Results tagged ‘ Angels ’

American League Predictions for 2013

Last year was the first time I ever made actual predictions as to how the MLB standings would look at the end of the regular season. To say I did poorly would be an understatement, but this is a new year, and with it comes a new shot at getting the predictions right. So I’m up for the challenge once again.

Unlike 2012, when I posted both my American League and National League predictions in the same blog entry, this year I’m doing separate posts for each league. As the title states, I’m giving my 2013 American League standings predictions today, starting with the AL East:

EAST

1. Rays

2. Yankees

3. Orioles

4. Blue Jays

5. Red Sox

With the Yankees’ season uncertain, I see this as the year the Rays need to make their move. With the lineup they have, the Rays have the ability to win their division, but it’s going to come down to if their starting pitching begins and ends with David Price, or if their potential superstar pitchers in Matt Moore and Jeremy Hellickson can get things going. That’s the deciding factor, for me.

Although the Yankees’ season is up in the air, I still have them finishing second in the AL East. Why? Because they’re the Yankees; a team that seems to be able to always find a way to win. But it’s going to come down to Derek Jeter, in my opinion. If he misses a large chunk of the season, at any point, it could send my predictions way off course. Right now, I’m not too worried about him missing the first few games; but that could change.

The Orioles surprised everyone last season with the way they were able to put things together, however, I still think it’ll be 2014 before they stand a good chance of winning the division. Their phenom prospects are still far from ready, with top prospect Dylan Bundy beginning the season in AA Bowie, and I just don’t see everything clicking together in their favor this season.

I’m hesitant to place the Blue Jays all the way down in fourth, with so many people seeing them finishing near the top, but it’s the way I foresee their season panning out. Even with the offseason additions of R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, etc., I don’t see the Jays putting together a season much over .500. You just can’t buy chemistry, and with so many new faces, I don’t see them gelling from the start of the season.

What can I say about the Red Sox? They were once major competitors in the division, but after a couple of horrible seasons, by their standards, I don’t see this year being any better. They didn’t do much to improve their team in the offseason, and it’s going to show once the season starts up. I’m looking down the road, when their key prospects such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts arrive, before I can see them getting things going in the right direction again.

CENTRAL

1. Tigers

2. Indians

3. White Sox

4. Royals

5. Twins

There’s truly no reason the Tigers shouldn’t run away with things in the AL Central division. With one of the best lineups in all of baseball, including sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, along with newcomer Victor Martinez, their lineup should be there. The only question mark is their pitching. Justin Verlander is going to dominate–that’s a given–but the remainder of the rotation is a bit uncertain. But all in all, I think they’ll be just fine.

Coming in second, I have the Indians, as they did a great job of signing guys in the offseason to fill key spots they were missing last year, and I feel it’s bound to pay off in the coming season. The only concern would be their starting pitching. Without a true Ace, you don’t know who to look to for to carry the team throughout the season. It’s definitely something worth watching, however, they should be able to have enough decent pitching to make things very interesting in the division.

It was really a toss up between me placing the Indians or White Sox in third place (with the other in second) but I decided to have the Sox finishing third in the division. The Sox have a future Cy Young winner, in Chris Sale, but with the remainder of the pitching, as well as the lineup, a question mark, I can’t see them winning too many games over .500 in the 2013 season. They still have too many holes to fill.

I’m still questioning the Royals’ decision to trade away their phenom prospect, Wil Myers, along with a few other prospects, to the Rays, in exchange for a couple of middle of the rotation starting pitchers, on most teams, in James Shields and Wade Davis, but it is what it is. I see the move doing more harm than good. The Royals certainly needed starting pitching, but to trade away your top prospect is a poor choice, in my opinion, which is why I have them finishing next to last in the division.

The Twins are a team that have the potential to be very good a year or two down the road, but for right now, I see them having to endure another last place season, in their division. They just don’t have enough top notch guys, both in their pitching rotation and lineup, to make any sort of a run this season, as far as I can see.

WEST

1. Angels

2. Athletics

3. Rangers

4. Mariners

5. Astros

For the Angels, the AL West division is theirs to lose. With the addition of Josh Hamilton in the offseason, along with their already potent lineup of Albert Pujols and Mike Trout, there is no reason the Angels shouldn’t dominate the division. Although they lost Zack Greinke to the Dodgers, their rotation is still really good, and it should all combine to be enough to lead them to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

The Athletics were one of the big surprises of last season, but I don’t feel it was a fluke. They’ve put together a really great team out in Oakland, and with the majority of the other teams in the division (with the exception of the Angels) still trying to figure things out in the coming season, the Athletics stand a good shot of making the playoffs for the second straight year.

