DISCLAIMER: Regardless of what you may think of these predictions, they are not an April Fool’s joke. I promise.
Below I have the projected order of finish for each division, with each team’s number of wins in parentheses. Each division winner is in bold, while each league’s Wild Card team is in italics.
East: Braves (90), Mets (89), Phillies (87), Nationals (71), Marlins (68)
Central: Cubs (87), Brewers (85), Reds (79), Astros (77), Pirates (76), Cardinals (76)
West: D-Backs (89), Rockies (89), Dodgers (86), Padres (84), Giants (60)
MVP: Chipper Jones
Cy Young: Johan Santana
Rookie of the Year: Kosuke Fukudome
Division Series: Braves over Cubs in 4, D-Backs over Mets in 5
Championship Series: Braves over D-Backs in 7
East: Red Sox (95), Yankees (94), Blue Jays (80), Rays (78), Orioles (61)
Central: Tigers (92), Indians (90), Twins (75), Royals (75), White Sox (70)
West: Angels (87), Mariners (83), Rangers (79), A’s (78)
MVP: Alex Rodriguez
Cy Young: Justin Verlander
Rookie of the Year: Clay Buchholz
Division Series: Red Sox over Angels in 3, Tigers over Yankees in 5
Championship Series: Tigers over Red Sox in 7
World Series: Tigers over Braves in 6
I’m not going to bother commenting about the AL, since they don’t let pitchers bat. Below are some thoughts about the league I actually follow closely.
- I suppose I’m predicting another wild NL race, with over half of the league’s teams finishing within five games of a division title.
- Every year I pick the Braves to do better than they actually do, so let’s hope this year represents a reversal of fortune in that regard. The starting pitching depth is there as long as the dual forces of injury and age-related ineffectiveness can be at least tempered. Even without Andruw Jones, the lineup should be great.
- The Mets added Johan Santana, which is great for both them and my fantasy team (he was my #1 pick). David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran are great, but their lineup isn’t as strong overall as it has been in recent years.
- The Phillies could use some starting pitching depth behind Hamels and Brett Myers, especially with the latter now having to go back to a starter’s workload. I don’t think they have enough to win the division at this point.
- The Cubs have the best balance of any NL Central team, but will they get enough offense up the middle? The Brewers’ lineup is just as strong, if not stronger, but their injury-prone rotation needs to stay together.
- It was very hard to distinguish between the other 4 teams in the Central. The Astros still have some punch in the middle of the order, the Reds and Pirates are fairly balanced, and the Cards are a big question mark because of Albert Pujols’ elbow. Any of those four teams could decide to become sellers at the trading deadline depending on how their seasons start.
- There are four good teams in the NL West, and then there are the Giants. The Giants will almost certainly be the worst team in the NL this year because the other NL West teams are quite good, and they will be throwing out a quad-A lineup (plus Aaron Rowand) on a nightly basis. They’re probably a Cain/Lincecum injury away from 110 losses, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on young starters, no matter how good they may be.
- The D-Backs are top-heavy in the rotation and have some great young hitters, but I doubt they’ll out-perform Pythagoras by 11 games again this year. They’ll be legitimately better, but perhaps not the league’s best.
- Joe Torre, who benched out machine Juan Pierre for Andre Ethier prior to the start of the season, will be a competent manager for the Dodgers. That bodes well for them, but they’re going to be injury-prone as usual.
- The Rockies have an outstanding lineup and defense, but remember that Mark Redman is currently in their starting rotation. That’s worth about -30 wins alone. Their young pitchers, especially Francis, are good, but I’m not sure if they can collectively duplicate last season’s success.
There you have it. None of this will matter, of course, until Tyler Hansbrough decides to root for a team and pushes it into the playoffs by sheer force of will. I’m assuming that’s what happened with the Rockies last year, wasn’t it?