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2012 MLB Division and Award Picks

April 3, 2012

American League

East

  1. New York Yankees 94-68
  2. Tampa Bay Rays 92-70
  3. Boston Red Sox 89-73
  4. Toronto Blue Jays 84-78
  5. Baltimore Orioles 72-90

The AL East should be a good race this year with the Yankees and Rays as the two favorites, a sleeping giant if everything goes right in Boston, and a sleeper underdog in Toronto. … I worried a bit about the Yankees’ pitching, but they’ll score enough runs to cover the regression coming for Ivan Nova and Hiroki Kuroda. … I expect a Cy Young-year from David Price; James Shields to come close to what he did last year; Jeremy Hellickson to not regress as much as some I’m-right-and-you’re-always-wrong saber analysts think he will; and a very good full year from Matt Moore. A full year of Desmond Jennings and the return of Carlos Pena will help the Rays’ offense. … The Sawx already have injury concerns (Bailey, Crawford) and uncertainties at the back-end of their rotation. If everything goes right they could win 95 games and the division, but I expect regression from Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury, and David Ortiz is getting pretty old. … If Toronto gets the good luck bounces that avoid Boston, the Jays could end up in third easily. There are a lot of veterans that have established high floors, as well as a lot of youngsters who have room to improve in Toronto. … I’m not really sure what to say about Baltimore.

Central

  1. Detroit Tigers 90-72
  2. Kansas City Royals 78-84
  3. Cleveland Indians 78-84
  4. Chicago White Sox 75-87
  5. Minnesota Twins 69-93

The Tigers will run away with this division not necessarily because they’re an elite team but more due to the competition they’ll face. They have several regression candidates (Avila, Verlander, Fister) but Verlander’s floor is still very good and with Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta, et al, they’ve got a lot of veterans who know how to win. … The Royals are a year away from competing and probably need to add a veteran pitcher to do that. By locking up several of their young stars recently they’ve shown a commitment to win soon. … The Indians are tricky this year. They’ve got several intriguing pitchers (Masterson, Jimenez, Tomlin), a good bullpen and a good core of offensive players (Santana, Choo, Kipnis, Cabrera, Brantley), but I don’t think they’ve got enough firepower to compete this year. … The White Sox and Twins are going to be two of the most boring teams this year. I don’t see one player that makes me want to watch either teams’ games.

West

  1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 95-67
  2. Texas Rangers 92-70
  3. Seattle Mariners 71-91
  4. Oakland A’s 70-92

Adding Albert Pujols to an offense with several players in their primes is a good recipe for success. Adding C.J. Wilson to a pitching staff that finished sixth in ERA last year is also a good recipe for success. … The Rangers will still mash the ball, and all reports of Yu Darvish are good but I want to see how the rest of their pitching fares. … Seattle’s offense will be improved with full seasons from Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero, but it obviously won’t have any chance of competing with the top two teams. … There’s nothing that interests me about Oakland, except Jemile Weeks.

National League

East

  1. Miami Marlins 89-73
  2. Philadelphia Phillies 87-75
  3. Washington Nationals 85-77
  4. Atlanta Braves 82-80
  5. New York Mets 76-86

The Marlins need Josh Johnson to stay healthy for most of the year to have any shot at winning the division, but their offense is already the best in the division. … I don’t like the Phillies’ offense at all, but their three aces are too good to give up on, unfortunately. … The Nationals will challenge the Phillies for second place, but neither team will make the playoffs. Maybe if Bryce Harper is as advertised and contributes immediately after a June call-up they can do it, though. … The Braves played a little above their heads last year, finishing with 89 wins but only outscoring their opponents by 36 runs. There are too many question marks at the front of the rotation and in the bullpen for me to trust them. … The Mets’ pitching should be OK this year if Johan Santana can stay healthy. I like Jonathan Niese and R.A. Dickey. Their offense, with healthy seasons from Ike Davis and David Wright and continued emergence of Lucas Duda, should be OK, as well. But they’re just in too tough a division.

Central

  1. St. Louis Cardinals 89-73
  2. Cincinnati Reds 87-75
  3. Milwaukee Brewers 85-77
  4. Chicago Cubs 74-88
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates 72-90
  6. Houston Astros 55-107

If healthy, the Cardinals won’t miss a beat, even with the losses of Pujols, LaRussa and Duncan. … The Reds, obviously, will be better than last year, but like last year I don’t like them as preseason favorites. Dusty Baker can be silly, and any team that has Bronson Arroyo starting 30+ games shouldn’t be a unanimous favorite. … The Brewers’ pitching will be one of the league’s best this year, but the loss of Fielder will hurt a lot more than the loss of Pujols. They finished six wins better than what their run differential suggested last year. … The Cubs will, um, I really don’t have anything to say about them. Maybe they’ll trade Matt Garza for prospects? … The Astros won 56 games last year with Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn playing over half the season. Now they only have Carlos Lee, who’s a shell of his former self, and a bunch of ‘bleh’ young players filling out the roster.

West

  1. San Francisco Giants 90-72
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks 88-74
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers 77-85
  4. Colorado Rockies 75-87
  5. San Diego Padres 70-92

The Giants won’t be as bad on offense this year as they were last year. They’ve got three Cy Young candidates and a good bullpen feasting on a weak division in a bunch of pitchers’ parks. … The D’backs will be about just as good as last year, with a few bounces going against them, but still good enough to make the playoffs, especially when Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs come up in the season. … The Dodgers again will just be middle of the road, unless Andre Ethier explodes like Matt Kemp did last year. … The Rockies won’t go anywhere with that pitching staff. … I’ll watch the Padres to see Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin, if that’s any consolation.

American League Championship Series: Tampa Bay over Los Angeles

National League Championship Series: San Francisco over St. Louis

World Series: Tampa Bay over San Francisco

AL MVP: Evan Longoria – Despite putting up a career-high walk percentage (13.9) and career-low strikeout percentage (16.2), Longoria saw his average drop to .244, due partly to a career low BABIP of .239, 93 points lower than his ’10 BABIP. Longoria missed a month due to injury last year so his 31 home runs could’ve been even higher. He’s only 26, will provide gold-glove defense and play on a top team this year. That’s why he’ll win the AL MVP.

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez – Hanley will lead the Marlins to an NL East division title, hit 25 homers and steal 25 bases, hit over .300 and drive in over 100 runs.

AL Cy Young: David Price – Price, 26, pitched better last year than his ERA indicates. His strikeout rate has gone up each of the past two years as his walk rate has dipped over the same period. He should threaten to win 20 games this year and strike out over 200 for the second season in a row.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw – I was torn over this one because I really like one guy (Madison Bumgarner) and I think he’ll have a great year, but he’s still not well known enough to win enough support from voters over guys like Halladay, Lee, etc. I think a lot of people are over Halladay and Lee, and to win the award one of them would have to have a career year, and at their ages I don’t think that’s happening. I also like Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke, but I think Kershaw can still get better and take home another one.

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