With the loss of Josh Hamilton during the offseason, I don’t see the Rangers doing much of anything this year. While they have a few big bats in their lineup that can change the outcome of a game with one swing, I don’t see their rotation as being strong enough to overcome the uphill climb they face. It’ll be interesting to watch unfold, but I don’t like their chances in 2013.

The Mariners are one of the most interesting teams to keep track of. While I don’t see them having all that impressive of an upcoming season, with all of the talent they have knocking on the door of the big leagues, I feel they’ll be major contenders as early as next season. They don’t have all of the necessary pieces, just yet, to put together a playoff run, but starting in 2014, keep a lookout for the Mariners to do big things in the AL West division.

Last season was flat out ugly for the Astros, as they finished in dead last, with a league leading 107 losses. Being that they’re making the transition from the National League to the American League this year, I don’t see things being any better for them; but when you lose over 100 games in a season, it can’t really get all that much worse.

Leave a comment below with whether or not you agree with my predictions.

Click HERE to be taken to my National League predictions for 2013.

My Vote for American League Cy Young

This is the second in a series of four blog posts that I plan to type up between now and Friday; all of which will focus on who I feel should win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player (MVP), Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY). (If you haven’t read my posts on who I think should win the AL MVP and NL MVP, go ahead and check those out now.)

When making a pick for American League Cy Young, I feel I can rely on stats (and not just personal opinion) more so than I did with Most Valuable Player. Unlike with MVP–where I didn’t let stats influence my decision–stats played a big role in my decision making for AL Cy Young; as the numbers don’t lie.

But don’t get the impression that the decision was an easy one. There are SO many good candidates for AL Cy Young that it made it impossible for me to choose just one player. So I ended up letting the stats do the deciding for me.

I took the American League starting pitchers with ERA’s below 3.00 (Price, Verlander and Weaver) and compared them from 20 different statistical angles. (I chose to use so many different stats to compare them because I felt that using Wins, ERA and strikeouts alone didn’t tell the whole story of how good a particular pitcher was.)

My method works as follows: The pitcher with the best numbers in a given category receives 1 point; with the 2nd and 3rd place pitcher receiving 2 and 3 points, respectively. (The occurence of a tie in a particular category results in the tied players receiving the same point amount.) In the end, the pitcher with the lowest combined total would be my pick for the Cy Young award.

It took me awhile to crunch all of the numbers, but once I finally finished, this was the result:

As stated earlier, the pitcher with the lowest combined total is declared (by me) as the winner. Which makes Jered Weaver the statistical choice (as well as my pick) for AL Cy Young.

I’m a bit shocked by the results, but not THAT shocked. (It’s not like Jered Weaver doesn’t deserve it.) Posting a record of 20-5, with a 2.81 ERA, Weaver is definitely worthy enough. He led the league in opponent batting average (.214), as well as WHIP (1.02), and in addition, pitched a no-hitter on May 2nd against the Twins.

Just icing on the cake for Jered Weaver–my pick for 2012 American League Cy Young.

Do you agree or disagree with me?

As always, feel free to leave a comment below.

My Vote for American League M.V.P.

When it comes to the 2012 Most Valuable Player award it seems as if many people could care less about who wins it from the National League. Ryan Braun…Buster Posey…Andrew McCutchen…give it to any of them, and no one would really complain.

The main focus falls on the American League portion, where baseball fans have sided with either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. Everyone (no matter which player they side with) has a dozen reasons behind why their pick is the best, and they’re all adamant as to who they think should win the award. I’m no different.

My vote for MVP of the American League would have to go to Mike Trout.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t been living under a rock for the past week. I’m fully aware that Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown (the first player to do so since 1967), and while that’s extremely impressive–and nothing to sneeze at–if you take the time to examine both player’s effect on their respective team, you start to see there’s really no contest. You quickly find yourself leaning a bit more towards Mike Trout; or at least that’s the case with me.

When making a pick for Most Valuable Player, I feel it’s extremely important to remember what the award is truly for: The player who had the greatest positive impact on their team, and thus was the “most valuable”. While it’s easy to look at the stats and declare Miguel Cabrera the winner, MVP is not necessarily an award for the better player, but rather an award for the player that held a bigger role in helping their team succeed.

That’s what I feel gets lost in translation. People see the incredible stats that Cabrera was able to post and they find themselves thinking, “with numbers like that, he’s got to win.” While that may be true in some situations, this particular instance, it’s just not the case in my opinion.

As far as statistics go, Trout and Cabrera were under completely different circumstances while at the plate, which makes it a bit difficult to compare the two. For example:

Trout bats leadoff, thus (in at least one at-bat) has no chance at having anyone on base to knock in; yet he accumulated 83 RBI’s. Cabrera on the other hand batted in the three-hole, giving him a higher chance of an RBI situation every time he stepped into the batters box.

