Posted by Matt Clapp | 4/04/2010 07:50:00 PM | 2010 MLB Season, American League, Boston Red Sox, Cy Young, MLB, MVP, National League, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Rookie Of The Year, St. Louis Cardinals
The 2010 Major League Baseball season is finally here, and I am pumped! While we didn't take the time to do a "Where They Stand" piece for every team as we did last offseason, I at least decided to post my predictions for the season: divisional predictions, predictions for who will win in the postseason, predictions for award winners, and just other random predictions.
(Get more free sports picks and predictions at docsports.com - A trusted name in sports handicapping since 1971.)
I only wrote about the teams I have placing in the top-three in each division. Honestly, I could've written way, way more about all of this, but I didn't want to complete bore you. Still, I have reasons for every prediction here, and can probably answer any question you have, or have a friendly debate with you on any of this, so feel free to post away in the comments. You want to hear what I think about the Kansas City Royals? Ask away. I love talking baseball.
Anyway, here's my 2010 Major League Baseball predictions...
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Cleveland Indians
5. Kansas City Royals
This should be a three-team race, and you'll see people picking any of those three teams. I like the Tigers because of their improved pitching staff, headlined by the signing of free agent closer Jose Valverde. However, the White Sox and Twins are each very capable of winning the division.
White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin looks healthy, and if he could perform anything like he did at the plate in 2008(36 HR, 100 RBI, .965 OPS), that would be a significant boost to the southsiders' chances. Having Jake Peavy for a full season certainly doesn't hurt either, but will he be nearly as dominant without his home games at Petco Park?
As for the Twins, I want to see them play in their new stadium first. They've played to the strengths of the Metrodome in past years, but the bats of 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau may allow them to score runs regardless. Still, the importance of losing closer Joe Nathan for the season cannot be understated, and it's very unknown how their closer-by-committee situation will work out.
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees(Wild Card)
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays
I absolutely love what the Red Sox did this offseason, by signing John Lackey, Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro, and Bill Hall. They should have one of the top defenses in the league, and Lackey joins an already terrific starting rotation. Add that to a great lineup and bullpen, and there's not much to dislike about this team. Oh, and don't forget they will have catcher Victor Martinez and his bat in the lineup for the entire season, as he was
But, the Yankees are of course the defending champs, and added the bats of Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson to a lineup already featuring Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano... should I continue? They're loaded. They also acquired a very good starting pitcher(great innings-eater; thrown over 200 innings in 9 of last 10 seasons) in Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves to go with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte. I don't think this team is any worse than last year's, and I'd have them in first place in any other division in baseball.
The Rays disappointed in 2009, winning just 84 games and finishing 19 games behind the Yankees after going to the World Series in 2008. They didn't do much this offseason though, so it's hard to expect them to finish ahead of the Red Sox and Yankees. Still, with their tremendous young talent and great depth, they're going to at least hang in there for most of the year. B.J. Upton was a major disappointment in 2009, batting just .241, with 11 homers, 55 RBI, and put up a very weak .686 OPS. He's still just 25, and hit 24 homers with an .894 OPS in 2007, so much bigger things are expected of him than we saw last season. On the pitching staff, 24-year-old lefty David Price(10-7, 4.42 ERA in 2009) should become one of the best left-handers in baseball very soon, and if it could happen this year, that would be a major boost to the Rays' chances.
1. Seattle Mariners
2. Texas Rangers
3. Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim
4. Oakland Athletics
To me this is the toughest division to pick in baseball. Baseball Prospectus' projected standings have the team I have in last, the A's, finishing first. The Angels have absolutely dominated this division in recent history, but now this division should be up for grabs. The champion of the division is unlikely to have over 90 wins, as these teams should beat up on each other. In this very close race, I expect the Mariners to narrowly edge out the Rangers and Angels.
For the Mariners, Cliff Lee(14-13, 3.22 ERA in 2009) joins Felix Hernandez(19-5, 2.45 ERA) to create arguably the best 1-2 punch of any starting rotation in baseball. I really like the signing of Chone Figgins as well, and he and Ichiro will drive pitchers nuts at the top of the order. Their lineup still lacks power, but with Lee and King Felix combining to pitch twice every five days, their ability to manufacture runs, and the fact that they play in a pitcher's park at Safeco Field, they should be able to overcome their inability to knock the ball out of the park much.
