So now that I’m completely done my team previews and you have all seen how I predict it will pan out, here’s the playoff and award predictions.
Cubs over Mets
I feel like everyone jumped on me having the Cubs finish with the best record. Well I got them going a step further. A playoff rotation like there’s shouldn’t have failed last season. Some of their offensive guys are getting older, but they recognize this may be their last hurrah as they are all probably near the end of the primes of their careers. As for the Mets, their bullpen is nice, but you don’t get to them unless you have the lead.
Red Sox over Indians
The Red Sox are just a playoff team. They’re built with the intangibles and I’m big on that. A deep rotation with an unbelievable bullpen gets the easy nod over Cleveland here.
Yankees over Angels
Come on, a playoff rotation that could potentially be CC, AJ, Wang, then Pettite or Joba. You have to at least win the first series. The Angels counter with a solid rotation but I think the close series goes to the Yanks.
Dodgers over Phillies
As much as it hurts me to say this, I think the Dodgers get the best of the Phils this time. Manny is a force and the rest of the offense can hit. They have some good young arms and a solid bullpen. Close series, but no cigar for my Fightins.
Dodgers over Cubs
I’m all about the Dodgers this year, they have a heck of an offense. This is where the Cubs magic ends this season. In the rematch of last year’s NLDS, this result is the same.
Red Sox over Yankees
Of course, I love this rivalry and I think they meet once again in the ALCS. Sox move on simply because I hate the Yankees. Just kidding. Well Sox do move on, but my reasoning isn’t because I hate the Yankees. Intangibles move them on.
Red Sox over Dodgers
With Josh Beckett in October, you can’t go wrong. Sox win their third in six years.
American League MVP
He’ll be the most valuable player for his team this season as I expect him to have a higher batting average than last year. He does it all; steals, scores, drives home runs, hits homeruns, and plays a great centerfield.
Other Possibilities: Mark Teixeira, Dustin Pedrioa
Wild Card: Evan Longoria
National League MVP
He was robbed last year. Lead the entire league in homeruns and RBIs and he struggled. It’s scary to think that he can do better, and then when you look at the fact that he could increase his average, he can definately increase his 146 RBIs.
Other Possibilities: Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez
Wild Card: Pablo Sandoval
American League Cy Young
He throws complete games like it’s his job. If he has a year like his last, he’s bound to win this award.
Other Possibilities: Cliff Lee,
Ervin Santana (my pick prior to injury), Jon Lester
Wild Card: John Danks
National League Cy Young
I think this kid is bound to break out. I think this is the year Billingsley steps up and becomes the Dodgers ace. He definately has potential for 20 wins, 200+ strikeouts, and a sub-3.00 ERA.
Other Possibilities: Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum
Wild Card: Ricky Nolasco
American League ROTY
The reason I like him for this award is because he has a definate job. He will definately get his chances to move up in this lineup as well. I got two Jays winning awards.
Other Possibilities: Matt Wieters, Either Athletics 21-year-old
Wild Card: Elvis Andrus
National League ROTY
He has so much potential and he had an awesome performance when called up in September last year.
Other Possibilities: Colby Rasmus, Tommy Hanson
Wild Card: Jason Donald
Now that that’s over with, let the Phils raise the championship banner and play ball. Brett Myers, you may now throw the first pitch of the 2009 MLB season.
We just had our fantasy draft. There are 16 teams in our league and I had the 11th pick. There are 25 spots on each roster. Before I list my team, here are the categories that we have in our league:
Hitting categories: R, H, HR, RBI, SB, AVG, OPS
Pitching categories: W, CG, SHO, SV, K, HLD, ERA, WHIP
Round 1: Ian Kinsler 2B – Kinsler does it all and even drives in runs out of the leadoff spot (71 RBIs last season). He hits for a high average and steals bases.
Round 2: Lance Berkman 1B – He’s got a great bat as he can hit over .300 and get you over 100 RBIs and possibly 30 homeruns.
Round 3: Roy Halladay SP – The first starting pitcher I took. All the other studs were gone. I thought getting him was a bargain in the third round due to the fact our league uses complete games and shutouts as a category.
Round 4: Joe Mauer C – Catcher is a thin position. So I went with Mauer. Despite injury potential, you cannot argue with over a .300 batting average.
Round 5: Chris Davis 1B/3B – If you read my blog, you know that I’m all about this kid. He’s a big lefty and can hit and he had a great half a season last year. And especially in this lineup, he will drive in runs.
Round 6: Joakim Soria RP – I seemed to be at the end of the stud closer run and Soria was the last one left. I’m just hoping he can reproduce his 2008 totals.
Round 7: Rich Harden SP
Round 8: Chris Young OF – Young has that rare combo of power and speed.
Round 9: Mike Aviles SS – I’m hoping Aviles can build upon the great rookie campaign he had in Kansas City. (.325/10HR/51RBI)
Round 10: Josh Johnson SP – Did a nice job last season in his 14 starts (7-1).
Round 11: Clayton Kershaw SP – Would this be considered taking a gamble?
