Today, I’ve decided to focus on the final remaining division in my 2012 MLB Predictions series. In case you missed my division previews, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, AL West, NL East and NL Central preview by clicking on the links provided.
I’ve used the Major League Baseball Yearbook magazine to provide the statistical projects.
Here’s how I think the NL West will end up:
1st Place: San Francisco Giants. (My prediction 88-74)
The Giants finished in second place to the Diamondbacks last season, but I think that they’ll win a few more games in 2012 with the return of Buster Posey to the lineup. I had trouble picking a winner for the NL West, because I love the Giants starters, the Diamondbacks are solid offensively and pitching wise, and the Rockies offense looks great. Ultimately, I had to go with the starting pitching.
Posey suffered a gruesome injury on a home plate collision that cut short his 2012 campaign. The former Rookie of the Year is healthy now, which should help an otherwise below average offense.
Aubrey Huff struggled a bit last year, hitting just .246 with 12 homers. At age 35, you have to wonder how much he has left in his declining skill set. Ideally, you’d like to see more production from your first baseman than Huff offered last season.
Freddy Sanchez dealt with shoulder issues last year and hopes to be ready for opening day. The former NL batting champ gives the Giants good defense and a solid average year in a year out.
“The Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval should provide the most pop in the lineup. He walloped 24 dingers last year. Sandoval just needs to keep his weight in check so it doesn’t hinder him defensively.
The Giants outfield is sub par. There’s Melky Cabrera, who has bounced around in recent seasons and would classify as an above average outfielder,
but then there’s Angel Pagan, who doesn’t offer much of anything offensively,
and Nate Schierholtz, who doesn’t offer much either.
The Giants playoff aspirations will hinge on Tim Lincecum and the starting staff. Lincecum has arguably been the best pitcher in the National League since his debut several seasons ago.
Matt Cain, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, should be motivated to put up huge numbers in his ‘contract’ year. Cain would be the ace of most staffs, but fits in nicely behind Lincecum as the #2 of this staff.
Is it just me, or does Cain look eerily similar to this guy in that picture:
Actor John C Reilly.
Madison Bumgarner had a 3.21 ERA last season. That’s amazing for a #3 starter.
Ryan Vogelsong had the comeback of the decade, rebuilding his career and posting a 2.71 ERA while becoming an All Star at age 34. Vogelsong struggled mightly in Pittsburgh when he was the centerpiece of the Jason Schmidt deal that sent Schmidt off to the Giants. After a couple seasons as a mop up man in the Pirates bullpen, Vogelsong disappeared – he went and played in Japan for awhile – before resurfacing last year to baffle NL batters. What a story.
The 5th man of the rotation will be Barry Zito, who will make 19 million dollars in 2012, and still hasn’t posted a winning record or sub 4.00 ERA in his 5 seasons with the Giants. His contract has really hurt the Giants, who could’ve used those millions and millions of dollars to add more offense. Maybe he should focus more on pitching and less on guitar and destroying his liver:
The closer will be the crazy Brian Wilson. I vote for his 2013 Topps Card to be a landscape of this shot: Nothing more:
Wilson surely will look creepier and creepier as the season progresses. What’s he planning on doing with his beard? Will he ever cut or trim it?
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Buster Posey .297-18-75
1B Aubrey Huff .258-15-63
2B Freddy Sanchez .291-8-56
3B Pablo Sandoval .306-24-77
SS Brandon Crawford .243-6-38
LF Angel Pagan .272-10-73
CF Melky Cabrera .314-11-65
RF Nate Schierholtz .273-11-53
SP Tim Lincecum 14-12, 2.91 ERA, 213 IP, 223 K
SP Matt Cain 12-11, 2.97 ERA, 218 IP, 174 K
SP Madison Bumgarner 13-11, 3.05 ERA, 195 IP, 176 K
SP Ryan Vogelsong 11-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 174 K
SP Barry Zito 5-9, 4.73 ERA, 116 IP, 85 K
RP Brian Wilson 2.85 ERA, 35 SV, 60 IP, 67 K
RP Sergio Romo 1.99 ERA, 1 SV, 50 IP, 65 K
2nd place: Arizona Diamondbacks (My prediction 85-77)
The Diamondbacks won the division last season with 94 wins, which shocked baseball, especially since they had only won 69 games the year before. 25 win improvements are very rare. Nearly the same team returns in 2012, with new additions Trevor Cahill and Jason Kubel. However, I think that the Diamondbacks greatly overachieved in 2011, and probably won’t quite duplicate their success.
