Sunday, April 04, 2010

2010 Baseball Predictions From Will Leitch And Myself

That's right, the former Deadspin guru and I have joined forces to look at the 2010 baseball season. Will's picks are right here, along with links to his always-interesting (if not necessarily relevant to this season) essays about every club for Deadspin. My predictions are outlined below. Now, you might wonder if Will Leitch has never heard of me and if this post isn't really a collaboration so much as it is me just linking to Leitch's material in order to get extra pageviews. You'd be quite right. Join me next week when I team up with Roger Ebert to review Iron Man 2!

National League East
Philadelphia will win, and the only question is how many games between 25 and 30 will Roy Halladay win. I don't think I've ever rooted for a former Blue Jay as hard as I'll root for Halladay this year. I'm not crazy about the Philly staff after Halladay and (a presumably revived) Cole Hamels, but still, those two in a short series? Good night. Atlanta is my wild card pick in spite of the fact that I thought they missed out on not getting a big hitter to compliment their great rotation. Instead they dealt Javier Vazquez and added complimentary parts like Melky Cabrera or Troy Glaus. However, if Chipper Jones comes back to form and Jason Heyward continues his Roy Hobbs-like monster hitting, that'll take care of the Braves' hitting woes right there. Florida will continue their sneaky-good run but not really come too close to contention. The Mets can't possibly have as many injuries as they did last year but even at full health, I don't see them rebounding much. Washington will be improved in the sense that they'll lose fewer than 102 games for the first time in three years. Stephen 'Silver Lining' Strasburg will be in the majors by July, so get fired up, Nats fans!

National League Central
If the Cardinals don't win this division, then something has gone horribly wrong. They have the first and fourth-best hitters (Pujols and Holliday) and two best starters (Carpenter and Wainwright) in the division, plus a decent regular core and promising youngsters like David Freese and Colby Rasmus. Ryan Franklin will assuredly come back to earth after his inexplicably great 2009 season, but still, he's a decent closing option. St. Louis has far fewer question marks than, say, trendy pick Milwaukee. The Brewers have two big bats to watch the Cards, but nowhere near the pitching. The Reds are still too young to reach their full potential. The Cubs have talent, but I worry they're in a Mets-esque spiral of treading water due to the fact that the pieces they've assembled just don't fit. The Astros and Pirates will be battling it out for fifth place. Seriously, St. Louis should win this division by a minimum of 10 games.

National League West
You could make a case for anyone but San Diego winning the West, and even the Padres aren't all that bad (they managed 75 wins in a season when everyone expected them to lose 100). Of the bunch, however, Colorado has the fewest question marks. The Rockies have quietly made the playoffs in two of the last three years...well, maybe just last year was quiet, since unlike 2007, they didn't go an insane hot streak to end the season. Compare the Rockies' offseason to that of their rivals. You've got the Dodgers adding nobody and basically being torn apart from within due to the McCourt divorce/ownership struggle. The Giants have elite pitching and were only an impact bat away from being the favourites, but management added Mark DeRosa and Aubrey Huff and then inexplicably dusted their hands off in triumph. The Diamondbacks could definitely be challengers if their young talent picks this year to all blossom, but their pitching staff is pretty dicey outside of Dan Haren. Colorado takes first and leaves everyone else doomed to their struggles.

American League East
The Yankees are simply too good to not win this division. Their pitching staff has a few question marks, but it's hard to see this team winning fewer than 90 games unless A-Rod suddenly into the tank without the calming influence of Kate Hudson. Some folks aren't too impressed with the Red Sox lineup, but geez, talk about being spoiled. When Mike Cameron is the worst hitter in your everyday lineup, that's pretty damn good. Tampa doesn't quite have the arms to challenge the big two, and they'll need at least one of Pat Burrell or B.J. Upton to bounce back from lousy 2009 seasons. Baltimore will surprise a few people and will have at least one month next season when they're just on fire, but their youngsters still need at least one more year to mature. And then we have the ol' Jays. I can't be all cynical since they've made some moves that have convinced me the team is going in the right direction (today's news about the Adam Lind contract extension is fantastic), but boy, in the short-term, this season is going to be some bad medicine. I called their 75 wins last year, so I'm going to predict 70 victories in 2010.

American League Central
Well, what the hell, let's pick the Tigers. Surely they won't have another epic collapse like last season, right? Right? This might seem like a dicey pick given that a lot of folks have Minnesota slated for not just the division but maybe the AL pennant as well, but I think that's far off. Who's to say how this team will perform in the X-factor of Target Field rather than the Metrodome? The Twins' rotation is full of #3 starters, whereas Detroit at least has Justin Verlander to anchor things. Even Minny's big bullpen advantage over Detroit has been neutralized thanks to Joe Nathan's season-ending injury. So overall, Detroit just has more going for them. The White Sox actually have as much chance of finishing first as Minnesota does since a healthy Jake Peavy helps their staff immensely, but I dunno, something about this team doesn't seem quite like a title contender. Chicago finishes second, Minnesota third, Cleveland (whose young talent coming up could make them contenders by as soon as 2011) in fourth and the Royals will finish last again. On the bright side, there's always Joe Posnanski's blog posts to look forward to, Royals fans!

American League West
Throw a tarp over these four teams and do a blind draw, since any of them could win. Oakland is a big longshot with a poor lineup, but if their young pitching all coalesces at the same time they'll be scary. Of the bunch, I'll predict the Angels to once again finish on top, since as much as the loss of John Lackey hurts their rotation, Jered Weaver is a pretty good backup ace and their lineup is still full of tough outs. Texas finishes second since their rotation, like Minnesota's, has a lot of decent pitchers but no true ace -- they have Rich Harden, but that guy could injure himself from taking a stiff breeze the wrong way. This leaves just Seattle, who were everyone's winter darlings after the Cliff Lee trade and the Chone Figgins signing, but I'm still not sure they have enough depth either in their rotation or in the lineup to contend. I know the Mariners specifically are building themselves on pitching and defense, but they could actually have a lineup without a 20-homer hitter this year. They'll need to pull the trigger on a midseason deal for a bat if they want to get into the playoffs.

Predictions at a glance....
AL West: Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Athletics
AL Central: Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Indians, Royals
AL East: Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays
NL West: Rockies, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Padres
NL Central: Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Pirates
NL East: Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals
Wild cards: Atlanta, Boston

* St. Louis over Atlanta
Philadelphia over Colorado
Boston over Detroit
New York over Los Anaheim
* Philadelphia over St. Louis
Boston over New York
* Philadelphia over Boston

NL MVP: Albert Pujols (if it ain't broke...)
NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay (after breaking Old Hoss Radbourn's record of 59 wins in a season)
NL ROY: Jason Heyward (after breaking 59 car windshields in the Turner Field parking lot)
AL MVP: Evan Longoria (Tampa's consolation prize for getting hosed out of a playoff spot)
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (F-Her Mania sweeps the nation, leading to criticism from NOW)
AL ROY: Michael Brantley ("Mark, do you have a fantasy team riding on this pick?" Yes)

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