Ah yes, Opening Day is around the corner, so as I do most years, I will make my prognostication about the 2010 MLB season. Now, sometimes I employ simulations, sometime I make wild guesses and sometimes I do a little of everything. This year I’m employing a system called Player Ranking and Evaluation for Season Standings, or PRESS. What does that mean? Not much beyond looking at the depth charts, assigning some values, adding short columns of small numbers and voila! I have predictions. Enjoy at your leisure…
American League East
- New York Yankees: 102-60
- Boston Red Sox: 98-64
- Tampa Bay Rays: 93-69
- Baltimore Orioles: 70-92
- Toronto Blue Jays: 61-101
After finding out that Shaun Marcum will be the Opening Day starter for the Jays, I feel like 61 wins is generous. Also, it sucks to be the Rays in the AL East.
American League Central
- Minnesota Twins: 81-81
- Chicago White Sox: 80-82
- Detroit Tigers: 74-88
- Cleveland Indians: 67-95
- Kansas City Royals: 63-99
The land of AL mediocrity. Again.
American League West
- Seattle Mariners: 93-69
- Texas Rangers: 84-78
- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 70-92
- Oakland A’s: 69-93
I worry I am blinded by the fact I really, really want the ‘Ners to win the West, because I’m fond of them and I like a lot of their players. I’m also concerned that the Angels might be undervalued here, but here, what is the fun of predictions if you don’t go out on a limb?
National League East
- Philadelphia Phillies: 99-63
- New York Mets: 92-70
- Atlanta Braves: 83-79
- Florida Marlins: 77-85
- Washington Nationals: 63-99
I would have to assume that the Mets winning 92 games is predicated on Omar Minaya being bound and gagged for most of the season and every member wearing a magic amulet to keep them healthy. But yeah, the Phils win the East again.
National League Central
- Chicago Cubs: 86-76
- St. Louis Cardinals: 85-77
- Milwaukee Brewers: 83-79
- Cincinnati Reds: 78-84
- Houston Astros: 75-87
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 71-91
Maybe, just maybe, things will break for the Cubs. Maybe.
National League West
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 94-68
- Colorado Rockies: 93-69
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71
- San Francisco Giants: 85-77
- San Diego Padres: 73-89
Last year in this space, I bolding predicted the Dbacks would win the West … and they promptly sucked. This is a message to Josh Byrnes: please, don’t suck again.
- New York over Minnesota
- Seattle over Boston
- Philadelphia over Colorado
- Chicago over Arizona
- Chicago over Philadelphia
- Seattle over New York
Yes, the ‘Ners win it all in 2010. I mostly wish this so I can hear whatever brilliant thing Ichiro might say upon winning the World Series.
Now that the Twins dispatched with the Tigers (in 12 innings no less) to capture the AL Central, we can make some picks!
American League Division Series
- Minnesota Twins vs New York Yankees: OK, sure, the Twins look a little overmatched. In Game 1, they face CC Sabathia and offer up, well, Brian Duensing. Not exactly a “fair matchup”. The same might be said for the rest of the respective teams’ parts: as I mentioned to Big Lou yesterday, any team that has Jose Morales as their DH might not have any business being in the postseason. That being said, I hate to pick against the sentimental favorite – and yes, the Yankees are only sentimental favorites in the minds of their players’ mothers (if that). So, I’m going to say that the Twins will scare the bejesus out of the Yankees … but fall just short. Yankees 3-2.
- Boston Red Sox vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Maybe they need to start scheduling this series in April? I feel like the Sox and Angels have played in Round 1 since the dawn of time. Anyway, the Sox sort of scuffled to the finish line – or at least streaked to the finish line, with a sweep of Cleveland after being swept at the hands of New York and Toronto. Ah, that is the nature of baseball! Everyone says “the Angels get hits! the Angels steal bases!” Well, fine, they sure do. However, unless you’re Jacoby Ellsbury, you don’t steal home much. The last I checked, the Sox aren’t slouches with the bats either (unless you count Jason Varitek). I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the Sox starters show up for the series and quiet the free-swinging Angels. Red Sox 3-1.
National League Division Series
- Colorado Rockies vs Philadelphia Phillies: The last time this happened, the Phils were favored to win the series and the Rockies, well, steam-rolled them. Will it happen in 2009? Neither time has what might classically be known as “good pitching” – both are adequate and beasts of their respective home parks. The Phils do have Chase Utley and Ryan Howard as the backbone of their lineup. The Rockies, although a lot of fun, have Todd Helton and Troy Tulowitzki. The Phillies – if they can find a closer – will scrape by this series. Phillies 3-2.
