I always am a little nervous when Smitty and I agree a lot, but we’re both pretty savvy when it comes to baseball, heck I called the World Series back in March last year in my preseason predictions. I even stated that the Tigers would be making a return trip there this season as painful as that is to write for me as a Sox fan. That being said, Smitty and I are already agreeing on the most important part of the year, the winner of the World Series in 2013. While nothing is a lock, especially because of injuries and looming questions for every team, the Tigers are the safest bet of any team out there.
I just hope that Tigers’ fans can show a little more class than they did last year, but with most of the Chicago contingent being Cubs’ fans that may be asking too much. Act like you’ve been there before, because you have, but you just haven’t closed the deal. I digress and shall now proceed with my 2013 predictions.
AL East Division Champions: Toronto Blue Jays
I had the Blue Jays in the Wild Card last year, but they didn’t have enough to get there due to injuries, however 2013 is a new a year and now they have enough to win the AL East. They are by far the most solid team in the AL East and will win the division by at least 8-games. Their solid offense along with their improved pitching; R.A. Dickey and the AL Maddux, Mark Buehrle will lead the Jays to victory. While the Rays are always competitive, they do not have the talent to keep up with the Blue Jays. The Yankees have gotten old quickly and are so desperate they‘ve added Vernon Wells, while the Red Sox could turn into the surprise team of 2013. They have low risk, high reward players like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli that were added to replace bloated contracts via Theo Epstein from Crawford, Gonzalez, Dice-K, and Beckett that will allow them to add at the trading deadline. Clearing $250 million off the books must have been refreshing for the Red Sox!
AL Central Division Champions: Detroit Tigers
I could just repost what I wrote last year. Yes, the White Sox have the talent to compete and their rookies are a year better, but they do not have enough to keep up with the Tigers. Also, I do not expect the slow start the Tigers experienced last season, but still the Tigers do have a few question that no one seems to bring-up. Did Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer truly make the progression to the next level? We won’t know until this season. How healthy is Victor Martinez? He’s returning from a significant knee injury at age 34 and that needs to be considered. I would not be sold on the idea of having him in the line-up all season, still that should not slow down the Tigers. The Sox best chance to win the division this year is to play.500 against the Tigers and Royals. That would give them at least 91 wins this season. Everybody loves the Royals again this season, but I don’t. They suffer at the managerial and coaching level, and it will cause them not to be competitive again after June this season despite signing James Shield and Ervin Santana. Santana has been very inconsistent the past two seasons, so to me that’s not really an upgrade for their pitching staff. The Indians improved just be firing Manny Acta and signing Terry Francona, but they do not have the horses to compete for the AL Central. It gives me great pleasure to pick the Twins as the last place finisher of the AL Central.
AL West Division Champions: LA Angels of Anaheim
I’m sticking with the same pick I made last year. I think Pujols will have a more consistent year as will C.J. Wilson. With Trout most likely adding 5-8 homers to his total of 22 and another year stronger the Angels will win this division. Lets not forget about the offseason additions of Josh Hamilton, Joe Blanton, and Tommy Hanson. Hanson is a wild card that could turn into gold for the Angels. If he returns to form the Angels pitching staff will be one of the best in the majors. Despite my love of Moneyball, both book and film, I do not believe the A’s are for real. They could easily revert to an 80-win season this year when you look at their roster. The Rangers are on the way down, but will still be competitive this season. The team that intrigues me in this division is the Seattle Mariners. They have a good mix of youth and veterans and have a lot of pop in their line-up, with the big question for the Mariners being Joe Saunders as the number 3 starter. If Saunders can have a renaissance in 2013 the Mariners could surprise the AL West. As for the Astros, welcome to last place, again.
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers
This was a tough decision this year, but I really believe the Red Sox are going to make some noise and the Rangers have enough talent to make another trip to the postseason.
NL East Division Champions: Atlanta Braves
I do not have faith that Gio Gonzalez or Stephen Strasburg will make it through the entire season, and once that happens the hopes of another magical season in Washington will diminish and make room for the Braves to take the NL East. This will only be a two-team race as the Phillies are in transition mode and the Marlins are a disaster. The Braves have a solid pitching staff and a monstrous outfield with the Uptons and Heyward along with one of the best bullpens in baseball. The Mets will anchor this division with the Marlins.
NL Central Division Champions: Cincinnati Reds
I can’t believe I’m getting “trusty with Dusty,” but I think he has enough talent not to screw-up the division. The playoffs are a completely different story. While this division could be interesting, it really should come down to the Reds and Cardinals. When you go position by position the Reds fair better statistically. The Brewers should hang around, but like Smitty I don’t image Braun will make it through the entire year without a violation. The wild card in this division again this season is the Pirates. They are solid, but can they sustain it for an entire season? Rounding out the division will be Cubs despite being the most profitable team in baseball. I guess the spending spree is going to happen in 2014… sure it is. Keep dreaming Cubs’ fans.
NL West Division Champions: San Francisco Giants
How can you pick against the Giants? It’s the team Mr. Beane would have if he had a little bit more money to spend. Solid pitching and high OBP has resulted in two championships in the last three seasons. The big spending Dodgers will not be able to remain healthy the entire season with all the veterans they have on their team. They are going to prove yet again that throwing money at a problem does not always fix it in baseball. I look forward to their failure more than I have for any other team in the history of baseball. The Diamondbacks will be competitive again this season and should be in a tight race most the way. The non-factors will be found in the Rockies and Padres, both in the transition phases of their organizations.
NL Wild Card: St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals
The Cardinals will make the playoffs again and go deep, while the Nationals will sneak in and be done after one game.
World Series: Detroit Tigers over the Atlanta Braves in 4 . The Tigers will enter the playoffs with a chip on their shoulder and will go on an epic tear like the White Sox did in 2005. They will make quick work of everyone including the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. 2013 is the year of the Tiger.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Det
AL Cy Young: R.A. Dickey, Tor
NL MVP: Buster Posey, SF
NL Cy Young: Johnny Cueto, Cin