The Rangers on the other hand will have many ways they can score runs. They have plenty of power with Nelson Cruz(33 HR in 2009), Ian Kinsler(31 HR in 2009), Michael Young(22 HR in 2009), Chris Davis(21 HR in just 391 at bats in 2009), Josh Hamilton(32 HR and 130 RBI in 2008), and newcomer Vladimir Guerrero(15 HR in 383 at bats) in the lineup. But they also have the ability to score runs with speed and small ball. 24-year-old outfielder Julio Borbon will bat leadoff after hitting .312 with a .376 on-base percentage, and stealing a whopping 19 bases in just 46 games for the Rangers in 2009. Then there's the sensational talent of 21-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus, who stole 33 bases in 2009, and is expected to improve much as a hitter. They added Rich Harden to the rotation, and having hard-throwing 21-year-old Neftali Feliz(1.74 ERA, 0.68 WHIP in 31 2009 innings) in an already solid bullpen makes their pitching staff look quite promising.
The Angels won 97 games last year and added Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu, Joel Pineiro, and Fernando Rodney to the team. However, they lost John Lackey, Chone Figgins, Vladimir Guerrero, and Darren Oliver. Figgins went to the division rival Mariners, while Guerrero and Oliver went to the division rival Rangers. I think their losses hurt this team more than the additions help them, and maybe the worst part is that three of these key players they lost went to the teams they're trying to hold off for the division crown. They won the division by 10 games last year, but with this team looking worse on paper, with the Rangers and Mariners each looking much better, I think we finally see the Angels out of first place of the AL West come October.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Cardinals are always going to be in the thick of things with the best player in baseball, Albert Pujols. Add in two aces in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter, and Matt Holliday's bat for mroe than just half the season, and they're the clear favorites in the division. Chris Carpenter's found himself on the disabled list much in the past though, and his health will be a major determining factor in whether or not the Cardinals repeat as division champs. It's a pretty weak rotation outside of the top two, and the bullpen is quite questionable. I'd put a lot of money on closer Ryan Franklin not putting up an ERA around the 1.92 mark he had in 2009.
The Cubs are maybe the biggest unknown in baseball heading into this season. Are they going to be more like the 83-win team they were in 2009, or the 97-win team they were in 2008? Injuries to key players constantly were by far their biggest problem in 2009, not Milton Bradley, which the media keeps trying to tell us. Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano were either on the disabled list or playing well under 100% for much of the season. Players such as Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot may not be as good as the players they were in 2008, but they're certainly better than what they were in 2009. If the key players on offense can be healthy and combine to perform much more like the 2008 season, then this can be one of the best run-scoring teams in the National League. As for the pitching staff, the rotation should be very good with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly(expected to miss 2-3 starts to begin the season), Ryan Dempster, and Randy Wells as a part of it. The bullpen is a significant question mark though with four guys that spent most of 2009 in the minors, and the defense could be one of the worst in baseball, with only first baseman Derrek Lee and right fielder Kosuke Fukudome as very good defenders. So if unless the bullpen and defense exceed expectations, they will have to score plenty of runs and get great starting pitching if they are going to keep the Cardinals away from repeating as division champs.
The Brewers have a great offense with powerful, young hitters Prince Fielder(.299 AVG, 46 HR, 121 RBI, 1.014 OPS in 2009) and Ryan Braun(.320 AVG, 32 HR, 114 RBI, .937 OPS in 2009) headlining it. There's no doubt that they're going to score runs. The problem for them will be not allowing runs, which they were unable to do with much success last season, finishing 15th in the National League in ERA(4.84) and OPS allowed(.795). Yovani Gallardo is just 24 and went 13-12 with a 3.73 ERA last year, but those are numbers for a #2-#3 starter on most teams. After him, it's Randy Wolf, Doug Davis, Dave Bush, and Manny Parra. It's a veteran bullpen with Trevor Hoffman closing and LaTroy Hawkins as the main setup man, but Hoffman is 42 years old, and Hawkins is 37. Who knows how much these guys have left? There's just too many question marks with this pitching staff.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves(Wild Card)
3. Florida Marlins
4. New York Mets
5. Washington Nationals
The Phillies have been to the World Series each of the last two seasons(winning it in 2008), and now have Roy Halladay in their starting rotation. Enough said.
The Braves are the team in baseball that we're not hearing too much about that I really expect great things from this year, including a playoff berth via the Wild Card. Javier Vazquez is no longer a part of the rotation, but they still have newly signed Derek Lowe, tremendous young arms in Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson, and even a former All-Star in Tim Hudson, who appears healthy. Their lineup which already contained Chipper Jones, Brian McCann, Nate McLouth, and Yunel Escobar adds Troy Glaus, and the top prospect in baseball in 20-year-old right fielder Jason Heyward. Heyward is the everyday right fielder and had Braves fans drooling this Spring Training with his lightning quick bat and beastly size. He can make an impact right away.
