Predictions (Because I was so Good at it Last Year)
I want to gloat about an item I predicted last year around this time. Actually not gloat, since I made a few irroneous calls, such as:
Predicting Alex Avila to win the AL ROY
Predicting the Marlins to win the World Series
Predicting the AL MVP being… Milton Bradley
Well we all make mistakes and it is the very nature of making preseason predictions that they appear ridiculous in retrospect.
But I will say, that I predicted Francisco Liriano, that of the ERA approaching 6 in ’09, of dipping velocity, of being a constant health risk, and having serious control problems, to pitch 190 innings and compile a 3.75 ERA.
All told, he ended up with an ERA of 3.62 in 191.2 innings.
So I’ve decided to go at it, again. Here are my major predictions for 2011:
For the AL Rookie of the Year balloting, I have deduced its future winner to be J.P Arencibia of the Toronto Blue Jays. I have this feeling that there is something in the water over there. That hitters are being told to just ‘swing like hell’ and that this mentality is having an effect on some of their players. Positively for Jose Bautista, of course, negatively for Adam Lind and Aaron Hill. Arencibia had like 32 homers in triple A last year. I think, if he plays adequate defense, the Jays have decent pitching (He’ll get credit for handling the pitching staff) and he hits 20 home runs he has a good shot.
My secret hope choice: Any Royals rookie. Possibly Moustakas.
For the NL, I’m debating between Brandon Allen and Freddie Freeman. But predicting a rookie of the year vote is like predicting when your car is going to break down. It could happen at 100,000 miles, or it could throw you a fuckball and break down outside the dealership. You can’t even know what variables you’ll have to contend with, just like you can’t know who even ends up eligible for the award.
Secret hope choice: Don’t care enough.
But MVP voting, there you have a few near certainties. Assuming everyone stays healthy (And for predicting awards, you may as well assume), you pretty much know that Adrian Gonzalez is going to tear up Fenway Park. Hitting in front of Chase Headley is different than in front of Kevin Youkilis or J.D Drew or whoever. And hitting into a lil baby short porch in left field is different than trying to hit a ball over a vast field of wheat/Petco Park.
And you know Miguel Cabrera and Joe Mauer and Evan Longoria will be good. It all depends on circumstances such as,
BABIP, Team performance, number of RBI opportunities.
For these criteria, I give Gonzalez the edge. His BABIP can’t help but go up moving from Petco (Or so I’m led to believe), his team will be very, very good, and he will have many, many RBI opportunies.
Secret hope choice: Vladimir Guerrero. Too much hate about him blocking Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie. They’re not Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton. They’re Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie. Vlad was a childhood favorite of mine, and hopefully he puts together a whole season like his first half last year. Could happen; he’s kind’ve a freak talent.
Can you ever bet against Albert Pujols to win the NL MVP? Not rationally, but for fun, I will do so. I’ll go with Jason Heyward. I think he would have had MVP numbers last year had he not gotten hurt. The Braves have a decent team, he plays great defense, and will know the league a bit better (And yes correspondingly the league will know him better, but I think when you’re dealing with freaky natural athletes like Pujols or Mauer or Cabrera, and I’ll include Heyward just because his OBP was .390 in his rookie season at age 20, you give the advantage of familiarity to the freak, and not the control group).
Secret hope choice: Justin Upton. Hope he contends. Wouldn’t it be nice to see an Upton brother do something interesting.
For the AL Cy Young, I think it’s hard to bet against King Felix. So I won’t. Not with Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay being Phillies. Though I do hope someone like Brett Anderson or Brandon Morrow makes it interesting.
Secret hope choice: Morrow. If he realizes his full potential, even for just one season, the Jays look quite a bit better. And then if Aaron Hill gets his BABIP out of the toilet (He will), Adam Lind finds a middle ground between ’09 and ’10 (Wouldn’t bet against it), Snider takes any sort of step forward (Seems likely) and Bautista realizes it takes more than one ridiculous season to earn a long term contract from a GM who isn’t affiliated with the LA Angels in any way shape or form (Crapshoot), we could see the Jays contend a little.
