Friday, March 29, 2013

2013 MLB Pre-season Predictions

After looking at many of the MLB Predictions out there, it is looking like this year is somewhat wide open. 2013 is a year that looks to have much turnover from 2012 when it comes to who looks strong to make a serious playoff push. Oakland won't repeat what they did last season, the Yankees will be lucky to make the playoffs, and the Giants will be lucky to make the playoffs... Yeah, the defending world champions will be lucky to get it, that's the kind of turnover I'm talking about.

I live here in Seattle and am an optimistic Seattle Mariners fan this time of year, so my predictions may seem to be a bit skew considering my affiliation to the northwest. If you think about it, it's a lot like the east coast considering the west coast is so far away for them, so they completely forget about us. So I may forget about the east coast for a bit.. (not really). Everybody is picking the Nationals to do big things this season, but I think they are just the hot button team, and as we have seen in the MLB over the past couple seasons, the hot button team hasn't done very much.

This is the year that the Astros managed to join the AL West to make everybody have an even schedule which the MLB hasn't had in 20+ years since they started doing expansion with Florida and Arizona. Who remembers that time in history if you're in your mid 20's? Nobody! So this is the first time in a long time that Major League Baseball has evened out across the landscape. It's also rather comical because the Houston Astros are Major League Baseball's version of a minor league team. They will be lucky to win 60 games this season, and even getting 55 wins would be successful. The AL West is probably the most lethal division in all of baseball with the Angels stacked, the Athletics coming off a division title, the Mariners reloaded for a run, and the Rangers (even with their losses) have a shot with the chemistry they have produced the past 3-4 years. The Astros are walking into a minefield unfortunately and will only weaken the perspective that the AL West is one of the best divisions in baseball with it's arrival in 2013.

Considering the moves the Blue Jays have made this off-season, the age of the Yankees, the Red Sox not making much noise, you have to think that this is the year of the Orioles to make a serious run at a division title. Buck Showalter will get this team prepared to play this season and it would not shock me if they made a huge run in the postseason, especially with the experience they had together as a team in 2012. You get this feeling that the Orioles have a collective culture about them, that they are just starting what could become a dominate run in the AL East. Money can buy you a good team on paper (Yankees, Blue Jays, etc.), but growth of a franchise through it's farm system is priceless and can produce wins for a long stretch of years. Look at what the Rangers did for about 5-6 years in the AL West. They went through all those years of struggling and plummeting to last place in the early to mid 2000's. Now? They are revered as one of the most respected franchises in all of baseball, especially for the work they have put together those last 5-6 years.

The Detroit Tigers are still a power house, but everybody will expect Miguel Cabrera to drop in his statistical production next season. There is no way he gets another triple crown in 2013, could he? I see his stats staying in the top 5, but no way he finishes #1 in the 3 major categories again. I could see the White Sox doing something this season considering they were so close to Detroit in September. Other than that this looks like Detroit's division to lose. Yes, Kansas City has looked good in Spring training, but so has Seattle, and who honestly looks at Spring training as a place to recognize those who are improving? If you do, be seriously disappointed in Kansas City.

Let's see what I predicted in the American league for 2013:

AL East
1. y-Baltimore 94-68
2. w-Tampa Bay 91-71
3. w-Toronto 88-74
4. N.Y. Yankees 85-77
5. Boston 65-97

AL Central
1. y-Detroit 91-71
2. Chi White Sox 86-76
3. Kansas City 80-82
4. Cleveland 77-85
5. Minnesota 76-86

AL West
1. z-L.A. Angels 98-64
2. Texas 87-75
3. Oakland 84-78
4. Seattle 80-82
5. Houston 50-112

AL Playoffs:
Wild-Card Game: TOR @ TB
ALDS: TB 1 @ LAA 3, DET 3 @ BAL 2
AL Champions: L.A. Angels