Another thing Trout had going against him by batting leadoff was the fact that he had no one behind him in the lineup for protection. In an RBI pressure situation Trout didn’t have a guy like Prince Fielder to fall back on. If Trout didn’t come through, who knew if the next guy could get the job done. (As Prince Fielder does the majority of the time.)

In Cabrera’s case–and Ryan Braun’s, last season–he had Fielder behind him in the order to take some of the pressure off, which could be argued allowed Cabrera to come through more often than he normally would have in big spots. That’s something I personally take into consideration.

Something that really bothers me when it comes to MVP voting is the voter’s tendency to use whether or not a candidate’s team made it to the playoffs when making their decision of who to vote for. You can be an extremely valuable asset to your team and still end up falling short as a whole.

Take last year’s National League MVP voting for example.

Matt Kemp had arguably better stats than Ryan Braun, yet Braun ended up taking home the MVP award, greatly due to the fact that Braun’s Brewers made it to the post season, and Kemp’s Dodgers did not. That’s just not the right thing to base your decision on. It wasn’t right in 2011, it’s not right now, and it won’t be right in 2013 and beyond, either.

Mike Trout posted stats that no rookie has ever been able to in MLB history–the only rookie to ever have a 30/40 season. Trout came in and completely turned the Angels around; and while this is purely speculative, could’ve very well led his team to the playoffs had he of been called up sooner. (But that’s another debate, for another time.)

Trout put up insane numbers for a team that had an embarrassing record of 6-14 (worse than the Houston Astros at the time) before his callup on April 28th. A mere month after Trout’s addition to the roster, the Angels’ had a .500 record, and were on a seven game winning streak; greatly due to Mike Trout and his ability to impact the ball club.

If that doesn’t make for an MVP, I don’t know what does.

Now, if you’re one of those people that love sabermetrics–and purely rely on statistics alone when looking at MVP–then it’s clear that Miguel Cabrera beat out Mike Trout by a landslide. While the batting average was fairly close, Cabrera posted 14 more home runs than Trout, as well as 56 more RBI’s.

But looking at stats–and stats alone–only tells part of the story.

Trout came up in late April and went on a tear, and as a result was able to reenergize a struggling Angels team. He got them back on track enabling them to make an incredible run, which unfortunately ended with the Angels coming up just short of a Wild Card spot.

Without Trout, who knows whether or not the Angels’ would’ve finished with a record anywhere near theirs of 89-73. (A better record, mind you, than that of the Tigers, who finished 88-74 on the year.)

That’s what makes a player worthy of a Most Valuable Player award. It’s not always the best player in a given league, but instead, the player that had the biggest impact on their team, and therefore was most valuable.

And that would undoubtedly be Mike Trout.

Most Recent MLB Related Things On My Mind

For once I’m not using an entry to get caught up on the things that I’ve failed to blog about. There really hasn’t been much for me to write about since the last time I blogged. The three things that I’m going to discuss in this entry are things that have happened very recently in baseball, and I just want to get my personal opinion out there.

Please leave a comment if you have anything further you’d like to say about the topics being discussed.

ALBERT PUJOLS’ HOME RUN DROUGHT

Albert Pujols homered 37 times in 579 at bats last season. That’s once every 15.6 at bats, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll round it up to 16. So far this year Pujols has had 45 at bats, and has hit a grand total of zero home runs. If you go by last year’s trend of 1 homer per 16 at bats, he should have 2-3 home runs already. So what’s going on?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Albert physically, nor do I feel it’s the mental emotion of being with a new team. In my personal opinion, I just think it’s a streak of bad luck. Every player goes through a rough patch from time to time. It’s just that Pujols has had so few in his career that when a long streak of bad luck like this hits him, it’s big news.

Now I’m not saying that Pujols will get his first home run this week or even this month, but I am saying that he won’t end the season still stuck at zero home runs. For a guy like him, once he gets that first one past him, the pressure will be gone, and he’ll become the old Pujols that the Angels were looking for when they shelled out big money for him.

One thing’s for sure. If Albert Pujols wants to keep of his steak of at least 30 home runs in every season of his career, he needs to figure things out, and start getting hot.

JAMIE MOYER WINS AT AGE 49

Jamie Moyer made his start last night against the Padres with the hopes of becoming the oldest pitcher in MLB history to win a regular season game. He would achieve his goal, as although he never even reached 80 miles per hour on the gun, he was still able to have a successful outing and record the win at age 49 and 150 days.

