Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season. If you have been here for the last five years, you'll find this prediction format familiar -- and yes, you'll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.
I started this format 18 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you're here I don't need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs' best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you'll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the thirty contenders for October glory.
I'm also not going to "predict" award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Joe Mauer is the best player in the AL and that Roy Halladay is a top contender for NL Cy Young? Will Stephen Strasburg or Jason Heyward win the NL Rookie of the Year award? It's easy to pick one of those guys, who are at the top of prospect lists. But last year's NL ROY, Chris Coghlan, started 2009 as a minor league second baseman and wound up as the Marlins' starting left fielder. And just before the 2009 season, who'd have predicted that Randy Wells would win 12 games for the Cubs and finish sixth in ROY voting? Or that Aaron Hill would hit 36 HR for the Blue Jays and nearly lead the AL, after he hit 2 HR in 2008? Nobody, that's who.
And in any case, anyone using the search function here can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was. Further, looking back at my last six years of predictions, I note that I picked the Cubs to make the playoffs every year from 2004-2009 and to win the World Series every one of those years except 2006. Obviously, that was the optimist in me, not the realist, and although they did make the postseason in two of those years, those predictions were... well, not so smart. And I'm not going to do that again this year.
Incidentally, you'll notice that my 2004 predictions are linked above, even though BCB officially launched on February 9, 2005. This is as good a time as any to let you all know that I was recently able to import all my baseball posts from my old blog into this site. (Non-baseball-related posts were not included.) Thus, if you are so inclined, you can search BCB for my posts from the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Amusing, if nothing else, and quite different in style from more recent years.
Follow me past the jump for this year's picks.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST 1) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES Hitting: Dynastic Pitching: Lee gone? No worries with Halladay Defense: Better than you'd think Intangibles: Wanting to avenge last year's WS defeat 2) ATLANTA BRAVES Hitting: Solid Pitching: Almost as good as the glory days Defense: Acceptable Intangibles: Bobby Cox's last year 3) NEW YORK METS Hitting: Good Pitching: Johan and what army? Defense: Aging Intangibles: Armed with knowledge it can't get worse than last year. Or can it? 4) FLORIDA MARLINS Hitting: Young and improving Pitching: Starters better throw CG's Defense: Excellent Intangibles: Too many good teams in this division 5) WASHINGTON NATIONALS Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun! Pitching: When will Strasburg be recalled? Defense: Defense? Who needs defense? Intangibles: Could improve by 15 or more games from 2009. But that would still be bad NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL 1) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS Hitting: After Pujols, the deluge? Pitching: Needs to stay healthy Defense: Adequate Intangibles: LaRussa has his team ready to win every year 2) CHICAGO CUBS Hitting: Needs to stay healthy Pitching: Returning to form Defense: Good thing they have bench players Intangibles: Spiffy new ownership 3) MILWAUKEE BREWERS Hitting: Will Ryan Braun ever take that smirk off his face? Pitching: Who needs pitching? Defense: Improved Intangibles: They'll have to score 900 runs to contend. Not likely. 4) CINCINNATI REDS Hitting: Up-and-coming Pitching: On a Dusty Baker team? C'mon. Defense: Acceptable Intangibles: Dusty Baker 5) PITTSBURGH PIRATES Hitting: Young Pitching: A lot better than you might think Defense: Speedy Intangibles: Out of last place for the first time since 2006 6) HOUSTON ASTROS Hitting: Old Pitching: Roy Oswalt and ... ? Defense: Mediocre Intangibles: Ed Wade finally leads this team to the basement NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST 1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS Hitting: Excellent Pitching: Very good Defense: Solid Intangibles: Distraction of the McCourt divorce 2) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (Wild Card) Hitting: Kung-Fu Panda and who else? Pitching: Outstanding Defense: Good enough Intangibles: Lincecum leads them to the wild card 3) COLORADO ROCKIES Hitting: Always good Pitching: Tough in Denver, but last year's staff was good Defense: Excellent Intangibles: Third place could be 90 wins in this tough division 4) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS Hitting: An awful lot of K's Pitching: Young Defense: Very good Intangibles: Indifference 5) SAN DIEGO PADRES Hitting: Adrian Gonzalez Pitching: Makeshift Defense: Improving Intangibles: 33-25 from Aug. 1 to end of 2009. Might surprise. AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST 1) NEW YORK YANKEES Hitting: Revamped Pitching: Renewed Defense: Restored Intangibles: May take 100 victories to win this division, and they can do it 2) BOSTON RED SOX (Wild Card) Hitting: New Pitching: Healthy, for once Defense: Very good Intangibles: Want to make up for last year's playoff failure 3) TAMPA BAY RAYS Hitting: Outstanding Pitching: Needs to step up and stop being prospects Defense: Excellent Intangibles: Will anyone notice if they win? 4) BALTIMORE ORIOLES Hitting: Much improved Pitching: Better Defense: Suddenly, not so bad Intangibles: Could pull a surprise, but it will be tough in this division 5) TORONTO BLUE JAYS Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun! Pitching: Lots of home runs! F -- oh, wait. Defense: Acceptable Intangibles: Will anyone notice if they fall into last place? AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL 1) MINNESOTA TWINS Hitting: Power-laden Pitching: Will really miss Joe Nathan Defense: Improved Intangibles: Despite loss of Nathan, still a strong team 2) CHICAGO WHITE SOX Hitting: Old and young. Make up your mind, Kenny! Pitching: Outstanding Defense: Infield=good. Outfield=not so much. Intangibles: As always: Ozzie. This time, with family added! 3) DETROIT TIGERS Hitting: Young Pitching: Ni! Defense: Old Intangibles: This could be a three-pack-a-game year for Leyland 4) KANSAS CITY ROYALS Hitting: Wasted Pitching: Zack Greinke is great. Oh, we need more than one pitcher? Defense: Acceptable Intangibles: Mismanagement 5) CLEVELAND INDIANS Hitting: Grady Sizemore. And then there's Sizemore. Did I mention Sizemore? Pitching: Looks like the waiver wire Defense: Decent Intangibles: Man, did I get this wrong last year. Not this time. AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST 1) LOS ANGELES ANGELS Hitting: Seamless (Hideki for Vlad) Pitching: Seamless (Pineiro and Kazmir for Lackey) Defense: Good enough Intangibles: Scioscia always finds ways to win 2) TEXAS RANGERS Hitting: Strong if healthy - might be a big "if" Pitching: Vastly improved with Mike Maddux Defense: Better Intangibles: Have Mariners to contend with now 3) SEATTLE MARINERS Hitting: New Pitching: Overrated Defense: Improved Intangibles: Milton Bradley's behavior 4) OAKLAND ATHLETICS Hitting: Unproven Pitching: Mystifying Defense: Does it matter? Intangibles: Might be the worst team in the AL
World Series: Giants over Red Sox on strength of outstanding pitching staff.