As for the Marlins, they had a very solid 2009 season, finishing with 87 wins and just six games behind the National League champion Phillies. They're full of young talent, led by shortstop All-Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, and look for 23-year-old outfielder Cameron Maybin to have a solid season. They also are loaded with hard-throwing young arms, with 26-year-old ace Josh Johnson already being one of the best right-handers in the league. He's a darkhorse Cy Young candidate. I think they will stay in the NL East race into September, and are a legitimate threat to win the Wild Card.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Colorado Rockies
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres
While it seems most people are taking the Rockies to win the division, I'm not quite ready to do that. The Dodgers won 95 games last year and their +169 run differential was the best in all of baseball. They have two young stars in power-hitting outfielders Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and let's not forget about Manny Ramirez like it seems many are. He'll be 38 in May, but he still put up a .941 OPS in 431 plate appearances last season. Remember, he missed 50 games due to the steroid suspension last season, and the Dodgers still managed to have the best run differential in baseball. Their bullpen is terrific, and they have a solid front of the rotation with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. This is just a solid all-around team that may not have improved the team this offseason, but I don't think they really needed to do much.
The Rockies finished just three games back with 92 wins, and their youth and expected growth in performance of some of their player such as Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler, and Ian Stewart makes them a very dangerous team. 25-year-old shortstop Troy Tulowitzki returned from an injury-plagued 2008 season to hit 32 homers, drive in 92 runs, and have a .929 OPS. We shouldn't expect him to slow down. This team will be particularly tough to beat at their home of Coors Field with their terrific combination of power and speed. And while their pitching staff is questionable, it should be good enough to win with their offense, especially if their ace in 26-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez(15-12, 3.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP in 2009) continues to improve.
The Giants are pretty much the National League's version of the Mariners: superb 1-2 starters and a very good pitching staff, but a questionable offense. 25-year-old Tim Lincecum's won the Cy Young award each of the last two seasons, and we know he will dominate. What he's done has overshadowed teammate and fellow 25-year-old, Matt Cain, who went 14-8 with a 2.89 ERA in 2009. But can they score runs? Only 23-year-old star Pablo Sandoval(.330 AVG, 25 HR, 90 RBI, .943 OPS) will scare an opposing pitcher.
Boston Red Sox Over Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees Over Seattle Mariners
Boston Red Sox Over New York Yankees
Philadelphia Phillies Over Los Angeles Dodgers
St. Louis Cardinals Over Atlanta Braves
Philadelphia Phillies Over St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox Over Philadelphia Phillies
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira, First Baseman, New York Yankees
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
AL Rookie of the Year: Scott Sizemore, Second Baseman, Detroit Tigers
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, First Baseman, St. Louis Cardinals
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
NL Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward, Outfielder, Atlanta Braves
AL Batting Leader: Joe Mauer, Catcher, Minnesota Twins
AL Home Run Leader: Mark Teixeira, First Baseman, New York Yankees
AL RBI Leader: Mark Teixeira, First Baseman, New York Yankees
AL ERA Leader: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
AL Wins Leader: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
NL Batting Leader: Albert Pujols, First Baseman, St. Louis Cardinals
NL Home Run Leader: Ryan Howard, First Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
NL RBI Leader: Ryan Howard, First Baseman, Philadelphia Phillies
NL ERA Leader: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants
NL Wins Leader: Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies
AL Rise To Stardom: Rick Porcello, Starting Pitcher, Detroit Tigers
NL Rise To Stardom: Justin Upton, Outfielder, Arizona Diamondbacks(and I know he was very, very good last year, but I think he becomes an absolute superstar)
AL Biggest Player Disappointment: Russell Branyan, First Baseman, Cleveland Indians
NL Biggest Player Disappointment: Chris Coghlan, Outfielder, Florida Marlins
AL Most Surprising Team: Baltimore Orioles
NL Most Surprising Team: Atlanta Braves
AL Most Disappointing Team: Minnesota Twins
NL Most Disappointing Team: Milwaukee Brewers
Biggest Trade: San Diego Padres' First Baseman Adrian Gonzalez To The Red Sox
First Manger Fired: Jerry Manuel, New York Mets
And last but not least...
First Day Milton Bradley Goes Milton Bradley(Going Psycho, Ejected, Threatens To Kill Somebody, Calls The Mariners' Fans Racist... Whatever Is Crazy): Opening Day
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