In my ever-increasing genius, I have the great idea of not only making predictions, but recording them on a medium where others can check back later and ridicule me. If you haven’t seen them yet, I put my NCAA bracket up for public view here (note: I did make a couple changes to it a couple hours before the first game; I went 14-for-16 yesterday). Now I’m going to put up my 2008 MLB prognostications.
Let’s start with the awards.
Most Valuable Player
AL: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
A-Rod’s an easy pick.
NL: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies
Utley completes the MVP trifecta in Philly.
AL: Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
His ERA+ has gone down every season since ’05, but he did pitch 225 innings with a 1.24 WHIP last season. That 120 ERA+ is bad by his standards, but great by others’. All of the projections expect some degree of improvement.
NL: Aaron Harang, Cincinnati Reds
This is a sleeper pick of sorts, but he’s a legitimate contender for the Cy Young award. He’ll give you 230+ innings, walk very few, and strike out a lot (more than 8 K’s per 9 inning the last two seasons). Johan Santana is the sexy pick and you can’t go wrong with him, either.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Too obvious not to follow the pack on this one.
NL: Cameron Maybin, Florida Marlins
While the Marlins are odds-on favorites to finish 5th in the division, Maybin will be a rare bright spot.
Manager of the Year
AL: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays
I wanted to go with Eric Wedge of the Cleveland Indians, but managers tend not to defend their titles here. Bobby Cox (’04 & ’05) is the only manager to have done so since the award was created in 1983.
NL: Clint Hurdle, Colorado Rockies
The NL has a load of viable choices, but I think that leading the Rockies to their first division title in franchise history will seal the deal.
Comeback Player of the Year
AL: Kenny Rogers, Detroit Tigers
Kenny Rogers will successfully rebound from an injury-shortened ’07 season to be one of the few Tigers pitchers who end up helping out (along with Justin Verlander, obviously).
NL: Mike Hampton, Atlanta Braves
As long as he doesn’t completely blow up, average production should earn him enough sympathy points (he hasn’t pitched since ’05) to grab the award.
Home Run Leaders
AL: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees, 51
NL: Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies, 54
AL: Erik Bedard, Seattle Mariners
The trade from Baltimore not only gave Bedard a new home, but lots of unnecessary praise as well. 2007 was really the only great season of Bedard’s career, even though he’d started 24+ games in each season since ’04. His strikeout rate jumped from 7.9-ish from ’04 to ’06, to nearly 11 last season. I call aberration.
NL: Aaron Rowand, San Francisco Giants
Recipient of a five-year, $60 million deal from the Giants, Rowand goes into ’08 with some high expectations. The fact is that he is only a slightly better-than-average player. His ’04 and ’07 season are similar in that they were both good (130 and 123 OPS+ respectively), but his ’05 and ’06 seasons are also similar in that they were both bad (93 and 86 OPS+ respectively). His defense is even overrated: he ranked 15th out of 17 qualified MLB CF in RZR last season).
AL: Brian Bannister, Kansas City Royals
Granted, this is a tiny bit of a biased pick, since there was an article written by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that revealed his appreciation for Sabermetrics. But in 165 innings last season, he allowed an average of only 1.2 baserunners per inning, and averaged less than two-and-a-half walks per 9 innings. Add to that his small allowance of home runs and you have a pitcher that a lot of people will be overlooking simply because he plays on a down-and-out team in Kansas City.
NL: Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies
After that game against the Phillies on April 23 until the end of the season, Lidge pitched 60 and two-thirds innings, struck out 81, and put up a 2.82 ERA. He finished the season with a 131 ERA+ and a 1.254 WHIP, impressive statistics for a closer deemed mentally anguished.
He seems to have recovered fine from his second knee surgery of the off-season as well:
Lidge pitched in a minor league intrasquad game Thursday at Clearwater, Fla., retiring four of the five batters he faced with three strikeouts and a walk. The right-hander, who had arthroscopic knee surgery last month, looked sharp enough that he just might be available for the NL East champions on opening day.
