2011 Awards Predictions

Who will take home the individual, end of season, awards? Traditional/repeat heroes like Pujols and Halladay, or new comers like Votto and Hernandez? Here’s what we think:

Nick

  • AL MVP: Adam Dunn
  • AL Cy Young: Jon Lester
  • AL Rookie of the Year: Dustin Ackley
  • NL MVP: Prince Fielder
  • NL CYA: Ubaldo Jimenez
  • NL ROY: Domonic Brown

Jon

  • AL MVP: Carl Crawford
  • AL CYA: Trevor Cahill
  • AL ROY: Jeremy Hellickson
  • NL MVP: Carlos Gonzalez
  • NL CYA: Timmy Lincecum
  • NL ROY: Bryce Harper (even though I REALLY want to pick Brandon Belt)

Steve

  • AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez (huge first year in Boston numbers wise, plus team with best regular season record=hardware)
  • AL CYA: Jon Lester (King Felix will have slightly better peripherals, but Lester could win 25 games and have great stats…too good to pass up)
  • AL ROY: Jake McGee (goes all Neftali Feliz on the AL and saves over 40 games for an overachieving Rays team)
  • NL MVP: Albert Pujols (the great Pujols goes off during contract year, puts to bed any question as to whether he deserves riches contract in MLB history)
  • NL CYA: Yovani Gallardo (outshines two big additions in Grienke and Marcum to prove he’s the true ace of the staff and the class of the NL, at least in 2011)
  • NL ROY: Brandon Belt (there was a time when even imagining the Giants producing back-to-back ROYs would have induced side-splitting laughter…laugh no more: Belt is 2011 Posey)
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2011 NL West Predictions

Three days to go until “real” baseball games are played. Until then, enjoy our final season preview and predictions posts leading up to the seaon. Today, our final divisional look, the National League West.

Nick

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies*
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks

After trading Adrian Gonzalez there is just no way the Padres contend like they did last year. To that I add: the Dodgers have some major pitching and hitting issues and the NL West will turn out to be a two team race between the Giants and Rockies. While the Rockies are the one team that scare me every time they play the Giants, I just love the Giants pitching (and Buster Posey) way too much to pick the Rockies, although I do have Colorado winning the Wild Card.

Josh

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. San Diego Padres
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Los Angeles Dodgers

Yep, the Dodgers will always be in last. I’m not just picking the Giants to win this division because I’m a homer. Well, ok, yes I am. However, I really think they will win it and I don’t think it will come down to the last game of the season. I will say that I’m a bit nervous about the Rockies. They could turn out to be the wild card team. Now as a Giants fan, I have a hard time picking them to win the division because I don’t want to jinx it. Because of this, I’m writing this blog sitting on a wood floor, knocking on a wood door, watching old games of Kirk Rueter pitch, and whittling a wooden canoe out of pure wood. COME ON G-MEN!

Jon

  1. THE San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions of the World
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. San Diego Padres
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks

I won’t lie, the last 7 days have been a bit sour in the Giants’ Spring Training camp. A couple of injuries and a few poor performances have given the impression that they are limping into the season after dominating most of the preseason schedule. Fear not, the Giants are way too young, talented, and angry (in the sense that they still believe they have something to prove) for them not to be the front-runners in the battle for the NL West Crown. The Rockies are good, real good and they may prove to put up a battle for the Wild Card against the Phils. The Pads aren’t going to drown in the sea of mediocrity because of the loss of Gonzales, but they will not have enough to take the crown. The Dogs got divorced and the D-Backs are hopeless.

Steve

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Colorado Rockies
  3. Arizona Diamonbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Los Angeles

It’s clear we are high on the Giants and low on the Dodgers. Bay Area homers or what? Really, though, could these two organizations be more different? Whatever one thinks about Brian Sabean, the Giants are showing the wisdom of stability in the front office and management of a baseball orgnanization. The Dodgers, by contrast, are in chaos. My controversial statement is this: the Giants are the class of the division and the Rockies are closer to 3-5 than 1. The Giants win because of pitching and depth. This team is much deeper going in to the season and well equipped to deal with injuries (like Wilson and Ross). Now if Lincecum or Cain go down, that’s a world of pain. The Rockies have some stud hitters and Ubaldo Jimenez but I don’t like the rest of the rotation. Arizona is better than people think, especially with some real pitchers in the bullpen. San Diego will not even come close to what they did last year and it’s not because of losing Adrian Gonzalez. Injuries, luck, and the inability to repeat their bullpen magic will make for tough times.