To record a win in a MLB game at age 49 is truly incredible. To give you an idea of how long Moyer has been playing, the starting pitcher for the Padres, Anthony Bass, was born a year after Moyer’s debut. Pretty insane if you think about it.

The oldest pitcher to ever play in a MLB game was Satchel Paige at age 59, though he didn’t record the win.

JOHNNY DAMON MAKES IT OFFICIAL

I talked about the Damon deal a little while ago, but now that he’s officially an Indian I thought I’d bring it up again.

Damon joins the Indians just 277 hits shy of 3,000 for his career. If he hopes to reach the milestone he’ll have to play at least one more season longer that his 1-year 1.25 million dollar contract from the Indians. It’s unclear as to whether or not he plans to do that, as he has to make it through this season first.

The plan for Damon is for him to continue working out at the Indians’ spring training facility in Arizona. He’s then expected to join the Triple-A affiliate of the Indians (the Columbous Clippers) for a short while, before joining the Indians up in Ohio in early May.

It should be interesting to see if Damon still has the ability to help his team win. According to Damon, that’s his main goal for the year, as he made the following statement after signing:

My track record shows that I play hard and I play to win. That’s why I’ve helped teams win championships, and I’ve helped some teams that aren’t so good be better…I play for the organization, not for myself.

I hope things work out between Johnny Damon and the Cleveland Indians. Damon can be a really exciting player to watch when he’s performing well.

Fastest and Slowest Starts to the 2012 MLB Season

I realize that we’re JUST over a week into the 2012 MLB season, but I just thought I’d post an entry with the teams and players that are off to the best and worst starts in all of baseball. Some of the names on the lists are no surpise, however there a few that really stand out to me. I never expected the year to begin the way it has for certain players, and certain teams.

FASTEST STARTS

Teams:

1) Dodgers: 7-1

2) Nationals: 6-2

3) Rangers: 6-2

4) Diamondbacks: 5-2

5) Mets: 5-2

6) Tigers: 5-2

The Dodgers are a team that is better than advertised. They have a great lineup, including guys like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and speedy Dee Gordon, as well as an underated starting rotation. While it’s well known that Clayton Kershaw is the Dodger’s Ace, other guys are beginning to step it up, none more than Aaron Harang, who struck out 9 in a row (a new Dodgers record) in last night’s game against the Padres.

The only other teams on the list that are a surprise to me are the Nationals and the Mets. While the National’s are a team that I feel is going to be extremely good in a couple of years, I never saw them having this kind of start to the season. As far as the Mets go, they continue to amaze me.

Individual players:

1) Paul Konerko: .435 average

2) Ryan Sweeney: .429 average

3) Matt Kemp: .419 average

4) Josh Willingham: .417 average

5) Miguel Cabrera: .414 average

Paul Konerko is off to an unbelievable start. He’s really swinging the bat well, and while it’s still early, I think he can keep it up. Now I’m not saying he’s going to end the year with a batting average exceeding .400, but I am saying that I think he’ll continue to rack up hits. Ryan Sweeney is another guy who’s really impressed me so far this season. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up, or if it’s a little bit of early luck. Matt Kemp, Josh Willingham and Miguel Cabrera are all guys that I fully expected to do well this season. So there’s no real shock for the number 3 through 5 guys on the list.

SLOWEST STARTS

Teams:

1) Padres: 2-6

2) Red Sox: 2-5

3) Twins: 2-5

4) Angels: 2-5

5) Pirates: 2-5

The San Diego Padres are a team that I was hoping/thinking would have a decent season this year, but so far, they’re proving to be the same team from last year. The thing that gets me with the Padres is that they have a fantastic starting lineup, including guys like Cameron Maybin, Orlando Hudson and newcomer Yonder Alonso, as well as a decent pitching rotation, but it seems like they can only get one or the other to perform well on any given night. If they can figure out a way to have both their pitching and hitting come through at the same time they can be a really good team.

The Red Sox are another team that I thought would have a better year than they’re having. After starting out 0-6 last year, I thought they’d have a bounce back year, but their current record of 2-5 isn’t living up to expectations, and I don’t see things getting any better for them. Jacoby Ellsbury was injured in yesterday’s game while sliding into second base. He is expected to miss a minimum of 6 weeks. Not good news for Red Sox fans.

Of the remaining teams on the list, the Angels are the only team that surprises me. With the addition of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the Angels were predicted by many to dominate their division. So far the only dominant aspect of their games has been the other team. I look for things to turn around for them, however, once King Albert starts getting hot.

Individual players:

1) Ike Davis: .043

2) Neil Walker: .048

3) Marlon Byrd: .083

4) J.P. Arencibia: .083

5) Ryan Raburn: .091

*Minimum of 20 at bats.

