Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 MLB Preview and Predictions

With the season fast approaching, I am going through each division and assessing the teams from top to bottom. Predictions are difficult to make, as last year only one of my team records came out exactly as I had predicted in the spring. None of my award winners came into fruition. This season will be even tougher to decide, because so many teams have improved since last year. Feel free to comment if you have any disagreements or want to voice your opinion.

Team Records

AL East
Tampa Bay Rays: 90-72- Y
Toronto Blue Jays: 88-74- W
New York Yankees: 86-76
Boston Red Sox: 83-79
Baltimore Orioles: 80-82

The power shift in the American League East is underway, but exactly which team takes the pie is still a major unknown. With the Yankees and their injuries, I don’t see them pulling out a playoff spot this season, as management tries to get under the $189 million mark in preparation for next season. The Tampa Bay Rays were a safe bet to make as the division winners because of their pitching, and their timely hitting. Although they are a weak hitting team, the offense, led by Evan Longoria, has the ability to get the job done in terms of scoring just enough runs to win games. The pitching staff always finds a way to perform, with defending Cy Young award winner David Price at the head of the rotation. Joe Maddon always gets the best out of his players, and this season should not be any different. Despite Toronto’s effort in acquiring all of the Marlins best players, I do not see the season being outstanding. The team is injury prone, and we have yet to see the rotation pieces contribute at the same time, which causes inconsistency. However, the offense is a force to be reckoned with and will ultimately take them as far as they are poised to go.

AL Central
Detroit Tigers: 93-69- Y
Kansas City Royals: 89-73- W
Cleveland Indians: 86-76
Chicago White Sox: 78-84
Minnesota Twins: 66-96
Detroit is clearly the best team in this division, led by ace Justin Verlander and reigning Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. The Tigers have one of the deepest lineups in all of baseball, and Jim Leyland’s baseball experience will help the team in winning their second consecutive division title. The Royals may surprise some people. The team acquired James Shields from the Rays to serve as the ace of their rotation, and the Royals have great young hitters who will show why they deserve to be in the conversation this year. A Terry Francona team should never be doubted, especially after signing the likes of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. While the lineup is certainly an improvement over last year, the Indians’ starting rotation remains a huge question mark. Their good bullpen means nothing when most of their starters will not be able to reach the sixth inning. This is certainly a rebuilding year for the Twins, who got rid of their athletic outfielders in favor of young starting pitching, which they hope to have developed by the 2015 season.

AL West
LA Angels: 91-71- W
Texas Rangers 87-75
Oakland Athletics: 84-78
Seattle Mariners: 76-86
Houston Astros: 55-107
The Angels are a force to be reckoned with in the American League West this year. With the addition of Josh Hamilton to their already powerful lineup, look for the Halos to make the postseason as division champions. The Rangers will take a step back after losing key pieces to their offense, along with having a weak starting rotation. The Athletics surprised everyone last year with their magical run to the postseason, but I do not see them being as good this year. That does not mean they will not be competitive this year. The A’s are a scrappy bunch of players who leave everything on the field. With the Astros making their way into the American League, they will be the doormat of the AL, who will stomp all over the ‘Stros.

NL East
Washington Nationals: 97-65- Y
Atlanta Braves: 87-73
Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
New York Mets: 72-90
Miami Marlins: 63-99
The Washington Nationals are the best team in baseball by a mile. With key acquisitions that include Rafael Soriano and Dan Haren along with phenoms Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg the Nats will wrap up this division with almost no issues. The Braves are a team that could likely make the playoffs as the wildcard because of their outfield and strong bullpen. I believe that the Phillies’ run is over. Halladay’s best days are clearly behind them, and the offense is too sporadic for them to compete this year. The Mets will drop down in wins this year after losing RA Dickey and Johan Santana, who won a combined 26 games for the Amazins’ in 2012. The lineup is weak, and the outfield is atrocious. Unless the Mets bring up Zach Wheeler, they will struggle this year in preparation to compete in 2014.

NL Central
Cincinnati Reds: 91-71- Y
St. Louis Cardinals: 88-74- W
Pittsburgh Pirates: 83-79
Milwaukee Brewers: 81-81
Chicago Cubs: 69-93
Expect the Cincinnati Reds to take care of business after failing to make it past the first round of the playoffs in 2012. Joey Votto is a force in the Reds lineup and Brandon Phillips is the best second baseman in the National League. The Reds have too much going for them to do anything but win their division. However, I do worry about their starting pitching depth, as they do not have good backup insurance in the case that one of their starters goes down. The Cardinals seemingly make the playoffs every year, and I once again can see them winning the wildcard round to make it to real October baseball. The rest of the teams in the division are rebuilding, and I would keep an eye on the Pirates. They have the pieces needed to contend. Although their number is low, don’t let them fool you. I think the Pirates are ready to take the next step.
NL West
San Francisco Giants: 94-68- Y
Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71- W
San Diego Padres: 83-80
Arizona Diamondbacks: 80-82
Colorado Rockies: 73-89
The defending World Champions will not disappoint this year. They are perhaps the best all-around team in baseball. Their rotation is lethal, their lineup is sneaky good and their bullpen gets the job done under the bright lights. I don’t have the Dodgers winning the division, but I do believe they will be in contention for a wildcard spot. Money does not buy championships and the Dodgers are inexperienced when it comes to putting a team together that meshes well. The remaining teams in the division will not serve as much of a threat, however there is a chance that the Padres will surprise some people and get in the Dodgers’ way for the wildcard.

2013 MVP Predictions:
AL: Mike Trout
NL: Matt Kemp
2013 Cy Young Award Predictions:
AL: David Price
NL: Adam Wainwright
2013 Rookie of the Year Predictions:
2013 Cinderella Teams:
AL: Cleveland Indians
NL: San Diego Padres
World Series: Washington Nationals over Tampa Bay Rays

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