The NL Cy Young will probably be a Philly. We all know this to be true. I think Halladay is a superior pitcher to Lee. Honestly I think Lee has gotten overrated due to his K/BB ratio and playoff performances. But let us not forget, he’s never been super hard to get hits off of, he’s never been super great at limiting home runs, and he has thrown two rather poor World Series starts in the last two years. The K/BB ratio gets all the statheads salivating, and the playoff record gets all the fairweather fans on the wagon. But a rational person knows that Lee is an average #1 or a really good #2 starter, particularly considering he’s getting up in years.
Halladay, on the other hand, took the NL out back last year and got it pregnant with Cy Young awards. His ERA+ was 165, compared to Lee’s 130, he had tons of strikeouts, complete games, walked negative four batters. Just dominated all the way through while Lee was serving up home run after home run in Texas.
Also, Halladay is a surefire Hall of Famer. Lee has had one great season. So has Jose Bautista. And Ben Zobrist. Just saying.
Secret hope choice: Roy Oswalt. The man has been better than I tend to think about him. And I think about him as a poor man’s Nolan Ryan. Except Oswalt doesn’t walk half the guys he faces like Ryan did, and his career ERA+ is among the best in MLB history, look it up. He also had a great year last year, posting the best strikeout rate of his career. And this from a guy we all thought was in decline a year ago. He also has never won a Cy, so wouldn’t it just be lovely if he were to outshine his slightly more heralded teammates this year?
Now for the divisions. We all know the Twins will take the central, although Adam Dunn and Victor Martinez will dial up the difficulty. But everyone underachieves for the Tigers, and, well… yeah the Sox look pretty good. Good lineup, good rotation, good bullpen. I’m just banking on the Twins overachieving, which is never a bad bet.
The East will go to the Red Sox. They can’t have as many injuries as last year. Ridiculous lineup, smartly constructed roster, great rotation, ridiculous bullpen. Versus the Yankees with Russel (I’m too tired to hit) Martin at catcher, declining A-Rod and Jeter, and a shitty back end of the rotation. And the Rays, who no longer possess a lineup or a bullpen. Honestly the Jays could sneak into second place this year.
The West will go to Texas. I can’t jump on the Oakland bandwagon. Because the Oakland bandwagon is usually creaky and spends half its time on the 60 day DL. And Adrian Beltre doesn’t hurt, even in his “I’m not playing for a contract” form (Seriously though, what a fucking bastard, only playing well in contract years, he owes every Mariner ticket holder a personal apology). The Angels and the M’s will suuck, by the way.
The NL Central will return to the Cardinals, because last year was fluky bad, and the Reds are not for real. Joey Votto is, but they are not. Holliday, Rasmus, Wainwright, Carpenter, and first baseman will not screw up like last year again. And they get to beat up on the Cubs, Pirates and Astros all the time. The Brewers will be better, I see them getting almost 90 wins and maybe getting the Wild Card. Prince, Braun and Greinke make up some good star power.
The East is for the Phillies. Too much pitching, even if there isn’t a bullpen to match, or any concept of cost efficiency in the mind of Ruben Amaro. The Braves will be good, too. I think Heyward will take a leap forward this year, barring another nagging injury, Freddie Freeman looks legitimate, and Chipper Jones has one more glory year in him before he completely flames out in 2012. And Tommy Hanson is way better than he was last year, I feel.
And the West has to fall in favor of the Rox. Not that you can really predict the NL West, but the Giants will not overachieve so much, nor will they be so fortunate on the injury front again. Aubrey Huff is just not good in odd numbered years, Mark DeRosa is probably done, someone out of Cain, Lincecum and Sanchez will get hurt, and Andres Torres, while really good last year, will not ever be that good again.
The Rockies have an amazing shortstop, a true ace, a really good closer, a ridiculous, if not quite as good as he was in 2010, center fielder, and some guys in Ian Stewart and Dexter Fowler that can probably still bust out, in their own ways. Maybe 30 HRs for Stewart and a .300 average for Fowler. Jhoulys Chacin, in addition, put up some really good numbers last year and is a quality #2. They still have a soft bullpen and soft back end of the rotation though. That’s the feeling I get with the Rockies, that their pitching is soft. The Reds give off that impression, too, as does the Phillies bullpen and the Rays lineup.
And the World Series will be between the Yankees and the Braves and the Braves will win in six games.
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