- St. Louis Cardinals vs Los Angeles Dodgers: It seems wrong to me that the Dodgers have home field in this series – I mean, when was the last time the Dodgers seemed like a good baseball team? Who has the pitching advantage: Cardinals. Who has the hitting advantage: Cardinals. Seems to me that the Cardinals might be the better team here. Could it be that simple? Cardinals 3-0.
League Championship Series
- Boston Red Sox vs New York Yankees: Has it really been five years since the last Sox-Yankees ALCS? What happened last time, anyway? The Sox won the first 7 meetings of these teams in 2009 and then the Yankees returned the favor by winning most of the rest. However, the teams are definitely well-matched. It will all boil down to which versions of the numbers 1-2 starters for each team decide to show up. I would say that Lester-Beckett in top form trump Sabathia-Burnett (remember, the Sox have beaten up on both of them), but the Yankees will have home field. The new Yankee Stadium bandbox plays into the strengths of the Yankees – that being “hit ball hard”. Will it be a grinder of a series? Indeed. Flip a coin ten times to try to pick a winner. Me, I’ll follow heart but with the caveat that brain says it might be otherwise. Red Sox 4-3.
- St. Louis Cardinals vs Philadelphia Phillies: It is funny, comparing these two LCS. Likely, as an impartial observer, I might see the Yankees in the same light I see the Cardinals, i.e., the obvious favorite to win the League. However, in this postmodern world in which we live, one cannot deny context. The Cardinals have the shutdown pitching vs. the Phillies (well, unless Hamels and Lee get back on track). The batting order is pretty evenly matched – heck, I might even give Philly the advantage. Both teams have really questionable (or nonexistent) closers. If anything, the series might be wild. In the end, though, I might still have to lean towards St. Louis. St. Louis 4-2.
- Boston Red Sox vs St. Louis Cardinals: Indeed, a rematch of 2004. Last year, I picked against the Red Sox and gave the Phillies the keys to the World Series. I have to admit, I feel the same way this year: the Cardinals will win it. However, as before, the Sox have all the tools to have the World Series for the third time in 5 years as well. However, the Sox need to have all their ducks in a row to make it through, while the Cardinals seem to already be in that “well-oiled machine” form. However, there are weeks of baseball to go before we get to the October (er, maybe November) Classic. St. Louis 4-3.
The MLB postseason starts tomorrow – and I’ll have a few predictions for that coming later today or tomorrow.
However, today we have another tiebreaker, third year in a row – and second in a row featuring the Twins!
The Twins have Scott Baker facing off against the Tigers Rick Porcello. You know me, I do love an underdog, so I’m picking the Twins to win the tiebreaker – final score: 5-3. Heck, the Twins are really the better team with a positive run differential (+51) over the Tigers negative run differential (-1), so Twins win the Central!
UmpBump is doing it, so why don’t I?
My preseason picks:
- AL East: Boston – Feeling pretty good about this one. Solid team, little drama, lots of depth. Good for them
- AL Central: Minnesota – The Twins are 4 games back (2nd) of the Tigers … and to my knowledge, the Tigers have an outfield of replacement players right now. I’m thinking the Twins will pull this out yet.
- AL West: Oakland – My predicted full season win% for the A’s: .512. Current win%: .449. Yet only 6 games out. Still, in 4th. Not a great pick, but the AL West is a mess.
- NL East: Philadelphia – 1.5 games up on the Mets … and we all know that means that Phils will win the division by 10 games.
- NL Central: St. Louis – They are winning the division! Up by 1 game over Milwaukee. Take that, Cubs fans (not that I have anything against you).
- NL West: Arizona – Unlike the A’s miss, the D-Backs not only suck, but also reside in the division with the MLB leader in wins (Dodgers). That leaves the D-Backs in 5th … down by 17 games … in mid June. Oops.
- AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay – The Rays are 2 games back of a very crowded wild card. Anybody’s guess how it will end up, but the Rays still have a very good shot.
- NL Wild Card: Chicago – See, I don’t hold anything against the Cubbies. It also helps they’re only 1.5 games back of the wild card lead as well.
Some player awards:
- AL MVP: Grady Sizemore – The bad elbow hasn’t really helped the cause.
- AL Cy Young: Daisuke Matsuzaka – HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHHA. I think I just died a little inside.
- AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters – He may have to defer this award to teammate Nolan Reimold.
- NL MVP: Aramis Ramirez – Call Aramis’ and Grady’s injury “the curse of Erik’s MVP picks”.
