In most parts of the country right now the last thing on anyone’s mind is Spring. After all, parts of the Midwest and Eastern portions of the United States were dumped on again by old man winter. Pittsburgh for example is supposed to host opening day in less than a week but the diamond at PNC Park was covered with snow yesterday.
Because the snow is still flying doesn’t mean I have to be relegated to discussing March Madness or the NBA right now because baseball’s Opening Day is within sight and it’s now time for my fearless predictions that you may or may not want to take to the bank.
East Division Champions – Tampa Bay Rays
The Yankees are in trouble as are the Red Sox. I expect Toronto to make a more serious run with added pitching and the Orioles will present challenges but I don’t see them making it past Toronto and Tampa. The Rays have pitching, defense and solid hitting which means a division title.
Central Division Champions – Detroit Tigers
This is a mediocre division that I actually expect to be over by Mid-August. Kansas City will be better as will Cleveland but the Tigers are all-in with the addition of Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez back in the line-up to go with that pitching. Anything less than a World Series appearance for this team is a failure.
West Division Champions – Texas Rangers
Popular opinion says take the Angels with offensive prowess and I believe they’ll challenge Texas but I still like the Rangers’ pitching a little better in terms of winning the division. Don’t completely count out the Athletics simply because we never should. This could be a CY Young type year for the Rangers’ Yu Darvish.
Wild-Cards – Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angels
AL Championship – Detroit over Tampa Bay
AL Most Valuable Player – Miguel Cabrera, has too much protection around him to not have another huge year.
AL CY Young – Justin Verlander, until he proves otherwise, he is still the man to beat.
East Division Champions – Washington Nationals
Most pundits and myself expect a big year from Bryce Harper. I’m not ready to say an ‘MVP-type’ season yet, but it should be a big year. The pitching staff in D.C. is excellent and should keep the Braves at bay.
Central Division Champions – Cincinnati Reds
Aroldis Chapman will stay in the closer’s role and I like that. Let Joey Votto and company get the lead and Chapman can lock down games. I expect the Cardinals to be competitive but I’m not sure they have the man-power to hang with Cincy.
West Division Champions – Los Angeles Dodgers
For the first time in many years, there is finally stability in the organization and the ownership group has shown they will spend any amount to field a winner. I like Arizona to challenge but they just won’t be to hang in with the talent and spending power of the Dodgers.
Wild-Cards – San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves
NL Championship – Washington over Cincinnati
NL Most Valuable Player – Joey Votto, only a knee injury kept him from winning it last season. If he stays healthy in ’13 the award will be his.
NL Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg, I believe there will be serious motivation to prove he should have never been shut down last fall.
World Series – Detroit over Washington in 6 games, last fall the Tigers’ bats fell silent against the Giants. They will face tough pitching again this fall but they are now better equipped to handle it from 1-9. I also expect the experience of last year’s World Series trip to pay dividends for the Detroit.