2011 MLB Playoff Predictions: The 8 Teams Destined for October
Ahh, the sweet smell of April.
The only time of year where Indians and Mariners fans have the same amount of hope as Yankees and Phillies fans. That is because April is a time for a fresh start and a new beginning. One hundred and two years without a World Championship for the Cubs and 18 straight losing seasons for the Pirates mean nothing right now, because every team has a chance.
But right now, only one series through the season, I am predicting the 8 teams that I believe are postseason bound.
Some are obvious and some will surprise a lot of people.
AL East Champion: New York Yankees
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Yes, all you Red Sox fans are probably spewing right now. But after witnessing that opening series against the Rangers, you have no argument.
The Yankees are the best offensive team in baseball. Mark Teixiera and A-Rod look like MVP Candidates already and Derek Jeter is likely to rebound.
They have a horse in CC leading a questionable pitching staff, but they are likely to pick up another ace sometime throughout the season.
But even if they don't and the Yankees lead going into the seventh, good luck coming back against Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera.
AL Central Champion: White Sox
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The White Sox have power. They added a mammoth slugger in Adam Dunn to an already colossal lineup. The question with them is the pitching.
Can a rotation that features Mark Buehrle, John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Edwin Jackson and injury prone Jake Peavy lead them to the postseason? I think they can along as Peavy returns to his Cy Young form. But that is a big question mark, and if he doesn't, either the Twins, with a healthy Justin Morneau, or the Tigers will swoop in and take the division.
AL West Champion: Texas Rangers
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The Texas Rangers, fresh off their 2010 AL Championship, are going back to the playoffs.
Yes, they lost ace Cliff Lee to the free agency, but with this kind of lineup hitting everyday, it won't matter who is pitching. Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz are all healthy and slugging, and Elvis Andrus and Michael Young can provide the necessary speed. They also added slugger Adrian Beltre to their already beastly lineup. The Rangers should slam their way to another easy division title.
AL Wild Card: Red Sox
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Yes, Red Sox fans here you go. Boston may be the best team in baseball.
They can slug with the best of them (besides the Rangers) and have young competent aces in Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, as well as veterans John Lackey and Josh Beckett. Papelbon should return to his pre-2010 form and Brad should once again be a very effective set up man.
After a sluggish start, the Red Sox cruise their way into the postseason.
NL East Champion: Philadelphia Phillies
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The Phillies have the greatest rotation of the decade. Nothing needs to be said after that. The Core Four should dominate and the lineup, which still retains a lot of pop, will provide the offense necessary for the Phillies to cruise to their fifth consecutive NL East title.
NL Central Champion: Cincinnati Reds
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To be honest, I didn't like the Reds coming into the season. But after witnessing their domination of the Brew Crew in the opening series, I like them a lot.
They are young and fun to watch, as they boast slugger such as Jay Bruce, Johnny Gomes and reigning NL MVP Joey Votto. They have a young and solid rotation that features Jonny Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Trevor Wood, as well as veterans such as Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo.
The Cardinals appear weaker than I first thought and the Brewers are 0-4 as well.
I think the Reds slimly win the division and win their second consecutive division title.
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
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Yes, this should come as a big surprise to most of you. Most of you were expecting the defending World Series Champion Giants or the hot choice Rockies. Well, I chose neither as I believe the Dodgers will be the top dog in the NL West this year.
Matt Kemp will have a monster year and Andre Ethier will have an All Star campaign.
Their rotation is one of the best in baseball, boasting young ace Clayton Kershaw along with great arms such as Chad Billingsley, Huroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly.
I believe the Dodger shock everyone and win the NL West in the last few days of September.
NL Wild Card: New York Mets
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Yes, this one is the shocker of them all. The New York Mets, embroiled in bankruptcy, will make the postseason.
This is because the Mets have talent, and nothing beats talent. David Wright and Jose Reyes are two of the best infielders in the league and Beltran and Bay can slug when they are healthy.
The Mets also have no pressure on them this season, as no one expects them to perform well. RA Dickey and Jon Niese should have great years and Johan Santana returns in August and carries the Mets into the postseason, as they beat out the Rockies and Braves in the final few days of the season to win the NL Wild Card.