This week at Motor City Bengals, we will be going on the record with our season predictions. Over the course of the week, each MCB staff member will “Put Up Or Shut Up” with their thoughts on how the MLB season is going to play out. Once the season is finished, we’ll compare these predictions to see which staff member gets bragging rights for the off-season.
Every year I do these predictions with the full understanding that a) they mean nothing, and b) I’m probably going to be way, way off. In one case I hope that I’m wrong. Anyhow, if nothing else, at season’s end you can look back and point and laugh at me (as if you don’t do that already). We’ll get into it after the jump.
AL East: Boston Red Sox 97-65
I like the starting pitching and the depth of their lineup. Josh Beckett and John Lackey won’t be as bad this year as they were a season ago and Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz just keep getting better, it seems. The additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez are ridiculous. Talk about the rich getting richer.
The Yankees, despite their question marks in the rotation, have more than enough fire-power to out slug their opponents. Toronto will be good again and the Orioles might be the most improved team in the league. The Rays won’t fall off as much as many predict, but in this division the difference between second and fifth place isn’t all that large.
AL Central: Chicago White Sox 90-72
The Pale Hose are the division’s most complete team, at least on paper. If everything goes as planned, I have them about two games clear of the field in a very tight Central race.
All rarely goes as planned, however. If things break right for Detroit, I could see the Tigers making the playoffs as division champs, but I have them at 88 wins this year. Minnesota’s heavy casualties in the bullpen figure to be too much to overcome. They always seem to play over their heads, though, so my guess of 85 wins could easily become 95. The Royals are better than expected this year, but still a distant fourth and Cleveland, well… it’s gonna be a long year.
AL West: Texas Rangers 92-70
I like Oakland a lot, but Texas should have plenty of offense and just enough pitching to hold off the A’s uprising. The Angels will be better than last year, but not by a whole lot. Torii Hunter is still a leader, but his bat is better suited for centerfield than a corner spot. The same may wind up being said for Vernon Wells. Seattle brings up the rear yet again.
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies 94-68
Too much pitching, too much offense, even without a healthy Chase Utley. Age is starting to catch up with some of these guys, however.
The Braves will be very good and have a bunch of good young talent. Florida winds up at just under .500 to place third, with the Nationals overtaking the Mets for fourth.
NL Central: Cincinnati Reds 88-74
The Reds have the best collection of youth in the division and the experience of a divisional championship from a season ago. The Brewers will make a push for the top spot in what should be a tight race all year long. St. Louis and Chicago will be in the mix as well. The Pirates are improving, and have enough talent that they finish ahead of Houston.
NL West: San Francisco Giants 91-71
It’s all about pitching here. The Giants boast the best rotation outside of Philadelphia (maybe including them, too?) and their bullpen should be rock-solid once again. Brandon Belt should provide the same kind of lift that Buster Posey gave the Giants last year. And a full season of Posey won’t hurt, either.
The Rockies should make things interesting until the end and I think they take the wild card over Atlanta. The Dodgers will improve from a disappointing 2010 and the Padres, will struggle to a fourth-place finish. Arizona won’t put up much of a fight this year, sadly. That’s tough duty for Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell out there.
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees 91-71
NL Wild Card: Colorado Rockies 90-72
AL Pennant: Boston Red Sox
NL Pennant: San Francisco Giants
World Series Champion: Boston Red Sox
AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter Bal
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke Mil