March 17, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera (42) throws a pitch in the fifth inning against the Houston Astros t George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Time For Some Predictions


What would Opening Day be without making some predictions for the upcoming season? Admittedly I’ve made a few predictions already through a number of different avenues. I’ll include links to those here, as I think I should remain consistent about them.

Over at Blogging From The Bleachers I previewed the entire NL East division, the first place I published any predictions for the tough division. It’s worth noting that the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez (#1) and signing of Edwin Jackson (#4) both made my list of the Top 5 Moves Since Last Season. Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse both were named to my Pre-2012 All Division Team.

March 12, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) on the mound during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE

A winner from within the division was also named for each of the three major awards. My actual league predictions will follow later.

Jordan Zimmermann was my pick in the NL East and I think it’s possible that by season’s end we’re discussing him as one of the top pitchers in the division. He’s another year removed from Tommy John surgery, will be working without any innings/pitch count limitations, and seems poised for a big breakout season. He may garner some NL Cy Young consideration, but may not be ready quite yet to actually win the award.

And of course, we could see Bryce Harper in the Rookie of the Year discussions. The chances of this ultimately depend on both when he arrives in Washington and what he’s capable of doing at the plate over the remainder of the season. I have a prediction as to when we’ll see him debut, but I’ll get to that shortly.

I didn’t mention much about it at the time, but a month or two ago I was invited to join the Washington D.C. Chapter of the Internet Baseball Writers Association (DC-IBWA). There are roughly 40 members of the group at this point, including a number of the Nationals blogs that we both link to here and strive to beat from a traffic standpoint.

As a group we each submitted answers to a survey of questions about the Nationals and the upcoming season. The collective group responses can be found here. My responses are below:

1. Team HR leader?

Morse

2. Team RBI leader?

Zimmerman

3. Team SB leader?

Ian Desmond

4. Team Wins leader?

Zimmermann

5. Who’ll pitch more innings for the Nationals: Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan, or Ross Detwiler?

John Lannan (Responses were submitted before he was optioned to the minor leagues and subsequently asked to be traded.)

6. Who’ll get more at bats for the Nationals: Rick Ankiel, Roger Bernadina, or Bryce Harper?

Harper

7. Date of Harper’s MLB Debut?

Friday, June 1st vs. Atlanta

8. Minor leaguer you’re most interested in watching?

Tyler Moore

9. How many Nationals will make the All Star team?

Three. Zimmermann, Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg.

10. Total wins? Place in the division?

86-76. Second.

Yup. That says second.

I’m predicting a division finish of Atlanta, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami, New York.

The Braves have the young pitching and enough depth to continue building for the present and the future. Plus they have a number of quality players around that pitching. If memory serves me correctly, the team rallied around Bobby Cox during his final season as the team’s manager. We know that 2012 will be Chipper Jones’ final season. Perhaps there will be a similar effect, as Jones was just as important to the franchise’s success throughout the 1990s as Cox was.

Philadelphia certainly has the best team in the division on paper, but they seem destined to fall out of things due to injury. Ryan Howard is going to miss significant time during the first part of the season and there is still no word on when Chase Utley will return. With his luck, his injury might get worse before it improves. Philadelphia has the pitching to stay in the hunt, especially with the big season they may get from Cole Hamels, but it might not be enough to hold off a talented and improved Nationals team.

Miami made big strides as well this winter, but I don’t think they are quite there just yet. There’s a lack of depth which concerns me. The Mets, they seem certain to sit at the basement of the division for the next season or two. They have some pieces in place to build around, but they aren’t in a position to make any major moves to supplement those pieces.

As for the rest of my NL and AL predictions …..

NL Central: Cincinnati

NL West: Arizona

NL Wild Card: Colorado

NLCS: Cincinnati vs. Atlanta

AL East: New York

AL Central: Detroit

AL West: Los Angeles

AL Wild Cards: Tampa Bay, Texas

ALCS: New York vs. Detroit

World Series: New York vs. Cincinnati

World Series Result: Yankees in 6

World Series MVP: Mariano Rivera

AL Cy Young: Jered Weaver

NL Cy Young: Mat Latos

AL MVP: Robinson Cano

NL MVP: Troy Tulowitski

AL ROY: Jesus Montero

NL ROY: Trevor Bauer

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Tags: 2012 Predictions Washington Nationals