I have the Angels getting to the World Series in October considering they now have guys that have experience in the post season. They have the young superstar in Trout to get them going, and with a combination of Pujols and Hamilton, they will be very hard to beat. It may be too early to say the power duo could do anything with potential chemistry being an issue, but how can you say such a thing when the Tigers made it to the World Series with Prince and Cabrera in their first year as a duo? I think the match-up between Baltimore and Detroit really comes down to Game 5. Who is the best pitcher in baseball? Verlander. Who do you want in a win-or-go home scenario. You guessed it. That is really the only reason I have Detroit making to the ALCS, other than that I have serious praise for where Baltimore is right now as an organization. I think the Angels have the pitching to take them over the top this season with one of the more solid starting fives in all of the American League, even if their offense doesn't mash the ball when it gets cold in the fall, their pitching can definitely get the job done this year. I do not have the same praise for Toronto as much as others have for them. I think they made a ton of big moves in the off-season but I see the pressure of them succeeding early affecting how they play throughout the season. In saying that, I think they will make a push in September, and put something together to have an opportunity at a Wild card spot. The Orioles are a team that have no pressure on them to succeed once again, and I see them sprouting into a serious contender this season. Everyone is writing them off, I have them doing some serious work when it comes to the regular season, especially in a year that the Yankees are not a threat.

Lets jump to the National League and see what I have cooked up:

NL East
1. z-Atlanta 95-67
2. w-Philadelphia 93-69
3. Nationals 88-74
4. Miami 83-79
5. N.Y. Mets 68-94

NL Central
1. y-Cincinnati 93-69
2. Pittsburgh 85-77
3. St. Louis 83-79
4. Milwaukee 82-80
5. Chi Cubs 60-102

NL West
1. y-L.A. Dodgers 94-68
2.w-San Francisco 89-73
3. Colorado 78-84
4. Arizona 76-86
5. San Diego 70-92

NL Playoffs
Wild-Card Game: SF @ PHI
NLDS: PHI 3@ ATL 2, CIN 2 @ LAD 3
NL Champions: Philadelphia Phillies

The National League is really hard to pick this season. The Phillies last year got off to a rough start and the injury bug hit them constantly throughout the season and they still finished where they started (.500). This year they have everybody coming back healthy and they even upgraded with a solid contact hitter in Micheal Young to play at third base. I have the Nationals missing the playoffs but barely. It was really hard to leave them off especially with Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, and Gio Gonzalez who is a beast on the mound. I just feel that last year was a sign of things to come and that they will be back there and this year they definitely have a shot, but with the amount of spots that are available in the National League, I had to give one to San Francisco and one to Philadelphia because of these two teams pitching staffs which are absolutely haunting. I also think the experience and age of the Phillies will carry them through. The only real question I have about the Phillies is that their age is starting to become a factor. Their entire infield is in their mid-thirties and the big three (Lee, Halladay, & Hamels) are not getting any younger. If their is one more chance for the Phillies to do something it is this season because I see their windows closing in 2014. I also have the Pittsburgh Pirates jumping up in the Central. Looking at their team and what they did last season by improving 7 games from 2011 to 2012. I see nothing but more improvement and 85 wins as a definite target for them to achieve. The NL West is a two team race, but we all know how the Giants roll. They have won 2 of the last 3 World Series and they haven't done it in a fashion that leaves you thinking: Wow. They just come to play, get the job done, and go onto the next game. I see them making the playoffs again but there is no way they can compete with the Dodgers in the West with how powerful L.A.'s lineup is. Their outfield is monstrous (Kemp, Either, Crawford) and if they get it going, nobody will be able to stop them. I think Atlanta is going to do some serious damage this year as well, and they have a serious shot at being the best team in the National League. Considering the Chipper Jones show is over, they can now focus on really beating teams the way we all know the Braves can, especially now that they have both the Upton brothers in the outfield who hopefully can help fix Jason Heyward and his woes at the plate these last couple of seasons.

Now it's time to predict a World Series winner and since I'm sick and tired of the National League beating up on the American League, I'm going to pick the Angels to win it all.

2013 World Series: PHI 1@ LAA 4

Their two big hitters in the lineup played in a World Series two years ago against one another and both have been to five World Series combine. They have the experience, and it doesn't hurt to have one of the best catalysts in all of baseball with Mike Trout getting on base to stir up the other teams pitching staff. I think the Phillies have the pitching to get them to the World Series, but their offense by this point in the season will just be too old and the experience of Pujols and Hamilton will settle into a nice 2013 World Series Championship. This is the last year of the Phillies window, if they stay healthy they are a huge threat during the 2013 season. People forget two seasons ago they won 100+ games and got hit by the injury bug last season. They are coming into this season healthy and their pitching staff is scary.

AL MVP: Mike Trout LAA
NL MVP: Joey Votto CIN
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander DET
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw LAD
*I'm not going to predict ROY's (Rookies of the year) because I have no idea.

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