I don’t think we could ask for a better and more willing group of community leaders here on Bleacher Report.
That translates down to the contributors of the community in general.
There are so many willing and eager writers contributing to the MLB section of this site, as a community leader of said section, I couldn’t be more proud.
Near the start of spring training, I sort of bombarded the community leaders with plans before the season even started. They responded.
The first thing I threw at them was this wacky idea I had about pairing them up within their division and making them debate about certain issues.
I fully expected about 95 percent of them to think I was crazy, but I also knew this group would take any idea, no matter the wackiness, and run with it.
Here is a recap of what happened in these division debates. Take some time out and read a few, because this was a rather different idea and most who participated even stayed to the topic I gave them, which just says even more about our group and their ability to take a topic and run with it.
Thank you to all who participated, even the members who commented. If people in the community did their own Division Debate and I didn’t see it, let me know because I most definitely want to read what you’ve done as well.
Now, I know there is a reason you clicked on here though, and that was to see the predictions.
This is the year that every team has a chance and there is optimism all around. When you get 31 of this site’s most knowledgeable and talented writers and let them pick who they think will win the AL MVP or be the NL Breakout Player of the Year, you are going to get variety.
Here it is, from start to finish, the Community Leader 2009 Preview and Predictions article.
I’ve compiled the consensus of the six major individual awards into a slide show with complete results. You can view that slide show and full results, here.
AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, CLE and Mark Teixeira, NYY (TIE)
NL MVP: Albert Pujols, STL
AL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, TOR
NL Cy Young: Tim Lincecum, SF
AL Rookie: Matt Wieters, BAL
NL Rookie: Cameron Maybin, FLA
From there on, CLs were asked to pick one player in each league to break out and another player to falter.
FenWest: Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS and Chris Iannetta, COL
Adam Greuel: Alex Rios, TOR and Jeff Francoeur, ATL
Andrew Kneeland: Jay Bruce, CIN and Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Chris Pennant: David Price, TOR and Fred Lewis, SF
Isaac Barrow: Fausto Carmona, CLE and Eric Byrnes, ARI
Aaron Meyer: Adam Jones, BAL and Brad Hawpe, COL
Aaron Says: Hawpe has been largely overshadowed by Holliday. Not anymore.
Eric Annett: Delmon Young, MIN and Joey Votto, CIN
Eric Says: Votto will soon establish himself as the best all-around hitter Cincinnati has seen since Barry Larkin. He can easily hit .310 with 30 homers from the Great American Launching Pad, and will soon achieve these numbers.
Austin Drake: Billy Butler, KC and Justin Upton, ARI
Kevin Cacabelos: Kenji Johjima, SEA and Rick Ankiel, STL
Steven Resnick: Ryan Sweeney, OAK and Craig Monroe, PIT
Lawrence Barreca: Adam Jones, BAL and Pablo Sandoval, SF
Jordan Schwartz: Joba Chamberlain, NYY and Brandon Phillips CIN
Jordan Says: Joba Chamberlain went 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 12 starts last season and with Manager Joe Girardi saying that he wants Chamberlain to start 30 games this year; I expect a breakout year from him with a record of 15-5 and an ERA around 2.90.
Matt Irby: Matt Garza, TB and Matt Kemp, LAD
Marty Andrade: Jason Kubel, MIN and Andy LaRoche, PIT
Marty Says: 2009 is Jason Kubel's last chance to become an elite player instead of a solid everyday player
Scott Birchfield: Jarrod Saltalamaccia, TEX and Yovani Gallardo, MIL
David Martin: Robinson Cano, NYY and Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD
David Says: Kevin Kouzmanoff in San Diego has all the power in the world. He also has a good eye at the plate and seems to have the ability to hit 30 home runs, with a .300+ batting average, even playing 81 games at pitcher friendly PETCO Park.
Andrew Nuschler: Alex Gordon, KC and Jay Bruce, CIN
Christian Karcole: Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS and Shane Victorino, PHI
Anthony Masterson: Adam Jones, BAL and Chris Iannetta, COL
Anthony Says: The prize piece in the Erik Bedard deal from last year, Jones will breakout in '09. Iannetta is the best catcher in baseball that nobody knows about. That will change after this season.
Bob Warja: B.J. Upton, TB and Matt Kemp, LAD
Danny Penza: Adam Jones, BAL and Matt Cain, SF
Brett Kettyle: Shin-Soo Choo, CLE and Jeff Francoeur, ATL
Brett Says: Choo has shown great potential, and I think this is the year that he finally puts it all together. Francoeur has shown that he can play before, but I think that after last year’s disaster at the plate, he will break out (again) following his strong spring.
