I have a long standing history of making wild predictions about sporting events, every now and then I’m right, but as with just about everyone, I’m usually dead wrong. That is unless you are part of the Las Vegas mob who controls all of sports in the United States. I love to fill out NCAA Tournament Brackets (Men and Women), not because I follow either sport, just because of the off chance I might nail that bracket and be able to brag to everyone that I had it right (I predicted the Carmelo Anthony Syracuse run to the title). I will lay down a prediction on just about anything you put in front of me, it’s a miracle I haven’t developed a gambling addiction. But without a doubt my favorite prediction time of the year is just before the greatest grind of a regular season is about to begin, Major League Baseball.
How anyone on earth can possibly predict how 4,860 games will ultimately play out is nothing short of insanity. That’s just the way I like it. And no doubt about it, I’m every bit as insane as the next buffoon proclaiming his knowledge of the future. So enough of the ramblings, here we go, I’ll break it down division by division, then I’ll go so far as to predict the crapshoot that is the MLB Playoffs. Take notes people.
Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Orioles
It appears to me that the Yankees have insured themselves in the pitching department enough that they should be able to take this division. Their lineup is getting a little long in the tooth no doubt, but it is more than experienced enough to succeed still in a pennant race. I expect the Rays to give them a run for their money, but will have to settle for a Wild Card berth. The Toronto Blue Jays may be an emerging powerhouse, the Red Sox are a trainwreck, and the Orioles are the Orioles.
Tigers, Twins, Royals, Indians, White Sox
Quite possibly the safest prediction in the world in 2012. The Tigers are doing their best impersonation of the AL East spending, and it should work at least this year. The Twins are much better than their record last year indicated, the Royals will be very good very soon but will deal with some growing pains, the Indians and White Sox are in rebuilding mode and will be the Tigers’ whipping boys.
Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Mariners
This is probably the toughest call to make. I still felt though even with the addition of Albert Pujols, the Angels lineup is seriously lacking. The Rangers should make up for the loss of everyone’s favorite Straight Edge jerk (sorry, it’s personal) CJ Wilson with the addition of Yu Darvish and the presumed progression of Derek Holland. They still have the most feared lineup in baseball if you ask me, and that will be enough to take the crown for the 3rd straight year. The Athletics are in a state of purgatory, but the talent exchange that took place this offseason should keep them just about where they were last year, ahead of the hapless Mariners.
Braves, Phillies, Nationals, Marlins, Mets
The Braves choked away the wild card lead last year to the eventual World Series Champion Cardinals, but they were and are a much better team than that. They were a sexy playoff pick last year, and this year they’ll meet that potential. Chipper Jones’ swan song season will give him one last shot at a second ring. The Phillies already had offensive inconsistency with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the lineup, both are major question marks for the 2012 season, they’ll probably ride their pitching to a Wild Card. The Nationals are up and coming and should be a .500 team and perhaps a 2nd Wild Card sleeper, the Marlins gave $100 Million to Jose Reyes and will quickly regret it, the Mets are the Mets.
Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, Astros
This may be the weakest division winner of the 6. I don’t see anyone in this division getting more than 91 wins this year, but that should be more than enough to take the crown. The Reds may have gotten a blessing in disguise with the Ryan Madson injury, just check his career numbers at Great American “Small” Park, Mat Latos should be decent enough but he’ll miss the spacious Petco Park. Joey Votto and Jay Bruce will carry this team to victory. . The rest of the division is going to be filled with rampant mediocrity and utter ineptitude (Houston Astros).
Diamondbacks, Giants, Padres, Rockies, Dodgers
The Diamondbacks have quietly put together something of a powerhouse team down in the desert. The additions of Trevor Cahill, Jason Kubel, and a full season from Paul Goldschmidt will keep the Snakes at the top of the mountain. I expect the Giants offensive struggles to continue in 2012 with lateral acquisitions in Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan, they’ll be in it, but they’ll fall short. The Padres are much like the Kansas City Royals in that they’ll experience some growing pains in 2012, but the core of young talent is there so they’ll win some games. The Rockies are wildly inconsistent and not even the modern day Satchel Paige in the person of 49 year old Jamie Moyer can rescue them. The Dodgers will not contend until Frank McCourt is out of the way.
AL Wild Card
Rays and Blue Jays
NL Wild Card
Phillies and Nationals
Ultimately I see the emergence of a new power duo in Toronto in Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, and the Blue Jays sneaking their way into the World Series to take on the Braves in a 1992 World Series rematch. Let’s give Chipper the Elway treatment and have him win it all before he walks away from the game and awaits his shrine in Cooperstown. Braves, 2012 World Series Champions.
Follow me on Twitter and see me analyze the season as it plays out @SeanD25.