- NL Cy Young: Rich Harden – I’m guessing I won’t be getting any calls from ESPN on my baseball picking prowess.
- NL Rookie of the Year: Jordan Schafer – If he hit the ball, this would be much easier.
You’ve seen the BB Mogul simulations, now I make the real predictions. This takes into account the simulations and some old fashioned hunches, mixes them in a big bowl, and spits them out as my real feeling for the 2009 season. Enjoy!
- Boston Red Sox – 95-67 – Pretty much three words sum up with the Sox will win the East: depth, depth, depth. This is the deepest Red Sox team in years … and they have a pile of budget room to go after players midseason without worrying about breaking the bank.
- Tampa Bay Rays – 92-70 – The 2009 Rays will be a balance of progress and regression, but like the Red Sox, they have the depth to make up for the regression.
- New York Yankees – 89-73 – Spend half a billion dollars and all you get is 89 wins? I think the Yankees will be a study in whether the sum of the parts vs. the whole. They also lack the depth of their division rivals Red Sox and Rays. However, the Yankees prediction is highly variable – I wouldn’t be shocked to see them win anywhere from 85 to 95 games.
- Baltimore Orioles – 77-85 – Now, I’m not saying the O’s are good, but they are better than people think. Maybe not in 2009, but watch out in 2010 if they can get their pitching in order and jettison more of the veteran flotsam.
- Toronto Blue Jays – 69-93 – Now, I’m not saying the Jays are bad … OK, I am. I have this feeling the Jays will bottom out this year and clean house – bye bye Roy, J.P., Vernon and maybe even Alexis.
- Minnesota Twins – 88-74 – The Twins have a lot of pitching depth, a good mix of youth and veterans and its their last season before a new stadium. How that last one matters I’m not sure, but if Mauer is out for a long time, all bets might be off. (It also helps that the Central is pretty weak this year).
- Chicago White Sox – 86-76 – My SABR-loving side really wants to pick against the ChiSox. Every year, in almost every regression, they should suck. And then they win. Why fight it? Kenny Williams will beat Big Blue again, but not enough to best the Twins.
- Cleveland Indians – 82-80 – Back in January, I picked the Indians to win it all. Then I noticed something: their rotation, well, is terrible. Lee, Carmona, Pavano, Reyes, Lewis. Three one-hit wonders, one half-a-hit wonders and a rookie. Lee will regress, Carmona will rebound, God knows what Pavano will do and Reyes will be decent, but it won’t lead them to the post season.
- Detroit Tigers – 78-84 – Getting older, questionable starters, bullpen in disarray. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for success does it?
- Kansas City Royals – 77-85 – Now, I really wanted to have the Royals finish above .500, mostly because I am a big fan of Gordon, Soria (the “Mexicutioner!”) and Grienke, but with guys like Jacobs and Olivo and a RF at 2B, the defense will be the death of them.
- Oakland Athletics – 83-79 – Blammo! Yes, Billy Beane’s patchwork magic will work. This prediction relies on the pitching taking a step forward in unison and Matt Holliday being Matt Holliday, but the AL West is nuts anyway, so why not let the A’s win it?
- Seattle Mariners – 81-81 – Blammo redux! You have to love the potential OF defense of Ichiro, Franklin and Endy. They’ll cobble together enough runs – especially if the front offices smartens up and brings up Clement (and thus boots Kenji from the island) and maybe puts Tuisosopo at SS instead of Betancourt. However, I can also guarantee you the ‘Ners will have a negative run differential this year.
- Los Angeles Angels – 78-84 – You know, I think until Mike Scoscia ends his love affair with guys like Chone Figgins and Erick Aybar and starts playing the Brandon Woods of the world, I won’t predict the Angels to be over .500. Their rotation looks like their arms might fall off, the OF is old and the defense is suspect. Color me skeptical.
- Texas Rangers – 72-90 – Fear not, Rangers Fans, there is a lot for which to look forward. Sadly, that “forward” will be 2010. 2009 will be more transitional as we let Padilla and Millwood (and Blalock?) leave the flock. And look from Smoak in the majors by August.
- Philadelphia Phillies – 95-67 – Just another year of Philly excellence. And thats all I really have to say about them: they’re good.
- New York Mets – 90-72 – You know, after Johan, the Mets rotation is, well, almost bad. Maybe they can convert JJ Putz to a starter? Or David Wright? The offense will carry them, but only so far.
- Atlanta Braves – 84-78 – Good pitching, but need to stay healthy. The bullpen could be dominant or terrible. They really don’t have a weakness, but they don’t have a strength either (beyond McCann). I think that’s why I can’t get behind the Braves in 2009.