Adam Lindemer: Ken Griffey Jr., SEA and Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
Peter Fleischer: Brad Penny, BOS and Jair Jurrjens, ATL
Evan Aczon: Matt Joyce, TB and Pablo Sandoval, SF
Patrick Murray: Alex Gordon, KC and Daniel Murphy, NYM
Nino Colla: Adam Jones, BAL and Lastings Milledge, WAS
Nino Says: Adam Jones and Lastings Milledge both have the tools and I think this is the year they start to put it all together.
JC Ayvazi: Nick Markakis, BAL and James Loney, LAD
Jason Cardwell: Alexei Ramirez, CHW and Michael Bourn, HOU
Rob Kildoo: Nick Markakis, BAL and Rick Ankiel, STL
Rob Says: Ankiel hits 40HR and drives in 100+ while throwing five dudes out Bo Jackson style. Dempster and Pettite's ERA are both over five at the All Star break.
Eric Gomez: Reggie Willits, LAA and Jair Jurrjens, ATL
15 out of the 31 writers picked players on their favorite team.
Adam Jones got the most picks overall with five.
The Tigers, Cubs, and Marlins did not have anyone picked to breakout.
Colorado had three different players picked.
FenWest: John Lackey, LAA and Dontrelle Willis, DET
Andrew Kneeland: CC Sabathia, NYY and Albert Pujols, STL
Chris Pennant: A.J. Burnett, NYY and David Wright, NYM
Chris Says: David Wright's toe injury in the WBC will haunt him for most of the season.
Isaac Barrow: Ervin Santana, LAA and Jair Jurrjens, ATL
Aaron Meyer: CC Sabathia, NYY and Johan Santana, NYM
Eric Annett: Torii Hunter, LAA and Garrett Atkins, COL
Austin Drake: Carlos Quentin, CHW and Raul Ibanez, PHI
Kevin Cacabelos: Mark Teixeira, NYY and Barry Bonds, ?
Steven Resnick: Derek Jeter, NYY, and Ryan Ludwick, STL
Steven Says: Jeter is just getting old. His range defensively is gone and his speed to leg out infield hits is gone as well. He'll still hit for a decent average, but his defense is going to cost the Yankees. I believe Ryan Ludwick's season last year was a fluke I do not believe he will hit anywhere near like he did last year.
Lawrence Barreca: Mark Teixeira, NYY and Carlos Delgado, NYM
Jordan Schwartz: Mark DeRosa, CLE and Ryan Ludwick, STL
Matt Irby: Cliff Lee, CLE and Dan Uggla, FLA
Marty Andrade: Joe Crede, MIN and Ryan Braun, MIL
Scott Birchfield: CC Sabathia, NYY and Adam Dunn, WAS
David Martin: A.J. Burnett, NYY and Ryan Ludwick, STL
David Says: In the National League, Ryan Ludwick will show that his numbers last year were a fluke. He is not a bad player, he just is not the type of player that he showed to be last year.
Andrew Nuschler: Carlos Quentin, CHW and Ryan Ludwick, STL
Andrew’s Runner-Ups: AL Falterer—Pedroia, Gavin Floyd, Dye NL Falterer—Dempster, Berkman, Fielder
Christian Karcole: Josh Hamilton, TEX and Carlos Zambrano, CHC
Anthony Masterson: A.J. Burnett, NYY and Milton Bradley, CHC
Bob Warja: David Ortiz, BOS and Ryan Ludwick, STL
Danny Penza: CC Sabathia, NYY and Ryan Dempster, CHC
Brett Kettyle: CC Sabathia, NYY and Carlos Zambrano, CHC
Adam Lindemer: CC Sabathia, NYY and Johan Santana, NYM
Peter Fleischer: Derek Jeter, NYY and Ryan Ludwick, STL
Evan Aczon: Mark Teixeira, NYY and Francisco Rodriguez, NYM
Patrick Murray: Vladimir Guerrero, LAA and Cole Hamels, PHI
Nino Colla: A.J. Burnett, NYY and Chipper Jones, ATL
Nino Says: While I love Chipper Jones, I think his age will finally catch up to him.
