Since we talked about the fortunes of the Indians earlier this week, we decided to look at how the rest of baseball shapes up for 2012 with our fearless predictions:
AL EAST: 1. New York, 2. Tampa Bay, 3. Boston, 4. Toronto, 5. Baltimore
The Yankees weakness last year was their starting pitching and they’ve added Hiroki Kuroda in free agency and Michael Pineda in a trade with Seattle. They are aging offensively, but should have enough to win. Tampa Bay is adding a likely rookie of the year candidate Matt Moore to their starting rotation. Boston has the potential to be a train wreck with Bobby Valentine in charge. Toronto is good, but their in the wrong division, although if they jumped ahead of Boston it wouldn’t be a surprise. The Orioles languish once again.
AL CENTRAL: 1. Detroit, 2. Kansas City, 3. Chicago, 4. CLEVELAND, 5. Minnesota
The Tigers got one of the biggest prizes of the off-season in Prince Fielder, and should win again, although it will be closer than in 2011. The Royals have oodles of young talented hitters coming up, so they will score runs, the pitching is still suspect. The White Sox will get a bounce back year from Adam Dunn, and they still have decent starting pitching. The Twins have to stay healthy (Mauer and Morneau in particular) if they want to stay in the race.
AL WEST: 1. Texas, 2. Los Angeles, 3. Oakland, 4. Seattle
This division may have the league’s two best teams and the two worst. Texas has a solid lineup that can produce runs in their bandbox, and have power arms in the rotation to help combat the park. The Angels have Albert Pujols, who will find the AL a little tougher than the NL, but the Halos rotation is loaded with Dan Haren, Jerad Weaver, Ervin Santana and C. J. Wilson. The A’s are looking forward to find their way to San Jose. Seattle can’t hit, and Ichiro Suzuki started showing his age last year.
WILD CARDS: Tampa Bay and Los Angeles
NL EAST: 1. Philadelphia, 2. Atlanta, 3. Washington, 4. Miami, 5. New York
The Phillies hitting may be showing some age, but their rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels will pitch them to another division title. The Braves will get a bounce back year from Jason Heyward and still are solid on the mound. The Nationals have some big time young talent (Zimmerman, Strasburg, Harper) and will improve. The Marlins have potential, but need to prove it on the field. The Mets have started to rebuild.
NL CENTRAL: 1. St. Louis, 2. Milwaukee, 3. Cincinnati, 4. Chicago, 5. Houston, 6. Pittsburgh
The defending world champions replaced Pujols with Carlos Beltran and get former 20 game winner Adam Wainwright back. Milwaukee lost Fielder, but still has a strong starting rotation. The Reds are going for it, getting Mat Latos from San Diego, but pitching in their hitting friendly park will hurt him. The Cubs are starting another rebuilding process with Theo Epstein in charge. The Astros young players will surprise. The Pirates’ progress hits a speed bump.
NL WEST: 1. Los Angeles, 2. Arizona, 3. San Diego, 4. San Francisco, 5. Colorado
The Dodgers have new ownership, the NL’s best player (Matt Kemp) and the best pitcher (Clayton Kershaw). They’ll have the financial means to add talent at the trading deadline. The Diamondbacks will get some fall back in numbers from some of the guys who helped them win last year. The Padres are better than many think. The Giants have great pitching, but can’t score runs. The Rockies can score, but their pitching is very young (save for 49-year-old Jamie Moyer).
WILD CARDS: Atlanta and Milwaukee