- Florida Marlins – 80-82 – They have Hanley and some great arms in the rotation. However, the rest of the team is downright questionable or bad. Uggla needs to play third, but so does Hanley. The bullpen might be a black hole. What this team needs is direction, maybe the stadium deal will help.
- Washington Nationals – 62-100 – Now that Jim “I want every underperforming OF and 1B in the league” Bowden is gone, maybe we can make some progress? This is a big transition year where the Nats need to get value by trading Guzman, Nick Johnson, Kearns and whoever is over 27 (other than Dunn) and not bolted down for some value. Then, maybe, the Nats can make progress.
- St. Louis Cardinals – 91-71 – On the backs of Pujols and Dave Duncan, the Cardinals will give Tony LaRussa one last ride to the top. Now, they need to solve their 2B dilemma and get Troy Glaus back, but the pitching is good and when you have Pujols and “Dick” Ankiel, that is all that matters in the Central.
- Chicago Cubs – 90-72 – Milton Bradley breaks down, but Rich Harden doesn’t. Kevin Gregg is the closer … until May. This is the year that Aramis Ramirez gets his MVP and Soto takes over as team leader.
- Pittsburgh Pirates – 84-78 – Maybe I think pitching coaches make more of a difference than they do – I mean, look at what happened to Leo Mazzone in Baltimore. However, I think Joe Kerrigan will straighten out the Pirates pitching, the offense will click and a little magic will happen to save the Pirates from their 18th straight losing season.
- Cincinnati Reds – 80-82 – Maybe Dusty is mellowing with age, but I think he’ll go easier on his young arms. So, with Volquez, Cueto, Bailey, Bruce, Dickerson and Votto, the Reds will be getting primed to be good again … in 2010.
- Milwaukee Brewers – 75-87 – You know, I had a lot of trouble knowing what to do with the Brewers. They made the playoffs in 2008, they have a lot of young talent and, well, I like them. However, they made the playoffs last year on the back of the departed CC and, well, Braden Looper is not CC. This prediction is pretty loose – like the Yankees, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Brewers win anywhere from 74 to 88 games in 2009.
- Houston Astros – 64-98 – How did Homer put it? “They were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.” No depth, no young talent (beyond Pence) and a rotation of Oswalt and pray for apocalypse. It will be ugly in Houston this summer.
- Arizona Diamondbacks – 90-72 – They have great pitching, they have depth, they have youth, they have veterans. It is the mix you love to see – especially when they have a chip on their shoulder, which I think they will after letting LA steal the division in the last couple months of the season.
- Los Angeles Dodgers – 88-74 – Why do I have the feeling that having Manny this year will be less fun for LA (and yes, he opts out after the season). The starters will hurt the Dodgers – well, everyone but Billingsley – and they’ll miss D-Lowe more than you’d think.
- San Francisco Giants – 82-80 – Maybe add some offense, and the Giants might make a run for the division in 2010. However, you will not win any division with guys like Ishikawa, Burriss, Lewis and Molina populating the middle and top of your lineup. The rotation, however, will be great.
- Colorado Rockies – 70-92 – We’ll always have 2007! Thats because 2009 is a retooling year. If they’re smart, they’ll move Helton, Atkins, Street and Hawpe for parts while they have value.
- San Diego Padres – 60-102 – What is the stage beyond “retool”? Burn it and salt the earth? The new ownership will breathe much needed life into the franchise and hopefully get it back on track.
Playoffs (winner in bold)
- Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland A’s
- Tampa Bay Rays vs. Minnesota Twins – Just think, the last time we can have a dome/dome series… ever!
- Philadelphia Phillies vs. St. Louis Cardinals – The Phillies just don’t have the belly-fire for a repeat.
- Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs – The Cubs win a tiebreaker with the Mets, but thats as far as they get.
- Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays – The Sox have the depth to make it over the Rays youth movement.
- St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – Do you want to face Webb and Haren in a playoff series?
- Boston Red Sox vs. Arizona Diamondbacks – Sorry, I didn’t see a way around it anymore. Sox in 2009.
- MVP: Grady Sizemore – OF, Clevaland
- Cy Young: Daisuke Matsuzaka – SP, Boston
- Rookie of the Year: Matt Weiters – C, Baltimore
- Surprise: Alex Gordon – 3B, Kansas City
- MVP: Aramis Ramirez – 3B, Chicago
- Cy Young: Rich Harden – SP, Chicago
- Rookie of the Year: Jordan Schafer – OF, Braves
- Surprise: Paul Maholm – SP, Pirates
Here’s to 2009!