The season kicks off for twelve teams tomorrow and if you’re not excited, please leave the site now.
If you’re still here, read below to find our comprehensive picks for the upcoming season.
NL East Winner: Atlanta Braves
While I won’t completely count the Marlins out as a dark-horse, this division figures to be a two team race between the Braves and Phillies. When the teams headed to Florida for Spring Training, the Phils were the favorites, but bad news came rolling in. Chase Utley experienced serious knee troubles and now figures to miss about half the season. Rookie Right Fielder Dominic Brown’s rough spring ended early due to a broken hand. And things aren’t looking good for Closer Brad Lidge, who figures to miss at least the first month of the season.
This all clears the way for an Atlanta team that figures to be strong from top to bottom. The offense will find success behind Jason Heyward, Brian McCann and Dan Uggla, while Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson and company will anchor a talented pitching staff.
NL Central Winner: Milwaukee Brewers
Arguably the toughest division to pick, as four teams could take the crown here. The Cardinals were probably the favorites before they lost Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery, but now that he’s gone, I see the Brewers coming out on top. When their rotation is healthy they have three aces in Zack Greinke, Yovani Gallardo and Shaun Marcum. And though defense is a big concern, they have one of the most powerful offenses in baseball behind Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. Though the Cardinals, Reds and Cubs will all have their shots, the Brewers are the pre-season favorites in my book.
NL West Winner: San Francisco Giants
The defending World Series champs are coming into the season with a whole lot to prove, and thanks to the pitching–not to mention a full season of Buster Posey–I think they’ll get it done. The Rockies have a solid team, but they have some holes in their lineup. The same can be said for the Dodgers. As far as the Padres go–well there are questions from top to bottom. The Giants are the best team in the division, and will prove it over the course of the long season.
AL East Winner: Boston Red Sox
The Rays and Yankees got worse, while the Red Sox went out and formed what figures to be the most dominant team in baseball. The additions of Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, along with the healthy returns of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury give them more offense than a team should be allowed to have. Boston is going to run away with this division. In my mind, they’re the only 2011 team that has a legitimate shot at 100+ wins.
AL Central Winner: Chicago White Sox
This is going to be a fantastic three-team battle between the Sox, Tigers and Twins. Though they all seem to be evenly balanced, we’ll give the White Sox the edge thanks to the best bullpen of the bunch, and the wonderful power provided from the newly acquired Adam Dunn. Keep an eye on this battle–it’s going to go right down to the season’s final week.
AL West Winner: Oakland A’s
I have no idea why some people are talking about the Angels as if they have a chance here. This division comes down to two teams: The Rangers and A’s. Though Oakland’s offense has very little power, I think they’ll score enough runs to support a pitching staff that, for my money, is the best top-to-bottom pitching staff in the game. Watch out for LHP Gio Gonzalez as he has a breakout year. By the end of the season, he’ll be considered the ace of a brilliant squad. It’s going to be a close battle, but the A’s will come out on top.
The World Series
The Philadelphia Phillies and Texas Rangers will squeak into the playoffs as the wild card winners, but they won’t factor into the World Series.
The San Francisco Giants will make it back to the big show, but this time they’ll go down in six games to the Boston Red Sox.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, STL
NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson, FLA
NL ROY: Freddie Freeman, ATL
AL MVP: Robinson Cano, NYY
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, DET
AL ROY: Jeremy Hellickson, TAM (pictured right)
Worst Record: Arizona Diamondbacks
Managers Fired: Two
Date Jeter Gets 3,000th Hit: June 4th
NL Comeback Player: Pablo Sandoval, SF
AL Comeback Player: Erik Bedard, SEA
Does everybody have predictions of their own? Throw them in the comments section. The winner gets my respect—maybe.
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