Round 12: Mike Gonzalez RP
Round 13: Adam Lind OF – This is another one of those players that, if you follow my blog, you know I like them. I assume he will be in the middle of this Blue Jays lineup this year.
Round 14: Joey Devine RP – Now, I’m hoping that Devine wins the closer job. Even if he doesn’t, we get points for holds — so I can’t be too concerned. I was suprised Devine went this late as well. Ziegler was drafted only a few picks before this.
Round 15: Jack Cust OF – I follow up one Oakland A with another. I needed some more power and production (even if Cust doesn’t post the average).
Round 16: Chris Dickerson OF – I’m hoping Dickerson will get at least some starts. He can steal and has been doing well this spring.
Round 17: Chase Headley 3B/OF
Round 18: Matt Thornton RP – He should help in the hold category (although I think the hold is a rediculous statistic — it exists).
Round 19: Casey Kotchman 1B
Round 20: Matt LaPorta 1B/OF – With so many roster spots — why not?
Round 21: Ryan Madson RP – The “bridge to Lidge” should get me some holds.
Round 22: Elvis Andrus SS
Round 23: Mark Teahen 1B/3B/OF – He’s eligible all over.
Round 24: Seth Smith OF – He probably isn’t drafted in some leagues but I like him.
Round 25: Josh Willingham OF – Finish this team off with “the hammer.”
I feel pretty good about my team considering the fact there are sixteen teams in the league. Last year I won, so let’s see if I can repeat.
Season Preview: Texas Rangers
Projected MLB Rank: 20th — AL Rank: 8th — AL West Rank: 3rd — Record: (77-85)
It’s hard to argue with the most runs per game (5.56) and the highest team average (.283) in the league as not the best lineup. So I won’t, because I do believe that this is the best lineup in the league.
Secondbaseman Ian Kinsler is a star in the league and he got things started for this lineup last year. He was sidelined last year for the end of the season and still drove home 71 runs from the leadoff spot. He has the rare combo of power and speed and should bat leadoff again for Texas if rookie phenom Elvis Andrus doesn’t. Andrus hasn’t yet played a game in the majors, but will start the season as the the shortstop for this club. He may not have the average for the leadoff spot, but he definately has the speed. He should have 30 or more steals by season’s end.
Andrus’ welcome to majors included moving regular shortstop, Michael Young, to third base. Last year, Young drove home 82 while posting a .339 OBP. Expect big numbers from Josh Hamilton again. He dropped off after the all star break last year but I expect him to do the same thing he did last year (.304/32/130). Firstbaseman Chris Davis should have a huge year after he hit 17 homeruns and drove in 55 runs in only half a season last year. The big lefty also slugged .549.
I would also expect Nelson Cruz to continue hitting well after he hit .330 last season in a short-term with the club. The other corner outfielder, David Murphy should also continue to produce no matter where he is put in the order. Also, keep an eye on the competition at catcher between youngsters Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden. I expect a platoon between the two going into the season.
If only they could get some pitching help. Kevin Millwood is their ace. Uh oh. He went 9-10 last year with a 5.07 ERA and isn’t exactly getting younger. Same case with the number two starter Vicente Padilla, 14-8 with a 4.74 ERA. Lefty Matt Harrison is a quality starter, but first we need to see how he does for a full season. The injury-happy Brandon McCarthy still has yet to prove himself. Then there’s righty Jason Jennings. I’ll leave it at that.
The bullpen, anchored by closer Frank Francisco, is subpar. CJ Wilson’s ERA last season was over 6.00. Eddie Guardado is 38 years old. Then, there’s Derrick Turnbow, shall I go on?
I am a firm believer in pitching, pitching, pitching. The best offense in the league last year could only muster up 79 wins. So until the pitching decides to show up, expect more of the same from the Rangers.
With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than three days to Florida and Arizona, I’ll be writing about some of the players I think will breakout this season.
1B Chris Davis Texas Rangers
This 6 foot 4 first baseman had a productive rookie campaign. He had 17 homeruns and 55 RBIs in 80 games with a .285 average. He slugged .549 which was higher than teammates Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, and Josh Hamilton.
When the season starts he will be 23. In the minors in 2007 he totaled 36 homeruns and 118 RBIs with the single-A Bakersfield Blaze and the double-A Frisco RoughRiders. Last season with Frisco and the Oklahoma RedHawks he hit 23 homeruns and had 73 RBIs before getting called up to the big leagues.
A majority of his at-bats were in the seven or eight spot in the lineup and I imagine he would move up in the lineup this season. Maybe to the six spot in the lineup pending where fellow lefties Hank Blalock and David Murphy are placed. Hamilton will likely bat third or fourth. It all depends on where phenom shortstop Elvis Andrus is placed in the lineup (I imagine leadoff or 2). Kinsler will bat wherever Andrus doesn’t. Young could bat third with Hamilton fourth. With all those great hitters in front of him, Davis will get a lot of chances to produce for the Rangers. Unless the others drive home the men on base first. Either way, we will hear good things about Chris Davis in 2009.