America has a predictions addiction. We want to know the answers and we want them now! We have less patience that Veruca Salt. "But daddy, I want to know who wins the World Series NOW!"
Hold your horses. Despite the fact that we can scratch off certain teams from contention right now (I'd say somewhere between 12 and 14 teams have anywhere from a big to small chance of winning the World Series this season) we still have to play the games. Who would have guessed that the Diamondbacks would win the NL West? Who could have foreseen the Red Sox missing the playoffs? And who would guesstimated that Miguel Tejada was still in the league?
This will be the last season of baseball ever, unless we band together and force Matt Cain to live up to his contract in a post-Mayan apocalypse world. The last chance for predictions on who wins every division, award, and the busts and breakouts of 2012.
I forced the writers at FakeTeams to send me there predictions and also had a few of them throw me some explanations as to why they made their ridiculous picks that should have been exactly the same as mine! What's the point of making picks if we're all different! That's confusing to the reader!
The A's and M's have already played two games which wildly effects out selections* but we're going to march on anyway. What happens in Japan, stays in Japan.
*There is almost zero mention of the A's and M's so it didn't effect it at all.
So, on with it, am I right? Wasting a lot of time here for no apparent reason but just follow through after the jump so you can look at the picks, look for your favorite team, and steal your mom's credit card to run up some bets on the internet.
The American League
|FT Writer||AL East||AL Central||AL West||AL Wild Card 1||AL Wild Card 2|
|Rob Langevin||Yankees||Tigers||Angels||Red Sox||Royals|
|Robert Bishop||Yankees||Tigers||Rangers||Red Sox||Rays|
|Bret Sayre||Rays||Tigers||Rangers||Red Sox||Angels|
NOTES: Nobody wanted to go out on a limb for anyone in the AL Central, with the Tigers taking the clean sweep for the predictions. The Rays just edged out the Yankees on votes for the AL East: 5 to 4, with the Red Sox winning the Wild Card three times out of nine writers, the Yankees taking the Wild Card four times, and the Rays taking a Wild Card three times.
The Rangers edged out the Angels 6 to 3 in the votes and only Rob has the Rangers missing the playoffs entirely. Only Robert Bishop has the Angels missing the playoffs.
Robert Bishop on the Yankees: It looks like we've finally gotten to the point where the Yankees are underappreciated. Congratulations, everybody! We did it! Yes, it appears that they're on a budget for the first time in most of our lifetimes. Yes, Michael Pineda is a concern right this minute. Don't forget that this is a team that won 97 games with Bartolo Colon in the rotation. The Yankees are old, and old teams can get tripped up in the playoffs easily, but this has the look of a team that could easily win 100 and steamroll everybody on their way to a championship.
The National League
|FT Writer||NL East||NL Central||NL West||NL Wild Card 1||NL Wild Card 2|
NOTES: Five writers picked the Phillies, three votes for the Braves, and one for the Marlins. The Reds took the Central seven out of nine times with the Brewers taking it twice and the Cardinals making the playoffs twice in the Wild Card. The Giants were a clean sweep of the NL West except for one writer who believes that the Dodgers are going to have a Magic season in his unbiased opinion. Congrats to the Nats, with four writers saying that they'll be making the playoffs for the first time in Washington.
Kenneth on Washington: You've got an MVP candidate in Ryan Zimmerman, a bounceback player in Jayson Werth, a rotation that has Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson. The bullpen looks like it could be very good, as well. Top it off with the best prospect in the world, and Bryce Harper could be a force soon, and the Nationals look to me like a team that should be better than the Braves, Marlins, and Mets. The hardest part to get past is the fact that they're the Nationals.
Bret on picking the Marlins: I picked the Marlins in the East because I think they could have the best offense in the National League. Any lineup that starts with Reyes, Hanley and Stanton has a leg up on everyone else. Also, I'm a big Josh Johnson believer for this season -- I feel irrationally good about him staying healthy.
Kevin on the Brewers in the Central: I've seen some fairly lazy reporting from the National media regarding the Brewers finishing 3rd in the NL Central due to the fact that "Mat Gamel isn't as good as Prince Fielder." Well, duh! Analysts should be comparing Aramis Ramirez to Fielder, then Gamel to Casey McGehee then Alex Gonzalez to Yuniesky Betancourt. When you factor in defense/run prevention, the overall dropoff is minimal if existent at all. Add to that a full season from Zack Greinke and you're really cookin' with gas. But, what might be the most overlooked aspect in analysis of the Brew Crew this offseason is the bullpen. Prior to acquiring K-Rod in July last year, the Brewers had surrendered the game-winning run in the 7th inning or later 20 times. After they acquired K-Rod? Zero times. Cut that 20 down to 10 across the full season and I'd say I like their odds vs. the Pujols-less St. Louis and inconsistent Reds.