Miguel Montero is one of the better young catchers in the game. He’ll also be a free agent soon and may look for Yadier Molina type money.
Paul Goldschmidt will man first base. He’s some power, but he’s a young player who could face difficulty. He’ll be one to watch.
Aaron Hill used to be really good with the Blue Jays, but lost his way last year when he only hit 8 homers. He hit 36 homers in 2009. What happened?
Ryan Roberts is a defensive liability, but has some power to go along with all of those crazy tattoos.
Stephen Drew had a down year in 2011 and could bounce back after only hitting .252-5-45 in 2011.
The outfield of the Diamondbacks is solid – way better than the Giants. They’ve got Justin Upton, who hit 31 homers last year,
Chris Young, who also has pop – 20 homers in 2011, but has struggled with his batting average and on base percentage,
and Jason Kubel, who only hit 12 bombs in 2011 with the Twins, but hit at least 20 in his previous three seasons.
The starting rotation is anchored by Ian Kennedy, who had the best record in Major League baseball last year at 21-4. Can he duplicate it? I say not likely.
Daniel Hudson will be the #2 starter, who posted a record of 16-12 last year.
Trevor Cahill, and Josh Collmenter are slightly above average and round out the rest of the rotation. The #5 job could go to Barry Enright or Wade Miley.
The Diamondbacks were extremely strong in the bullpen last year. Their weakest link was Craig Breslow, and his ERA was a decent 3.79. JJ Putz had the second best season of his 9 year career when he posted a 2.17 ERA with 45 saves.
Bullpen pitchers are tough to predict though from season to season. I think the Diamondbacks may see a bit of a regression in the later innings this year.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Miguel Montero .292-17-80
1B Paul Goldschmidt .275-24-78
2B Aaron Hill .265-15-76
3B Ryan Roberts .247-16-57
SS Stephen Drew .261-11-68
LF Jason Kubel .264-20-87
CF Chris Young .235-19-69
RF Justin Upton .286-30-90
SP Daniel Hudson 17-12, 3.23 ERA, 231 IP, 180 K
SP Ian Kennedy 17-8, 3.13 ERA, 207 IP, 185 K
SP Trevor Cahill 15-13, 3.86 ERA, 200 IP, 143 K
SP Josh Collmenter 13-13, 3.50 ERA, 193 IP, 125 K
SP Wade Miley 10-10, 4.32 ERA, 154 IP, 127 K
RP JJ Putz 2.41 ERA, 40 SV, 52 IP, 57 K
RP David Hernandez 3.98 ERA, 6 SV, 75 IP, 72 K
3rd place place: Colorado Rockies. (My prediction 82-80)
Even though the Rockies have used the humidor for a few years to negate the effects of high altitude offense, the Rockies look to have a potent lineup for the coming year.
Ramon Hernandez, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds replaces Chris Iannetta at catcher.
Todd Helton, who once put up ridiculous stats, hasn’t hit 20 homers since 2005, but still can deliver a decent batting average.
Second base could feature Eric Young Jr, Jonathan Herrera or Chris Nelson
I’m not a fan of Casey Blake as the team’s third baseman. He’s 38, and the Rockies should be nervous that this is the season where everything kind of falls apart for him and he needs to be a backup or retire.
Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies best player, and could possibly win the NL MVP award if the Rockies have a decent year. Not too many shortstops in the game can provide 30 homers and 100+ RBIs anymore.
The outfield looks great. The speedy Dexter Fowler, rumored to have increased his muscle mass, will roam center field.
At the corners, the Rockies have a star in Carlos Gonzalez – who belted 26 homers last year,
and free agent acquisition Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer hit 20 bombs for the Twins and has been a consistently solid performer.
