Category Archives: 2012 Predictions
Previously in the Predictions series, we covered the National League (as a whole), American League East, and American League West post-All-Star break predictions. Now we move onto the final division: the American League Central.
Just to clarify, the Predictions series was written during the All-Star Break. All information thereafter has not been taken into account.
American League Central
Overview: The three contending teams in the 2012 season are Chicago, Detroit, and Cleveland. Kansas City and Minnesota will continue to build and make a strong presence in the years to come.
Currently leading the pack are the Chicago White Sox, with a record of 47-38. Chicago has been playing well enough to keep themselves as contenders in this division. They are getting solid production from their DH, C, 1B, and OF. De Aza, Viciedo, and Rios are a playoff contending outfield. Adam Dunn is doing what he does best, and that is hitting longballs. His 28 HR and 75 BB make up for his usually poor BA of .204. The veterans Pierzynski (.286 and 16) and Konerko (.323 and 14) are putting up premier numbers. The rotation has its ups and downs, but its been able to stay in there. With anchors Chris Sale and Jake Peavy, fans can be assured of quality starts from their top two. Jose Quintana has been a pleasant surprise this year, boasting a 4-1 record and a .231 BAA. However much is needed when it comes to sealing the division. The reality is that the Wild Card spots will come from either the West or the East, so if the Sox want to make the playoffs they must push hard and fend off Detroit and Cleveland. In order for this to happen, Chicago has to bring veterans to the bullpen (Addison Reed, their 23 year-old closer, has been struggling; the rest of the pen has been as well). The pitching staff is finally getting healthy, and I foresee that a strong second half is in order. Back of the rotation starter Philip Humber has been injured but should be back soon and lower his 6.35 ERA back to Earth in the 2nd half. SP John Danks should return late August and help them make a late surge for the division crown. The IF bats have been the missing puzzle piece in terms of offense. Alexei Ramirez has been a huge disappointment this season and needs to heat up soon. Gordon Beckham’s defense is stellar, but his bat needs to improve if he wants to live up to his high draft pick and prospect rank. Recently acquired 3B Kevin Youkilis has been hitting .279 with 5 HR and appears very comfortable in Chicago. Their Keys to Victory are better IF production, a veteran presence in the pen, and a healthy rotation.
Previously in the Predictions series, we discussed both the National League (as a whole) and American League East post-All-Star break predictions. It is time to move westward and look into what will happen throughout the hot summer heat in the A.L. West.
American League West
Overview: At the top of this division lies the Texas Rangers. Sitting with a comfortable 5.5 game lead over the Angels, the two-time reigning A.L. champions are vengefully seeking a World Series win. They have an elite and well rounded pitching staff. Yu Darvish has been a more than pleasant surprise, becoming the Rangers ace in one fell swoop. The rookie pitching phenom from Japan has a 10-6 record with a 3.96 ERA and 121 Ks. The rest of the rotation features several talented young arms (and Roy Oswalt) who have proven that they can get the job done. Joe Nathan has come back to Minnesota-form and found his All-Star groove with Texas. The offense features run scoring potential throughout (well, except for the C spot), and makes any opposing pitcher shudder with just a glance at the lineup card. While there is no doubt this team is stacked in both pitching and hitting, there is always room to improve. In order to distance themselves from Oakland and LA, the Rangers must remain healthy. While Feliz, Lewis, and Moreland are all on the DL for 15 days or more, they had the backups necessary to keep the Wins coming. However, they will not be looking too fly if another starter gets hurt. They need to move Napoli back to the C spot once Mitch Moreland returns to provide more pop from 1B. GM Ron Washington will also need to step it up. His managerial decisions come playoff time have come into question several times during the past two years. To sum it all up, their Key to Victory is staying healthy.
Having taken a brutal beating from the National League in the 2012 All Star Game (an 8-0 shutout), the American League sits shocked wondering how it all went wrong. Barring the loss of home field advantage, A.L. teams must steel themselves for the next 81 games, and potentially thereafter.
American League East
Overview: If you took a look at the standings as of the All Star break, you would see some peculiarities. So many questions lie within the 2012 second half, and that is what will make this year a very exciting year to call one’s self a baseball fan.
Aside from the Yankees being at the top of the division, nothing looks as it did the for the past half-decade. The Orioles, currently in second, had the A.L. East lead on lock down for almost all of the first half. The next few weeks will be the deciding factor on whether or not they will attain playoff status (their last time this occurred was in 1997). They need help at 3B and with their rotation. Will they land an ace in Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) or Zack Greinke (MIL)? Who would they be willing to give up? Young’uns like Manny Machado, an elite young SS, and top pitching prospect 19 year-old Dylan Bundy? Or are they looking to give away high potential starting pitchers, Jake Arrieta and Brian Matsuz, who have been major letdowns at the major league level? Gut feeling tells me they realize that they actually can field a playoff team and will do whatever it takes to get that; the Orioles have grit.
After demolishing the American League in the MLB All Star games, many National League players are going to be in deep playoff races. Here are my predictions for each division for the rest of the season.
