Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Opening Day Eve - final preseason predictions

I made the first set of preseason predictions 2 months ago before spring training games started.  Since then there have been several injuries, player roles have been redefined and teams have finalized opening day rosters.   The season starts this weekend, so time for an updated set of projections, by division:

No major events in spring training, so I still expect the Red Sox to win.  Tampa and New York will fight for a wildcard spot.  Toronto and Baltimore, while both greatly improved, are still impaired by having to play more than 1/3 of their games against the above teams.
Twins are still the class of this division.  The Tigers and White Sox could contend but will be looking up most of the season, and KC and Cleveland will be out of the race by Victoria Day (or Memorial Day for those  readers South of the 49th).
Oakland and Texas should have a good fight all season.  I originally had Oakland with a large edge due to their pitching , but the absence of Andrew Bailey evens things up.  I will modify my original forecast, and pick Texas to repeat.   The Angels are on their way down and Seattle will finish last again.

AL East: Boston
AL Central: Minnesota
AL West: Texas
Wildcard prediction:  Oakland – easy wins against divisional foes will give them more victories than New York or Tampa. Other teams in the race could be the White Sox and Tigers.

ALCS:  Oakland over Minnesota
MVP: Adrian Gonzalez
RoY: Kyle Drabek
Cy Young: Jon Lester


With the Phillies injuries, this is now a tighter race than I had envisioned 6 weeks ago.  Philly’s starting pitching should still give them the edge over the Braves though.  In what will realistically only be a 2 horse race all season, the Marlins and Nationals will be looking forward to next year, while Mets fans shouldn’t  be expecting much, and won’t be disappointed.
This may be the most interesting divisional race.  There are no really good teams, and anyone could get hot for a short while and take the division.  Pirate fans - if either one of you are reading this, I wasn't talking to you.  And those of you in Texas who want to back a winner, better root for the Rangers – your Astros will finish last.  But the Cardinals do not look like much more than a .500 team.  The Brewers made some improvements, but they only won 77 games last year, and their biggest offseason acquisition, Zack Greinke is starting the season on the DL. Last year’s winner, Cincinnati, played above their heads and aren’t likely to have everything fall into place so nicely again.  The Cubs are the 4th team in this mix and they only won 75 last year, although finished strong.  I would not be surprised if all 4 of these teams played .500 ball, while none of them win more than 88 games.  But if I have to make a wild-ass guess – sorry, I mean educated prediction after poring through thousands of advanced stats and scouting reports – I’m going to pick the Cubs to make the playoffs.  Whoever doesn’t win this division will not be in the wildcard race at all.
Another interesting race.  The Giants have the arms but still don’t have offence.  (Although as I recall that didn't end too badly for them last year).  The Rockies are going to give them a fight wire to wire.  I’m going to give Colorado the division crown, and have San Francisco in good shape to battle Atlanta for the wildcard.  San Diego hung in the race most of last year, but apparently did it with smoke and mirrors because other than Adrian Gonzalez, I’m not sure what they had.  Expect them to finish below .500 this year and not be a factor.  LA is an interesting team – I’ve seen them ranked as high as #5 in other power rankings, and as low as 26.  I’m leaning towards the latter.  They may challenge San Diego for a meaningless 3rd place finish in this division.   The nicest thing I can say about the Diamondbacks is that they might be the best last place team in the league.

NL East: Philadelphia
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Rockies
Wildcard prediction - I think the Giants are a better team than the Braves, but ultimately Atlanta will end up with more wins, due to being able to beat up their divisional foes more easily than San Francisco can.   Don't see any other teams in the hunt for the wildcard.

NLCS:  Rockies over Philly
MVP:  Carlos Gonzalez, with Prince Fielder and Dan Uggla having great years.
RoY:  Freddie Freeman 
Cy Young: Josh Johnson with Ubaldo Jimenez, Roy Oswalt and Matt Garza having excellent seasons. 

World Series:
Oakland over Colorado in 6.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

MLB Power Rankings - March edition

This is my last preseason power rankings.  I will update these near the beginning of each month throughout the season.  I will also update my preseason predictions before the season starts.

Numbers in brackets are movement from last month, and their high/low rank for the season.  Look at previous rankings(here for the initial January ones, and here for February) for explanations of how the team got to where they were - any explanation here just reflects recent changes.

#1 - Boston ( --, 1/1) They haven't done anything to drop from the top of the rankings.

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#2 - Philadelphia (--, 2/2)  Some injuries may make them less formidable, but along with Boston they are still the only other team likely to win 95 games.
#3 - Minnesota (--, 3/5) Beating up on weak division opponents will help their win total.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

MSP Annual is here!!!

Today, I received my Maple Street Press Red Sox Annual 2001.

 My friend, Reg over at the Rulebook Guru, got a free copy of it as a member of the Baseball Blogger's Alliance (note to self: find out how to get in on that!), with an expectation that he'd write a review on it.   I will be reviewing it on his behalf, but here's a sneak preview....

Friday, March 4, 2011

Former Red Sox Bruce Hurst at Vauxhall

Pitcher Bruce Hurst, will be at the Vauxhall Academy Awards Scholarship Fundraising Dinner on Saturday evening at the Vauxhall Community Hall.  Tickets are still available, and this is a great opportunity to listen to and meet a former Red Sox great.

More details and ticket info here.