Sunday, March 31, 2013

2013 MLB Preview

Ah, it's that time of year again. Everyone can feel baseball in the air. The season is still way too long (120 is the desired length), but I love it nonetheless. It's an exciting six months full of Trout, Trout and more Trout. The thrill of an important September victory (hahaha, as a Mets fan, I laugh at the prospect of winning in September), the agony of barely missing the playoffs. The trial and tribulations that comes with rooting for the Pirates. Being a formerly excited Marlins fan only to see your team gutted after one season. But then again, do the Marlins even have fans? Anyway, here are some keys to look for this season, along with division and playoff predictions:

The Age of Trout
Last year, a 20 year old kid from New Jersey took the baseball world by storm, and stole my baseball heart. His name, is Michael Nelson Trout. A true five tool player, Trout actually excels at everything. In fact, as I referred to him over the summer, Trout is a six tool player. His Troutskill sets him apart from everyone else. The true AL MVP last year, Trout looks to continue his rule over the baseball headlines. So much was made about him going through a sophomore slump, and of course his showing up for camp overweight. Look, I don't think Trout is going to fall flat on his face like other do, but I do expect him to drop off just a little bit, because he can't be expected to have a historically unprecedented season every year. If he repeats what he did last year, I'm not going to be surprised. If he hits 25 homers instead of 30, don't use that to say that he's an awful player and a one-hit wonder. He's still the best player in baseball. People overreact to everything.

The Other Young Guys Who Aren't Trout
Outside of the best player in baseball, it is quite an exciting time when it comes to the younger players in the league. There are many that will make strong impacts on their respective teams. Bryce Harper wasn't as good as people made him out to be last season, but he had a pretty good season. Stephen Strasburg will have no innings limit this year, so it's time to let him loose. Matt Harvey debuted last season to huge success, while Travis D'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler are waiting to join the Mets major league roster. In Texas, Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt each debuted near the end of last season, and look to show everyone why they each had so much attention surrounding them. In Baltimore, Manny Machado enjoyed instant success when he came up. Don't forget about Dylan Bundy, who is a star pitching prospect for the Orioles. The Rays were able to hijack well known power hitter Wil Myers from the Royals and they're ready to let him loose at some point this year. Both Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks and Todd Frazier deserved the Rookie of the Year award over Harper, and they'll be key players for their teams. The Pirates hope that Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon can turn their fortunes around. The Red Sox are going to rely heavily on Jackie Bradley and Will Middlebrooks. Jose Fernandez made the Marlin's roster, and boy do they need all the hope they can get. With injuries to Logan Forsythe and Chase Headley, the Padres need Jedd Gyorko to step up in a big way. And of course, there is the darling of Spring Training, Yasiel Puig.

Will the Pirates Finally Turn it Around?
Last year Pittsburgh showed some promise last year in the first half, but stumbled at the end of the year. I'm not going to predict them to make the playoffs, because their starting rotation is a potential disaster. Also, there was a point last year when Andrew McCutchen was only offensive player producing anything. There are overall a lot of problems with the Pirates that can't be fixed this year. Earlier, I mentioned Cole and Taillon, and they're reasons to hope for the future of this franchise. Not this year, but it's coming soon.

Why do the Royals and Indians Think They are Good?
Both of these teams made moves this offseason as if they are improving an already solid roster. First let me tear down the Royals.

Trading Wil Myers could have been one of the worst moves I've seen in a while. With James Shields, they're not making the playoffs, so why not build for the future with one of the league's top prospects. The worst part is that they are in desperate need on an outfielder so that they can get rid of the offensive black hole that is Jeff Francoeur. Of course, they are the same team that held Myers in the minors because Francoeur was hogging a spot in right field. They have a bunch of young offensive talent, but the pitching isn't good. Once we get past Shields, we see Ervin Santana who was awful last year. No one in the starting rotation after Shields really inspires any confidence.