There’s really no one on this list that stands out in my mind. All of them are players that perform differently from year to year. While I don’t see them getting hot and working their average up to the .300 mark any time soon, I also don’t see their streak of bad luck continuing. They’ll all bounce back.

Like I said several times, I realize that it’s still VERY early in the season. Over 150 games still remain, and things will no doubt look a lot different for both the teams and players on the above lists. Teams and players that are off to fast starts now could hit a wall and end up having a terrible year, and just the opposite for those off to a slow start. That’s why they play 162 games.

My 2012 MLB Predictions

After watching several Spring Training games to try to get a feel for how teams will perform this season, I finally feel I can post my MLB predictions blog entry that I’ve had on hold for the past month. I’ve never attempted to make predictions for an entire year of Major League Baseball, but I’m going to give it a shot. I’ll probably be way off, but who knows, I might get lucky.

I’m going to start off by giving my predictions for each division, starting with the AL East:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1- New York Yankees

2- Tampa Bay Rays

3- Boston Red Sox

4- Toronto Blue Jays

5- Baltimore Orioles

Reasoning: I have the Yankees just edging out the Rays for the number one spot in the American League East. Both are going to be great teams this year but I think the Yankees have a slightly better team than the Rays. As far as the Red Sox go, I don’t see them having a repeat year from last. They’re bound to do much better this season. I don’t see them doing better than the Rays however, who are really getting their team together. I’ve got the Blue Jays finishing fourth in the AL East. While they have a decent pitching staff and power slugger Jose Bautista, as well as several young stars, I don’t think their team is quite there yet. Give them a few more years, and I think they’ll be a real threat in the division. As far as the Orioles go, I don’t see them doing any better than last year. They didn’t make any drastic changes to their team to warrant a belief that they’ll move up even one spot.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL 

1- Detroit Tigers

2- Cleveland Indians

3- Kansas City Royals

4- Minnesota Twins

5- Chicago White Sox

Reasoning: If you had asked me back when the 2011 season ended if I thought there was a team that could beat out the Detroit Tigers for the number one spot in the AL Central, my answer would’ve been yes. Now that the Tigers have Prince Fielder, and the transition for Miguel Cabrera from first to third base seems to have gone smoothly, I’d say there’s no chance of any team coming close to the Tigers. With their Ace Justin Verlander leading the way, I could easily see the Tigers winning 100 or more games this year. I have the Cleveland Indians finishing second in the division. I feel that they’re a good team, but not good enough for the number one spot. The number three spot goes to the Kansas City Royals. I feel that it’s just a matter of time before this team really starts to leave its mark. They have a great team, as well as several great prospects still in the minors. I think the Royals will be good enough for the number two spot in a couple years. I would’ve placed the Twins higher on the list had it not been for the great ammount of uncertainty. The Twins have a decent team, however their star players Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau didn’t have their best stuff last season due to injury. I’m not sure they can beat out the Royals for numbethird in the AL Central. As far as the White Sox go, they’re good engough for dead last on my list.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST 

1- Texas Rangers

2- Los Angeles Angels

3- Seattle Mariners

4- Oakland Athletics

Reasoning: It was very difficult for me to decide between the Rangers and Angels for that number one spot in the AL West. Both have great pitching staffs, as well as great players in their line ups, but in the end I felt that the Rangers and Yu Darvish would just beat out the Angels by one or two games. I have the Mariners taking that number three spot. Although the Athletics signed cuban phenom Yoenis Cespedes, as well as Manny Ramirez, I feel the Mariners are a better team when it comes down to it.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST 

1- Philadelphia Phillies

2- Atlanta Braves

3- Miami Marlins

4- Washington Nationals

5- New York Mets

Reasoning: Choosing between the Phillies and Braves for the number one spot was difficult. They both have injured players going into the season, however both have a good team even with the injuries. The only reason I picked the Phillies for first is their pitching rotation. The Braves have a good one as well, but I don’t think it’s as developed as the Phillies, who have their Ace Roy Halladay. The Marlins I have coming in third. While I feel they’ll deffinitely do better than last season–with the additions of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano–I don’t think they can compete with the Braves or Phillies in the very tough NL East division. Another team that I feel is going to do a lot better this season than last is the Washington Nationals. If Bryce Harper performs well once called up, and Stephen Strasburg can stay healthy, I think the Nationals stand a chance of beating out the Marlins for third in the division. For now, however, I’m still sticking with my prediction of fourth for the Nat’s, but give them a year or so and they’ll be a really good team. The Mets are last on my list, as I don’t feel they’ll do any better than last year, even with a healthy Johan Santana.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1- St. Louis Cardinals

