Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 Predictions

It feels like just yesterday that I started this blog. This is now the fourth season I am doing pre-season predictions.


AL East
1. Yankees
Well of course I'll always pick the Yankees #1. If this was 1990 I'd still pick them #1 if I had had a blog. And while I don't feel supremely confident, this can still be a very good team. They're not even that old except for the left side of the infield. If A-Rod and Phil Hughes bounce back and they don't get any major drop-offs from anyone, they should be OK.

2. Rays
They Rays have a ton of good young pitching talent. Most of these guys don't have long track records, though, so it's tough to say just how effective (and healthy) they can be. And outside of Longoria their offense doesn't really scare you. They're basically the SF Giants of the American League.

3. Red Sox
Teams with monster regular-season collapses generally don't bounce back well. 1979 Red Sox. 1996 Angels. 1970 Cubs. 1988 Blue Jays. 2008 Mets. 2010 Tigers. 1965 Phillies.

4. Blue Jays
The new wild-card system may benefit the Blue Jays more than any other club. If any of the big three falter, look out for Toronto. They still seem to be a pitcher and a bat away from being a serious threat, though.

5. Orioles
They seem to be quite content in their mediocrity.

AL Central
1. Tigers
The Tigers were 15 games better than the second place team last season. They dominate a weak division.

2. Royals
The amount of young talent on this team would seem to indicate one of those teams that surprises the league in the first half of the season, maybe flirting with first place as late as the All Star Break, before fading in the second half.

3. Indians
The Indians were that team last year. Usually the team that does that one year takes a step backward the following year.

4. White Sox
Some pretty good pitching but a punchless offense. Will be fascinating to see if Adam Dunn continues to put up historically bad numbers.

5. Twins
When do we start hearing about Ron Gardenhire's job security? This complacent organization badly needs a shake-up.

AL West
1. Angels
Traditionally, trying to buy championships through free agency has not worked well for the Angels. Albert Pujols is one of the very few free agents in history that could make a monster impact. If his body holds up.

2. Rangers
Unlike regular-season collapses, postseason chokers have sometimes come back the next year determined to blow the competition away. The 1927 Yankees, 1961 Yankees, 1996 Yankees and 1998 Yankees are all examples of this. Even the 2002 and 2005 Yankees won their division the next season. Unfortunately for the Rangers, postseason chokers not named the Yankees have had much less success (1987 Red Sox and Angels, 2004 Cubs, 2003 Giants did lousy; 2004 Red Sox much better). I think the Rangers will find it very difficult to achieve a third straight pennant.

3. Mariners
Jesus Montero has the ability to make the Yankees look very foolish. He and King Felix can be the core of an excellent Seattle team, but not yet this year.

4. A's
Like the Orioles, they seem fine with mediocrity.


NL East
1. Phillies
This division has really tightened up. The Phillies' starting rotation still gives them the advantage.

2. Marlins
This will be a very interesting team, but Reyes, Bell and Guillen aren't enough of an upgrade to turn 90-game losers into 90-game winners overnight.

3. Braves
See Red Sox comment. The Braves are like the Red Sox but with less established talent.

4. Mets
They don't look very good, but I doubt they'll be historically bad.

5. Nationals
I keep hearing about how they're a sleeper team. Maybe I just don't know the NL very well but I look at their roster and just don't see it.

NL Central
1. Cardinals
Like the Yankees, I always pick the Cardinals. They can win without Pujols. Other than his 3-HR game in Game 3 of the World Series last year, he was 1-19 with no RBIs in the series.

2. Reds
This should be a bounce-back year for Cincinnati. They have a lot of good talent which has some experience on their belt. I would not be surprised if they won 95 games this year.

3. Brewers
Both wild cards will probably come from this division. The Brewers did look overmatched against the Cardinals in the playoffs last year.

4. Pirates
One of these years Pittsburgh has to finish over .500. It doesn't help their pursuit of this modest goal that their once-weak division is now probably the league's stronges.

5. Cubs
Time to start rebuilding, and they have to hurry. They have three years to live up to the pressure created by Back to the Future Part Two and win the 2015 World Series.

6. Astros
If this team goes 71-91, it will be a fifteen game improvement over last season. I'll go out on a limb and guess 70-92.

NL West
1. Giants
Buster Posey is back, Brandon Belt is a year older, and they added Melky Cabrera. Unless Matt Cain gets complacent due to his new contract this team should be fine.

2. Diamondbacks
Due to slide back a bit.

3. Dodgers
I still can't take Don Mattingly seriously as a manager.

4. Padres
Still have very good pitching, but I'm not crazy about trading Latos for Volquez.

5. Rockies
Wow, look how brief these comments are. I guess the NL West doesn't make much of an impression on me.

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