“I felt great with everything from warming up to throwing in the game,” Lidge said. “There is nothing better than facing hitters and that was a lot of fun.”
AL: Jeremy Guthrie, Baltimore Orioles
With Bedard gone, Guthrie may be the de facto ace in the rotation. He’s game for it. Last season, in more than 175 innings, he put up a decent K-rate and a good walk rate, and allowed just over 1.2 baserunners per 9 innings.
NL: Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ethier has had a lot of hype, but hasn’t done anything spectacular in his 843 Major League at-bats. This is the year for him, and he’ll be a major player in bringing the Dodgers from a league-average offense to a top-five offense (that’s right, you heard it here first).
AL: Tampa Bay Rays
NL: Atlanta Braves
A lot of people are picking the Reds in a very winnable division, but more people are overlooking the Atlanta Braves in favor of the Mets and Phillies.
AL: Toronto Blue Jays
I have the Cy Young coming from the Jays, but otherwise, they’re still going to disappoint. Mediocre offense and questionable pitching, as a lot of those who had success last year were young and you just can’t expect everyone to repeat. I expect a significant drop-off in pitching (you heard it here first, and now you know why I don’t get paid to make these predictions).
NL: Milwaukee Brewers
They will have an above-average offense, but that’s about it. Their starting rotation is scary bad, and their bullpen is relatively the same. Eric Gagne should be great for them so long as he stays healthy.
All right, let’s get to the Over/Unders.
Per Batter’s Box, here are the Vegas lines, followed by my predictions. A + next to my prediction means I’m taking the over, and a – means I’m taking the under.
Arizona 86.5 Atlanta 84.5 Baltimore 65.5 Boston 93.5 Chicago(NL) 87.5 Chicago(AL) 79.5 Cincinnati 79.5 Cleveland 88.5 Colorado 82.5 Detroit 93.5 Florida 68.5 Houston 72.5 Kansas City 71.5 Los Angeles(AL) 91.5 Los Angeles(NL) 87.5 Milwaukee 84.5 Minnesota 72.5 New York(NL) 93.5 New York(AL) 93.5 Oakland 73.5 Philadelphia 87.5 Pittsburgh 68.5 San Diego 84.5 San Francisco 71.5 Seattle 86.5 St Louis 78.5 Tampa Bay 73.5 Texas 74.5 Toronto 85.5 Washington 70.5
NYM: 94-68 +
PHI: 90-72 +
ATL: 84-78 –
WAS: 74-88 +
FLA: 71-91 +
CHC: 87-75 –
MIL: 80-82 –
CIN: 75-87 –
HOU: 74-88 +
STL: 71-91 –
PIT: 66-96 –
COL: 91-71 +
ARI: 89-73 +
LAD: 87-75 –
SDP: 80-82 –
SFG: 68-94 –
BOS: 92-70 –
NYY: 87-75 –
TOR: 80-82 –
TBR: 79-83 +
BAL: 67-95 +
CLE: 94-68 +
DET: 92-70 –
MIN: 78-84 +
CHW: 75-87 –
KCR: 74-88 +
LAA: 90-72 –
SEA: 84-78 –
TEX: 81-81 +
OAK: 73-89 –
I’m almost 100% sure my win-loss totals add up to 2,430-2,430, but if you take the time to check it out, let me know if it doesn’t add up.
Now let’s move on to the playoffs.
East: Boston Red Sox
Central: Cleveland Indians
West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Wild Card: Detroit Tigers
East: New York Mets
Central: Chicago Cubs
West: Colorado Rockies
Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim @ Cleveland Indians: Cleveland advances in 4 games
Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox: Boston advances in 3 games
New York Mets @ Chicago Cubs: New York advances in 5 games
Philadelphia Phillies @ Colorado Rockies: Colorado advances in 4 games
Boston Red Sox @ Cleveland Indians: Cleveland advances in 6 games
Colorado Rockies @ New York Mets: Colorado advances in 5 games
Colorado Rockies @ Cleveland Indians: Cleveland wins in 6 games
That’s it. Feel free to tell me why I’m wrong and post your own predictions.