2- Milwaukee Brewers

3- Cincinnati Reds

4- Pittsburgh Pirates

5- Chicago Cubs

6- Houston Astros

Reasoning: Depending on how healthy their star players can stay throughout the season, and how well the teams as a whole perform, I could see the Cardinals, Brewers or Reds placing first in the NL Central. They all have decent pitching rotations, as well as decent lineups. Since I couldn’t pick all three to put in the top spot however, I decided to go with the Cardinals after much debate. I’m not only choosing the Cardinals because they were 2011 World Champions, but also because I feel that even with the loss of their superstar Albert Pujols, they’re a good enough team to win the division. The second place team on my list, the Brewers, took a similar hit as the Cardinals, loosing their star player Prince Fielder. Without the loss of Fielder, the Brewers would run away with the  division, but I feel it’s pretty even between the top three teams the way it stands. The Reds are a team that’s good enough for the top spot, but I have them finishing third in the NL Central just for the fact that I don’t think they’ll put everything together to finish any better; but they might just surprise me. The Pirates, who I have finishing fourth, are a team similar to the Nationals. They’re getting better everyday, and have a bunch of star prospects still in the minors, including top prospect pitcher Gerrit Cole, but it’ll be a few more years before they’re good enough for third place or higher. They’re deffinitely a team to keep a close eye on in the future though. I have the Cubs finishing next to last just ahead of the Astros. Nothing stands out to me that makes me think they have a shot at cracking the 103 year World Series drought, none the less finishing any better than fifth. The good news for the Astros is that I think they’ll be no worse than last season. The bad news is they were terrible last season. But that’s nothing new. They’re good enough for last place.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1- San Francisco Giants

2- Arizona Diamondbacks

3- Los Angeles Dodgers

4- San Diego Padres

5- Colorado Rockies

Reasoning: After winning the World Series in 2010 the Giants had a terrible season last year. They were plagued with injuries to many of their stars, including Brian Wilson and Buster Posey, and while not injured, their Ace Tim Lincecum didn’t perform all that well. I look for the Giants to really dominate this coming season. I think Lincecum will have another stellar year, and I look for Buster Posey to have a bounce back year after being injured in 2011. Combine that with Wilson coming in to close things out, and I think you’ve got a team that’s good enough for first place in the division. The Diamondbacks, who won the division last season, are sure to have another fantastic season however I don’t think they’ll be quite good enough for the top spot. Matt Kemp and the Dodgers are sure to make a push at the number two spot. Kemp–who ended one home run shy of a 40/40 last season (40 home runs, 40 stolen bases)–made the bold prediction that he’ll record a 50/50 this year. While that seems a little far fetched, I still look for Kemp to help his team win a ton of games this year, and possibly end up winning the NL MVP, which he should’ve received after his 2011 performance. The Padres are another of my teams that I feel you should keep a close eye on. They’re not quite talented enough yet to finish any better than fourth (a step up from last season) but I feel that they’re really getting their act together. They made several great trades during the offseason, and their pitching staff is going to get better in the next couple of years. The Rockies in my opinion will finish last in the division. While they’re a good team, who also made some good trades during the off season, I feel that the Padres are going to be the slightly better team this year.

That’s my predictions for how the standings will look at the end of the 2012 Regular season. You may agree with me, or you might think I’m insane for some of my picks, but that’s just how I see it ending.

Here’s a quick review of the teams I have winning their divisions:

AL East: New York Yankees

NL East: Philadelphia Phillies

AL Central: Detroit Tigers

NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals

AL West: Texas Rangers

NL West: San Francisco Giants

Those are the teams that I have winning their divisions and moving onto the 2012 playoffs. Now moving onto my Wild Card Predictions. These are the teams I have recieving those:

AL Wild Card: Los Angeles Angels

NL Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks

Those are the teams I feel aren’t quite good enough to win their divisions, but will make it to the playoffs via a Wild Card slot. As you know, MLB is adding an extra Wild Card this season. So here are my picks for those:

Extra AL Wild Card Team: Tampa Bay Rays

Extra NL Wild Card Team: Atlanta Braves

If it comes out the way I predict, the Rays and Angels, and the Diamondbacks and Braves will have a one-game play off to see which will move on, and which one’s season will come to a dramatic end. It’s sure to be exciting.

I had originally planned on predicting all the way down to the World Series, but to be honest, there’s too much that can, and will, happen to have any success in doing that. I mean, when the Cardinals were 10 games back of the Braves for the Wild Card last year, who would’ve predicted that they’d go onto win the World Series? I will say this: I like the Tigers and Rangers chances.

So there you go. Those are my predictions for the division winners as well as the Wild Card, and extra Wild Card recipients. Only time will tell if they play out as I foresee.

