The 2011 MLB regular season is nearing the conclusion of its first month—what if the season unfolded just as it started?
Please permit me a not-so-insignificant disclaimer here. I realize that all teams have only played (roughly) 20 games, and that the full season is 162. I've known all the clichés for longer than I care to admit. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
On the other hand, a game in April is worth the same as in October, right?
When it comes to player stats, one has to think that Hanley Ramirez (.182 / .299/ .247), the Florida Marlins' best player, will start to heat up, even if his team can't keep up their pace. Carl Crawford can't continue to be the highest paid player to ever hit .171 / .218 / .244, can he? Can Vernon Wells (.169/ .213/ .258) have declined to this degree?
Even if MLB teams have only played the equivalent of two NFL games (which, come to think of it, may be more than NFL teams will play this year), let's do a little math and see what the numbers project to for the full marathon.
The New York Yankees (12-6), led by the slugging exploits of Curtis Granderson (63 home runs...Roger Who?), will cruise to the division title with a record of 108-54. They will do this, despite their ace CC Sabathia winning only eight games and all-world closer Mariano Rivera blowing 16 saves.
The Cleveland Indians (13-8) take the division with 100 wins. If their best player of the last few years, Chin-Soo Choo (batting .207) gets going, look out.
Those Texas Rangers (14-7) cruise to the title with 108 wins. Cliff Who?
AL Wild Card
Kansas City, Detroit and LA (led of course by Vernon Wells, er, Jered Weaver) will finish with 88 wins apiece. Maybe Bud Selig will let them all in, or use All-Star Game stats to determine the finish.
The Philadelphia Phillies (15-6), to nobody's surprise, will out-pitch those pesky Marlins on the way to 116 wins. They will do so without their best all-around player, Chase Utley, seeing any action. They may also do so scoring only three runs per game.
The St. Louis Cardinals will win a tight division with 88 victories—Adam Wainwright will miss the whole year, Chris Carpenter may never win a game and Albert Pujols may only hit .250 (albeit with 52 homers), but they'll find a way. Hey, the modest Tony LaRussa would be the first to tell you that he's a genius.
Those Colorado Rockies (14-7) will also notch 108 wins. 23 year-old righty Jhoulys Chacin will go 24-8 with a 2.67 ERA to join Tulo and Car-go as a household name (baseball-wise) from the mountain state.
NL Wild Card
The Florida Marlins, behind the superb Josh Johnson (19-0, 1.06 ERA and a WHIP of 0.65), will earn a spot with a 105-57 record. (With Johnson's nasty stuff, he may approximate those stats, if healthy.)
If you were expecting postseason projections, you have come to the wrong place. Sorry.
But for what it's worth, who said that the .400 hitter is dead?
In the NL alone, there are two guys named Matt who will hit .400 this year—the Dodgers' Kemp will bat .402, and the Cardinals' Holliday will hit .400 even.
In the coming days, this Matt will take a look at some individual's projections. If he does not fall into a slump.
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