The first week of the baseball season, whether it’s in Little League or the big leagues, is a time for high hopes.
With the Major League Baseball season getting underway this week, here are our predictions on how the season will shake out.
American League Central
1. Detroit. 2. Cleveland. 3. Kansas City. 4. Minnesota. 5. Chicago White Sox.
If Detroit doesn’t win the division by 20 games or more, the Tigers should consider the regular season a failure. The Motor City Kitties are that much better than the rest of the teams in the division.
The real race in this division will be for second place. Minnesota, Kansas City and Cleveland should end up closely packed together. The Twins have the best manager of the three teams. If Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau can contribute near their former levels, the Twins could take second place. Kansas City is a threat, because of their young stars like Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. The Royals still need more pitching to make it to contender status. Cleveland has some nice players, especially Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera. The Indians’ pitching staff is just too inconsistent and unsettled to be a serious threat.
The White Sox are a lock for the bottom of the division.
American League East
1. New York Yankees. 2. Tampa Bay. 3. Toronto. 4. Boston. 5. Baltimore.
The top and bottom of this division should be a lock, with the Yankees buying another pennant and the Orioles awash in mediocrity.
The middle three teams will be entertaining. Tampa Bay has dazzling young starting pitchers that could carry them into the playoffs. Toronto is perhaps the best sleeper vote in baseball. If the Toronto pitching can step up, the Blue Jays could be one of the wild cards. If you are looking for a team with the potential to drop like a rock, Boston’s a good bet.
American League West
1. Los Angeles Angels. 2. Texas. 3. Seattle. 4. Oakland.
The Angels and Rangers will be the best 1-2 division race in baseball and either one could get to the World Series. Albert Pujols is the best hitter in baseball and we suspect he’ll carry the Angels to the World Series again.
National League Central
1. Cincinnati. 2. St. Louis. 3. Milwaukee. 4. Pittsburgh. 5. Chicago Cubs. 6. Houston.
Cincinnati, St. Louis and Milwaukee are all viable candidates, but they each have flaws that leave the door open for a significant drop. Cincinnati was the clear favorite until closer Ryan Madsen was lost for the season. Now it’s a three-horse race.
National League East
1. Philadelphia. 2. Washington. 3. Miami. 4. New York Mets. 5. Atlanta.
Philadelphia might struggle early, but as Ryan Howard and Chase Utley get worked back into the lineup, the Phils will return to the top of the division. Washington will be the best competition. Miami tried to attract the South Florida fans by hiring Ozzie Guillen to manage, but they’ll regret the hiring quickly. He’s the most overrated manager in baseball.
National League West
1. Arizona. 2. San Francisco. 3. Colorado. 4. Los Angeles Dodgers. 5. San Diego.
This is easily the most difficult division to get a grasp on. Maybe because we never see these teams on national TV. Or maybe it’s because they are all mediocre teams.
Arizona gets the edge, because of its young pitching and Kirk Gibson’s fiery leadership. Personally, I find the Giants as boring as pea soup, but they’ve got enough starting pitching to be contenders. Colorado has some exciting players, but the pitching staff doesn’t compare to Arizona or San Fran. If the new Dodger owners can buy a couple players before the trade deadline, the Dodgers might become relevant for the first time in several years.