“I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to play baseball.” –Pete Rose
I love sports in general, but baseball in particular has been a raison d’etre for me since I was eight or nine years old. Of course, my love for the game turned out to be a lot stronger than my actual ability to play it, and I was relegated long ago to grabbing some pine with all the other failed little league shortstops out there.
Fortunately, my complete lack of athleticism led me to my true baseball destiny: armchair prognosticator. At the beginning of every spring, going back at least a decade, I have written my buddy Matt an e-mail in which I make ill-informed, sure to be incorrect predictions about the upcoming season. This year I am perhaps more ill-informed than ever before (I didn’t even take the time to wade through my favorite projection system, ZiPs, in part because it’s much less fun to look at on Fangraphs than it was on Baseball Think Factory), but that won’t stop me from sallying forth. And since I now have this blog thing, I’m going do my baseball palm reading (just not Moises Alou’s palms) in public. If you’re not happy with this preview, I guarantee a full refund. (Note: Does not apply if you use this as a gambling guide at a Vegas sportsbook. If you do that, you’re on your own. You’re also an idiot.)
A couple of additional notes: I’m putting down predicted records for teams, but these are just a ballpark figure for where I think a team will end up. (I’m sure they don’t add up to an even .500, and if you find yourself adding them up to see how close I got, it’s probably time to reevaluate what you’re doing with your life.) And it’s obviously silly to predict who will win a five- or seven-game series, much less in how many games (and forget the insanity of trying to pick a one-game playoff result), even if you know who the two teams are going into it. Which I don’t. So, don’t nitpick! This is supposed to be fun.
Enough with the disclaimers. On to the predictions, with comments.
Tampa Bay 92-70 – Best pitching staff in the division, plus a huge year for Longoria and breakouts from a few young players make for a division title.
Toronto 90-72 (Wild Card) – LOVE the big acquisitions the Blue Jays made this offseason. There will be playoff games in Canadia this year.
New York Yankees 84-78 Not a full fledged collapse, yet, but with all the age and injuries, the dynasty is over.
Baltimore 81-81 – I like the long-term prospects for the O’s, but they’re due for some regression after all their crazy extra inning wins last year.
Boston 77-85 – The Sawx suck wicked haaaahd.
Detroit 88-74 – The best pitcher in the game leads a power staff, and of course they have Fielder and Cabrera.
Cleveland 84-78 – I’m probably too bullish here, but I like the outfield makeover and I think the pitching will improve.
Kansas City 81-81 – The Shields trade will help them this year, but it won’t get them the playoff birth they’re hoping for.
Chicago White Sox 74-88 – Don’t see a lot to love about the Pale Hose.
Minnesota 68-94 – Long rebuilding project ahead for the Twinkies.
Anaheim 95-67 – God, I hate the Angels, but I think they’re primed for a big year, as long as their bullpen doesn’t implode.
Texas 90-72 (Wild Card) – Lost Hamilton, and the pitching is getting thin, but there’s still a lot of talent here.
Oakland 87-75 – I hope I’m wrong about this. I think the A’s have the talent to stay in the race all year, but I kind of see them coming up a little short at the end, as much like the Orioles, they’ll have a hard time replicating last year’s walk-off magic.
Seattle 76-86 – Starting to compile young talent, but they’ve still got a ways to go.
Houston – 62-100 – Yuck.
Washington 98-64 – Dynasty in the making, especially with the kid gloves coming off Strasburg.
Atlanta 95-67 (Wild Card) – Second best team in the NL. Like the hydra, every time you cut off a head, two grow back (seriously, of all the teams out there, these guys get Justin Upton? At least he’s out of the Giants’ division).
Philadelphia 81-81 – They’re old, and I think the window’s closed. Be proud Philly fans: You won a bunch of divisions and a World Series, and could easily have won another title or two if they hadn’t run into a couple of teams of destiny, the 2010 Giants and 2011 Cards. I wouldn’t be surprised if their record is worse, due to a trade deadline sell-off.
New York Mets 79-83 – Building, but still a ways to go. You’re welcome for Zack Wheeler, Mets fans.
Miami 67-95 – Somehow I think they’ll win a few more games than people are predicting. But this franchise is still an abomination
Cincinnati 93-69 – Legit World Series contender. Dusty will screw it up in the playoffs, though.
Milwaukee Brewers 85-77 – Could be a playoff team; knock five wins off this prediction if Braun gets suspended.
St. Louis Cardinals 84-78 – Another hydra team, like the Braves. You know they’ll be in it.
Pittsburgh Pirates 78-84 – Love McCutchen, but the run they had last year was a bit of a mirage.
Chicago Cubs 69-93 – Building smartly, but still a ways off.
San Francisco 90-72 – Feels like the Giants are still the class of the division. And I’m totally unbiased and not emotionally invested in this prediction at all. Honest. I swear. Moving right along…
Los Angeles 86-76 (Wild Card) – Team has a lot of holes, and they’re already having injury issues, but I just feel like they’re gonna sneak into the Wild Card
Arizona 80-82 – HATED the Upton trade. I’d put them above the Dodgers if it weren’t for that move
San Diego 76-86 – Team on the rise, but needs more time.
Colorado 66-96 – Yuck
(Confession: I added up the records: 2456-2404, for a .505 winning percentage. Not too bad. Does that mean I’m an optimist? Also, it’s probably time to reevaluate what I’m doing with my life.)
On to the Playoffs:
AL Wild Card Game:
Toronto over Texas: R.A. Dickey shuts down his former team.
Anaheim over Toronto in 4: Superior lineup and frontline starters put the Angels over the top.
Detroit over Tampa in 5: Tampa’s the better team, but Verlander twice in a five-game series? Ask last year’s A’s how that goes.
Detroit over Anaheim in 6. Much like last year, the Tigers are a barely above-average regular season team who benefit from a weak division, but their top-end talent plays well in short series playoff baseball.
NL Wild Card Game
LA over Atlanta: Kershaw throws a shutout, Braves once again lose a one game-playoff to an inferior team.
Washington over LA in 3: Kershaw never even gets a start as the Dodgers get blown out.
Cincinnati over the San Francisco in 5: As much as the homer in me wants to pick the Giants, winning three World Series in four years doesn’t happen except for the true dynasty teams (the ’90s Yankes, ’70s A’s), and I don’t think this Giants team is quite on that level. Plus, they barely survived the Reds last year, and I think Cincy gets some revenge in this rematch series.
Washington over Cincinnati in 5. Should be a fun series, but the Nats top-end pitching is too strong.
Washington over Detroit in 7: Sorry Tigers fans, I’m predicting a second straight World Series loss for your boys. Even with Verlander, I think the Nats have the pitching edge, and a deep lineup to boot. World Series MVP: Bryce Harper.
And, for just a little more fun, here are my Regular Season Awards:
AL MVP: Evan Longoria (I say he stays healthy this year)
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (Best pitcher in the game; won it two years ago, should have won it last year)
AL ROY: Trevor Bauer (Just a teensy bit Lincecum-ish)
NL MVP: Justin Upton (I told you I hated that trade)
NL Cy Young: Steven Strasburg (Seems too easy)
NL ROY: Shelby Miller (Honestly, I just picked this name out of a hat)
So there you have it. Seven months from now you can wave these predictions in my face and tell me what an idiot I am. Until then, bring on my favorite day of the year: Happy Opening Day, everyone!