Crashburn Alley 2008 MLB Predictions

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.

Cy Young

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

Most Overrated

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).

Most Underrated

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

Call it a homer pick, but I’ve been reading all off-season about his mental issues that have stemmed from that home run he gave up to Albert Pujols in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS. To quote myself:

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.”

Breakout Player

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).

Surprise Team

AL: Tampa Bay Rays

Too easy.

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.

Disappointing Team

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

NL East

NYM: 94-68 +
PHI: 90-72 +
ATL: 84-78 -
WAS: 74-88 +
FLA: 71-91 +

NL Central

CHC: 87-75 -
MIL: 80-82 -
CIN: 75-87 -
HOU: 74-88 +
STL: 71-91 -
PIT: 66-96 -

NL West

COL: 91-71 +
ARI: 89-73 +
LAD: 87-75 -
SDP: 80-82 -
SFG: 68-94 -

——-

AL East

BOS: 92-70 -
NYY: 87-75 -
TOR: 80-82 -
TBR: 79-83 +
BAL: 67-95 +

AL Central

CLE: 94-68 +
DET: 92-70 -
MIN: 78-84 +
CHW: 75-87 -
KCR: 74-88 +

AL West

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.

American League

East: Boston Red Sox

Central: Cleveland Indians

West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Wild Card: Detroit Tigers

National League

East: New York Mets

Central: Chicago Cubs

West: Colorado Rockies

Wild Card: Philadelphia Phillies

Division Series

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

Championship Series

Boston Red Sox @ Cleveland Indians: Cleveland advances in 6 games

Colorado Rockies @ New York Mets: Colorado advances in 5 games

World Series

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.

Leave a Reply

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7 comments

  1. ShooterB

    March 24, 2008 12:17 PM

    I think I’ll take the under for the Pirates to win 68, too. Easy money…

    I was hit and miss with my predictions last year. Got 5 of the 6 division winners correct (including Cleveland & Arizona), but missed on the MVP’s and Cy Young.

    I have the Yankees and Tigers winning their divisions this year, the rest are the same as yours.

    And I don’t know who the breakout player will be in the NL, but it’s likely to be a Dodger. If not Ethier, could also be Matt Kemp…maybe even James Loney. They have a lot of young talent, it will be interesting to see how they distribute the playing time with a crowded outfield. It would be a shame if either of those guys loses a starting job to Juan Pierre.

    Solid picks across the board, tough to argue with any of them.

  2. Bill B.

    March 24, 2008 01:23 PM

    Shooter, according to Bill Plaschke (a beacon of trustworthy and intelligent journalism), “Contrary to the winter hopes of many Dodgers fans, Torre’s lineups have indicated that Pierre will be the starting left fielder ahead of Andre Ethier.”

    :(

  3. MoonDog

    March 25, 2008 05:07 PM

    Very well done. The thoroughness is most impressive.

    You wouldn’t just happen to find Rowand overrated because of his playing days in Philly, would you?

    For that matter, Lidge as comeback player of the year? He’s a Phillie so I can’t help but think there’s some bias going on here young man.

    I actually like the D-backs to win it all. They’ll play a ton of 3-2 games and win them because of their superior pitching, the best in the NL and maybe the best in baseball.

    The Braves are going to make some noise in the East IF – big IF – Glavine and Hampton produce. Otherwise, long season for the Braves.

    If Detroit can maintain a decent rotation and bullpen, they’ll probably score about 17,000 runs with that lineup. This may be the best lineup I’ve ever seen.

    No, I didn’t see the Yankees 27 lineup either – I’m not that old.

    Really enjoyed this.

  4. Bill Baer

    March 25, 2008 08:42 PM

    I thought Rowand was overrated while he was having his great year in ’07.

    I have Lidge as most underrated, but I think I’ve defended it objectively. I have the Braves’ Mike Hampton as the Comeback Player of the Year.

    The Tigers’ lineup is overrated. They’ll be #1 or 2 offensively, but they won’t score 1,000 runs. They’ll score 950 at best… you heard it here first. Their pitching is hopelessly mediocre though. You have Verlander and ?. Bunch of league-average or worse pitchers.

    Thanks for the kind comments.

  5. MoonDog

    March 26, 2008 12:22 PM

    OK, tell you what. The Tigers score 1,000 runs this season. If they don’t, I’ll link to the Huffington Post.

    If they do, you have to link to Bill O’Reilly.

    What say you?

  6. Bill B.

    March 26, 2008 06:23 PM

    I’ll easily take that wager. But I don’t care much for the HuffPo anymore, I don’t think I’ve been there in a few months.

    Hmm… how about the loser has to write a complimentary piece about the other’s blog, minimum 500 words? :)

  7. MoonDog

    March 26, 2008 08:05 PM

    Agreed. You’re one of two people I have a friendly wager with this week. I’m going to post a quick blurb Thursday.

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