The Rockies rotation looks iffy. Without Ubaldo Jimenez, there is no clear ace. Possibly Jhoulys Chacin could fill that role. He pitched well at just 23 years old last year.
There’s also Jorge De La Rosa. He was injured last season, but went 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA when he did pitch.
Who will be the closer this year? Rafael Betancourt? He’s got good stuff, but his career high in saves is 8. How will he handle the pressure? I guess we’ll find out.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Ramon Hernandez .278-13-42
1B Todd Helton .292-13-66
2B Chris Nelson .263-7-32
3B Casey Blake .281-15-73
SS Troy Tulowitzki .311-34-117
LF Michael Cuddyer .301-26-101
CF Dexter Fowler .268-7-51
RF Carlos Gonzalez .307-32-110
SP Jorge De La Rosa 10-4, 3.33 ERA, 127 IP, 126 K
SP Jhoulys Chacin 13-13, 3.58 ERA, 193 IP, 161 K
SP Juan Nicasio 9-10, 3.95 ERA, 171 IP, 140 K
SP Tyler Chatwood 8-13, 4.54 ERA, 157 IP, 86 K
SP Esmil Rogers 9-11, 5.35 ERA, 168 IP, 137 K
RP Rafael Betancourt 2.82 ERA, 27 SV, 61 IP, 78 K
RP Matt Belisle 3.16 ERA, 0 SV, 83 IP, 72 K
4th place: Los Angeles Dodgers (My prediction 76-86)
The Dodgers went 81-81 last year thanks mostly to the MVP caliber season of Matt Kemp and the Cy Young season of Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw was valued at 7 wins above a replacement starter,
and Matt Kemp, a whopping 10 WaR. That’s 17 wins.
Without those 2 guys, the Dodgers might have been 64-98 last year. The fact of the matter is, that they have those two guys, and although I think Kershaw and Kemp will do great in 2012, I don’t think they’ll match their 2011 campaigns.
Matt Kemp however, disagrees. He’s projecting a 50 homer, 50 steal season from himself. For the Dodgers sake, hopefully he can, because the rest of their team is very average.
AJ Ellis as the starter? Replacement level player.
James Loney hasn’t nearly done anything close to what he’s capable of doing. As a youngster in 2007 he hit 15 homers with a .331 average. He’s never bettered either of those numbers since.
Mark Ellis is average at best. He had some good seasons in Oakland years ago, but he’s 35 years old now.
Dee Gordon brings blazing speed to the top of the lineup. He has no power whatsoever, but will make pitchers sweat a little extra when he takes his lead off of first base.
Juan Uribe was horrendous in 2011, hitting just .204 with 4 homers. Ugh.
Andre Ethier didn’t contribute much last year, hitting only 11 homers in 135 games. Where did his power go?
Juan Rivera could take the other outfield spot, hitting 11 homers last year, although personally, I’d rather see Jerry Sands there. Sands hit 35 homers in 2010 and 33 in 2011 between AAA and the bigs. Big power.
Besides Kershaw, the Dodgers also have Ted Lilly – who is a class A jerk during batting practice. Lilly is a soft tossing lefty who has been moderately successful in the major leagues.
Chad Billingsley has had some decent seasons in the past, and is young enough that he could return to the Billingsley of 2007-2008.
The other starters, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, are just average at best.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C AJ Ellis .279-8-54
1B James Loney .287-12-72
2B Mark Ellis .260-7-43
3B Juan Uribe .227-8-36
SS Dee Gordon .285-0-29
LF Juan Rivera .261-13-73
CF Matt Kemp .308-35-115
RF Andre Ethier .287-14-66
SP Clayton Kershaw 18-7, 2.41 ERA, 224 IP, 234 K
SP Ted Lilly 11-12, 3.67 ERA, 189 IP, 160 K
SP Chad Billingsley 11-11, 4.03 ERA, 185 IP, 156 K
SP Aaron Harang 13-9, 3.80 ERA, 211 IP, 168 K
SP Chris Capuano 9-10, 4.65 ERA, 163 IP, 149 K
RP Javy Guerra 3.11 ERA, 30 SV, 64 IP, 55 K
RP Kenley Jansen 3.69 ERA, 9 SV, 63 IP, 69 K
5th place: San Diego Padres (My prediction 65-97)
The Padres are in rebuilding mode and went 71-91 last season, quite a disappointment after winning 90 games in 2010. I expect things to get a little worse before they start to get better in San Diego.
