Monday, April 1, 2013

Baseball Season Is Here

Justin Verlander and the Tigers have
high hopes for the 2013 season.
I apologize this article is a day late as the undefeated Astros have thwarted the Rangers in the opening game of the year.  Nevertheless, it is baseball season and I have a few things to say about it.  Like I did with the NHL at the beginning of their season, here is my take on how the 2013 MLB season will play out:

Let me start with the National League:

NL East:

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Philadelphia Phillies
  4. New York Mets
  5. Miami Marlins
Yet again, the Nats look to be the best team in the NL East.  However, it will be no surprise if they are on top this year.  They have a ton of expectations and look to improve on an incredible run last season.  The difference for them this year, they have Strasburg for the entire season.  Also, do not forget that they had the 2nd round all but locked up until the Cardinals had a comeback for the ages to steal game 5.  The Braves have young talent, pitching, and the Upton brothers who look to make noise in the division.  The Phillies have an old Doc and not the same dominant Cliff, but Hamels and company are still solid enough to make this team competitive.  Howard and Utley could make or break the Phillies season.  The Mets surprised a lot of people early last year, but fizzled out as a mediocre team towards the end.  Expect more mediocrity out of them in 2013.  The Marlins have Stanton.  Outside of this they are laughable since half their team is now playing in Toronto.

NL Central:
  1. Cincinnati Reds
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Milwaukee Brewers
The Reds will look to dominate under Joey Votto and the Reds offense.  The Cardinals are always dangerous and have great batting as well.  The Cubs are a wild card team that could be great or simply awful.  They are young but seem to be heading in the right direction.  The Pirates have become relevant again, but are still a few pieces away from being a playoff team.  Milwaukee has little talent outside of Ryan Braun, who could be on the downside of his career after being busted for PEDs.

NL West:
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. Colorado Rockies
  5. San Diego Padres
The defending World Series Champions come out of the NL West, but pitching alone does not make a great regular season team.  Despite their great pitching, I see the Giants coming in second due to lackluster offense.  The Dodgers behind Kemp and Kershaw are looking to become a powerhouse in the West.  Watch out for even a potential LA vs LA World Series.  The Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Padres are all laughable contenders, so do not expect any of these teams to make too much noise in the National League.

American League:

AL East:
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Boston Red Sox
  5. New York Yankees
Is that backwards?  No, the Yanks are on the bottom and the Rays are on the top.  I still think this is the most talent rich division in baseball, but it is not the way it once was.  Old age and injuries have allowed the rest of the league to catch up to New York.  Boston made some solid signings to replace the guys they traded away last year, but that organization is still in disarray.  Tampa traded away great pitchers in Wade Davis and "Big Game" James Shields but receive more than adequate compensation for this trade.  They know how to develop young talent, and they have a lot of that.  Longoria, Zobrist, Price, Hellickson, and Rodney are the heart and soul of this team.  Do not underestimate them because of their payroll, they are for real.  As for Toronto, I had mentioned before that they have plenty of talent heading into 2013.  If they can properly utilize these tools to make a great team, they could be very scary.  Baltimore was a surprise team last year that was able to beat Texas in the Wildcard game but could not handle the Yankees in the ALDS.  They are a young team with promising pitching.  They could be at the top or the bottom when this year is over, so I took the easy road and put them in 3rd.

AL Central:
  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins
The AL Central is one of the more polarized divisions.  The Tigers have plenty of expectations heading into this season and should live up to it.  There is no real competition they face and the addition of Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez returning should lift up this offense to new heights.  The Royals added some pitching to go along with their young bats.  Cleveland added Swisher and veteran coach Terry Francona to make them a solid team in 2013.  Chicago was a surprise team last year and could be good again this year.  Their young pitching could struggle with the departure of AJ Pierzynski behind the plate.  The Twins have lost most of their talent and Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are not the players they once were.  It is about time to rebuild in the twin city.

AL West:
  1. Los Angeles Angels
  2. Oakland Athletics
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Texas Rangers
  5. Houston Astos
The Angels added Josh Hamilton to a team that already had MVP candidates Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.  Throw in Trumbo and other great batters and the Angels have an offense few pitchers can stop.  Oakland was a fluke team last year when they won the division, but they have made movements towards being a contender again in 2013.  They could surprise again and be a top team in the West.  Seattle added Kendry Morales and Jesus Montero to strengthen their team.  They have solid pitching and could be a force in the AL West for the first time in a while.  The Rangers obviously lost Josh Hamilton, but also Michael Young and Mike Napoli.  There is also a slim chance that Beltre produces like he did last year.  Throw in the fact that Nelson Cruz is injured every year and the Rangers do not look as scary as they once did.  I see them struggling mightily and finishing the year below the .500 mark.  Houston is undefeated after a big opening day win.  However, this will be just one of only a few wings the Astros get this year.  They struggled in the NL and will do no better in the AL.  Houston will most likely be on the bottom of the division this year.

Here is how I see the standings at the end of the year.  Note the top 3 teams are division winners, and the 4th and 5th place teams secure the Wildcard spot.

National League:
  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. San Francisco Giants
  5. Atlanta Braves
  6. St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Philadelphia Phillies
  8. Chicago Cubs
  9. Pittsburgh Pirates
  10. Arizona Diamondbacks
  11. New York Mets
  12. Colorado Rockies
  13. Milwaukee Brewers
  14. Miami Marlins
  15. San Diego Padres
American League:
  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Los Angeles Angels
  3. Tampa Bay Rays
  4. Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Baltimore Orioles
  6. Oakland Athletics
  7. Boston Red Sox
  8. Kansas City Royals
  9. Cleveland Indians
  10. New York Yankees
  11. Seattle Mariners
  12. Texas Rangers
  13. Chicago White Sox
  14. Minnesota Twins
  15. Houston Astros

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