The marvelous world of baseball kicks off stateside tomorrow night and so I thought, despite my being terrible at these things, that it would be a good time to leave you with my predictions for how it’ll all shake out.
Disagree with my selections? Let me know your picks in the comments. Asterisk denotes wild card teams.
- Tampa Bay Rays - A rotation a dozen men deep (it seems), a full season of Desmond Jennings, and the game’s best third baseman make this the year the Rays take the AL East. Hopefully ownership will make the necessary move and go all in in 2012.
- New York Yankees* - Last year’s greatest weakness, the rotation, has been boosted, Michael Pineda’s injury be damned. The offense will be robust as usual, though another year has ticked by making it all the more likely that someone will crumble like an Grecian statue.
- Boston Red Sox - The Red Sox have the talent and means to take the division, especially if Carl Crawford returns to his Rays form. In my opinion the rotation is still too thin and Cody Ross in right field doesn’t inspire boundless confidence.
- Toronto Blue Jays - The Jays are in the right direction with their amazing farm system at the fore. Their time will come.
- Baltimore Orioles - At least the throwback hats will look nice.
- Detroit Tigers - God help the pitching staff that has to rely on Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the same infield. But Verlander, Scherzer, and Porcello at the front of this offense won’t have much to worry about with competition in the Central.
- Kansas City Royals - Losing Soria and Salvador Perez probably ended any hopes of a surprise finish for the Royals, but they should hopefully have some rotation help coming from the minors as Eric Hosmer ascends to his barbecue throne.
- Cleveland Indians - With young talent that lacks high ceilings, and a Ubaldo Jimenez that doesn’t work quite right, the Indians may be the most average team in baseball.
- Minnesota Twins - The Twins were massive disappointments last year. With Morneau and Mauer healthy, they could even find themselves finishing second in a division full of 80 win teams.
- Chicago White Sox - I just had to check their roster page to see what to get excited about. Blah.
- Texas Rangers - Two straight AL Pennants have the Rangers on the verge of becoming the Buffalo Bills of baseball. That’s about the only football joke I know. After the Rangers and Angels gorged on talent this offseason, the AL West race should be lots of fun.
- Anaheim Angels* - Taking a look through lineup, this team doesn’t even have many holes. And that’s with Mike Trout waiting for Vernon Wells to prove that last year’s .248 was no fluke. Mark Trumbo playing third base, even just sparingly, should be quite interesting to watch if his spring training performance was any indicator.
- Seattle Mariners - The Mariners are a lot better than people give them credit for, but even if Ichiro picked up 1,000 hits, I wonder where the offense will come from.
- Oakland Athletics - That window has to open someday, right?
- Atlanta Braves - This was a tough call as I still love that Phillies rotation, but with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out to start the season, this may be the end of the Phillies dynasty. And it’s not like the Braves are slouches, especially if Jason Heyward remembers how to hit the ball.
- Philadelphia Phillies* - As much as I love watching Jim Thome play the field, the fact that he’ll need to is not something that inspires much confidence.
- Miami Marlins* - The Marlins couldn’t have spent all that money and not at least bought themselves a third place finish, right?
- Washington Nationals - I really love the talent the Nationals have assembled and think the NL East will be a very tough place to play this season. Unfortunately, the rest of the teams are just too deep to let Washington riggle up any higher.
- New York Mets - At least the Mets’ Madoff troubles are a thing of the past.
- Cincinnati Reds - The outfield could be crazy good and the addition of Mat Latos coupled with the graduation of Devin Mesoraco may just give the Reds the division in 2012.
- Milwaukee Brewers - The loss of Fielder will hurt, but as long as Shaun Marcum does better than he did during the postseason, they should remain competitive.
- St. Louis Cardinals - It will be a tight three team race, but no Albert and questionable health for Chris Carpenter makes me too unsure to put the Cardinals any higher.
- Pittsburgh Pirates - Oh, Pirates. Will this be the year they win 81? Probably not. But maybe.
- Chicago Cubs - Theo Epstein is magic, but even he doesn’t have enough pieces to play with.
- Houston Astros - Like a clown car wreck, this could be a lot of fun. With a new owner and GM, don’t expect this period to last long.
- San Francisco Giants - I still don’t know where the Giants will get any runs from, but that pitching. Hoo boy.
- Arizona Diamondbacks - Enough went right for Arizona last year that just won’t go right this year. Whether it’s more balls falling in front of Kubel that wouldn’t in front of Parra, Ryan Roberts’ living tattoos no longer hitting or simply Josh Collmenter’s Mjolinir-throwing growing stale, I think the D’Backs will come up just short.
- Colorado Rockies - Jamie Moyer will lead this team to freedom.
- Los Angeles Dodgers - $2 billion in Magic Johnson money is nice, too bad it couldn’t come during the offseason. Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw will be fun to watch, but there isn’t a whole lot behind them.
- San Diego Padres - The future is coming, the future isn’t now. All hail, Jaff Decker!
AL Pennant: Tampa Bay Rays
NL Pennant: Atlanta Braves
World Series Winner: Tampa Bay Rays
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Madison Bumgarner
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera (if he can actually stay at third base)
NL MVP: Joey Votto
AL ROY: Matt Moore
NL ROY: Devin Mesoraco
Naturally, since these are my picks, I expect them all to be wrong. We’ll revisit this at the end of the year to see just how much egg is on my face.