Opening Day is Upon Us


Ah, Opening Day. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this day is not a national holiday.

If you weren’t too busy over Easter weekend, I hope you had a chance to read through my breakdown of each division throughout baseball. If you missed any of them, use the archives drop-down on the left sidebar to access April 2010, where you’ll find a post for each division (you have to scroll down a ways to see the archived posts).

Today is a busy day here at MCB. In addition to predicting the season awards, which I’ll do after the jump, there will be a pregame post previewing the Royals/Tigers game today at 4pm EDT. Furthermore, yours truly has been invited to be a panelist on a multi-site live chat organized by Billfer of the esteemed Detroit Tigers Weblog. The other panelists are all members of the Detroit Independent Baseball Scribes (DIBS) and will begin at 3pm today.

You can take part by coming to this site and entering the chat console, which will up and running in advance of the chat. We will be live with you for about an hour, ahead of first pitch from Kansas City. If you happened to stumble upon the chat we did last year at the trade deadline, you know it was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to bringing it to you here at MCB this year.

Without further ado, let’s get to my predictions for the playoffs and season awards for the upcoming season. Click to read more.

National League

Playoff Teams

East– Atlanta Braves

Central– Cincinnati Reds

West– Colorado Rockies

Wild Card– Philadelphia Phillies

NL Champion– Colorado Rockies

Manager of the YearBobby Cox (Atl)- Cox is in the final year of his illustrious career and if that’s not enough to sway the vote in his favor, the Braves making a playoff run will be. If the Reds also contend, as I expect them to, this award could go to Dusty Baker, but Cox will be the sentimental choice. Much like Minnesota’s Ron Gardenhire, Cox is frequently overlooked as one of the game’s best field managers, but shouldn’t be. Braves baseball won’t be the same without him next year.

Rookie of the YearJason Heyward (Atl)- The Braves right fielder is just 20 years old, and will get stiff competition, especially is stud pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman make their big league debuts early in the year. The number one prospect in all of baseball, Heyward is a pure hitter and has the ability to run and throw as well. The Braves will contend if Heyward can cope with being an everyday player in the big leagues, it’s a lot to ask of a kid, but Heyward is the real deal.

Cy YoungJosh Johnson (Fla)- Johnson might be easy to overlook, especially pitching in the same division with Johan Santana and Roy Halladay, but the Marlins ace has the stuff to take the next step forward and place himself among the elite in the NL. Also in the running, the usual suspects, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain (SF, Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright (StL) and Dan Haren (Ari).

MVPJoey Votto (Cin)- Speaking of easily overlooked. Votto hit better than .320 a year ago with 25 bombs and 84 RBI while missing more than 30 games due to injury and depression issues after the passing of his father. The heart of the Reds lineup will feature Brandon Phillips,Jay Bruce, and Scott Rolen, plenty of protection, and Votto will be the leader of what should be a strong group for the upstart Reds. Apologies to Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Albert Pujols, and Troy Tulowitzki.

American League

Playoff Teams

East– New York Yankees

Central– Detroit Tigers

West– Texas Rangers

Wild Card– Tampa Bay Rays

AL Champion– New York Yankees

World Series– Colorado Rockies over Yankees in six games

Manager of the YearJim Leyland (Det)- If the Tigers are able to capture their first division title in 23 years, Leyland should be a shoo-in, especially if the Angels and Twins fail to make the playoffs. The Tigers came close a year ago with a bad offense and a barely-out-of-high-school number two starter. Look for big improvements from Detroit this year and Leyland will be rewarded for it. Honorable mentions to Joe Maddon (TB), Joe Girardi (NYY) and Manny Acta (Cle).

Rookie of the YearWade Davis (TB)- The Rays young right hander was impressive in a late-season trip to the big leagues last year and should be a big part of getting Tampa Bay back to the playoffs. He’ll have to out-perform another talented youngster in the same division in Baltimore’s Brain Mutusz and could also see competition from two Tigers in outfielder Austin Jackson and second baseman Scott Sizemore.

Cy YoungFelix Hernandez (Sea)- Hernandez could have won this award a year ago and he’s still just 24 years old. An improved Mariners club will help Hernandez more this year in terms of wins and his talent should take care of the rest. He’ll face stiff competition from last year’s winner, Zack Greinke (KC), as well as CC Sabathia (NYY), Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander (Det), Jake Peavy (CWS) and Jon Lester (Bos).

MVPMiguel Cabrera (Det)- If the Tigers are in the race, it will be because Cabrera carries them. He’ll get more help this year than he did last season from Magglio Ordonez and adding Johnny Damon doesn’t hurt either. The Tigers offense will be better than people think and Cabrera has been an MVP-in-waiting for year already. His time has arrived. Honorable mentions to Joe Mauer (Min), Evan Longoria (TB), Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira (NYY), Ordonez (Det), and Josh Hamilton (Tex).