The 2012 Major League Baseball no doubt left a lot of the best analysts in the game scratching their heads. I certainly made some bold predictions which panned out to the tune of six of the 10 teams I chose successfully making the playoffs including my beloved Oakland Athletics who I had said would finish with the second Wild Card spot.
Even at that, I undervalued my team as well as a few others who relied heavily on grit and perseverance rather than projected talent. A few shakeups, massive trades and huge free agent signings in the offseason will surely make predicting how the 2013 will shake out somewhat difficult.
After crunching the numbers and analyzing the big gains and losses, I present to you how I think the season will go.
AL East: The Toronto Blue Jays reloaded heavily in the offseason acquiring Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others from the Miami Marlins for next to nothing. On top of that they were also able to lock up RA Dickey and Melky Cabrera. How could you not like this team?
AL Central: The division will certainly be much more competitive this season, but the Detroit Tigers are hard to not pick. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder always going to be dangerous and Justin Verlander is practically a shoo-in for 20 wins a year. On top of this, Victor Martinez is back to add another vital bat to the order.
AL West: Nobody thought they’d win more than 60 games last season. Oops! The Oakland Athletics are looking to maintain their dominance in the division with the addition of a few arms in the bullpen and a few more solid bats at shortstop and second base. At least this season it won’t come as too much of a surprise.
Wild Card: The overall mood with the Cleveland Indians appears to be way more upbeat than at the start of the last two seasons with Manny Acta at the helm. Like the Blue Jays in the East, the Indians practically rebuilt 60 percent of their lineup with the additions of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher as the marquis talent. The Tribe is back!
Wild Card: Call me crazy, but the Seattle Mariners are going to do some unexpected work this season. Well, maybe not so unexpected now because I’m telling you. The addition of Michael Morse, Kendrys Morales, Robert Andino and the dandy extension signing of Felix Hernandez proves that the Mariners are looking to win and soon.
NL East: It’s hard to not pick the reigning best regular season record from last season, so I will. The Washington Nationals should lock up the top spot in the National League East again with ease. The only big name they lost in the offseason was Morse to the Mariners, but they brought in Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano. Winning!
NL Central: As long as Joey Votto can stay healthy I don’t see how the Cincinnati Reds can lose this division. The loss of Drew Stubbs and addition of Shin-Shoo Choo may sting a little bit, but not too much.
NL West: Even though the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2012, I’m still rolling with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The D-backs may have lost Justin Upton, but they gained a solid starting pitcher in Brandon McCarthy and the call up of highly touted prospect Adam Eaton. The D-backs are hands down the most complete ball club in the division.
Wild Card: While the Nationals will win the East, I don’t think they’ll do it by much. The Atlanta Braves will finish within 3 games of the Nats for the first Wild Card Spot. Adding both B.J. and Justin Upton to the outfit will certainly help put runs on the board and keep them off on the defensive side.
Wild Card: As long as they get off to the same start as the last two seasons and stay away from playing any 19 inning games, the Pittsburgh Pirates should be able to quietly plunder and pillage the second Wild Card spot from the rest of the NL.
World Series: It’s a tough one to call, but I think it’s going to be the matchup we should have had last season: Tigers vs. Nationals. In which case I’m taking the Tigers in seven, and I think it will go down as one of the best, most hard fought World Series since 2001.
AL MVP: Prior to last season I had chosen Miguel Cabrera to win the AL MVP three years in a row. Last year was the first time I had chosen someone else and sure enough Cabrera took it. Keeping that in mind I have to roll with Mike Trout, but with Cabrera winning it if he doesn’t. Trout amazed the baseball world in 2012 with one of the greatest rookie performances in MLB history, and the kid nearly won the MVP last year too. If he has another year like last season, it’s in the bag.
AL Cy Young: I have a feeling that Josh Johnson will warm up to his new home rather nicely. So far in Spring Training he’s been putting up better numbers than his days with the Marlins. If he continues his pace he’ll be able to lock up the AL Cy Young without much issue.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper has been absolutely scary in Spring Training: .478/3/15 in 25 games. Add that to his Rookie of the Year award from last season and it doesn’t seem so farfetched. He’s the real deal.
NL Cy Young: Even though he finished in third place last year for the award, I don’t think that Gio Gonzalez will get much of a run for his money. Clayton Kershaw is an exception, but I think there will be way too many distractions in Los Angeles this year.
You can check out more from Ben over at his site Hats and Tats: A Lifestyle.