The MLB season is less than a week away, and at this point we are all making our preseason predictions.
Some of the most popular predictions are the major awards, MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, etc.
There are favorites, hometown heroes and dark horses in every race.
The question facing the players is: “who’s taking home the hardware?”
Will it be a player in a contract year who is trying to make the most money possible in free agency? Will it be a manager fighting for his job? Will it be a player with a new team who makes a good adjustment?
While it is next to impossible to pick these guys right before the season starts, these are my predictions.
Adrian Gonzalez was a big splash in the offseason when he left San Diego for the Boston Red Sox.
Gonzalez is a power-hitting lefty, and Fenway Park will help him launch 40-50 home runs in 2011.
In right field, the home run distance is only 300 feet away, and the wall is only four feet tall.
Since Gonzalez is a lefty, he will most likely hit most of his homers over this wall, and because he is used to a farther, taller wall in PETCO Park, we should see an increase in home run production for sure.
Gonzalez has hit at least 30 homers in four straight seasons, including 40 in 2009, and he is one of the best power-hitters in the game.
Unlike other power-hitters in the MLB, Gonzalez also has a good average.
Gonzalez hit .298 in 2010, and has hit over .300 before in his career.
Gonzalez also knocks in a ton of RBI, including 419 over the last four seasons.
Gonzalez is used to a poor offense in San Diego, but now that he will be hitting with runners on more often, we can expect more production in that area too.
Gonzalez is poised for a breakout season in 2011, and he’ll take home the hardware and win his first MVP award.
Who else would you expect?
"The Machine" has dominated baseball for the last few years, and I see no reason to doubt his ability to do it again.
Pujols has been an All-Star nine times in 10 seasons and he’s never finished outside the top 10 in MVP voting, (finishing in the top four nine times and winning three MVP's and the Rookie of the Year).
Pujols is an absolute monster, and I don’t see any way to slow him down.
Pujols has recorded at least 100 RBI every year of his career, averaging 123 per season, and he is the best player in baseball.
Pujols has never hit under 30 home runs and he averages 40.8 per season.
The list of impressive stats just goes on and on, and he is not playing anywhere new, and if anything his offense behind him has gotten better.
Albert will take home his fourth MVP trophy this season…I hope he’s got a big mantel for all of his trophies.
He’s a bit of a dark horse in the race for the AL Cy Young, but he’s legit.
Buchholz finished last season 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA.
Buchholz is getting even more run support this season, with the additions of MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
Buchholz’s ERA was superb last season, and because he will get more run support, I see him getting 20 wins this season.
The thing that makes Buchholz so good is the fact that you need to get multiple hits in a row to score on him.
Buchholz is not easily taken deep, allowing only nine home runs in 28 starts.
In his first season starting at least 20 games, Buchholz had the best season of his career, and I see him continuing his success and improving.
The 26-year-old Buchholz is still getting better, and this will be the year he wins his first Cy Young award (notice I said FIRST).
Halladay won the NL Cy Young last season, his first in the NL.
Halladay is one of a select few pitchers to win a Cy Young in both Leagues, and he is currently considered the best pitcher in baseball.
In 2010, Halladay posted a 21-10 record and a 2.44 ERA.
Halladay pitched nine complete games, four shutouts, a no-hitter in the playoffs and a perfect game.
Halladay dazzled in all of his games, and he won over 20 games even without typical Philadelphia run-support.
This season, Halladay’s offense lost Jayson Werth, but Werth hit very poorly with runners in scoring position, and the team being healthy will more than make up for that.
I don’t see Halladay being punished or overshadowed by the fact that the rest of the Phillies’ rotation is amazing, and I see him winning the NL Cy Young for the second year in a row.
Jeremy Hellickson had a few starts in the Majors last year, but since he pitched only 34 innings, he still qualifies for Rookie of the Year.
Hellickson dominated the Minors in 2009 and the beginning of 2010, and he showed that he is for real in the Majors.
During his time with the Rays, Hellickson recorded 33 strikeouts in 34 innings, and only allowed eight walks.
The Rookie of the Year award seems to be his at the moment, and as long as he pitches as we know he can, he should win it.
With no excellent rookies like David Price or Stephen Strasburg in the AL this season, there isn’t a lot of competition.
Granted, Jesus Montero and Mike Moustakas might compete with him, Montero probably won’t start in the Majors with the Yankees, and the Royals won’t help Moustakas get the RBI or runs to clinch the Rookie of the Year.
Hellickson will win the Rookie of the Year this season, and could become a bona fide star in his career.
The flame throwing Aroldis Chapman is the Neftali Feliz of the NL this season.
Chapman is one of the hardest throwers in the MLB, and he should win the NL Rookie of the Year.
Chapman’s 2.03 ERA and 1.35 FIP in 15 appearances last season have proved our suspicions; he’s a monster.
Averaging an unreal 99.6 MPH fastball, Chapman can blow his pitches by his opponents, and he can startle them with his other pitches.
I don’t even know what to say except for the fact that this kid is absolutely unbelievable. If you haven’t seen him yet I would make time in your schedule to catch a Reds game or two.
If Chapman can get his breaking balls down, he will lock up the NL Rookie of the Year despite pitching out of the bullpen.
Terry Francona’s Boston Red Sox are looking better than ever this season, and are World Series contenders for sure.
The Red Sox had arguably the best offseason this year, acquiring MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, and relievers Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks.
The Red Sox won 89 games without these guys, and with them they have a good chance at winning the World Series.
The Red Sox boast a strong lineup which has been strengthened, an amazing starting rotation and a new-look bullpen which has been much improved this offseason, and is looking good again.
The Red Sox will bounce back from third in the AL East, and they will jump up to first. In a tough division this is no small task, and Francona will be rewarded.
Gonzalez is coming in to take over the Atlanta Braves from Bobby Cox.
Cox’s Braves came in second in the NL East last season, and won the NL Wild Card.
Gonzalez is coming into Atlanta in a good year.
The team has not lost much, and they’ve acquired All-Star Dan Uggla, to fill the second base position.
The Braves’ only hole in the postseason last year was second base, and with Uggla picking up the slack, I see the team winning their NLDS because they don’t have to play the Phillies.
Atlanta is a dangerous team with a powerful lineup. Their lineup’s core consists of Brian McCann, Chipper Jones, Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward.
Their deadly pitching staff is what sets them apart, however.
The Braves’ rotation has five good pitchers, and is in the upper tier along with the Phillies and Giants.
The braves are great in every aspect of the game, and they should win enough games to make their new manager look special.
Gonzalez will win the Manager of the Year in his first season as manager.