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.
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?
2. Team RBI leader?
3. Team SB leader?
4. Team Wins leader?
John Lannan (Responses were submitted before he was optioned to the minor leagues and subsequently asked to be traded.)
7. Date of Harper’s MLB Debut?
Friday, June 1st vs. Atlanta
8. Minor leaguer you’re most interested in watching?
9. How many Nationals will make the All Star team?
Three. Zimmermann, Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg.
10. Total wins? Place in the division?
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