How I see things for 2012 in the MLB

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By Tim Arrick

Well, the 2012 Major League Baseball season has officially started here in Detroit with the Tigers sweeping the Boston Red Sox so I guess it is time to get my predictions out in the open.

American League East

            Look for the AL East to once again be dominated by the New York Yankees this year. The Yankees made two big trades early in 2012 by bringing in former Seattle Mariner Michael Pineda and former Los Angelos Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda. This should improve what I saw as a weakness last year and give them the division championship.

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox should battle for the next two sports in the East. The Rays did lose Johnny Damon and Casey Kotchman but have brought back Tony Pena and potential closer Fernando Rodney. The BoSox lost closer Jonathan Papelbon and OF JD Drew and brought in OF Cody Ross and a couple of pitchers.

I don’t see either as being enough to catch the Yankees but I do think that the Rays will have enough to slide into the newly created second wild card sport.

The rest of the division consists of the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles.

The Blue Jays are a team that could surprise a few people and move up in the standings this year. The still have power hitting OF Jose Batista and have added some pitching and are hoping that P Ricky Romero hits star stride this year. Still, don’t expect the Jays to sneak up any higher than 3rd in this division.

The Orioles are still what they are. The doormats in this strong AL East, they traded away their best pitcher in Jeremy Gutherie and lost DH Vladimir Guerrero and OF Luke Scott. In return, well, let’s just say that the Orioles are lucky they can’t finish sixth this year.

AL EAST

Wins

Losses

New York Yankees

96

66

Tampa Bay Rays

90

72

Boston Red Sox

88

74

Toronto Blue Jays

84

78

Baltimore Orioles

66

96

 

American League Central

            Going into the off season, the Detroit Tigers were already considered favorites to repeat in the AL Central. Their strong pitching in what is considered a weak division would easily overcome a somewhat inconsistent offense.

Then the Tigers made what was one of the bigger free agent acquisitions of the winter by signing 1B Prince Fielder to a multi-year contract. That gave them a 3-4 combination of Fielder and 3B Miguel Cabrera, quite possibly the best in the league.

            After the Tigers, there really isn’t anyone in the division who can give them a strong run for the money. The Kansas City Royals have long been touted as having one of the better minor league systems and now a lot of those players have made the big leagues. Look for them to make a strong push and quite possibly finish above 0.500 for the year.

The Minnesota Twins, following up on their near 100 loss season last year look to improve but the loss of Michael Cuddyer and the injury situation of Justin Mourneu who may never fully recover leave them searching. While it is possible for them to slide into second this year it is just as likely that they will fall to fourth.

The fortune of the Cleveland Indians depends for the most part on how bad the Royals and the Twins fail. If both teams live up to expectations, then the Indians will stay in the fourth place spot in the AL Central. They have a good mix of young talent but I don’t think they will quite pull it together for this year.

Finally there are the Chicago White Sox. Rookie manager Robin Ventura might as well be charging Nolan Ryan on the mound again for all the success I expect his team to have this year. 1B Paul Konerko is there but not much else. The only question is how early this team gives up on its new manager.

AL Central

Wins

Losses

Detroit Tigers

94

68

Kansas City Royals

84

78

Minnesota Twins

79

83

Cleveland Indians

74

88

Chicago White Sox

68

94

 

American League West

The best fight for a division title in the American League will be in the West this year between the Anaheim Angels and the Texas Rangers. The Angels scored what was considered to be the biggest free agent signing with 1B Albert Pujols while the Rangers won the Japanese Baseball pitching star Yu Darvish

Look for this race to run well into late September with the Rangers edging out the Angels in the end.

Neither the Oakland A’s nor the Seattle Mariners stand much of a chance in this division this year. The Mariners traded one of their top pitchers to the Yankees this winter and despite their box office success with “Moneyball” this winter, the on the field A’s haven’t had success in some time. Look for the Mariners to finish 3rd and the A’s 4th in the West.

AL West

Wins

Losses

Texas Rangers

95

67

Aneheim Angels

91

71

Seattle Mariners

72

90

Oakland A’s

64

98

 

American League Playoffs

Wildcard Game: Angels defeat Rays

Divisional Round: Angels defeat Yankees

Tigers defeat Rangers

AL Championship Series: Tigers defeat Angels

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

I live in an American League town so I don’t follow the NL quite as close as I used to. Still predictions aren’t complete without both sides of the equation so here we go . . .

National League East

The Miami Marlins are starting the 2012 season with a new manager, a new stadium, and new uniforms but it will be the old Philadelphia Phillies who come home with the division title here.

The Phillies will start the season with two of their stars 2B Chase Utley and 1B Ryan Howard on the DL however don’t look for that to be a major issue. Pitching typically starts a season strong and the Phillies are still loaded for bear at that position with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hammels and newly acquired Jonathon Papelbon.

