2012 MLB Preseason Predictions

Posted on April 12, 2012 by

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By Ryan Kuketz

As spring approaches the weather gets warmer, the school year begins to wind down, and the baseball players take the field. Every year I like to pretend like I know how the MLB season is going to play out and most of the time I am wrong. This year is no different. I will still make my pre-season predictions for the 2012 season. This season is different from other years as MLB has added a wild card spot in each league. The wild card teams will have to go head to head in a one game playoff to advance to the league division series.

Starting with the National League East, I believe the Philadelphia Phillies will win the division and will make the World Series for the third time in 5 years. The Phillies have won the NL east every year since 2007 when the New York Mets collapsed in the last week of the season and won the title in 2008. Although they lost Leftfielder, Raul Ibanez to the Yankees via Free agency, they were able to pick up former Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies still have one of the best rotations in all of baseball with Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee at the front end.

The Mets have gotten worse this season. They lost the face of their franchise, Jose Reyes, to the Marlins and players have not stayed healthy.  Jason Bay has been a bust for the Mets and they are playing in a stadium where it is harder to a hit a homerun.

The “new” Miami Marlins are playing in a brand new stadium, and went on a spending spree this winter signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Heath Bell. The Marlins ended last season in last place in the NL east and even with the new additions, the Marlins may still struggle. The Marlins Hanley Ramirez may need to time to adjust to playing 3rd base with Reyes taking over Ramirez’s former position at shortstop. I believe the Marlins will earn a wild card spot and get a chance to play in the NLDS.

The National League Central may be the most wide open division in not just baseball but in every sport. This division has seen its biggest stars leave this offseason and for the final time ever there will be six teams competing. The Cubs made big front office changes by hiring Theo Epstein as the new General Manager and he brought along his friend Jed Hoyer as assistant GM and hired former Red Sox coach Dale Sveum as the Cubs manager. It’s hard for a GM to take a position and make a direct impact immediately. As Epstein works on improving the Cubs, the team is still not good enough to make an impact and make the playoffs.

Despite losing Albert Pujols to the Angels, the St. Louis Cardinals still have good pitching and good offense with Lance Berkman at 1st base and Matt Holliday in leftfield. The Cardinals biggest opposition in the NL central is the Milwaukee Brewers but they have become weaker as Prince Fielder signed with the Tigers. I predict that the Cardinals will win the division and the Brewers will get the 2nd wild card spot.

The National League West is another weak division. Despite winning the World Series in 2010, the Giants failed to reach the postseason last year and they haven’t made any big changes this offseason. The Dodgers are under new ownership and still in transition from the awful Frank McCourt ownership that faced financial problems. The Arizona Diamondbacks are always somehow a threat to win the division and the Rockies haven’t made any splashes this offseason. I believe the San Francisco Giants will win the NL West.

The American League East is known as the hardest division in baseball and the extra wild card will help the AL East more than any other division. The Yankees ridded themselves of AJ Burnett , who was a bust for them and they still have great pitching with CC Sabathia leading the rotation. Andy Pettites return to the big leagues should help New York especially if another starter gets injured. The Yankees lineup is still loaded like always with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter. The Yankees won the division last year and they will repeat again this year and win the AL East.

The Red Sox are still grappling with the effects of last year’s monumental collapse in September. Beergate(the clubhouse chicken and beer antics) is still a hot topic and will be brought up by fans and the media all season long. They have a new manager, Bobby Valentine, who hasn’t coached in the Majors in 10 years. Through spring training he has flip-flopped his take on how he wants to use certain pitchers and there has been speculation that Valentine and the front office have been butting heads on who to call up to the major league team.

Boston’s biggest worry is pitching. It took all of spring training to decide on the starting rotation and newly acquired closer Andrew Bailey will miss 3-4 months after having thumb surgery. Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz, and Josh Beckett will be in the front of the rotation with Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard as the fouth and fifth starters. The Red Sox still have power hitting with Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, and Kevin Youkilis in the lineup.

Had the new wild card system been in effect, the Red Sox would have made the postseason every year for the last 10 years and I believe Boston will benefit with the new system this year. They will finish in 3rd place behind the Yankees and Rays but will still get that extra wild card and have a chance to play in the postseason for the first time since 2009.

The Tampa Bay Rays are coming off a season were they clinched a playoff spot on the final day of the regular season after Boston’s meltdown and they still seem superior to the Red Sox this season. Tampa Bay will come in 2nd place this season in the AL East and will face the Red Sox in a one game playoff.

The AL Central features the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, and Chicago White Sox. The White Sox lost ace Mark Buehrle to the Marlins along with manager Ozzie Guillen. Chicago has failed to make a splash in recent years and the downward spiral will continue this season. Kansas City and Cleveland will also be nonfactors in the division.

The Detroit Tigers acquired Price Fielder this offseason and the biggest competition in the division is Minnesota who can be dangerous when healthy. Star first baseman Justin Morneau missed most of last year and has struggled the last couple years with health issues. Despite Detroit being without catcher Victor Martinez for the year, they should still be able to win the AL Central.

The American League West has been a close contest the last few years between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Texas Rangers. The Rangers have won the AL pennant the last two seasons and lost in the World Series each year. This year the Angels are the better team by picking up the best hitter in all of baseball, Albert Pujols and by signing former Texas pitcher CJ Wilson. The Angels shouldn’t have much trouble with Texas this year and I am picking Los Angeles not only to win the AL West but to win the World Series in October.

Each team plays 162 games over six months and teams can dramatically change via trades, or because of injuries. This is how I see the season playing out. The best thing about baseball is that anything can happen so sit back, grab some fried chicken and beer, and enjoy the next six months of baseball.

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Tigers

AL West: Angels

AL Wild Cards: Rays, Red Sox

NL East: Phillies

NL Central: Cardinals

NL West: Giants

NL Wild Cards: Marlins, Brewers

AL Wild Card: Red Sox OVER Rays

ALDS: Angels OVER Red Sox

Yankees OVER Tigers

NL Wild Card: Brewers OVER Marlins

NLDS: Phillies OVER Brewers

Cardinals OVER Giants

ALCS: Angels OVER Yankees

NLCS: Phillies OVER Cardinals

World Series: Angels OVER Phillies

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