National League East
Overview: The National League East seems to have its standings upside down. Arguably the biggest first half disappointment, the Philadelphia Phillies are 14 games behind the division leaders, whereas one of the biggest surprises of the first half, the Washington Nationals, are in first place. The Phillies will finally be healthy getting back Howard and Utley, however it might not be enough to get back in the race. The Nationals with their 4 game lead, can win the division, but will need to continue playing good baseball. The Braves and Mets are both 4 and 4.5 games behind the Nats. Not to be forgotten, the Miami Marlins, with the newly acquired Carlos Lee, have the firepower to make a comeback. Will the Braves or Mets be able to catch the Nationals? If not will the Marlins or Phillies be able to ride the new bats entering their lineups in the second half, to a division title? Will any of the non-division winning teams be good enough to earn a Wild Card berth?
National League East Division Winner Prediction: Washington Nationals.
Reason: I do not buy the Nationals Front Office when they say they will keep Strasburg at an Innings Limit. When the time reaches closer, they will decide to go with their ace, and try to win the division. With Strasburg, and hopefully a healthy Werth, along with the strong play of Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper, the Nats should be able to pull away and win the NL East.
National League Central
Overview: The National League Central is host to an even bigger surprise than the Nats. The Central is led by the Pittsburgh Pirates. That’s correct. No typo. To say I am shocked is an understatement. The MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen, as well as the strong pitching by both James McDonald and A.J. Burnett, has led the Pirates. The Buccos are ahead of the Reds by just 1 game. The Reds have a stacked lineup, and a lights out closer. They have played some pretty good baseball, and are probably stunned that the Buccos have a better record then they do. The Cardinals are next in the division, just 1.5 games behind the Reds. The hot bat of Carlos Beltran as well as the surprise pitching performance of Lance Lynn, has led the Cards strong play in the first half. 8 games out are the Milwaukee Brewers, who have 3 weeks to decide if they are going for the playoffs. The Brewers will likely shop Zack Grienke, if they fall out of the race before the July 31st trade deadline. The Cubs are 15 games back and will be shopping pitchers Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, as well as first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair and outfielder Alfonso Soriano, in an attempt to acquire more prospects for rebuilding purposes. Lastly my hometown Houston Astros are 15.5 games behind the division lead and own the MLB’s worst record. The Astros will shop veterans Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Lyon, and Brett Myers, as well as other serviceable players as part of their rebuilding process.
National League Central Division Winner Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals
Reason: The Cardinals have not stopped hitting despite the removal of Albert Pujols in the lineup. Led by Beltran and Holliday, their hitting has not missed a beat. The arrival of Lance Berkman later in the year, as well as John Jay and Allen Craig, should help them continue their strong play. Their pitching has been pretty strong all year, even with ace, Chris Carpenter’s injury. St. Louis could acquire more pitching help, or bullpen help, should injuries occur, and have a strong chip in Shelby Miller, who has been possibly mentioned as someone St. Louis would be willing to trade, to help with their chances to make the playoffs.
National League West
Overview: The National League West seems to be a 3-team race. The Dodgers have the lead by just .5 games. Right behind the Dodgers, are San Francisco Giants. Just 3.5 games behind the Giants are the Arizona Diamondbacks. The bats of Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier led the Dodgers for the beginning of the first half. After both got injured, the bats stalled a bit, and the pitching staff, led by Cy Young Clayton Kershaw, helped them out. Entering the second half the Dodgers will have a healthy Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. The Giants, have been a strange team. Their ace, Tim Lincecum, has had an awful season (that is an understatement). Lincecum has a putrid 6.42 ERA as well as a 1.58 WHIP. “The Freak” has tried different things to get back on track but has yet to succeed. The Giants have been led by the hitting machine, Melky Cabrera, as well as the strong pitching of Bumgarner, Cain, and Vogelsong. The Dbacks will also have 3 weeks to decide if they should buy or sell. They are within reaching distance, but could falter and decide to trade their most valuable piece, Justin Upton. The Padres and Rockies are both 13 games out of the lead, and will likely be selling their veterans for prospects that could help in the future.
National League West Winner Prediction: San Francisco Giants
Reason: The Giants have always been known for their pitching. This year, their main ace, Tim Lincecum has been a huge disappointment. I believe, he will turn it around somewhat, and help the Giants defeat the Dodgers in the race for the West. The pitching of the Giants (other than Lincecum) has been very impressive and it should continue through the second half. Their hitters led by Pablo Sandoval, and Melky Cabrera, should continue to get on base and score enough runs to win games.
NL Playoff Predictions:
NL Wild Card Predictions (Remember the new playoff system): Reds over Dodgers
NLDS: Giants over Cardinals (In 5), Reds over Nationals (In 4).
NLCS: Giants over Reds (In 5).
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
NL Rookie of the year: Bryce Harper (Nationals)
NL Manager of the year: Davey Johnson (Nationals)
Stay tuned for the AL predictions of the second half, coming within the next 24 hours!