The World Series and Managers
|FT Writer||AL Manager of the Year||NL Manager of the Year||AL Pennant||NL Pennant||World Series Winner|
|Ray Guilfoyle||Joe Maddon||Don Mattingly||Rays||Phillies||Rays|
|Kevin Boger||Joe Maddon||Ron Roenicke||Rays||Giants||Rays|
|Rob Langevin||Ned Yost||Mike Matheny||Yankees||Reds||Yankees|
|Robert Bishop||Bobby Valentine||Davey Johnson||Yankees||Phillies||Yankees|
|Mike Gallagher||Jim Leyland||Dusty Baker||Tigers||Reds||Reds|
|Paul Rice||Joe Maddon||Dusty Baker||Angels||Giants||Giants|
|Jason Hunt||Mike Scioscia||Davey Johnson||Rays||Braves||Rays|
|Bret Sayre||Joe Maddon||Ozzie Guillen||Rangers||Marlins||Rangers|
|Kenneth Arthur||Joe Maddon||Davey Johnson||Tigers||Phillies||Tigers|
NOTES: Who would have thought it would ever come to this? The Rays picked by three writers to win the World Series and Joe Maddon as the overwhelming favorite to win AL MOY by five writers. Two writers picked the Yankees, one vote a piece for Giants, Rangers, Tigers, and Reds.
Kevin on the Rays winning it all: Despite somewhat disappointing seasons from Evan Longoria and David Price as well as little to no production from left field and the leadoff spot in the lineup for the majority of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays were still able to claim the AL Wild Card in 2011 as a part of the toughest division in baseball. I expect better years from both Longoria and Price, much better production from the leadoff spot with Desmond Jennings and more power in the lineup with Luke Scott and Carlos Pena. Add Matt Moore, my AL ROY pick, to the mix and I think there's a strong possibility there will be a World Series parade in Tampa in October, the only real question is whether any fans will attend.
Robert B on the Phillies winning the NL: The Phillies are beat up right now. Chase Utley looks like he might never play again (slight exaggeration, maybe), Ryan Howard was only recently taking grounders from a chair (!), and Jimmy Rollins is now 33 years old. Have a look at the big picture, though: Name a team in the National League that has an elite lineup. You can't, unless you really want to stretch the definition of elite (MAYBE the Reds). The Phillies still have an outstanding rotation, and their lineup as currently constructed holds up in comparison to any other NL lineup. There's no reason to believe that they'll fall victim to a 5 game series again this year.
Kenneth on the Tigers as Champs: Well, looks like despite the fact that everyone has the Tigers winning the division, nobody has them winning it all except for me. Forget the fact that they'll probably win 110 games in that division. Do they have the depth in pitching to win in the playoffs? Does it matter? Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila were all more valuable than Victor Martinez, so his loss doesn't hurt that much. The addition of Prince Fielder will put them over the top and make the Tigers the best team in the AL. They might not blow you away, but the pitchers after Justin Verlander (Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello) aren't bad. Tigers will win it all.
|FT Writer||AL MVP||NL MVP||AL Cy Young||NL Cy Young||AL ROY||NL ROY|
|Ray G||Miguel Cabrera||Matt Kemp||David Price||Zack Greinke||Jesus Montero||Bryce Harper|
|Kevin B||Evan Longoria||Justin Upton||David Price||Zack Greinke||Matt Moore||Trevor Bauer|
|Rob L||Adrian Gonzalez||Joey Votto||Jon Lester||Madison Bumgarner||Matt Moore||Zack Cozart|
|Rob B||Robinson Cano||Joey Votto||Dan Haren||Cole Hamels||Addison Reed||Tyler Pastornicky|
|Mike G||Miguel Cabrera||Joey Votto||Justin Verlander||Zack Greinke||Matt Moore||Devin Mesoraco|
|Paul R||Evan Longoria||Justin Upton||Jered Weaver||Clayton Kershaw||Matt Moore||Bryce Harper|
|Jason H||Miguel Cabrera||Matt Kemp||Jered Weaver||Roy Halladay||Matt Moore||Devin Mesoraco|
|Bret S||Miguel Cabrera||Hanley Ramirez||Dan Haren||Zack Greinke||Matt Moore||Trevor Bauer|
|Kenneth A||Albert Pujols||Joey Votto||Dan Haren||Cliff Lee||Jesus Montero||Trevor Bauer|
NOTES: The leaders are Miguel Cabrera for AL MVP (4 votes), Votto for NL MVP (4 votes), Haren for AL Cy Young (3 votes), Greinke for NL Cy Young (4 votes,) Matt Moore for AL Rookie of the Year (6 votes) and nobody ran away with NL Rookie of the Year.
Bret on Hanley for MVP: The Hanley pick ties in with the Marlins pick as I can't ignore the narrative that the MVP has to come from a winning team, despite the fact that it's dumb. I think he has a huge bounce-back season now that his shoulder is healthy and he plays reasonably solid defense at 3B as the year goes on. I won't project a 30-30 season, but I won't dismiss it as a possibility. His projected offensive line: .310, 25 HR, 87 RBI, 103 R, 33 SB.