JC Ayvazi: J.D. Drew, BOS and Milton Bradley, CHC
Jason Cardwell: Alex Rodriguez, NYY and Carlos Zambrano, CHC
Rob Kildoo: Andy Pettitte, NYY and Ryan Dempster, CHC
Eric Gomez: A.J. Burnett, NYY and Khalil Greene
18 out of the 30 picks in the AL went to a New York Yankee.
Ryan Ludwick got the most votes with six as the NL falterer.
17 out of the 30 picks in the NL went to players in the NL Central.
Only Marty Andrade and Peter Fleischer picked a player on their teams to falter.
To try and make things a little more interesting and not stick to the usual, individual awards and predictions, I put together a group of what I like to call, “Fun Bets.”
Here are the results. All categories are out of 31 responses.
Cliff Lee Wins
CC Sabathia Shutouts
Jordan Says: I know we're not going to see the CC Sabathia who threw 253 innings, including 10 complete games and five shutouts, with the Indians and Brewers last year.
Nor are we going to see the 2006-2007 Sabathia who racked up 10 more complete games in two seasons with Cleveland, because complete games don't exist in the Bronx.
Tim Lincecum Strikeouts
Anthony Says: For some reason, I couldn't type in more than two digits into Lincecum's K total, so I believe he'll get around 250 strikeouts this season, not 25. That would just be unfortunate.*
*Editors Note: When I made up the form, something went wrong and a lot of people could only enter two digits, it was later fixed, but I felt like I needed to make my error known and Anthony’s comment was by far the best. I hope Lincecum doesn’t end up with 25 strikeouts as well.
Manny Ramirez Home Runs
Josh Hamilton RBI
Willy Taveras Steals
David Says: Willy Taveras, who has an abysmal OBP, will struggle in Cincinnati, where Dusty Baker's style does not fit his running style. This guy can just not hit a breaking ball.
New York Yankees, Playoff Wins: 3
San Diego Padres, Total Wins: 43
Tampa Bay Rays, Division Wins: 39
Pittsburgh Pirates Win Percentage: .500
Eric Says: The Pirates young starters are incredibly motivated to do better than they have done, maybe facing 17 consecutive losing seasons will motivate this staff to keep pace with the offense and put together an 83-win season.
Philadelphia Phillies, Home Runs: 211
Minnesota Twins, Runs Scored: 815
Steven Says: Minnesota's offense should get a lift from Joe Crede and the health of Michael Cuddyer so their offense shouldn't be as bad as it was last year.
Toronto Blue Jays, Team ERA: 3.54
Washington Nationals, Errors: 120
Chipper Jones Batting Average: .325
Brad Lidge Blown Saves: 3
Eric Says: Brad Lidge is a great closer. He's also an emotional closer. His 2008 was great, he may have turned a corner, but that doesn't mean he won't blow saves.
Mark Reynolds Strikeouts: 202
Washington Nationals: Strasburg or Bust?
Stephen Strasburg: 15
Anyone Else: 16
Matt Wieters: Baltimore Debut?
Before All-Star Break: 28
After All-Star Break: 3
Lawrence Says: My guess is that he comes up sometime in late April or early May. No doubt, though, that he will be in a Baltimore uniform before the All-Star Break.
Marty Says: Regression to the mean isn't just an axiom, it's a law.*
*Editors Note: I’m not even going to pretend I know what that means. But it was far too cool sounding to leave out. Unfortunately it didn’t really apply to one particular bet. A honorable mention to FenWest who brought up something about outliers. I don’t mind math but there is a reason I’m in the communications field.
Here are the consensus division picks. Check the spreadsheet link at the end of the article for full division picks for every CL.
AL East: Boston Red Sox – 18
AL Central: Cleveland Indians – 12
AL West: Los Angeles Angels – 19
AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees – 12 (Tie)
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies – 18
NL Central: Chicago Cubs – 22
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers – 21
NL Wild Card: New York Mets and Chicago Cubs – 7 (Tie)
Like with the individual players, the CLs were asked to pick teams that were both on the rise and on the fall.
