With Opening Day now only six days away, it is time for my obligatory 2012 MLB Predictions. Let’s skip the talk and jump straight into predictions, okay?
AL East- Tampa Bay Rays
David Price is my pick to win AL Cy Young, and he will lead the Rays to the AL East title. A healthy Longoria and breakout seasons from Sean Rodriguez and Matt Moore will propel them slightly over the Yankees in the division.
AL Central- Detroit Tigers
The Royals may put up a fight early in the season, but no team in the Central division can keep pace with Cabrera, Fielder, Verlander, and the Tigers.
With CJ Wilson, Dan Haren, and Jered Weaver (in no particular order), the Angels have the best top of the rotation in all of baseball. Offensively, Albert Pujols will obviously help, but won’t be good enough to win Most Valuable Player. Jordan Walden is one of the top young arms in all of baseball and will reach 45 saves in 2012. There is too much talent for the Angels to not make the postseason, especially with seasoned manager Mike Scioscia.
AL Wild Cards- Texas Rangers over New York Yankees
Both reach the inaugural one-game Wild Card round safely, resting up their pitchers for the game. In Yankee Stadium, Yu Darvish out duels CC Sabathia.
Even without Ryan Howard’s bat for the first half of the season, the rotation holds the Phillies in first place. With Howard back, the offense picks up as they storm through the up-and-coming Marlins and Nationals in the East. John Mayberry finally emerges as a star for the Phils.
As much as this pains me to say, the Reds will win the NL Central. The top-to-middle of their lineup is lethal and Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos create a formidable 1-2 combo for the Redlegs. Latos’s era will rise in Great American Ballpark, but he eventually adapts to the park and finds success. The bullpen is still in better condition than it was last year, even with the season-ending injury to Ryan Madson.
In what will be the closest division race in Major League Baseball, the Giants pitchers will once again get the job done. The offense will still be statistically one of the worst in the National League, but Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval’s returns in the middle of the lineup provide enough run support for the pitching. Lincecum finished second in Cy Young voting (only behind Zack Greinke) but Matt Cain wins 16 games and keeps an ERA below 3.00.
In a rematch of last year’s thrilling NLDS matchup, the Brewers use home field once again to beat Arizona. Future NL Cy Young Zack Greinke comes through with seven strong innings as Mat Gamel is the hero of the game.
ALDS- Rangers over Tigers
In the words of Dick Vitale, “UPSET SPECIAL, BABY!” Justin Verlander can’t pitch three games for the Tigers, but the Rangers are able to defeat him in Game One and their offense proves too much for the rest of Detroit’s pitching. The top-to-bottom power in the Rangers lineup proves stronger than Detroit’s once Texas gets past Verlander.
Rays over Angels
With two seasoned managers, the Rays win a five-game thrilling series. I have a hunch that Evan Longoria will be this year’s David Freese in October. Tampa is able to match the Angels’ rotation with Price, Moore, and Jeremy Hellickson and relies heavily on a steady bullpen. Defense plays a large role in the series and Tampa makes fewer costly errors.
NLDS- Phillies over Brewers
The Brewers offense finds itself in one of its infamous slumps and can’t get out until it’s too late. Gallardo, Greinke, Marcum, and Wolf hold their own on the rubber, but the Phillies do enough offensively to win three close games.
Reds over Giants
They say good pitching beats all, and that is usually the case. But the Reds light it up at Great American Smallpark against San Francisco’s pitching. They win Game Five behind Mat Latos’ effort at home and a large offensive output.
ALCS- Rays over Rangers
The third time isn’t the charm for the Rangers, as they fall to Tampa. Evan Longoria gets the series MVP award as the Rays take this one in six. Tampa Bay does enough to keep the offense of Texas dormant, and the Rangers pitching isn’t deep enough to match up with Hellickson.
NLCS- Phillies over Reds
The Reds were able to defeat Lincecum and Cain in the LDS, but the Phillies a whole new problem. The Phillies blow the series open against Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake as Charlie Manuel sends out Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay against them. Last year’s early exit won’t happen again for the Phightin’s.
World Series- Phillies over Rays in 5
The 2008 World Series rematch ends the same with Philadelphia taking home the Commissioner’s Trophy. Cliff Lee wins the MVP award after throwing a shutout in Game Two. The Rays aren’t able to manufacture runs per their usual standard with the sound defense of the Phillies in the series. The 3-man rotation of the Phillies works perfectly with three horses out on the mound. Tampa’s only win comes against Halladay in Game Four as they avoid a sweep.