild card hard this season, but falling just short. The Cubs have a superstar in the making in Starlin Castro, but other than this there isn’t much to be excited about on this roster. The Pirates have great young talent in McCutchen, Tabata, Alvarez, Walker and all-star closer Hanrahan, but the rotation is absolutely horrid. Can you name the starting outfield in Houston?…I didn’t think so…enough said.
1) San Francisco
3) Los Angeles
5) San Diego
With Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner I’m not sure how the Giants don’t win this division. It’s not going to be easy though as Arizona has a strong line up anchored by emerging superstar Justin Upton. The Diamondback rotation may not be as dominant, but it is solid from 1-5. The Dodgers have the best starting pitcher in the league in Clayton Kershaw and the best centre fielder in the league in Matt Kemp. However, these 2 alone will not be enough to bring a playoff spot to Magic Johnson and the new ownership group. The Rockies have my pick for NL MVP this year Troy Tulowitzki, but other than Tulo and CarGo there isn’t much to be excited about as the rotation is porous and the bullpen is full of unknowns. I really like the Padres line-up and rotation. I think scoring Yonder Alonso and Edinson Volquez from the Reds was a huge steal. I think the Padres might surprise and finish in the middle of this division when all is said and done.
Here are my trophy/hardware predictions for the season:
AL Winner: Detroit Tigers
NL Winner: San Francisco
World Series Winner: Detroit Tigers
AL MVP: Jose Bautista
NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki
AL CY Young: Jered Weaver
NL CY Young: Tim Lincecum
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Moore
NL Rookie of the Year: Yonder Alonso
AL Batting Champ: Miguel Cabrera
NL Batting Champ: Joey Votto
AL HR King: Jose Bautista
NL HR King: Giancarlo Stanton
I can’t wait to see how many of these predictions I get wrong…err I mean right.
Let’s play ball!