Note: I will be doing a blog specifically previewing the AL East in the next week or so. That is why it is not included in this blog.
3. White Sox
The Tigers competed for the divison last year, and had many injuries along the way. This year, they added a big bat in Victor Martinez, and are poised to make a playoff spot behind their starting pitching, namely Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Max Sherzcer. The Twins figure to be right behind them in the race. I've heard so much talk about the talent in KCs farm system, I'm ready to pick them to leave the Central's basement.
2. Rangers (WC)
The Angels finished below .500 last year, and a Mike Scioscia led team has never had that happen to them twice in a row. I think Vernon Wells will have a very nice year in that lineup, and the division will be weaker this year. If Feliz can be as good in the rotation as he was in the 'pen, the Rangers can definitely steal this division as well. My roommate is from Seattle, and he'll be disappointed to see this, but I see no way they can escape last place this year. I feel bad for King Felix, he's stuck in a terrible situation.
This is arguably the most loaded division in baseball, and definitely the hardest to pick. The Phillies are basically the consensus pick for the division, and rightfully so. Their rotation of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels is the best since the Braves of the mid-90s. Speaking of the Braves, I expect them to compete for the wild card spot, being led by Tommy Hanson, Jayson Heyward and the nice addition of Dan Uggla. The Marlins are one of those teams that I can see in the playoffs or in last place, so I stuck them in the middle. The Nats are still at least a year away.
2. Brewers (WC)
The Reds are set up to be contenders for years to come, with such a dynamic, young core, highlighted by 2010 MVP 1B Joey Votto. They should win the division once again, and compete for the pennant with Philly. The Brewers are probably the most improved team in baseball, with a bona fide ace in Grienkie and a lineup with Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun in the middle. They could make some noise in the playoffs. The Cardinals loss of Adam Wainwright is devastating, and knocks them out of contention this year. The Astros are lucky to have the Pirates in their division, who should finish in last for the 20th year in a row!
The Giants are the defending World Series champions and yet many experts are picking against them. The Rockies are the trendy pick, and I expect them to compete for sure. But they don't have a rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner. That rotation is just sick. I also expect a strong year from Buster Posey and a comeback year for Pablo Sandoval. Tulo and Car-Go should make the Rockies strong opponents. The Padres will fall back below .500 with the loss of Adrian Gonzalez.
Red Sox over Rangers
Tigers over Angels
Phillies over Brewers
Reds over Giants
Red Sox over Tigers
Phillies over Reds
Phillies over Red Sox
I will obviously be rooting for the Red Sox, but that Philly rotation is stupid good, and I think they will breeze through the season barring injury.
AL MVP- Adrian Gonzalez. I think he will have a field day in Fenway Park, which is built for left handed hitters who can use the whole field. The Red Sox should be the best team in the AL, and Gonzo will be their best player.
NL MVP- Ryan Braun. Braun has been a favorite of mine since he's come into the league, so maybe I'm a bit biased here. But he has put up stellar numbers every year and is on a team that should make some serious noise this year. Being protected by Prince Fielder should make his numbers MVP caliber, finally for a playoff team.
AL Cy Young- CC Sabathia. Sabathia is a money pitcher and is the strongest player on a Yankee team that should contend. He was probably not too pleased with King Felix winning last year with such few wins, and may pitch with something to prove.
NL Cy Young- Matt Cain. Here is a guy who has been very good behind Tim Lincecum his whole career and is entering the prime of his athletic career. I have a feeling he will put together an amazing season and he, along with The Freak, will lead the Giants to the playoffs, and he will finally be recognized.
No one in the NL East will finish will below 80 wins.
Can't wait til the season when I periodically look at how terrible these predictions are.