NEW YORK, NY - FILE: The National Anthem is performed by Haley Swindal as the US Navy Super Hornet flyover takes place before the New York Yankees face the Detroit Tigers on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on March 31, 2011 in New York City. The Detroit Tigers will play the New York Yankees in the American League Divisional Series beginning on September 30, 2011. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Division winners, Award Winners, and the World Series Champion!
Major League Baseball started it's season yesterday morning, in ridiculous fashion. The Mariners and A's played a two game series, and will now go back to spring training; the season really kicks off April 4th. I can't get over the fact that their first game of the season, what's supposed to be a celebration of the sports return, was played at 6am eastern/3am pacific and wasn't carried live on national TV! The only way you could watch it live was on a local station in the Northwest or on MLB TV online which costs $24 bucks a month; MLB Network aired it on tape delay at 9am but that network also isn't available on basic cable. I love baseball, but it seems like they continue to find ways to set the sport back, while the NBA and NFL keep moving past them. It'd be like if this years opening NFL game between the Giants and Cowboys was played in China at 5am on the Yes Network. Ridiculous, but let's move on to the predictions.
Remember, starting this year each league will have two wild-card teams who will face off in a 1-game playoff for the final spot.
The Rays rotation is crazy good. With David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, and Jeff Niemann they have a chance for a full rotation of guys who all pitch 150+ innings with an ERA under 4.00; sick. Their offense doesn't hit for a high average, but they do have a lot of power with Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, BJ Upton, and Ben Zobrist. Tough division, but they'll win it.
The heart of their order with Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, and Alex Avila is deep, talented, and I think will carry an average pitching rotation after Verlander. Having Doug Fister in the rotation for a full-season will help, but they need Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello to finally reach their potential. Overall their division is terrible, so even if the pitching after Verlander doesn't step it up; they'll hit their way to the division crown.
Their rotation is almost as deep as the Rays. Their 5th starter isn't as good as the Rays, but Weaver, Haren, Wilson, and Santana are probably the 2nd best top 4 in the game. Their offense struggled last season ranking 7th in average, 10th in runs scored, and 8th in home runs among American League teams, but the addition of Pujols and possibly a full season withsuper prospect Mike Trout will obviously help. It'll be a close race with the Rangers, but I'll take the Angels because of their pitching.
The Rangers pitching rotation is a big question mark, but Yu Darvish could fix that. Likewise, the Yankees staff isn't that great but they were able to add Michael Pineda from the Mariners. Either way, both offenses are stacked and I think they'll beat out the Red Sox for the two Wildcard spots.
Bold prediction I know, but I love their pitching rotation. They have a lot of young arms that will need to prove themselves, but if they do, they'll have the best rotation in the National League. Along with that, their offense has a lot of pop with Morse, Zimmerman, Espinosa, Werth, Ramos, andpossible Bryce Harper. A leap of faith, but they have a lot of talent; pays to draft first every year.
Terrible division, but I think the Brewers have both the deepest rotation and deepest offense in the division. Ryan Braun won't serve the suspension so that'll help, but they'll need full, healthy seasons from Rickie Weeks, Corey Hart, and new 3B Aramis Ramirez to make up for Fielder leaving. This will basically be by default with the injuries facing the Cardinals and Reds.
They'll obviously win most of their games with a great pitching rotation, but their offense should be improved. Buster Posey is back and healthy after only playing 41 games last year and they added Melky Cabrera who had a breakout season last year with a .305 average, 102 runs, 18 homers, and 20 steals. Of course, their fate will ride with Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner.
I see this being the 2nd and 3rd place teams in the east. The NL West and Central are down this year so I don't see much competition there from the Reds, Cardinals, or even Diamondbacks. Both the Phillies and Braves have great rotations and questionable offenses; if Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are out for too long for the Phillies, the Marlins could sneak in and take the final spot.
Tigers over Angels
Giants over Braves
World Series: Tigers over Giants in 6
NL - Joey Votto (Reds)
AL - Prince Fielder (Tigers)
Manager Of The Year:
NL - Davey Johnson (Nationals)
AL - Mike Scioscia (Angels)