Every spring, I try my hand at prognosticating the upcoming MLB season. Of course, every year I’m proven to be an awful Nostradamus, but it’s a fun little exercise nonetheless. Here is a quick recap of what I said back in April; once again, I had more misses than hits. But so did Babe Ruth. So there.
In the NL West, here’s how I handicapped things:
I thought the Giants would be much better, obviously. Their pitching kind of fell apart in places and the offense was simply not good. I didn’t think the Dodgers would stay healthy; and they didn’t, but it really didn’t matter. At the halfway point, LA caught fire and they’re still riding that wave straight into October. I’m still not convinced on Puig, but this is a deep club that has the look of a championship contender.
My NL Central prediction:
Well, I was right about the Cubs. I said it in the spring and I’ll say it again: Cincy is a championship-caliber club. I want no part of that single game Wild Card foolishness if it means playing either Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. Speaking of the Pirates, I love their story this year: finally breaking the streak and positioning themselves as one of the best clubs in the National League. Andrew McCutchen seems poised to win an MVP this year, which he deserves. The Cardinals have the top scoring offense in the majors, but I hope we get Allen Craig back soon; a deep October run will require his clutch hitting. Looking ahead, I think any one of these three clubs could make it to the World Series.
I almost nailed this one. I’ll admit, I thought Washington would be a little more dominant, Atlanta a little less so. But Atlanta’s pitching has propelled them to one of the best records in the majors and the now infamous Strasburg Shutdown last season looks even more foolish. I’m not sure if Atlanta is built for a deep October run, but at least they won’t have to contend with the one game Wild Card this year. Infield fly!
I have to stop picking LA. Clearly they’re headed in the wrong direction. And how about the A’s? For the second straight season, these kids are ready to crash the postseason party. I don’t really know what to expect from these guys; offensively, they’re nothing to write home about, but their pitching is right near the top of the league. They might be short on experience, but there’s no denying the talent. Houston is simply an embarrassment. Wish they were still in our division.
The Tigers have had this division under wraps all summer and they’re my choice to represent the AL in the World Series for the second straight fall. I love that KC and Cleveland are still in the hunt, too. I said it in the spring: Tito would bring a winning culture to the Indians squad. He should garner a fair number of Manager of the Year votes. I’d love to see the Royals sneak into October, too. I love what Dayton Moore is doing over there.
And finally, the AL East:
I really saved the worst for last, didn’t I? I’ll admit it: I had NO IDEA Boston would be this competitive. I’m still not sure how they’ve done it, but kudos to John Farrell and Ben Cherington. I’m equally baffled by Toronto’s season. Once again, we see the folly of constructing the “fantasy sports” type of squad; the numbers on the backs of the baseball cards don’t always translate. In fairness, who knew Josh Johnson would be this bad? (Other than those who were whispering about his decrease in velocity the past few years.) And who knew Jose Reyes would spend so much time on the DL? (I mean, other than anyone whose watched the guy play. Ever.) On a separate note, the job Joe Girardi has done this year should be textbook managerial curriculum. This is like McGyver building an atom bomb out of elbow macaroni and paper clips. Unbelievable that they’re still in it. Well done, Joe.
I haven’t thoroughly looked at it, but as of right now, with a week to go, here are my thoughts on the MLB Awards.
NL MVP: McCutchen, although I think you can legitimately make a case for what Matt Carpenter has done atop the Cardinals lineup. I’d vote for him before I’d vote for Paul Goldschmidt, even though I predicted Goldy’s breakout in the spring.
NL Cy Young: Have you seen what Clayton Kershaw has done this season? We’re talking historic numbers here, people. The kid is a stud.
NL Rookie of the Year: Puig hype makes this one a slam dunk. Which is a shame, because Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins would have my vote. Look at his numbers: 2nd in the league with a 2.19 ERA (at the age of 20!), 187 strikeouts before being shut down because of innings limitations, and 12 wins for the
AAA equivalent Marlins.
NL Manager of the Year: Don Mattingly. Their best player (Matt Kemp) has missed two-thirds of the season and they still have a 10 game lead in their division. Since midseason, he’s been pushing all the right buttons.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera. He might go down as one of the most prolific hitters in MLB history and he’s exactly in the prime of his career. Enjoy the ride, folks. Chris Davis should also get some consideration.
AL Cy Young: If Max Scherzer could ever win his 20th, he’d have this thing locked up. As it stands, he probably still wins it easily, although Yu Darvish has actually been the most dominant pitcher in the league this year. If voters aren’t swayed by win-loss records (and recent history suggests they wont’ be), Darvish might actually have a shot.
AL Rookie of the Year: Wil Myers leads a cast of nominees who actually pale in comparison to their NL counterparts.
AL Manager of the Year: Francona / Girardi. I truly can’t decide between these two guys. I think they both have done masterful jobs. You also shouldn’t count out Farrell in Boston.