2011 NL Central Predictions

We end our week in the NL Central…here we go (also scroll down to see our updated posts with Jon’s picks):

Nick

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Houston Astros
  5. Pittsburg Pirates
  6. Editor’s Note: No Cubs were included in Nick’s picks…they will probably win the World Series

The Brewers had the best offseason in my opinion and that rotation is a LOT stronger than last year. Milwaukee’s offense is very underrated, with an unheralded trio of Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Casey McGehee. If they hold onto Prince Fielder, which I think they will if they’re making a run at the postseason, then they  will outlast the Reds, who have great pitching but not as good off an offense.The loss of Adam Wainwright is a big blow to the Cards, and if Chris Carpenter is injured then kiss their season goodbye, despite the awesomeness of Albert.

Josh

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. Cincinnati Reds*
  3. St. Louis Cardinals
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Houston Astros
  6. Pittsburg Pirates

I really like the top half of this division and I think it could be the most interesting to watch. Either the Brewers, Reds, or Cardinals could win this one. I’m picking the Brewers because of, well, everything. Great pitching and I think they will have the best lineup in the National league. In Spring Training, they lead the National League in Average, slugging, on base percentage, RBI, and triples. Ya Triples!!! Ok who cares about triples…and who cares about spring training. However, they are going to be great and I want them to do well.

Steve

  1. Milwaukee Brewers
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Chicago Cubs
  5. Pittsburg Pirates
  6. Houston Astros

As much as I want to be different, I have to go with the Brewers. They fit the model of adding pitching to a T. I love what Bob Melvin has done there: every small market team builds with youth for a window of opportunity and that window is now open and he is going for it, as he should. Kudos. Hope they pull it off. What is interesting to me, though, is the rest of the division. I actually think the Cardinals will make this a very, very close race. Here’s why: Tony LaRussa will manage to lead his team through adversity and a million distractions (Pujols contract, injuries, his own uncertain future) for one last hurrah and they will make it very interesting, but just fall short in the end. A couple of other thoughts: I can’t make up my mind about the Reds…they appear to be going in the right directing, and in many ways it would not surprise me to see them run away with the division. But they are managed by Dusty Baker and seem just as likely to fall back into mediocrity. The Cubs did some things to get better (love Garza and some of their young players) but not enough for this year. I also think the Pirates will make some noise…lots of good young position players there now, but no pitchers. Houston is a mess.

2011 NL East Predictions

We turn our attention to the National League. It is my (steve’s) opinion that the National League is actually the stronger league right now because of the amazing depth of pitching. We’ll see if that holds up. On to the picks…

Nick

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets

As much as I have a fiery hatred in my heart for Shane Victorino and a general hatred of the Phillies, I cannot deny how good that pitching staff is. The big question mark for them is health, especially the health of Rollins and Utley but I think that even their starting pitchers could cover an injury to either of those players. I feel the Braves just have too many question marks right now. They need Chipper Jones to be healthy and playing above average ball, they need Craig Kimbrel to really step up and become a consistent closer in his first season doing so, they need Martin Prado to build on last year, and Freddie Freeman needs to play as well as Hayward did last season, which reminds me that Jason Heyward needs to not have a sophomore slump.

Josh

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Florida Marlins
  5. New York Mets

I tried to come up with an argument for the Phillies not winning this division. Couldn’t do it. That rotation is too rock solid. I’m not 100% crazy about their lineup and they do have a tendency to go ice-cold for stretches of games. However, they will win this division by at least 10 games. I think the interesting team in this division is the Nationals. I say that not because I live in DC, but rather because they could be a tricky team. I also have to comment on something more interesting than the Phillies because even my wife knows the Phillies will win the East. Ok maybe not but it sounded good. Last year at the end of May, they were above 500. Yes, I know, its May, but still impressive for the Nationals. They have improved their team slightly over last year so I think they will be in the conversation well into the summer. I really want to see Bryce Harper come up this year.  He could be ridiculous.

