The long offseason is almost over, teams only have a few Spring Training games left to play and many of the roster decisions have now been made.Â The 2010 Major League season begins on Sunday (early hours of Monday for us in the UK) and itâ€™s set to be another fantastic year of baseball.
So, itâ€™s time to make some predictions.Â As always, none of us really knows what is going to transpire over the next six months, which is precisely why itâ€™s so much fun.Â Five of us have picked out the division winners and wild cards from the regular season and then took a shot at how we think the postseason may unfold.Â Thereâ€™s a bit of personal bias in there, while Steve has decided to pick out the teams who have perhaps been undervalued by bookies and pundits alike.
Feel free to pass on your own predictions in the comments section below.Â
|Steve||Red Sox||White Sox||Rangers||Yankees|
Itâ€™s difficult to see past the Yankees and Red Sox in the East and the loser of that personal battle is highly likely to take the consolation prize of the AL Wild Card.Â Thatâ€™s what conventional wisdom tells you and, aside from Russ tipping the Angels for the Wild Card, itâ€™s a line of thinking followed by all of us. However whatâ€™s not picked up in the table above is that we donâ€™t think itâ€™s simply going to be a two-horse race.Â Mark noted that the Tampa Bay Rays will finish â€œvery close behind the Red Soxâ€, Steve has them down as â€œa reasonable outside chanceâ€ and I thought long and hard about putting them down for the Wild Card.Â I do think they could do it, but the safer bet is on the two powerhouses coming through yet again. In particular, if the Rays have a disappointing first half to the season, they are much more likely to trade free-agents-to-be Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena rather than bring in reinforcements.
Both the Central and the West look like being very competitive divisions.Â Thereâ€™s a lot of optimism around the Twins and thatâ€™s reflected in our predictions, but the White Sox and Tigers should put them under pressure and Steve has Ozzie Guillen’s team edging it.Â The West is arguably the most competitive division in the Majors simply because there is no clear-cut favourite, as reflected in our picks.Â The Aâ€™s are the outsiders and would need everything to go their way to pip the others.Â The Rangers and Mariners get two votes each, while Iâ€™m not quite ready to rule out the Angels.
|Joe||Red Sox over Twins, Yankees over Rangers||Yankees over Red Sox|
|Mark||Yankees over Twins, Red Sox over Mariners||Yankees over Red Sox|
|Matt||Yankees over Twins, Red Sox over Angels||Red Sox over Yankees|
|Russ||Red Sox over Angels, Twins over Mariners||Twins over Red Sox|
|Steve||Red Sox over White Sox, Rangers over Yankees||Rangers over Red Sox|
As for the postseason, all five of us have the Red Sox making the ALCS, which is perhaps at odds with some of the pessimism in Beantown due to the apparently lacklustre offence (it looks more than good enough to me).Â Mark, Joe and I see a repeat of the 2003-2004 classics between the AL East rivals, while Russ and Steve are holding out hope for one of the so-called lesser teams getting the better of Boston and moving on to the Fall Classic.
In the Senior Circuit, itâ€™s no surprise that we all think the Phillies are going to make the postseason.Â Theyâ€™ve played in the last two World Series and they do not appear to be any weaker in 2010; however, both Joe and Steve see the Phils progressing to October via the Wild Card rather than a fourth straight NL East title.Â The Atlanta Braves are tabbed as the team to break that sequence and their competitiveness is underlined by my selection of them as the Wild Card.Â
The St. Louis Cardinals re-signed Matt Holliday over the offseason and with Albert Pujols hitting in front of him and two genuine aces in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright at the front of their rotation, they have to be seen as the team to beat in the NL Central.Â Even Steve noted that they are â€œthe clear favouritesâ€, but he countered that by stating that he thinks â€œit would be wrong t0 write off the Brewersâ€ and that seems a fair shout.Â Russ sees a rebound from the Cubs, while there was a certain amount of optimism among us for the Reds outside of the actual predictions for the division winner.Â The fact that none of us see the Wild Card coming from the Central is an indication that itâ€™s not likely to be the strongest division, although it may still be one of the most exciting if the Cardinals donâ€™t fire on all cylinders and four teams enter the last month with a realistic shot at coming out on top.
The Rockies are the favourites to win the NL West for the first time in their relatively short history. Joe bucks the trend by backing the Dodgers, with Mark taking L.A. as his Wild Card pick and Russ putting faith in his Giants.Â Mark isnâ€™t quite so sure about that: â€œThe Giants will be the best fourth-placed team in baseball [he has the D-Backs in 3rd] but a lack of offense will waste some excellent pitching from Lincecum and Cainâ€.Â
|Joe||Cardinals over Phillies, Braves over Dodgers||Cardinals over Braves|
|Mark||Phillies over Dodgers, Cardinals over Rockies||Phillies over Cardinals|
|Matt||Phillies over Cardinals, Braves over Rockies||Phillies over Braves|
|Russ||Giants over Phillies, Rockies over Cubs||Rockies over Giants|
|Steve||Braves over Brewers, Phillies over Rockies||Braves over Phillies|
As with the AL postseason picks, the five of us have come up with four different World Series representatives.Â Any of those potential NLCS match-ups would make for a great (and close) series.Â The question then is whether the National League team will be strong enough to beat their American League opponent?
|Joe||Yankees over Cardinals|
|Mark||Yankees over Phillies|
|Matt||Red Sox over Phillies|
|Russ||Twins over Rockies|
|Steve||Rangers over Braves|
Not by our reckoning: weâ€™ve all got the AL team emerging triumphant.Â Joe, Mark and I have gone down the conservative, and arguably the most probable, route with two votes for a Yankee repeat (Mark thinks the Phillies will stretch it to a 7 game series this time but with the same result as â€˜09) and my selection of the Red Sox.Â Russ sees the Twins following the Yankeesâ€™ â€˜win it all with a new stadiumâ€™ approach and Steve goes out on a limb with the Rangers securing their first ever World Series title, â€œruining the fairytale ending for Bobby Cox in five or six gamesâ€.
Not that Steve is overly confident with that prediction: â€œItÂ´ll never happen, my head tells me one of Red Sox/ Yankees/ Phillies again, but IÂ´m not tipping those sides. That would just encourage themâ€.Â Joe took a similar line, signing off his predictions by stating â€œObviously – I hope none of that happens!â€.Â
When it comes down to it, like everyone else we all want our own teams to do well, meaning the Mariners (Joe), Dodgers (Mark), Aâ€™s (me), Giants (Russ) and Mets (Steve).Â In order of the most likely to do just that, I would go for Dodgers, Mariners, Giants, Mets, Aâ€™s, with the Dodgers being the only ones I would give a better than even chance of making the Championship Series.
We’ll revisit these predictions at the end of the season to see how they turned out.Â What weÂ can predict with allÂ certainty is that it’s going to be another exciting season.Â
Let us know who you think will triumph in 2010.