MLB 2011 Predictions: Boldly Predicting Every Division and Wild Card Winner
Now that the MLB offseason is starting to cool down and the dust is starting to settle, which teams will make the playoffs in 2011?
The Boston Red Sox added superstars Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, Philadelphia added veteran starter Cliff Lee to their already dominant rotation, the Brewers added former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, and much more.
How will these additions and subtractions affect the MLB standings in 2011?
Which teams are for real and which teams are overrated?
Here are my predictions. Prepare to be frustrated.
American League East: Boston Red Sox
The smug young man pictured above is Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox General Manager.
Sure they just added one of the best relievers in the game, but due to the fact that the New York Yankees have a two-man rotation and the Red Sox have by far, the best offense in baseball, Boston will be AL East champions in 2011.
I know, that's not a bold prediction, but the title was Bold predictions, not Stupid.
American League Central: Detroit Tigers
In 2010, the Detroit Tigers were contending for the AL Central all the way up until injuries got the best of them late in the season.
Now, with a .300 BA/20 HR batter in Victor Martinez hitting fifth in the lineup, opposing pitchers will actually have a reason not to intentionally walk Miguel Cabrera and that should make this offense even more explosive.
Their rotation, anchored by Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, is solid enough to keep the offense in the game and I expect the Tigers to be the team to come out on top of this three-horse race in 2011.
American League West: Oakland Athletics
Probably one of my boldest predictions, but if you think about it, it really makes a lot of sense.
Yes, the Rangers' offense is pretty awesome and with the addition of Adrian Beltre, it is borderline incredible.
However, if the world champion San Francisco Giants taught us anything, it's that pitching wins championships and pitching is exactly what Texas is lacking.
Unless C.J Wilson can step up and prove to be the type of ace that his mentor Cliff Lee was last year, the Rangers' starting rotation is one huge mess.
Oakland, on the other hand, has a dynamite starting rotation that is led by the most underrated pitcher in baseball, Trevor Cahill and their offseason additions of Hideki Matsui and Josh Willingham should give that rotation all the run support that it needs to win the AL West in 2011.
American League Wild Card: New York Yankees
I tried my best to be as bold as possible when it came to the Wild Card pick, but there is just no way that the Bombers miss the playoffs.
They have too much talent and too much money.
Right now, it looks like the Yankees are and bad shape, even with the addition of Rafael Soriano, but it's the same story every year. The Yankees will start off slow, then they will go out and get Prince Fielder or Felix Hernandez and barely make it into the postseason.
I guess, in some weird way, this is a bold prediction.
National League East: Atlanta Braves
Here comes my favorite part.
The part where all the Phillies fans drop their jaw and their cheesesteak, scroll down to the comment section, and let me have it.
No, the Braves' starting rotation will not be better than the Phillies in 2011. Obviously, unless injuries come into play, Philadelphia has an edge in the rotation category, but at the end of the day, both rotations are magnificent and both will keep their team in the ball game for six or so innings.
Sure, Cy Young winner Roy Halladay can throw a shutout and Cliff Lee can dominate the next day, but don't Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson have the same potential?
Cole Hamels has one of the most impressive young resumes in baseball with a 3.53 ERA over five seasons, but doesn't Jair Jurjens have a 3.52 ERA over four seasons?
Then there's the weathered veteran with postseason experience in Roy Oswalt, who sports a career 3.39 postseason ERA over 10 starts. Atlanta's Derek Lowe has started 12 postseason games with an earned run average of 3.21.
As for the fifth man, I don't know about you, but I would rather have highly touted prospect Mike Minor than the overpaid and overrated Joe Blanton of the Phillies.
Yes, the Phillies rotation is incredible, but the Braves also have one of the best rotations in baseball and they are not as far behind from Philly as you may think they are.
Add Dan Uggla to the Braves and subtract Jayson Werth from Philly, and we have an interesting race on our hands.
National League Central: St. Louis Cardinals
If Albert Pujols retired today, he would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the greatest to ever play the game of baseball.
Unfortunately for the Cincinnati Reds, Pujols and the Cardinals have some unfinished business to take care of...including The Machine's contract.
I have a hunch that Albert Pujols will remain a St.Louis Cardinal and become the highest-paid player of all time in 2011 and just his signing alone will remove a huge weight off of the Cardinals' shoulders and allow them to move on with improving the team.
The Reds are a great team, but they have some pretty big question marks, like "Can 15-year vet' Scott Rolen have another monster year?" and "Can Drew Stubbs handle the leadoff responsibilities?"
The Cardinals are just a solid team all around and should take the division with ease.
National League West: Colorado Rockies
If the Colorado Rockies can finally learn how to play as well as they do in September earlier in the season, they could be the best team in baseball.
The Rockies are stacked with young talent (Jimenez, Tulo, CarGo, Fowler) and will absolutely dominate the NL West in 2011, making the San Francisco Giants nothing more than one-hit wonders and the LA Dodgers nothing more than...well...what they've always been, an overrated squad of spoiled brats.
National League Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies
OK, I'm not that naive.
Their rotation is too great and their offense is too average for the Phillies not to make the playoffs.
It will be a tight wild card race between Philly and Milwaukee at the end of the year, but just like their American League counterparts, the New York Yankees, Philadelphia will squeeze into the playoffs at the very end.
The rest...is history. Well...it's the future, but it will eventually be history.
Thanks for reading.