MLB 2012 Season Preview: Postseason

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIMarch 25, 2012

MLB 2012 Season Preview: Postseason

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    This is the final entry in my spring training "Season Preview" coverage. For the individual pieces on each division, check out my profile here.

     

    I always find postseason predictions ridiculous. October magic and surprise is the nature of the MLB. So, while I could have analyzed this from a "best team in baseball perspective," I instead took a "who's got the most magic?" perspective.

    Whether I'm right or wrong with these predictions, all I know is that we—as baseball fans—are in for one amazing season.

ALDS

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    Wildcard Battle

    Boston Red Sox (5) vs. New York Yankees (4)
    Winner: New York Yankees

    If this game comes down to Lester vs. Sabathia, it could go either way. However, with Boston's recent last season history, I'd have to give the Yanks the advantage. 

     

    ALDS

    Tampa Bay Rays (2) vs. Detroit Tigers(3)
    Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

    Tampa's got the superior rotation, and they've got enough offense to put runs on the board. Both teams play in pitching parks, so I don't see much home-field advantage here. No matter what, this will be a fantastic series.

     

    New York Yankees (4) vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1)
    Winner: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

    Even with the Yankees' addition of  Michael Pineda, the Angels have the better rotation. They've also got a more dynamic and lethal offense. New York will put up a fight, but I see L.A. dominating this one.

NLDS

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    Wildcard Battle

    Philadelphia Phillies (4) vs. Milwaukee Brewers (5)
    Winner: Philadelphia Phillies

    Milwaukee's got strong enough pitching to keep the Philadelphia bats quiet, but they don't have enough offense to beat the Phillies' pitching.

     

    Arizona Diamondbacks (2) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (4)
    Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks

    Philadelphia has really strong pitching, but the D-Backs have a much better offense. Combine that with their rotation, and I see them getting the edge here.

     

    Miami Marlins (1) vs. Cincinnati Reds (3)
    Winner Miami Marlins

    Both of these teams come into October fully revamped from 2012. They're dynamic, and do a lot of things right on both sides of the field. But, Miami's got veteran leadership, and all-in-all are the better team.

ALCS

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    Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
    Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

    If any rotation can hold its own against the Angels, it's going to be Tampa Bay.

    Both lineups have flaws. The Rays lack experience, and the bottom end of their lineup isn't what I would call lethal. L.A. has veteran and postseason experience, but they've got some guys that might be too old for October.

    That means this comes down to pitching: Price, Shields, Hellickson and Moore vs. Weaver, Haren, Wilson and Santana. It's going to be really close, but while the No. 1 and 2 aces are a wash, Tampa Bay's got the better back end.

    With that, this is will be the Rays series to lose.

NLCS

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    Miami Marlins vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
    Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks

    At first, I had Miami winning this series. I like their improvements, and I think they've got a great team.

    But, I just kept thinking and thinking, and I realized, I really like this Arizona team. I think there's magic in this team, and that will shine in October.

    All sides of these teams are a wash. The pitching could go either way. Miami has a nice blend of young upside and veteran leadership. Arizona is young with guys that just know how to pitch and pitch well.

    Offensively, both teams are powerhouses. Miami is fast and powerful, but so is Arizona. The Marlins are led by Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Mike Stanton, while Arizona has Justin Upton, Miguel Montero and Paul Goldschmidt.

    In the end, I've got a great feeling about Arizona. They remind me of those 2008 Rays, albeit a little less pitching, but still full of youthful magic.

World Series

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    Tampa Bay Rays vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
    Winner: Tampa Bay Rays

    How have the Rays yet to win a World Series? I don't know, but my guess is the drought doesn't continue past 2012.

    Both teams posses youthful upside, stellar managers and an ability to create postseason magic. We'd be lucky if this is what the World Series comes to, because it's going to be a really great one.

    While Tampa Bay possesses an edge on the mound, the D-Backs have an advantage with the bats.

    In the end, we can't ignore that old baseball adage: "pitching wins championships." And while the Diamondbacks are good, the Rays are that much better.


American League Awards

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    MVP: Evan Longoria

    The American League MVP race is going to be ridiculous. Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder are just a few of the names that could be considered front runners.

    While his competition is surrounded by other great bats, Evan Longoria is a standout for Tampa Bay. I think he finds a way to combine his 2010 lethality with his 2011 power, and posts the best offensive season of his career. Add in that Gold Glove D, and you've got a prime MVP candidate.

     

    Cy Young: Felix Hernandez

    This is going to be another amazing race. The American League aces bring their own form of domination, and each is a standout for Cy Young.

    King Felix won the Cy Young in 2010, but seemed to regress in 2011. While his ERA rose, his peripherals stayed pretty solid. With the M's looking to provide better defense and run support in 2012, Hernandez will have the support he needs to be the best pitcher in baseball—again.

     

    Rookie of the Year: Matt Moore

    Hands down, easiest pick of all. Lots of great prospects to watch this season, but none more touted than Matt Moore. This kid is good, and he's going to show it through all of 2012.

     

    Manager of the Year: Ned Yost

    Kansas City is on the verge of becoming a great team, but there's a lot of young talent to manage. I think Ned Yost does a fantastic job and keeps Kansas City in the hunt all season long.

National League Awards

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    MVP: Justin Upton

    The 2011 offseason wasn't a fantastic winter for the National League. They lost MVP standouts Pujols and Fielder, while 2011 MVP Ryan Braun faced accusations of steroid use. Even so, the league has some great MVP candidates.

    Despite his huge ceiling, Justin Upton remains underrated in the MVP race. He's a 5-tool stud with standout defense, 40-homer power and plenty of speed to boot. Come 2012, he breaks out in a huge way.

     

    Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

    While they've lost some offense, the National League retains the title of superior pitching league. This award could go a bunch of different ways.

    In the end, I've got to go with 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw. He pitches deep, posts great peripherals and manages to win—despite playing on a weaker team. At just 24 years old, it's scary to think of how good he could be in 2012.

     

    Rookie of the Year: Anthony Rizzo

    Getting traded to Chicago completely changed Rizzo's future. This kid has a lot of power, great defense and a bright future. Now that he's out of Petco, no doubt he's a front runner for ROY.

     

    Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson

    The Washington Nationals are in a similar position as the Kansas City Royals. They've high upside prospects, but a lot of inexperience. If Johnson manages it well and keeps the Nats competitive, this award is his.