Now the Indians, who went out and signed Michael Bourn, Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher. They also traded for disappointing Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer. I have no real gripes with this team on offensive, other than the fact that Stubbs was billed as a five tool player and over his career has struggled to hit, strikes out too much, and his power numbers are regressing each year. Maybe he just needed a change of scenery, I don't know what happened to such a promising young prospect. But the real kicker is the starting rotation. Justin Masterson was bad last year and Ubaldo Jimenez was worthless. Speaking of worthless, their third starter, Brett Myers, is a worthless human being who isn't great at baseball. Cleveland is also attempting to repair Scott Kazmir. Overall, too many runs will be handed to the opposition for this team to sniff the playoffs.

What they should be doing is stop trying to be a middling team, accept their fate, and be terrible. It's okay to suck. That way, you get good draft picks and are able to build the farm system for the future. Also, they're paying a lot of money for players who aren't helping them do anything. The Astros are a great model to follow. They are the definition of disgustingly bad. They also have a payroll less than Alex Rodriguez's salary. They're not messing around, they will be bad and get the first pick in the draft without wasting pointless money on James Shields and Michael Bourn.

The Fall of the Yankees
Finally everyone has come to the realization that the New York Yankees are a team full of old guys that are going to get injured once in a while. They have some very good players, but overall this is not a championship caliber team. They will struggle and there's a legitimate possibility that they can finish last in the division. Unfortunately they have Vernon Wells and Ichiro as everday players, which is going to look bad by the end of the year. Ichiro is no longer a starting caliber player. Last year they used him correctly by platooning him, but this way it's going to be awful.

Can the Orioles and Athletics Continue Their Success?
Let's start with the Orioles, there is going to be a lot of natural regression. No team can continue that previously unheard of 29-9 record in one run games, the best in MLB history. There was quite a lot of luck involved in their run to the playoffs, but that can change this year. Their team is full of young players, who by nature will most likely improve from year to year. I think they'll drop off a tiny bit, but the people expecting them to fall off the face of the earth are all wrong. They'll be competitive in the AL East.

The Athletics have one major thing working in their favor. Pitching, pitching, pitching, a gigantic ballpark, and more pitching. No one on their staff really stands out, but they have five sufficient starting pitchers, most of whom are better at home than on the road. There is also a good collection of young talent all over the place, as evidenced by Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick.

Year-Round Interleague Play
Now that the Houston Astros have shifted to the AL, there is an odd number of teams in each league, meaning that interleague play will have to take place throughout the whole season instead of just May and June. Some people are opposed to it, and I have no idea why. Interleague games gives people a chance to see teams that they don't usually have the chance to see. There's absolutely nothing wrong with interleague play. Just like in football, basketball, and hockey (not this year because of the shortened season), interconference play isn't made to be some big deal. No one questions whether or not it should happen. But it's always baseball that causes arguments over trivial things.

Those are some of the major storylines surrounding this baseball season, now how will it play out? Well no need to look elsewhere, I've got you covered.

AL East

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Boston Red Sox
  5. New York Yankees
AL Central

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Kansas City Royals
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Minnesota Twins
AL West
  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Oakland Athletics
  3. Los Angeles Angels
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros
NL East
  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. New York Mets
  4. Philadelphia Phillies
  5. Miami Marlins
NL Central
  1. Cincinnati Reds
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Milwaukee Brewers
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Chicago Cubs
NL West
  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies
Playoff Picture
  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Tampa Bay Rays
  3. Texas Rangers
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Toronto Blue Jays
  1. Washington Nationals 
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. San Francisco Giants
  4. Atlanta Braves
  5. St. Louis Cardinals
Wild Card Playoffs
Toronto Blue Jays over Oakland Athletics
Atlanta Braves over St. Louis Cardinals

Divisional Series
Detroit Tigers over Toronto Blue Jays
Tampa Bay Rays over Texas Rangers
Washington Nationals over Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds over San Francisco Giants

Championship Series
Tampa Bay Rays over Detroit
Washington Nationals over Cincinnati Reds

World Series
Washington Nationals over Tampa Bay Rays

AL MVP: Michael Nelson Trout
NL MVP: Joey Votto
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
AL Rookie of the Year: Jurickson Profar
NL Rookie of the Year: Travis D'Arnaud

No comments:

Post a Comment