Topps to Feature Rookie Card of A Squirrel?!

Yes, that’s right. The famous “rally squirrel” that first appeared in Game 4 of the NLDS last October, is pretty much getting a baseball card all to itself. Card number 93 of the 2012 Topps Series 1 set, is technically the card of Cardinals’ second basemen Skip Schumaker, but for the first time in the history of the Topps’ card company, the card doesn’t feature the face of the player on the card. As a matter of fact, Schumaker is barely visible–with only the lower part of his leg being shown:

If I was Skip Schumaker, I’d be very upset at the Topp’s card company. It’d be one thing if they made a card for the rally squirrel–they’ve done cards for mascots in the past–but to actually have it be the card of Schumaker? I mean come on. I would think the Topps’ company would be a little more professional than this. (Although to their credit, the card is being made a short-print.)

On a brighter side, the 2012 Topps Series 1 baseball set is also going to include the first cards of Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols in their new uniforms–given they are photoshoped. These cards (like the Schumaker card) are due to be short-prints, thus making them must have cards for collectors.

Want one of the Skip Schumaker short-print cards? Well, you have a two options:

Option 1: Go to your local card shop and buy pack after pack, until you hopefully get lucky and pull one of the cards.

Option 2: Buy the card off eBay. One of the first sold on eBay for $600!

I think I’ll go with option 1.

Making Up for My Lack of Entries

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a non Q and A blog entry. (16 days to be exact.) Although there’s been some big news lately, I’ve been slacking when it comes to writing about it. So I apologize for that. I’m going to use this entry to talk about the major news stories that have taken place since the last time I blogged on January 10th. I figured it’d be easier to do that than to do several different blog entries.

YU DARVISH SIGNS WITH RANGERS

After paying 51.7 million (the most for any pitcher in MLB history) for the rights to talk to Yu Darvish, the Rangers were able to lock him up with a 6-year, 60 million dollar deal. That’s good news for the Rangers, if Darvish pans out. However, there’s been more than one instance in the past of a pitcher that has been dominant in Japan, only to come over the the United States and fail, at the Major League Level. The latest example of this being Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Boston Red Sox (who didn’t even submit a bid for Darvish) paid 51.1 million to talk to Matsuzaka, and ended up getting him to agree to a 6-year, 52 million dollar deal. Although Daisuke had success in his first and second seasons with the Red Sox, injuries since then have caused him to become a non-factor, as he only pitched 6 games this season, with a 5.30 ERA. Not exactly stellar stuff. But if Darvish does turn out to be the same caliber pitcher he was in Japan, he could very well be the extra link needed to finally get the Rangers that World Series title that they’ve been so close to getting the past two seasons.

PRINCE FIELDER SIGNS WITH TIGERS

Since the Brewers where beaten out of the playoffs by the St. Louis Cardinals, all eyes have been on Fielder, with the main question being where he’d end up for the 2012 season. Well, no one knew for a long time. It was reported a few weeks ago that the the Rangers and Nationals were the teams that were pursuing Fielder the hardest. But after the Rangers spent a big chunk of change to sign Darvish, you had to figure that Fielder was going to be sporting a Nationals jersey in the upcoming season. But know one really knew for sure where he’d go. That’s why, although I was surprised, it wasn’t a huge shock when it was reported that Fielder had signed with the Detroit Tigers. Fielder’s 9-year, 214 million dollar deal makes him the highest annually paid member of the team. But I think this is going to work out well for the Tigers. Although they had to shell out over 200 million to get Fielder to sign, he has shown in the past that he can be a major factor, and I think the addition of Fielder gives the Tigers a great shot at winning 100 or more games this year.

TIM LINCECUM’S ‘FREAK’ISH DEAL

Tim Lincecum is nicknamed the “Freak”, and now I see why. He can get major ammounts of money paid for him, as he was given a 2-year, 40.5 million dollar deal from the Giants, in which he signed. I can’t deny the fact that Lincecum is good–extremely good–but I’m not sure he’s 20.25 million dollars a year good. When calculated out, Lincecum’s pricey deal comes out to roughly 94,500 dollars an inning–if he has the EXACT same stats of 33 games started, and 217 innings pitched, as he did last year. (This is highly unlikely, but I’m just using it to show how much Lincecum is going to earn the next two seasons.) But the 30,000 dollars per out is well worth it I suppose, if Lincecum can pitch the way he did the years in which he won the Cy Young award. As a matter of fact, Lincecum will earn a bonus if he wins the Cy Young, or any other award. Those bonuses include: CY YOUNG- 500,000 dollars for winning his third one, 250,000 for coming in second, 100,000 for third, 75,000 for fourth, and 50,000 for fifth. NL MVP- 250,000 dollars for winning, 150,000 for second place, 100,000 for third, 75,000 for fourth, and 50,000 for fifth. ALL-STAR GAME- 100,000 dollars if picked to pitch in the game. GOLD GLOVE- 50,000 dollars for winning the award. But all that is pocket change really, compared to what he’ll earn during the regular season.

