(And just for fun, I’ll repost this blog at the end of October when the baseball season’s done. Then I can subject my remarkable prescience/ignorance to the cold light of facts.)
American League MVP:
Robinson Cano (2B, Yankees)
Runner up: Kevin Youkilis (3B, Red Sox)
National League MVP:
Albert Pujols (1B, Cardinals)
Runner up: Troy Tulowitzki (SS, Rockies)
American League Cy Young Award:
Jon Lester (Red Sox)
Runner up: Jared Weaver (Angels)
National League Cy Young Award:
Roy Halliday (Phillies)
Runner up: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
An already stellar team, plus Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkillis, and Jacoby Ellsbury all back from pesky 2010 injuries, AND new signings/legitimate MVP candidates Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, AND possibly the best pitching staff outside of Philadelphia. So that’s what you get for baseball’s second-highest payroll…
Solid in all the right places, and very strong at catcher (Joe Mauer), first base (Justin Morneau) and at the top of the rotation (Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano). Can also look forward to the services of elite closer Joe Nathan again, after he missed all of 2010 with an elbow injury… Or the Chicago White Sox…
Set to be the beneficiaries of a relatively weak division, especially with the Angels mid chop-and-change. Will miss Vlad Guerrero’s free-swinging bat, and Cliff Lee’s pitching arm – but will gladly welcome to the team former Angel Mike Napoli, and one-and-done Red Sox Adrian Beltre.
At least three perennial MVP candidates (Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Robinson Cano), a top-tier pitching ace (C.C. Sabathia), and maybe baseball’s greatest ever closer (Mariano Rivera). Should also benefit from division rivals Tampa Bay Rays being slightly weaker than last year.
Pitching crazily strong, especially with Cliff Lee back in the fold (after – great news! – saying a big fat ‘no’ to more money with the Yankees), and hitting plenty good enough even after Jayson Werth’s monied defection to Washington Nationals (never trust someone who can’t even spell their own name…)
Will be tough to win a competitive division – alongside Cardinals, Brewers, and Cubs – but that much less so with the helping hands of Joey Votto (last year’s landslide NL MVP winner), Jay Bruce (only 23 but already monumentally useful), and relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, he of the fastest ever recorded pitch (105 mph).
Slowly going about the business of being one of the teams to beat over the next half-a-dozen years. With a shortstop (Troy Tulowitzki, age 26), outfielder (Carlos Gonzalez, 25), and no. 1 starter (Ubaldo Jimenez, 27) that every other team in baseball would happily make room for.
Reigning champions – mostly thanks to extraordinary pitching. Can also look forward to another easy ride in a somewhat weak division, Rockies excepted, and the chance to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke.
Red Sox over Reds. Hmmm, that’s probably about 70% wishing thinking to 30% wouldn’t be the strangest thing in the world. But what do I know?
Oh, actually, I do know one thing: enough preamble already – at last! – baseball is back. Altogether now:
Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd;
Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack,
I don’t care if I never get back.
Let me root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, it’s a shame.
For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out,
At the old ball game.