Of all five players in the infield, none hit more than 9 home runs in 2011. That’s a major offensive power outage. Granted, the Padres play their home games at the cavernous Petco Park – but they also get to play 81 games on the road.
Nick Hundley looks to be the starter until top prospect Yasmani Grandal, acquired in the Mat Latos deal, is ready.
Yonder Alonso, also acquired in the same deal, will man first.
The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, has had a nice career as a middle infielder, and will hope to rebound from a .246 avg from last year.
Remember when Jason Bartlett was an All Star and getting votes in the MVP award race as a Rays shortstop? Well he’s far from that now, hitting just 2 homers last year to go along with a .245 average. His WaR last year was a 0.1, meaning he was basically a scrap heap replacement level player. He definitely needs to improve or the Padres could give at bats to Everth Cabrera.
Chase Headley was once a top prospect, ranked #32 overall in the pre-2008 season. It’s four years later, and he only has 36 homers in 2,114 plate appearances to go with a .269 average. He needs to produce, or could risk being non-tendered after the season.
The outfield features Carlos Quentin, Kyle Blanks, and Cameron Maybin. They all possess the potential to put up power numbers and should make for interesting batting practices.
Quentin is still only 29 and may have some good years left in him.
Maybin is the face of the franchise now, signing a five year, $25 million contract in the offseason.
There’s also big Kyle Blanks, who could potentially hit 20 homers.
The rotation features Edinson Volquez, acquired for Mat Latos. Volquez needs a bounce back season after posting a 5.71 ERA in 20 starts last year.
Tim Stauffer could be the ace, posting a 3.73 ERA last season.
The closer this year will be Huston Street, brought in to replace Heath Bell.
It’s going to be another long year for the Padres.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Nick Hundley .286-13-45
1B Yonder Alonso .285-13-67
2B Orlando Hudson .256-8-53
3B Chase Headley .276-6-46
SS Jason Bartlett .254-3-38
LF Carlos Quentin .251-19-74
CF Cameron Maybin .260-11-42
RF Will Veneable .248-11-47
SP Tim Stauffer 9-12, 3.47 ERA, 171 IP, 118 K
SP Edinson Volquez 7-9, 4.32 ERA, 144 IP, 140 K
SP Clayton Richard 12-11, 4.00 ERA, 191 IP, 130 K
SP Cory Luebke 12-10, 3.64 ERA, 195 IP, 184 K
SP Dustin Moseley 8-11, 3.46 ERA, 182 IP, 106 K
RP Huston Street 3.99 ERA, 27 SV, 56 IP, 51 K
RP Luke Gregorson 3.06 ERA, 4 SV, 65 IP, 59
So there you have it.
How do you think they’ll finish?
There’s only 19 more days. NineTEEN – we are officially in the teens. It won’t be long now. Also, you could win this CC Sabathia shirt tomorrow, so check back for that.
I’ve been posting 2012 MLB Previews for each division throughout the past two weeks. In case you missed it, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, and AL West preview by clicking on the links provided.
It’s time to move onto the National League. First up, is the NL East.
I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide.
1ST Place: Philadelphia Phillies (My prediction: 95-67)
This Philadelphia Phillies were the top team in 2011, winning 102 games, before losing in the first round of the playoffs. Over the past five years, the Phillies have only improved during the regular season, winning 89 games in 2007, then 92, 93, 97, and 102. However, I am predicting that they regress a little bit in 2012, thanks to a strengthened National League Eastern Division.
The Phillies have one of the best rotations in the game, despite losing Roy Oswalt.
Anchored by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels – the Phillies shouldn’t experience and losing streaks longer than three games.