JORGE POSADA RETIRES FROM MLB

It was first reported back in November that long time Yankee catcher Jorge Posada was considering retirement. That report was confirmed on Tuesday, as Jorge Posada held a press conference to officially announce his retirement from the game of baseball. Posada was part of that core-four of Rivera, Jeter, Pettitte, and himself, back in the 1990’s. Posada’s retirement makes Jeter and Rivera the last two members of the original four. I admire Posada for his acknowledgement that it was time for him to quit. He went out on top, after 17 great seasons with the Yankees–which is the best thing anyone who retires from any professional sport can do. Better to retire on top, than to extend your career a season or two more and retire after having a season batting average of .151. Now comes the debate of whether or not Posada is a Hall of Fame caliber player. In my opinion he is. Posada had an amazing career that included 1,664 hits, 275 home runs, 1,065 RBI’s, and a batting average of .273. Not to mention his FIVE World Series rings. Not bad for a catcher. I don’t see Posada getting into the Hall of Fame his first year, but I feel that he’ll get in his second or third year on the ballot. He was that good of a player.

TOP 100 PROSPECT LIST

The Top 100 Prospect’s List was released yesterday. While I’m not going to take the time to talk about ALL 100 players on the list, I am going to give my thought’s on the top 3. The top three prospects on the list included Matt Moore, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout. I’m shocked that Harper wasn’t number one. Not because I think he is better than Moore, but because everyone else that follows baseball seems to think he is the best prospect to come along in years. I mean, there’s no doubt that Harper is an incredible player, with undeniable power, but when it comes down to it, I think Moore is deserving of that number one spot he recieved. I have a good feeling that all three of the top 3 prospects will have a major impact at the Major League level this year. Which one will have the biggest impact is hard to say.

Pujols and Wilson To the Angels

The Winter Meetings, in Dallas, Texas, are now over, but man were they exciting. And although the Angels and Marlins were the only two teams that didn’t seem to be exploring the hotel the entire week, there were still some big name players that found new homes.

Let me start off talking a little bit about Albert Pujols. He was the main story throughout the week. Reports had the Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, and Marlins all presenting offers to Pujols, but when it came down to it, the Cubs couldn’t compete in the money game. The Cardinals offered Pujols a reported 220 Million over 10 years. Not bad, but if Albert Pujols was going to “go where the money was” they would have to raise their offer by a substantial amount; which didn’t happen. The Angles and Marlins really fought it out for Pujols. The Marlins offered Pujols a reported 275 Million over 10 years, while the Angels offered a 254 Million dollar 10-year deal. If it was about the money–which according to Pujols, it wasn’t–then it should’ve been an easy decision. No team offered anywhere near what the Marlins offered, so that’s where he’ll go right? Nope. Pujols took the 10-year 254 Million dollar offer from the Angels. (The second highest contract in MLB history.) So it wasn’t about the money, it was about the no-trade clause. The Angels offered him one, while the Marlins refused to. So in the end, Pujols took 21 Million less to secure a no-trade clause. But here’s my question. If the top offer from the Cardinals was 220 Million over 10 years, why not just stay in St. Louis? He’s a legend there, as it’s the only team he’s ever known. They love him there. It just doesn’t make sense. He’s only going to make just over 2 million more a year out in Anaheim. Is 22 million a year not enough to stay in a city that praises you? I don’t know. If it was me, I wouldn’t have made the decision he did. But whatever. My last name isn’t Pujols.

So now if you’re the Angels you’re thinking: “Okay. We’ve got one of the best hitters (if not the best) in all of Major League Baseball. Now we need an Ace pitcher to go along with him.” Thus you sign the best pitcher on the free-agent market, CJ Wilson. Wilson–who signed a 5-year contract worth 75 Millon–will join Weaver and Santana in the Angels killer pitching rotation. With the addition of Pujols and Wilson, the Angels will be difficult to beat in 2012. Whether they’ll make the playoffs and sweep every team that gets in their way to win the World Series like everyone is foreseeing is yet to be seen. I for one, don’t think they will. It’s kind of like the LeBron “decision” last year. Everyone thought the Heat would be unbeatable with James, Wade, and Bosh, but unless it’s invisible, I don’t see a Championship ring on the finger of LeBron. Just saying.

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