Teams on the Rise
Adam Greuel: Minnesota
Andrew Kneeland: Pittsburgh
Chris Pennant: Baltimore
Isaac Barrow: Baltimore
Aaron Meyer: Florida
Eric Annett: Kansas City
Austin Drake: Oakland
Kevin Cacabelos: Seattle
Steven Resnick: Oakland
Lawrence Barreca: Baltimore
Jordan Schwartz: Cleveland
Matt Irby: Texas
Marty Andrade: Oakland
Scott Birchfield: Cincinnati
David Martin: Cleveland
Andrew Nuschler: San Francisco
Christian Karcole: San Francisco
Anthony Masterson: Kansas City
Bob Warja: Oakland
Danny Penza: Baltimore
Brett Kettyle: Texas
Adam Lindemer: Texas
Peter Fleischer: Toronto
Evan Aczon: San Francisco
Patrick Murray: San Francisco
Nino Colla: San Francisco
JC Ayvazi: Kansas City
Jason Cardwell: San Francisco
Rob Kildoo: Kansas City
Eric Gomez: Cleveland
Most Picked: San Francisco (6)
Teams on the Fall
Adam Greuel: Philadelphia
Andrew Kneeland: Boston
Chris Pennant: Los Angeles Angels
Isaac Barrow: Toronto
Aaron Meyer: Milwaukee
Eric Annett: Toronto
Austin Drake: Milwaukee
Kevin Cacabelos: Boston
Steven Resnick: New York Yankees
Lawrence Barreca: Seattle
Jordan Schwartz: Toronto
Matt Irby: Los Angeles Angels
Marty Andrade: New York Yankees
Scott Birchfield: Chicago White Sox
David Martin: Los Angeles Dodgers
Andrew Nuschler: Milwaukee
Christian Karcole: Chicago White Sox
Anthony Masterson: Los Angeles Angels
Bob Warja: Philadelphia
Danny Penza: Chicago White Sox
Brett Kettyle: New York Mets
Adam Lindemer: Cincinnati
Peter Fleischer: Milwaukee
Evan Aczon: Los Angeles Angels
Patrick Murray: Los Angeles Angels
Nino Colla: Chicago White Sox
JC Ayvazi: Atlanta
Jason Cardwell: Milwaukee
Rob Kildoo: Minnesota
Eric Gomez: Tampa Bay
Most Picked: Milwaukee (6)
World Series Picks
The part you’ve been waiting for. What teams did the Community Leaders on Bleacher Report pick to World Series? The wait is over.
FenWest: Boston Red Sox Team over Philadelphia Phillies
Adam Greuel: New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs
Andrew Kneeland: New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs
Chris Pennant: Philadelphia Phillies over Boston Red Sox (Seven Games)
Isaac Barrow: Minnesota Twins over Chicago Cubs
Aaron Meyer: St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Angels
Eric Annett: Boston Red Sox over Chicago Cubs
Austin Drake: New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs
Kevin Cacabelos: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland Indians
Steven Resnick: Tampa Bay Rays over Arizona Diamondbacks
Lawrence Barreca: Tampa Bay Rays over St. Louis Cardinals
Jordan Schwartz: New York Yankees over Philadelphia Phillies
Matthew Irby: Los Angeles Dodgers over Minnesota Twins
Marty Andrade: Boston Red Sox over Chicago Cubs (Five Games)
Scott Birchfield: Boston Red Sox over Chicago
David Martin: Colorado Rockies over Los Angeles Angels
Andrew Nuschler: Boston Red Sox
Christian Karcole: St. Louis Cardinals over Boston Red Sox
Anthony Masterson: Cleveland Indians over Philadelphia Phillies
Bob Warja: New York Mets over Boston Red Sox
Danny Penza: Boston Red Sox over New York Mets
Brett Kettyle: Tampa Bay Rays over Chicago Cubs
Adam Lindemer: No Pick
Peter Fleischer: No Pick
Evan Aczon: Chicago Cubs over Cleveland Indians
Patrick Murray: New York Mets over New York Yankees
Nino Colla: Los Angeles Angels over Arizona Diamondbacks
JC Ayvazi: Los Angeles Dodgers over Boston Red Sox
Jason Cardwell: New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs
Rob Kildoo: Boston Red Sox over St. Louis Cardinals
Eric Gomez: Los Angeles Angels over Philadelphia Phillies
Favorite: Boston Red Sox
Picked: Nine times to make World Series, 6 times to win World Series
I’d like to thank every single Community Leader on this site for all their hard work, filling out the preseason form, and for their participation in the Division Debate series. They all work hard and make sure you thank them for all their work in their respective communities.
There was a lot more information collected, but in order to try and keep this cut down, I have excluded it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see it. If you have Microsoft Word and Excel you can view the following.
Click here to download the entire excel spreadsheet that includes all the picks from each individual CL.
Click here to download the word document file that includes all the extended opinions from every CL that submitted them.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!