Home > Awards, Predictions, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals > Finally, The 2013 MLB Season Is Here. Picks and Predictions Abound

Finally, The 2013 MLB Season Is Here. Picks and Predictions Abound

Four years ago, the World Baseball Classic served as a welcome distraction during a long spring training. With the WBC’s help, February and March flew by. Punxsutawney Phil’s forecast became real; he must not have seen his shadow in 2009, because spring arrived mighty early. It was MLB Opening Day after a couple of blinks.

Or maybe that was all a dream? I don’t know. Maybe the fact that I spent all of March 2009 attending spring training and WBC games in Florida made the days pass quickly. I don’t have a good explanation, because this spring dragged on like a filibuster, and the World Baseball Classic actually made it seem even longer. It’s been torturous. However, the Rangers and Astros played a game that actually mattered tonight, and we are now mere hours outside of baseball salvation known as Opening Day. So, it’s time to roll out everybody’s favorite dart-throwing contest: season predictions.

I usually put a lot of thought into this exercise, but now I view it much like composing a March Madness bracket: You can do all the research you want, but you are still going to be very, very wrong. So with zero abandon for what lies ahead, I closed my eyes and jotted down season standings, award winners and postseason results. Let’s see what my idle hands came up with.

 

American League East

1. Toronto Blue Jays

Yes, this division could go a thousand different ways (Actually, it could go 120 ways, mathematically speaking. But let’s not get caught up in the details). I’m not worried about chemistry or “learning how to win” or playing in a historically stout division. This team is loaded. When you have Josh Johnson as your fourth starter, you’ve got a pretty damn good squad.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

Here is my first Wild Card winner. I’m expecting a big step forward from Seth MacFarlane, errrrr, I mean, Matt Moore. News flash: It would really help if Evan Longoria could stay healthy.

3.  Boston Red Sox:

You know the AL East is crazy when the Blue Jays and the Rays are the steadiest teams in the division, without question. There are a whole lot more questions than answers after those two. The Red Sox may have the  most issues of any team in this division as they are filled with injury-prone hitters, and pitchers looking to rebound. But if everything breaks right, they’ll be good enough to barely miss the playoffs. 

4. New York Yankees

It’s a long season, but how many bad omens and big injuries can one franchise stand? If Robinson Cano gets hurt … mother of God.

5. Baltimore Orioles

I picked the O’s to finish fifth last year. Look at how well that turned out. Seriously, there is no way that pitching staff, especially the relievers, can be that good again. 

American League Central

1. Detroit Tigers

The league’s best team, which resides in its weakest division, possesses the best hitter and pitcher in the game. The Torii Hunter addition was nice, but the return of Victor Martinez is much more important. If they don’t mess around, the Tigers should win 95 or more. They will find a suitable closer before long.

2. Cleveland Indians

Their offseason was like a poor man’s Toronto. I give the front office a lot of credit for making some splashes in the free-agent pool, and I like the trade that brought them Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer. The Indians’ lineup looks solid from top to bottom.  Their pitching staff is going to get whipped from top to bottom, but hey, Scott Kazmir’s back, and that’s plain fun.

3. Kansas City Royals

OK, it’s time for Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer to get going. Even then, this pitching staff is a paper tiger. People have gotten so wrapped up in how James Shields transforms this rotation; how many of those people realize that Kansas City’s current No. 2 starter is Ervin Santana?

4. Chicago White Sox

This ship is about ready to sink. I am worried about Chris Sale after last year’s humongous innings jump, and Paul Konerko has to give out at some point. Father Time sure is taking his sweet time there.

5. Minnesota Twins

Let’s just hope beautiful spring conditions arrive in early April up north so all Twins fans can come out and enjoy Target Field even if they can’t enjoy what’s happening on the field.

American League West

1. Los Angeles Angels

On Saturday night, I heard Greg Amsinger of MLB Network compare the Angels to the Miami Heat. Which, of course, is ludicrous for double-digit reasons, one of which is that baseball is not basketball. One player can’t take over a game and put the team on his shoulders. But getting past that idiocy, the Angels do have flaws, especially if Tommy Hanson’s own shoulders fall apart. The starting rotation overall isn’t very attractive to me past Jared Weaver. But there is no stopping Mike Trout. Absolutely. No. Stopping.

2. Texas Rangers

I think Josh Hamilton’s move west will mean more, both positively and negatively, to the Rangers than the Angels. Texas will be happy to not be signing his checks in a couple of years, but it will take some time to make up for his production. However, this team is still good enough to earn a playoff berth.

3. Oakland Athletics

If I could trust Brett Anderson’s body, I would give the A’s heavy consideration to make it back to the playoffs. But I don’t, so I won’t. Yoenis Cespedes is a joy to watch, but Josh Reddick’s breakout 2012 might prove to be a fluke.

4. Seattle Mariners

There are probably polarizing viewpoints on the Mariners’ lineup, but I think it’s going to be good. That’s because I am a big Michael Morse fan, and I’m not ready to label Justin Smoak or Dustin Ackley as busts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team finished third. Does that make me insane?

5. Houston Astros

If they don’t lose 100 games, this season will have been a smashing success.

National League East

1. Washington Nationals

The National League version of the Tigers. Bryce Harper is ready to become a serious MVP candidate, and Stephen Strasburg is the NL’s best pitcher. The Nats should win this division rather easily.

2. Atlanta Braves

I am lukewarm on Justin Upton this year, but Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman should flat-out rake batting around him. I am hoping for the best with Jonny Venters’ recent elbow troubles, because he, Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel would be amazing to watch in the late innings of a close game.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

The window has all but shut here. Everyone’s heard about Roy Halladay’s struggles, but what about this lineup? There’s a bunch of high-profile names in tow, but unfortunately for the Phillies and their fans, it’s no longer 2006. I’m not sure that putting a vastly overrated 36-year-old third baseman in the middle of the lineup is going to help matters.

