And for the predictions:
Over the past month I looked at each of the clubs and gave you my evaluations on them. So, as a finale to that, here I’ll give you my early season prognostications for what will happen in the post-season. But first I’ll go over the picks of several top publications and writers: Baseball Digest (BD), Sports Illustrated (SI), Athlon Sports (AS), USA Today’s Mike Dodd (USD) and Seth Livingstone (USL) and local Toronto Sun columnists Bob Elliott (TSE) and Ken Fidlin (TSF) for the prominent awards and titles.
AL East: easy one here, all of the above pick Boston.
AL Central: SI, AS, TSE pick Minnesota. USD and BD pick Chicago. USL and TSF picks Detroit.
AL West: SI curses Oakland by making them their pick to click. All others go for a repeat by Texas.
AL Wildcard: SI, USD, AS, and TSE pick new York. USL picks Chicago and TSF goes for currently 1-8 Tampa.
Meaning that for the American League, among the 7 experts, all 7 see the Red Sox in the playoffs, 4 see the Yanks there, one pick for the Rays, 3 foresee the White sox making it back in, 3 the Twins and one the Tigers, 6 expect the Rangers back in the post-season and one the A’s.
NL East: Philadelphia across the board.
NL Central: SI, uSL, TSE and TSF go for Cincinnati, USD and AS opt for St Louis while uSL says Milwaukee.
NL West: USL and TSE go for Colorado while the others all expect last year’s champs, San Francisco to repeat.
NL wildcard: SI, AS and TSF figure on colorado, TSE chooses Atlanta, USL goes for San Francisco and uSD for Milwaukee. BD didn’t directly choose wild card favourites. The end result of that is its unanimous that the Phillies will be back in October baseball for a fifth year in a row, four expect Cincy back, six out of seven think the Giants will be Giants again, five expect their division mates the Rockies to be there, while two see the Cards and one lone voice apiece is optimistic about the Brewers and the Braves.
AL Champion: The five who pick league champs all pick boston.
NL Champion: Likewise, USD, USL, AS, TSE and TSF expect Philadelphia to win.
World Series: Well all agree on who is expected to be there. But of the selected experts, philadelphia have the slight edge, being picked by three (USL, TSE and TSF) compared to two who expect Boston (USD, AS).
AL MVP: Note that SI picked choices for all 3 divisions in both leagues. That said, Robinson Cano and Miguel Cabrera were picked twice, while Justin Morneau, Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Evan Longoria also got mentioned .
NL MVP: Four picks for Troy Tulowitzki, a pair for Albert Pujols, while Joey Votto gets one nod for another trophy, the same number of choices as Jason heyward, and Ryan Braun.
AL Cy Young: three nods to Jon Lester, two for Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia, and a single pick for Clay Bucholz and last year’s winner (felix Hernandez).
NL Cy Young: Three choices for Doc Roy Halladay, two each for Cliff Lee and Adam Wainwright (presumably picked before he underwent season-killing surgery!) and one mention each for the SF Freak, tim Lincecum and for Yovani Gallardo.
AL Rookie: Chris Sale, jesus Montero and Desmond Jennnings were the names picked by the three who ventured a guess.
NL Rookie: Aroldis Chapman picked by two, Domonic Brown by the other picker.
And for my choices…well as past blogs had documented, I picked Boston, chicago and Texas for AL division champs and Philly, milwaukee and LA in the National and nothing I’ve seen so far (early as it might be) has done much to dissuade me from that. For the wildcard, I pick Atlanta in the NL and Detroit in the AL. Detroit might not be quite as good a team as the Yankees but owing to the schedule they get in the Central, should win a game or two more and thus make the playoffs.
Ultimately, though anything can happen in October, it is difficult to disagree with the concensus and see it any way other than a Boston vs Philadelphia showdown. And while Boston may have a bit of an edge (as the rosters sit now anyway) in offense, I think the Phils pitching will carry the day and thus the 2011 Prediction for the World Series: Philadelphia.
For the awards… the MVP typically goes to a player from a playoff team, for better or worse. I often think there are better choices from more mediocre teams (I look at the award from the standpoint of which player would cause his team to fall the most games if he was subtracted from the roster. Most really good playoff teams wouldn’t be heavily impacted by the loss of any one player hence their stature in the post-season. But I am apparently in the minority opinion here.) So that point in mind, my top choices for AL MVP would be Miguel Cabrera (particularly if he does something that will win him Movie of the Week laurels like decide to publically go for alcohol treatment) of Detroit, Robinson Cano of the Yanks (especially if they do squeak in to playoffs), Adam Dunn of Chicago. Less likely but on radar , Kevin Youkilis in boston and our own Jose Bautista in Toronto, whom using my criteria should have been the ’10 winner.
In the NL, Ryan Braun should edge out last year’s winner, joey Votto, particularly if my voice in the wilderness about the Brewers winning the division is correct. Other good choices: matt Kemp having a big comeback year (apparently looking focused and interested this year) for the Dodgers, Brian McCann in Atlanta , Matt Holliday in St Louis who just might eclipse his better known teammate this season (besides which, a disgruntled Pujols might well end up elsewhere by September) or Corey Hart in Milwaukee. Dark horse candidate: Aramis Ramirez, looking OK so far and poised to try for one more big contract.
Cy Young: In the AL, I like the Boston kids (Lester and Bucholz) but not that much. I don’t think their slow start this year is a total fluke or coincidence, though they’ll both end up with decent numbers by the end of the year. The winner– easy pick in my mind, Justin Verlander of Detroit. Close runners-up, Dan haren and Jered Weaver out in the City of , or at least state of , Angels, and David Price , a very good pitcher on a very bad team (kind of like last year’s winner). Uber dark horse pick– Blue Jays Brandon Morrow. If he can pick up where he left off last season and convince head office not to limit his innings to 38 or whatever their asinine plan is, he could still deliver 30 starts, 225 strikeouts, a no hitter and with a bit of offence (likely ’cause he won’t be the #1 starter so his batters won’t be facing other aces) , perhaps win 18 or more.
In the NL– who’d you think I’d say? I’ve picked this guy for a Cy Young every year for about 9 years now— literally. Last year I was right. Roy Halladay, who thus far between spring training and two regular starts, has an ERA well below 1.00. needs 31 wins for 200 career victories. Won’t make it to that mark this year. Probably. Runners up, tim Hudson, josh Johnson (if he spends whole year in NL) , matt Cain and roy Oswald. And no, I’m not forgetting any frea…err San francisco pitcher.
Rookie of year: In the AL, I think KC will go to their uber-hitting prospect sooner than later, Wilson Betemit’s 4 hits yesterday notwithstanding, and Mike Moustakas sooner than later will deliver that combination of 25 home runs and hope for a * not so good* team that gets voters turned on. Over in the NL… well, my gut feeling is that Freddie Freeman will be the real rookie de jour. But, given voters’ inexplicable love of shoveling this award over to the Bay area year after year in both leagues, I’d bet SF’s Brandon Belt would be a more surefire bet. Unless they figure out a loophole which will let them give it to Buster Posey for a second year in a row.
What about you? Who are your picks?