Breakouts and Busts
|FT Writer||AL Breakout||NL Breakout||AL Bust||NL Bust|
|Ray G||Matt Wieters||Starlin Castro||Alex Rodriguez||Tim Lincecum|
|Kevin B||Lorenzo Cain||Mike Minor||Prince Fielder||Giancarlo Stanton|
|Rob L||Brandon Morrow||Jon Niese||Mike Napoli||Stephen Strasburg|
|Robert B||Derek Holland||Mat Gamel||Jose Valverde||Chris Carpenter|
|Mike G||Brett Lawrie||Dee Gordon||Jacoby Ellsbury||Giancarlo Stanton|
|Paul R||Mike Moustakas||Lucas Duda||Curtis Granderson||Michael Morse|
|Jason H||Jemile Weeks||Zack Cozart||Curtis Granderson||Michael Cuddyer|
|Bret S||Chris Sale||Jordan Zimmermann||Asdrubal Cabrera||Corey Hart|
|Kenneth A||Mike Moustakas||Jason Heyward||Josh Hamilton||Ryan Braun|
NOTES: The fun part about this category is that I didn't give the writers any context with which to make their picks. Whatever "Breakout" or "Bust" meant to them would be whatever it meant to them. That gave us a lot of different answers with only Moustakas, Curtis Granderson and Mike Giancarlo Stanton showing up twice in their respective categories.
Robert B on his picks: Derek Holland had a fantastic second-half last year (3.08 K/BB, .241 BAA, 1.21 WHIP, 3.06 ERA), and his numbers overall were pretty good, too. He's a ground ball pitcher in front of one of the best defensive infields in the league, which also helps to negate the park factor. His peripherals are right in line with his full-season stats, suggesting that he's moving in the right direction. I've got him down for a 3.16 ERA with a 2.45 K/BB in over 200 innings. That would certainly constitute a breakout.
Mat Gamel has never really been given a chance in the big leagues, and he'll have that this year with the Brewers. He has the potential to hit .280 or so with 20+ home runs.
Jose Valverde didn't blow a save all last season. That's not going to happen again. He also walks way too many guys and his ERA predictors suggest that he'll finish way above last year's 2.24.
Chris Carpenter induced fewer ground balls than he ever has in a full season last year, and the line drive percentage was way up. A look at PitchFX suggests that his stuff may be starting to go. The recent news about nerve irritation in his shoulder isn't a good sign, either.
Bret on A Cabrera: Asdrubal Cabrera is not a power hitting shortstop, despite what his stats from 2011 might say. His 13.3% HR/FB rate is not sustainable, especially when his career rate is 7.8%. He's ok, but he's not particularly helpful in any category and I don't think he'll finish the season as a top-10 SS -- he's essentially Alexei Ramirez from a fantasy standpoint, except I like Ramirez better. His projected offensive line: .272, 12 HR, 67 RBI, 76 R, 14 SB
Kevin on his picks: In the NL, it's the Washington Nationals on the rise, and in the AL, it's the Kansas City Royals and Lorenzo Cain figures to be a big part of that in 2012 as the team's everyday CF. Cain offers a rare combination of speed, power and contact skills and could be a poor man's version of Desmond Jennings if he is able to bat in the top third of the KC lineup most of the year. Expect similar HR, RBI and R to Jennings as well as a better BA with maybe 10-15 less SB.
Don't get me wrong, Prince Fielder will still have an above average season at 1B in his first season in Detroit, I'm just predicting a dropoff from his typical production, enough so that he might not merit his current 2nd Rd. ADP. Fielder was tremendous at Miller Park in his career with the Brewers and hit 24 of his 38 HR there last season, 9 of which would not have been HR at Comerica Park. Not to mention Fielder typically gets off to very slow starts in April in terms of power (only 11% of his 230 career HR have occurred in March/April), and that was with the controlled temperature/conditions at MP. Playing in the elements of Comerica, as well as Target Field, US Cellular Field and Kauffman Staidum (tough of left handers), and I wouldn't be surprised to see a HR total much closer to 30 than 40. I'd also expect a BA closer to .280 than .300 and some struggles when he is inevitably asked to DH sporadically throughout the season once the Miguel Cabrera 3B experiment comes to an end.
Giancarlo Stanton looks like he is built like a tank but his constant reoccuring, nagging injuries resemble a Pinto more than a Howitzer. I'm predicting less than 120 games played, little to no stolen bases and a BA at or below .250. Even with the injuries, 30 HR seems possible, but, if you're drafting him in the 2nd Rd. you are probably expecting 40 HR, and that isn't going to happen.
Kenneth on the picks: I took the easy route! I picked two players with superior tools that could be studs this year and then I picked two guys that had bad off-field off-seasons. Boom! Follow me on Twitter @KennethArthurS and you can follow faketeams at the obvious @FakeTeams. I'll let the other guys edit in their twitter handles if they feel so inclined.