4. New York Mets

I don’t think people realize how good Ike Davis was after his spectacularly awful first half. But besides him, Daniel Murphy and David Wright, you’re looking at a barrel full of mediocrity. 

5. Miami Marlins

Let’s just not go there, OK? Just don’t start. It makes me sad. (Update: Look at this. There are no words.)

National League Central

1. Cincinnati Reds

The Reds made a couple of critical decisions that will keep them atop the NL Central. First was acquiring Shin-Soo Choo, a huge upgrade from Drew Stubbs in the OBP department, and the perfect table-setter for the likes of Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Second was keeping Aroldis Chapman in the bullpen. We could get into the whole argument about how you always want a pitcher to start if he can, but I think Chapman had to stay in relief. It’s for the best for this team right now.

2. St. Louis Cardinals

This is a tough call. Once David Freese and Jason Motte come back, the Cardinals’ offense and bullpen are going to look oh-so strong. But I don’t think they have enough quality in the rotation, which keeps them from ultimately catching the Reds.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates

I want to believe. I want to believe that the Pirates can finally finish a season with as many or more wins than losses. It’s going to be close this year. That offense looks very competitive, especially if Sterling Marte and Pedro Alvarez can put it together. Andrew McCutchen remains one of the top five hitters you must watch.

4. Milwaukee Brewers

Bringing in Kyle Lohse gives help to a staff that desperately needed it. But outside of Ryan Braun and Yovani Gallardo, there’s not much around to keep this team afloat when a slump hits.

5. Chicago Cubs

Wait ’til next year. And then at least a couple of years after that.

National League West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

Sure, I’ll buy in. Matt Kemp’s hamstrings stay in tact, Carl Crawford’s arm holds up, and the Dodgers take their first step in making the gazillion dollars they’ve spent totally worth it.

2. San Francisco Giants

Pablo Sandoval already looks waaaaaaay out of shape, and I can’t see Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro continuing what they started late last season and into the playoffs. But just as I want to write the champs off, that pitching pulls me back in. You have to respect this team. I think they will claim the second NL Wild Card, but it’s going to be really, really close with the Cardinals.

3. Arizona Diamondbacks

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!! This team is just so … gritty! Gutty! A bunch of grinders over here! Hard-nosed dirtbags who give it their all and really know how to play the game right!
Fine. A roster full of hungry gamers will carry this team to a distant third place. It’s a good-but-special-in-no-way group.

4. San Diego Padres

The playoffs are still a far cry, but I like what’s being built here. Yasmani Grandal, Chase Headley, Jedd Gyorko and Yonder Alonso are a nice, young quartet for this franchise. However, the first guy is serving a 50-game suspension for PEDs; the second guy is out with an injury until May, and the third guy hasn’t seen one pitch at the major-league level; the fourth guy — well, there’s nothing really wrong with Yonder. This team is just going to need some more time.

5. Colorado Rockies

Jeff Francis and Jon Garland are slated to be starting pitchers for this team. Honestly. And the other guys in front of them aren’t exactly Walter Johnson, Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez.

Most Valuable Player Award

American League:

We know that Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are the big boppers, but Jose Reyes changes the entire dynamic of the Blue Jays’ offense. He will set the AL East on fire and win the MVP.

National League:

Bryce Harper. Like I said, he is ready. And even if does not win the award, he should be in the race for the majority of the season.

Cy Young Award

American League:

Justin Verlander. Look, for most of these awards, I tried to stay away from the most obvious answer. But I couldn’t resist.

National League:

Stephen Strasburg. Uh, what did I just say about trying not to be too obvious? Innings limits are gone; he will simply dominate.

Rookie of the Year Award

American League:

Jackie Bradley Jr. The hype has been a little much, but he will be in Boston’s starting lineup on Opening Day, and playing time shouldn’t be a problem considering the fragility of a number of guys in the Red Sox’s lineup.

National League:

Oscar Taveras. This is unlikely, because I don’t see Jon Jay losing his job soon, but Tavares is my favorite prospect in the game right now. I can’t wait for him to get to The Show.

Manager of the Year Award

American League:

Terry Francona. A 15-to-17-win turnaround and second place is worth the award. Plus, Francona’s name and history will give his team more visibility, ensuring that everyone in the world won’t be allowed to just forget about how the Indians are doing, which is often the case.

National League:

Clint Hurdle is my runner-up (.500, baby. You can do it!). I keep shrugging my shoulders trying to find a winner. Davey Johnson is fully expected to win the division. Don Mattingly is fully expected to win the division. Bruce Bochy is leading the reigning champs. I think you can rule out Bo Porter and Mike Redmond. Who else is left? How about Dusty Baker? Yeah, Dusty Baker: Manager of the Year.

I’ll wait for you to stop laughing.

Playoffs and World Series

American League:

Wild Card playoff: Rays over Rangers.

ALDS – Jays over Rays in 5; Tigers over Angels in 4.

ALCS – Jays over Tigers in 6

National League:

Wild Card playoff: Giants over Braves.

NLDS – Nationals over Giants in 5; Dodgers over Reds in 5.

NLCS – Nationals over Dodgers in 5

World Series:

The most talented team hasn’t earned the crown in the past few seasons. But I say the Nationals, the most talented team in baseball, take care of the Blue Jays in six games. Gio Gonzalez is your World Series MVP.

Hey, whatever. Sounds good enough to me. Just bring us the games already.

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