Hello Jerks and Jerkettes. Today, we are ready to embrace the newest season of God’s sporting gift to man. That’s right, baseball is back. Apple pie, Chevrolet, and all the extras are with it, too. Hop on board the train as I offer division winners (and losers), major award winners, and playoff predictions all six months ahead of schedule and sure to be wrong.
American League East
Baseball’s juggernaut division and ESPN favorite will again feature three really good teams: the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox. Don’t discount the Blue Jays, but they are not quite ready to compete. As for the Orioles? Enjoy the crab cake at Camden Yards.
1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays (wildcard)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Baltimore Orioles
American League Central
Conventional wisdom says its Detroit and then everyone else. As to not upset that balance, I’ll stick with conventional wisdom. Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Justin Verlander will spear the Tigers’ three-headed attack as they run away with this division.
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox
American League West
This division receive most of the media attention during the off-season thanks to three big transactions. Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson (the best player and best pitcher on the market) joined the Angels while the Texas Rangers replaced Wilson with Japanese import Yu Darvish. The race for division champion should be intriguing all summer long.
1. Texas Rangers
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (wildcard)
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Oakland A’s
American League Awards
Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (Seattle). A return to dominance with a slightly improved offense behind him.
MVP: Josh Hamilton (Texas). It’s a contract year.
Rookie of the Year: Yu Darvish (Texas).
American League Playoffs
Wildcard play-in: Angels over Rays
Divisional Round: Rangers over Yankees; Tigers over Angels
League Championship Series: Rangers over Tigers (again)
National League East
A crazy thing happened this off-season. The now Miami Marlins spent money on free agents (Jose Reyes and Mark Buerhle notably). The Phillies and Braves appear strong as usual. Plus, the Nationals young core is ever-improving. The Mets, you say? Uh… Long season.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves (wildcard)
3. Miami Marlins
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets
National League Central
Although this division is home to the defending champions, it looks much weaker from last season. The Brewers and Cardinals are worse (though still good teams), and no one else has really stepped it up. Can Dusty Baker manage the Reds back into the playoffs? I think so.
1. Cincinnati Reds
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Chicago Cubs
6. Houston Astros
National League West
Tougher than the NL Central, the wild West usually produces a surprise contender each season. Maybe that occurs again, but regardless, this division is between the Giants and the Diamondbacks.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks
2. San Francisco Giants (wildcard)
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. San Diego Padres
National League Awards
Cy Young: Cole Hamels (Philadelphia). He’ll prove how good he is before signing with the Dodgers in the off-season.
MVP: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado). The best shortstop in the game has to win this award sometime. Better now than never.
Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper (Washington). Yes, he’s not on the Opening Day roster, but he could easily be called up mid-season. There’s no one else really strong enough to win it right now.
National League Playoffs
Wild Card Play-in: Braves over Giants
Divisional Round: Diamondbacks over Braves; Phillies over Reds
League Championship Series: Diamondbacks over Phillies
Rangers over Diamondbacks (in 5 games).
Enjoy the next few days, America. Play ball!