Hey people. I know here in New York, it's windy and rainy, but it's Opening Day. So it's still one of the best days of the year—when the Boys of Summer come back. Here's the predictions for baseball 2011.
AL EAST: Boston Red Sox
AL CENTRAL: Detroit Tigers
AL WEST: Texas Rangers
WILD CARD: New York Yankees
Too much firepower in Fenway for anyone to handle. They take the East. The Tigers have an underrated pitching staff—look for Phil Coke to be the surprise player of the year now that he's starting. Look for the White Sox to be a disappointment and for Ozzie to finally be punted out of Chicago. Out west, the Rangers should repeat—their lineup is deadly in that tiny park—but might have a back-to-reality year a bit without Cliff Lee mopping up for them, and have a race to the last day. The surprise in the AL West might be the rejuvenation of Vernon Wells. Last year, Wells didn't play too badly for a mediocre team: 31 HRS, a 273 BA and a 127 OPS+, good for 3rd best in his career. In a better lineup—assuming Kendry Morales comes back—he may improve on those numbers. For the A's...not enough hitting, but some amazing pitching.
The Yankees, which everyone seems to forget won 95 games last year, should be the Wild Card, over the Rays, Angels and Twins. With a healthy A-Rod, a sturdier bullpen and an even half-way decent A.J. Burnett, they should at least repeat those 95 wins. The Rays bullpen is just ravaged from last year and can't keep up. The Twins and Angels are good, but not complete teams. The winner of the AL should be:
The Red Sox. Way, way too much firepower in that lineup for anyone to handle. After a great playoff series against the Yankees, the Red Sox head to the series.
Now, the NL:
NL EAST: Atlanta Braves
NL CENTRAL: Milwaukee Brewers
NL WEST: San Francisco Giants
WILD CARD: Philadelphia Phillies
Surprise! The Fab Four of Philadelphia can't win everything. Ben Francisco is not Jayson Werth. Chase Utley is more injured than I believe people are letting on. Pitchers are starting to learn Ryan Howard and Jose Contraras is your closer. Ugh. The Braves have some pitching of their own. And a lineup with some pop in it now with Dan Uggla. The Brewers made some nice moves to shore up their pitching, and the Reds give chase but fall at the end. Too much pitching in SF for anyone to give a serious chase out west—the Rockies are the second best team but can't keep up. The winner should be:
Milwaukee Brewers: I like what they've done with their pitching staff. Shaun Marcum and Zach Grienke are great additions to a staff with Yovani Gallardo and Randy Wolf—who is better suited to a middle rotation guy. The Brewers can pound the ball, and are too much for the Giants in the playoffs. Tim Lincecum will start to lose a bit of the old magic and will give up a 7th inning Grand Slam to Ryan Braun to cap the series for the Brewers and their first World Series appearance in....something like...82 years, I believe.
And the World Series winner is:
The Red Sox. Just enough pitching ( I don't think Josh Beckett is going to Josh Beckett ever again, but Lester, Buchholz and Lackey are enough), some quality hitters and some sick power makes the Red Sox the champs for the 3rd time in 7 years. Now here's the awards:
AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez (easy one—should have a season for the ages.)
NL MVP: Ryan Braun (serious consideration given to Tulowiski who had 15 HRS in Sept/Oct last year.)
AL CY Young: Felix Hernandez
NL CY Young: Jonathon Sanchez
AL ROTY: Jeremy Hellickson
NL ROTY: Aroldis Chapman
Enjoy baseball everybody.