Steve

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. Atlanta Braves*
  3. Florida Marlins
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. New York Mets

This might be the most interesting division in baseball. In fact it may be worth a separate post at some time. I agree with the guys the Phillies are going to win it, but I think it will actually be a lot closer than anyone expects. The Braves will be right there all season and win the Wild Card. A couple of thoughts: the Phillies lineup is old. Utley is hurt already and someone else will get hurt too (probably Rollins). I also think one or more of the big four starters will spend time on the DL. The Braves have a lot going for them: exciting young players (Heyward and Freeman), solid additions (Uggla), players returning from injury (Jones), dudes in their prime (McCann and Prado), and lots of pitching. Look for Tommy Hanson to have a Ubaldo Jimenez-like breakout season. I also think the Marlins are pretty good but a year away from seriously contending. I agree with Josh that Nationals are heading in the right direction. And the Mets hired the right guy to be their GM and if you squint right you can see a scenario where big first halves from Wright, Reyes, Beltran, Davis, and Bay could lead to a semblance of contention and then Santana comes back and…….yeah, right, not going to happen, but I am fascinated by this division!

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Jon (Jon’s picks added 3.25.11)

  1. Atlanta Braves
  2. Philadelphia Phillies*
  3. Washington Nationals
  4. Florida Marlins
  5. New York Mets

I’m not jumping off the Phils’ bandwagon because I don’t think they are the best team in the East, I am jumping off their wagon because of their injury problems, an overrated Ryan Howard, and a really good Atlanta Braves squad.  I run the risk of being made a fool on this pick, but I like it and look forward to seeing how this shakes out in Sept/Oct.  The Phils will take the Wild Card and will remain a World Series candidate with their lock down starting pitching in playoffs.  P.S. The Nationals will be fun to watch and will be around .500 (which is equivalent to any other team winning the WS).

2011 AL West Predictions

The Monks wrap up the American League today with a look at the Western Division. Here we go!

Nick:

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Mariners

Worst division in baseball by far. Losing Cliff Lee is a huge loss to Texas and if Michael Young gets traded that’ll hurt too. Getting Beltre will help, but the A’s will manage to squeak by with good, young pitching and some not quite over the hill vets in the batter’s box. The Anaheim Angels (the only name they should ever be called) continue to fall apart with laughable trades and big time misses on free agency, a fact that will always bring me joy. Seattle just sucks.

Josh:

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  3. Oakland A’s
  4. Seattle Mariners

I think the Rangers have a great shot at winning this division again. Their lineup is stacked with some great hitters. The bullpen will create problems again. I hate their bullpen. I had a great time researching this division and reading all the Ranger fans’ blogs complaining about the ‘pen. They have every right to be pissed. Neftali Feliz is the only good thing in it and they want to move him to the starting rotation. This makes him a very intriguing fantasy player but creates big problems for their pen. If he isn’t there, they won’t win the West. I think the Angels will give the Rangers a good run for their money. I’m just going to say that I am confused about the Angels. They could be great or awful. I hope the latter. I do want to mention the A’s….now that I mentioned them….that is all.

Steve:

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Marines

This division is one of the best testing grounds for my ideas about the importance of pitching acquisitions to the success of a team. In that model both the Angels and the Rangers are in trouble. The Angels are a mess for many reasons but after Jered Weaver I don’t like their staff at all (and I know they have Dan Haren, but I don’t like him in the AL). Texas, especially, seems poised for a big step backwards on the mound. They will score runs, but they’ve scored runs for the last 10 years. No Cliff Lee and regression performances from Lewis and Wilson will be their downfall. The A’s on the other hand, in a bit of irony, look a whole lot like the 2010 Giants. Really good young pitching (lots of strikeouts) a strong bullpen and several under the radar but helpful veteran additions to a lineup that struggled mightily to score runs last year. Outside of SF I think they have the deepest pitching from opening day starter to last man in the bullpen. It will be close but the A’s are going to be back in the postseason.

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Jon (Jon’s picks added 3.25.11)

  1. Oakland A’s
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  4. Seattle Mariners

I am so under impressed by this division, it’s hard to really invest much analysis. Anaheim is a mess, Seattle is perennially terrible and the Rangers have failed to lock up a potentially bright future. The A’s are going to be really fun to watch and will be the only team draw to my (or anyone else’s) attention.

2011 AL Central Predictions

The Monks offer our predictions for the American League Central. Again, comments and feedback are welcomed!

