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!

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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.

————————————————————————————————————

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!