With the season just a couple short days away, I feel it's appropriate that I share my predictions for the 2010 MLB season.
While most people look to the Rockies as the winner out west, I feel as though the Giants will surprise everyone by not only being the best in the west, but also one of the best teams in the NL.
The Rockies' pitching staff worries me. Their lineup looks nice on paper, but I'm worried that their production will not be enough to make up for their lack of arms. Not only do I not think they will win the division, I have them projected behind the Dodgers, who will make the Giants work for the top spot.
The Dodgers have the best lineup in the NL west, but their rotation is shaky. The Padres have a good young team but are not ready to make any moves toward the post season. After a disappointing '09, the Diamondbacks will have an even more disappointing 2010. Brandon Webb is a question mark, and so is manager A.J. Hinch.
With all the moves they have made this summer, the Mariners will win the division for the first time since 2001. Ichiro may be on the decline, but if Milton Bradley can stay focused on baseball and Cliff Lee can stay out of the training room, this team will be dangerous.
The Rangers will also have a solid year, but Josh Hamilton will struggle and Vlad Guerrero is a nice addition, but he's past his prime. The Angels will have a tough time replacing Lackey in the rotation, and their aging lineup will disappoint them. The A's need no explanation.
It is highly unlikely that any team in the NL Central is ready to make a serious run at the Cardinals for the foreseeable future. With a lineup stacked with Pujols, Holliday, and Ludwick, and a rotation that features Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright, St. Louis should coast into the postseason.
While the Cubs won't make a run at the Cardinals, they should be able to come close in their push for a wild card spot. The Brewers have two of the best hitters in the NL—Braun and Fielder—but it won't be enough to make up for their lack of pitching. The Reds will be better then last year, but still average. The Astros will be decent, and the Pirates are barely worth mentioning.
This will be the tightest race in baseball where three teams have a realistic chance of taking the division. With the addition of Jake Peavy to an already impressive rotation in Chicago, the White Sox will be able to edge out the Tigers and the Twins.
Their lineup also looks good, and expect big things out of 2B Gordon Beckham. The Tigers will be helped by the addition of Johnny Damon, but their lineup still does not have enough talent to get them to the playoffs. The Twins have the best lineup in the division by far, but don't have the arms to back it up. The Indians will have a respectable season, and will have a chance to see what Matt LaPorta can do at first base. The Royals will be the Royals.
1. WHITE SOX
The Phillies are the obvious front runner in this race. Their lineup is the best in the division, as is their rotation. They look poised to make another run at the World Series. Nipping at their heels will be the revived Atlanta Braves. While the glory days of Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine are behind them, the pitching staff will be one of the best in baseball (Lowe, Jurrjens, Hudson, Hanson). The addition of Billy Wagner will help them hang on to close games all season long.
While the Mets have been the most disappointing team in the league of late, look for them to to improve. Reyes and Beltran's injuries could cause concern, but expect them to have productive seasons alongside the newly acquired Jason Bay.
The Marlins will be a fun team to watch, as they always are, but won't win as many as last year. The Nationals will stay in the cellar, but at least their fans will get a chance to watch Stephen Strausberg.
Last year's AL East and World Series champion New York Yankees will win both again in 2010. The Lineup that upgraded from an aging Damon to a youthful Curtis Granderson will be the best in the majors.
The pitching staff has almost no holes, and they have the best closer in the history of baseball in Mariano Rivera. The Red Sox will win the Wild Card but won't have enough to catch the Yankees. Look for them to trade for another bat to replace David Ortiz, who will have another down year. The pitching staff features three guys (Beckett, Lester, Lackey) who could head most of the rotations in the league.
The Rays will be the best third place team in baseball, and look for David Price to become the all-star he is supposed to be. The Orioles have two of the most intriguing position players in baseball (Matt Wieters and Adam Jones) but still don't have the talent to compete with the other top teams in their division. The Blue Jays will be the best team in Canada.
2. RED SOX
5. BLUE JAYS
The wild card teams will be the Braves and the Red Sox.
Atlanta will have a tough time sneaking past the Dodgers, but will eventually prevail behind their pitching staff. The Sox will have a tough time fending off the Rangers, Tigers, Twins, and Rays, but their experience will get them through. The Yankees will defeat the Cardinals in the World Series, and Joe Girardi will look into getting a new number.