Nick:

  1. Chicago White Sox
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cleveland Indians

It seems like every year it’s the Twins, White Sox and Tigers battling it out for the division crown. But I think the Adam Dunn addition will put the White Sox barely over the top this year. Detroit could be a sleeper, but their pitching needs to be more consistent and the Royals could be a force to be reckoned with in a few more years. This year Ozzie gets into the playoffs again!

Josh

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Minnesota Twins
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cleveland Indians

I can’t see this division shaking out any other way than the Tigers winning it. They have a very solid lineup and their bullpen is impressive if it can stay healthy. The starting staff is the key. Last year, #2 and #3 starters Scherzer and Porcello were inconsistent at best. I, however, see big things for these two and if I’m right, they can be dangerous. The Twins have a shot at this division, but I don’t see it in the cards. I don’t predict a whole lot from the White Sox, Royals or Indians. I’m saying all three will be below 500.

Steve

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Kansas City Royals
  5. Cleveland Indians

The most interesting thing to me about this division is the two bottom teams. One (KC) is going in the right direction and we will be a powerhouse in this division by 2013. The other (Cleveland) seems to be going the direction of all that city’s franchises: lost in space. But this post is about 2011 so forget those guys. The Twins won last year with their opening day starter tanking (Scott Baker), their clean up hitter disappearing after half a season (Justin Morneau), and their closer being lost for the year in spring training (Joe Nathan). All of those guys should contribute a whole lot more in 2011 pushing the Twins back to the top of the division. Also, I’m a sucker for the Twins. It will be close with the White Sox, but the experience and overall talent puts the Twins over the top.

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Jon (Jon’s picks were added on 3.25.11)

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Kansas City Royals
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Cleveland Indians

It’ll be a dog fight between the Twins and White Sox for the division crown. Although neither will be in Wild Card contention (the East will lock that up), both teams are solid. I pick the Twins, but the Sox will be close and have potential to turn my prediction upside-down. If some of their injury prone wildcards (i.e. Jake Peavy) return to form, they will topple the Twins.

2011 AL East Predictions

We’re back! And with opening day less than two weeks away the monks will spend the next 6 days breaking down each division in baseball, starting today with the American League East. Enjoy and feel free to tell us what you think and to add your predictions…

Nick:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. New York Yankees*
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

I think the big additions of Gonzalez and Crawford (and with Bobby Jenks in the bullpen) gives the edge to the Red Sox this year. The big question is the health of their rotation, but with the pitching problems the Yankees seem to have, the Red Sox will win this two-horse race while the Yankees are my AL Wild Card pick. Tampa is going to take a big hit this year with their off-season losses and the O’s are years away from relevance. The one sleeper could be the Blue Jays, but Bautista will have to perform close to what he did last year and their pitching will have to be top-notch, if not better.

Josh:

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. New York Yankees
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Toronto Blue Jays

This is a hard division to pick mainly because all the teams are decent.  I think the Red Sox are the class of the division, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Yankees won it. I think the surprise in this division will be the Orioles. Buck Showalter is a great manager and they have a decent lineup. I don’t think they will challenge for the East title, but I do think they will be a crappy team to play down the stretch. Boston plays 6 out of its last 10 games against the Orange Birds which could be interesting.

Jon

  1. New York Yankees
  2. Boston Red Sox*
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

Ok, I’m not taking the stereotypical road in these predictions. The Red Sox can be good…real good. With the addition of Crawford and Gonzalez, they are strong, but I don’t believe their pitching will hold up to fend off the Yanks. The Red Sox will win the Wild Card, but the Yanks will take the division. The Rays lost Crawford and Pena, their pitching is lacking and they are headed in the wrong direction. The Blue Jays showed signs of what is to come in 2010. They may offer more than the rest of the AL east bargained for.  The Orioles, well they remain the Orioles.

Steve

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Tampa Bay Rays*
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

So, as my fellow monks have pointed out, this is tough division. I think the top four teams will all finish with + .500 records. The Red Sox will pummel everyone into submission with that high-octane offense, but I think they will find their pitching is lacking when they get to the postseason. The real shocker here is the Rays. Not only do they finish second, I think they will be the wild card winner as well. They did lose some important pieces but they also have a number of players primed for big years and strong starting pitching. It is a talented team and I think they make the playoffs for the third time in four years. Bottom line: there is a lot of talent in this division!