We are about one-third of the way through the 2009 Major League Baseball Season and things are beginning to take shape. We are starting to see what teams are for real, and which ones should already be thinking about 2010. This is a good time to start making some predictions for the end of the current season.
I know, I know...I'm going out on a limb picking the current best statistical pitcher in baseball to win the AL Cy Young. Sometimes, the front-runner does win. Greinke is the real thing. This should come as no surprise. He was the sixth overall pick in the 2002 amateur draft. In August of last year, he went 1-2 with a 2.48 era. In Sept/Oct, Greinke dominated with a 4-1 record and a 2.18 era. He is simply fulfilling his expected potential.
I predict an AL Cy Young award and a 24-4 record. He'll have a year that rivals Pedro's 1999 or Gooden's 1985.
The Yankees have the best team in baseball. After all, $200 million should buy you the nicest stuff. The slow start seems to be behind them. A-Rod has come back from hip surgery, igniting the entire lineup. It seems A-Rod's return didn't just fix their offense. Their pitching has settled down nicely, even without Chien-Ming Wang, oddly since A-Rod came back. They also have a wonderful field to play in when you have a strong lefty lineup (Swisher, Teixeira, Cabrera, Posada, Cano) and right handed hitters who are adept at hitting the other way (A-Rod, Jeter). They currently also have a treak of 18 consecutive error-less games. Of course, they have Mariano at the end. They do have some questions in middle relief, but that's about it.
They have strong pitching, an unforgiving lineup and are playing great defense. I predict that adds up to 100 plus wins.
The most talked about slump of the 2009 season so far belongs to David Ortiz. He is currently batting .185, slugging .287 and has one home run. He seems to suffer from the same disease Carlos Delgado caught last year—he cannot get to the inside fastball. This causes him to start his swing early and swing at bad pitches. Last year, Delgado was able to fix whatever ailed him and have a spectacular second half. David Ortiz will not do the same. Delgado was seemingly fixed when Willie Randolph exited the Mets. No such thing will happen in Boston. He is an aging DH who misses having Manny by his side in the batting order.
I predict he cracks a .200 batting average, but does not exceed 12 home runs or 75 RBI.
It seems only his fantasy baseball owners know who Adrian Gonzalez is. He is one of the best-kept secrets in baseball, hiding out in San Diego. While there, he has become one of the most feared hitters in the game. He is currently batting .290 with a .400+ OBP. The past two years he has hit 30+ home runs and already has 21 round-trippers this year. He's on pace for a record-tying 73 home runs.
I am not predicting he does that, after all he does play his home games in the enormous Petco Park, but I do predict you will know who he is by years end.
I consider Manny Ramirez a cheater. I believe he used steroids and got caught covering them up. However, he will serve his 50-game suspension and return sometime around July 3. This will give Manny about half a season to put up numbers. When he was suspended, he was batting .348 with six home runs and 20 RBI in just over 90 at bats. Those are incredible numbers. I see no reason why he wouldn't continue on the tear he's been on since joining the Dodgers last year. Juan Pierre is performing admirably in his absence, but that is Manny's spot, it's just being kept warm.
I predict Manny returns strong and drives the Dodgers straight through the playoffs.
The Houston Astros are under performing (21-28, last place in NL Central). This are partly due to playing in one of if not the most competitive divisions in baseball. There are signs that things should improve. Lance Berkman is batting .232 with 31 RBI, paltry numbers for a hitter of his quality. This will surely improve. More importantly however, Roy Oswalt is currently just 2-2 with a 4.28 era. Last season through the end of May, Oswalt posted a 4-5 record and a 5.45 era. The rest of the year, he went 13-5 with a 2.44 era. Last night, his first start in June, Oswalt pitched eight innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts.
I predict he will continue this second-half trend and dominate the rest of the season, leading the Astros into the heart of the Wild Card race.
Picking up where the last slide left off, the Houston Astros will be in the Wild Card race until the last day of the season. The final game of the Astros season is against the New York Mets, and they will need to win to get in. The Mets will be in the same situation. It will be the kind of game Bud Selig had in mind when he installed the Wild Card. If there is a God, it will work out so Roy Oswalt is pitching against Johan Santana.
I predict the Mets beat the Astros on the last game of the season to clinch the Wild Card.
The 1962 expansion Mets hold the record for most losses in the modern baseball era...with a record of 40-120. Right now, the Nationals are 13-36. They are on track for 119 losses. What gives them the edge to topple those hapless Mets in the last 2/3 of the season? The Nationals will be playing the AL east in inter-league play. That means series with the Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays. The AL East is infamous for it's patience at the plate and it's ability to get into a teams bullpen early. The Nationals have the worst bullpen in baseball. I would not be surprised if the Nationals amount a meager one or two wins in their entire remaining inter-league schedule.
I predict the Nationals lose 123 games, breaking the '62 Mets outstanding achievement.
The Cubs sit in 4th place in National League's Central division with a record of 25-24. They are only four games back, but have three teams above them in the division. This team has suffered through inconsistency from Carlos Zambrano and a devastating injury to Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez will return around the all-star break and will provide the offensive punch that is sorely missing. Zambrano will continue his history of pitching well in June and July and Lou Piniella will do what it takes to get them where they need to be in September.
I predict the Cubs win the NL Central.
No prediction piece would be complete without World Series picks. I think it will come down to a classic rematch series—with the Yankees playing the Dodgers. The history behind this matchup is the stuff of legends. This meeting will not disappoint. A Billingsley-Sabathia Game One. The power of Broxton compared to the genius of Rivera. Two steroid controversy's meeting, with A-Rod and Manny. Joe Torre returning to New York and entering the new Yankee Stadium as an opponent in the World Series. It's the kind of World Series you dream about...history, controversy, emotion and talent.
I predict the Dodgers defeat the Yankees and win the World Series in six games. World Series Co-MVP's: Billingsley and Manny.