It’s time for … more predictions! Again, these are quick, shotgun predictions about the 2011 MLB season. If you missed part one, check it out.
The Red Sox are the best team in the AL
Usually, when teams make huge splashes, you can find holes in what they did. But I’m trying to find holes in what the Red Sox did, and I really can’t. They traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed Carl Crawford, two players who should do major damage in 2011. Their starting pitching, led by Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz is better than solid. And they simply have a winning atmosphere.
You could look at their bullpen to point fingers. Jonathan Papelbon had a terrible year. But they have Daniel Bard sitting there waiting to take the job from him, just like Papelbon was ready to take Keith Foulke’s job away from him. They’ll battle the Yankees again, but this year, I think they’re the better team.
Albert Pujols goes nuts
Last year, Albert Pujols had a down year (for him). His slugging percentage and on-base percentage were both the lowest they’d been since his second year in the big leagues. He’s signed through 2011 and has a club option for 2012. But people believe he’ll be a free agent after this season. Can you imagine what Albert Pujols’ contract year may look like?
I think he’ll get his average back up in the .330s and continue to hit homeruns in the lower-to-mid 40s. It’s not out of reach by season’s end for Pujols to have 450 homeruns and 2100 hits. And oh yah, he’ll get a humongous contract. It may not be as big as A-Rod’s, but it will still be humongous.
Both New York teams miss the playoffs
It’s pretty hard for the Yankees to miss the playoffs. They’re stacked offensively and generally get the players they want if they need them. Well, except for Cliff Lee. But with Andy Pettitte now retired, they are banking on CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and AJ Burnett to carry the rotation, which is formidable for most teams, but it won’t win you a World Series. And they’ve signed Bartolo Colon, Mark Prior, and Brian Anderson to minor league deals on a hope and a prayer.
As for the Mets, they are counting on Jason Bay to have a bounce back year after his disappointing 2010. They had zero players hit at least 20 homeruns not named David Wright. Only Wright scored at least 87 runs. They’ll need Johan Santana to stick his left arm in the fountain of youth and hope that Francisco Rodriguez stops punching his girlfriend’s father. They didn’t make the splashes they needed in the offseason to change what was a 79 win team last year.
MVP and Cy Young winners
In the AL, I think Carl Crawford will get a lot of early love for MVP, but will slow down in the second half. If the Tigers compete for the division, I think Miguel Cabrera would be a good contender. However, I’m going with Evan Longoria. He won’t have Carl Crawford or Carlos Pena in the lineup, but I think he puts together the best season of his career and has the Tampa Rays competing for a possible wild card birth, even though, you’d think that losing two of their best offensive players and a top starter would harm them.
This may be a boring choice, but I think King Felix repeats in the Cy Young race. The dude is legit nasty and if the Mariners could turn their situation around, he’d be the Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee of the American League; the guy who everyone wants to watch pitch whenever he starts.
In the NL, the easy choice for MVP is Albert Pujols and since I think he’s going to have one of the best years of his career in his possible contract year, I’m not going to try to get creative with this one. However, in the NL, I think the Cy Young goes back to the guy who had the previous two before Roy Halladay won the award last year.
Timothy Leroy Lincecum lost something last year. His fast ball looked un-Tim like. His control was lacking. He couldn’t spot his pitches to set up the change-up/split-finger. And then, the playoffs happened. When they did, Lincecum looked every bit of his Cy Young award winning self. He was unbelievable. In a sense, he learned a lot about what he could do in the most important games of his career. To me, that says something about his testicular fortitude. Throughout the season he was average far more than he’d ever been. But when the lights turned on and the audience was large, he was the best pitcher in the game. He’s winning his third Cy Young this year.
Division and wild card winners
In the NL, Colorado, St. Louis, and Philadelphia win the divisions and the Giants sneak in by winning the wild card. In the AL, the A’s, Red Sox, and Twins win their divisions and the Rangers and White Sox battle the eventual wild card winning Rays.
I’ll be back in two weeks, but before that, my Super Bowl pick (not that you asked) is the Packers 27 and the Steelers 24. Big Ben has his team in near field goal position with very little time left in the fourth quarter and Clay Matthews sacks him, causing him to fumble and every female watching pumps their fist while the seconds tick off the clock to end the game.
Big Ben can’t win on Sunday, just like Kobe Bryant couldn’t win in 2004. Peace out!