I do expect the Marlins to give a good effort and quite possibly contend into early September. They have a wealth of newly acquired talent headed by Jose Reyes and a healthy Josh Johnson. That coupled with the excitement of a Bobblehead museum in their new park should bode well for the Marlins this year.

The Washington Nationals are stocked with good young pitching but it remains to be seen how far this will carry the team this year. Stephen Strasburg is coming back after Tommy John surgery and while pitchers usually fair quite well after this, he will be on a innings watch in the 2012 season. The Nats also acquired Gio Gonzalez in the off season from the A’s to bolster their pitching.

Rounding out the East are the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets. The Braves have a strong bullpen and nostalgia on their side as they say goodbye to 3B Chipper Jones this year but it won’t be enough to vault them into the upper portion of the division.

The Mets are finally starting to emerge from the shadows of their own personal Ponzi Hell but there is no way they can rebuild into anything other than a cellar dweller for 2012.

NL East

Wins

Losses

Philadelphia Phillies

96

66

Miami Marlins

90

72

Atlanta Braves

82

80

Washington Nationals

79

83

New York Mets

69

93

 

National League Central

2012 will be the last time the NL Central will have the Houston Astros to kick around. With that in mind, expect the Astros to be kicked often.

With the re-signing of 1B Joey Votto the Cincinnati Reds will have a lot to prove this season and expect them to take advantage of what will be a down NL Central.

Perennial contenders, the St. Louis Cardinals are in one of their first rebuilding years in a long time with the loss of manager Tony LaRussa and 1B Albert Puljos. While they will still have strong pitching, look for them to struggle finding an offensive identity under new manager Mike Matheny.

The Milwaukee Brewers will also be struggling this season to replace one of their big boppers in 1B Prince Fielder who defected to the Detroit Tigers in the off-season. A good young pitching core of Zach Greinke, Yavani Gollardo, and Randy Wolf will help them win games but not enough to seriously contend for a playoff position this year.

The Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates are the final two participants in the NL Central. I say participants because I don’t consider either a threat to contend. The Cubbies are once again rebuilding with new GM Theo Epstein but will Theo be able to bring the same magic to Wrigley Field that he did to Fenway Park? He probably can but there is no way that he can turn this team around in only one year. Look for the Wrigley faithful to be disappointed again this year.

Finally the Pirates, it appears that their offense is on the rise but having AJ Burnett as the top of your starting rotation is not a good recipe for success. Look for the Pirates to be selling at the trade deadline and picking up some good young arms to carry them into the future.

NL Central

Wins

Losses

Cincinnati Reds

92

70

Milwaukee Brewers

84

78

St. Louis Cardinals

78

84

Chicago Cubs

78

84

Houston Astros

70

92

Pittsburgh Pirates

65

97

 

National League West

As it was in the AL West, look for the NL West to be a dogfight down to game 162 and potentially game 163.

The Los Angeles finally look to have some financial stability in their new ownership and that stability should help propel them to a tie in the NL West with the defending Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers have NL Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw and NL MVP Matt Kemp back to start the season and should be able to pick up some help at the trade deadline this year with the added stability.

The Diamondbacks have NL Manager of the Year Kirk Gibson who turned around a team that had lost 97 games the previous season and lead them to a division title. There are some questions with the starting rotation but expect Gibby to have them there in the end.

The San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies should finish 3rd and 4th in the division respectively. The Giants are returning C Buster Posey and still have P Tim Lincecum and P Matt Cain but I don’t see them being able to catch either the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks.

The Rockies, playing in the rarified air of Coors Field always seem to mount a late season charge. This year they will need a big charge however even to finish 0.500. While I love that he is still in the league at 49 years old, Jaime Moyer is your #2 pitcher. That pretty much says it all.

Rounding out the NL West are the San Diego Padres. The off season saw them trade perhaps their best starting pitcher Mat Latos and the rest of their team is still young. Still expect there to be some bright spots as Bud Black is very good at working with youth and bringing out the best in them.

NL West

Wins

Losses

Arizona Diamondbacks

90

72

Los Angeles Dodgers

90

72

San Francisco Giants

86

76

Colorado Rockies

81

81

San Diego Padres

61

101

 

National League Playoffs:

NL West Play-in Game: Dodgers over Diamondbacks

NL Wildcard Game: Marlins over Diamondbacks

NL Divisional Playoffs: Marlins over Dodgers

Phillies over Reds

NL Championship Series: Marlins over Phillies

 

World Series:       Detroit Tigers over Miami Marlins

 

 

 

 

About Tim Arrick

Tim has recently taken over the position of Sports Editor for TPEPost.com. He lives in Howell,Michigan with his wife and two children. In addition to TPEPost.com Tim works as a Mechanical Engineer for Kongsberg Automotive during the day and operates a photography studio, Boxfire Photography. Website http://www.boxfirephotography.com Twitter: @TPEPostSportsMI and email: TPEPostSports@arrick.net