Music to listen to: My Number by Foals
Its time that time of year for each of us to act as prognosticators and pick who we think will win each division, league and World Series championship along with awards. I’ll tell you upfront that I’ve had issues with MLB predictions in the past.
Lets go through some of my weaker picks:
-I’ve picked Seattle to win the AL West two of the last three years.
-I’ve had Oakland not even make the playoffs the past two seasons, let alone win its division.
-Baltimore was a wild card pick last year.
-I picked Boston to finish last in the AL East last season and we all know how that worked out.
-I’ve picked Colorado to be a wild card team out of the NL West two of the last three years.
-Picked the Pirates to finish next to last in the NL Central last year.
Now that’s out of the way, lets give this another chance for this season. As always, I have the CliffsNotes version of my picks below for those who don’t want an elaborate explaination.
Quick tangent, do kids use CliffsNotes in 2014? Has technology, especially internet search engines taken their place? I remember going into Barnes and Noble as a high school student and even in college getting CliffNotes on books I had to read for assignments. Apologies to Browning and Vanderbilt but I wasn’t the only one. OK, now to the picks (division picks are listed in order of predicted finish):
AL East: Tampa, Boston, New York Yankees, Baltimore, Toronto
AL Central: Detroit, Kansas City, Cleveland, , Chicago White Sox, Minnesota
AL West: Oakland, Texas, Anaheim, Seattle, Houston
NL East: Washington, Atlanta, New York Mets, Miami, Philadelphia
NL Central: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs
NL West: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Arizona, Colorado
AL Wild Card: Boston and Texas
NL Wild Card: Atlanta and San Francisco
World Series: St. Louis over Detroit
Thoughts: In the NFL back in the late 1980’s into the early 1990’s, the de-facto Super Bowl champion came out of the NFC among the Giants, Cowboys, Redskins and 49ers. Whoever was able to win the NFC that year would have high odds to beat its AFC counterpart in the championship game.
I have the same thoughts about the National League this year. No disrespect to the American League but your World Series winner is going to come out of the senior circuit. I can make strong cases for several teams.
Washington has arguably the most gifted player in the National League, two CY Young candidates in Stephen Strasburg and Doug Fister and a stronger bullpen. St. Louis has the deepest pitching in all of baseball. If the top-three rotation of Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner hold up along with a strong contract-year from Pablo Sandoval, the Giants can make a postseason run. The Dodgers don’t have as much depth as perceptions and payroll would indicate but still have elite front line talent. Even Atlanta would have garnered potential World Series talk before the season-ending injuries to Brandon Beachy and Chris Medlen.
I would list each of those National League teams ahead of the first American League team if we did a preseason power ranking.
I’m not getting burned again by Tampa and Oakland by undervaluing them just looking at the roster. Both teams have deep rotations even though the injury to Jarrod Parker hurts the A’s pitching significantly.
I don’t mind the Yankees moves but don’t trust their pitching with CC Sabathia regressing, Michael Pineda trying to find his dominant form from Seattle and Masahiro Tanaka adjusting to MLB. I picked Detroit out of the AL but don’t be surprised to see Boston, Oakland, or Tampa get there.
1) Mike Trout, Anaheim
2) Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Two seasons ago, I thought Trout should have been MVP. Last season, I gave the nod to Cabrera so I’ve seen both sides of the biggest MVP argument we’ve seen in decades.
Cabrera hits for better average, power and drives in more runs due to hitting in a better lineup and in a more productive spot in the lineup. Respect to winning a traditional triple crown.
Trout is a significantly better fielder at a premium position, runner and is comparable on average. What hurts Trout’s case is hitting leadoff which lessens run producing chances and having a weaker lineup to work with. Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have regressed greatly in their careers.
The Tigers have also had a better record than the Angels the past two seasons and if playing on a winning team is a significant factor in your MVP choice than Cabrera has had that category.
I’m predicting a 40/40 season from Trout and a regression from Cabrera by his standards which opens the door for the Angel.
1) Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles
2) Bryce Harper, Washington
3) Yadier Molina, St. Louis
The Dodgers have the potential to have a special regular season and Ramirez will be in the middle of it. Harper will stay healthy this season, despite his head bump yesterday in New York to produce a monster season. When the best defensive catcher in baseball approaches hitting .300, that warrants MVP discussion.
AL Cy Young:
1) Yu Darvish, Texas
2) David Price, Tampa
3) Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
Darvish will lead the league in strikeouts and ERA again. The wins won’t be there but as we’ve seen, voters have begun accepted advanced pitching statistics in awards. He’s simply the best pitcher in the league. Price had a strong second half to last season and will take that into this season for a complete year. Sale is right there statistically and doing it in a hitter-friendly park. If he can find a way to 15 wins, which will be tough with this White Sox squad, he can be right there for contention.
NL Cy Young:
1) Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles
2) Jose Fernandez, Miami
3) Stephen Strasburg, Washington
4) Somebody on St. Louis
I don’t think Kershaw is going to win the pitching triple crown (wins, ERA and strikeouts) but he’s going to come darn close for a winning squad. Fernandez is going to have a dominant season himself and give the Marlins’ fans something to look forward to every five days. I’m banking on Strasburg putting together a complete season and staying off of the disabled list.
Those are my thoughts, what are yours?