The Phillies also added Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason to close games out. Papelbon is one of the top relievers in the game, despite his 2011 finale against the Orioles, where he blew the game and the season for the Red Sox.
The Phillies have a decent offense. Ryan Howard is coming off of an injury, and had a bit of an offseason in 2011, hitting just .253 with 33 home runs.
Chase Utley has been in decline the past three years, each year worst than the last. To be fair, he has been riddled with injuries over the past two seasons. He hit just .259 with 11 homers last season.
I’m not thrilled with Placido Polonco as the Phillies third baseman. Third base is a power position, and Polonco is a contact hitter. He hit .277 with 5 HR and 50 RBI last year, along with a .335 on base percentage.
However, the Phillies brought in Ty Wigginton to be a super utility type player, and he could unseat Polonco as the regular starter at third.
Phillies fans have to be upbeat about their outfield. They have John Mayberry in left field, or possibly Laynce Nix… Shane Victorino in centerfield and Hunter Pence in right field.
For me, I’m most intrigued with Jim Thome signing with the Phillies. Thome hasn’t played the field much in recent years, but I’m hoping that he gets some time at first base, and isn’t just a pinch-hit only type guy like Matt Stairs was the final few years of his career.
Here’s their 2012 statistical projections.
C Carlos Ruiz .289-6-43
1B Ryan Howard .259-29-98
1B Jim Thome .266-14-43
2B Chase Utley .279-20-74
3B Placido Polanco .284-6-52
3B Ty Wigginton .258-10-34
SS Jimmy Rollins .279-19-74
LF John Mayberry .261-24-77
CF Shane Victorino .272-18-67
RF Hunter Pence .302-23-91
SP Roy Halladay 19-8, 2.42 ERA, 234 IP, 212 K
SP Cliff Lee 19-8, 2.89 ERA, 221 IP, 210 K
SP Cole Hamels 14-10, 3.11 ERA, 191 K
SP Vance Worley 12-8, 3.90 ERA, 135 K
SP Joe Blanton 5-4, 4.66 ERA, 100 IP, 81 K
RP Jonathan Papelbon 3.34 ERA, 30 saves, 65 IP, 80 K
RP Antonio Bastadro 3.43 ERA, 3 saves, 60 IP, 74 K
2nd place: Atlanta Braves (My prediction 87-75)
The Atlanta Braves are going to battle it out with the Marlins and Nationals all season long for a wild card spot. For me, the Braves starting rotation gives them a slight edge.
Tim Hudson is 36 years old, but figures to be the ace of the staff, after posting a 16-10 record with a 3.22 ERA in 2011.
The Braves also welcome back Jair Jurrjens in 2011, despite trying to trade him and Martin Prado for most of the offseason. Jurrjens had a 2.96 ERA last season.
Tommy Hanson began spring training a bit banged up after being in an accident, but his concussion like symptoms should be cleared up by opening day. Hanson struggled at times in 2011, posting a 3.60 ERA.
Brandon Beachy led the Braves last year with 169 strikeouts, and continues the trend of top to bottom rotational depth on the Braves.
For their fifth starter, the Braves will choose either Julio Teheran or Mike Minor. With a rotation like they have lined up, its hard not to choose them as second in the division, no matter how much I don’t like them.
Offensively, the Braves have some stars with Brian McCann behind the plate (24 HR in ’11)
and Dan Uggla (36 HR) at second. Uggla couldn’t hit his weight for much of the season before going on an impressive 33 game hitting streak to salvage his season.
The Braves also have some questions marks. Will Chipper Jones be able to play regularly at a high level? He’s 40 years old now, and hasn’t been able to stay in the lineup regularly for two years now.
Will Jason Heyward’s reconstructed swing hasten him back to the days of 2010 when he was a star rookie? Or will he struggle again like he did in 2011? (.227/14/14)
Will Matt Diaz defy all odds and actually hit a home run?
How will Tyler Pastornicky do? He could be the team’s opening day shortstop.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Brian McCann .263-22-70
1B Freddie Freeman .296-22-83
2B Dan Uggla .253-36-90
3B Chipper Jones .268-18-67
SS Tyler Pastornicky .256-4-29
LF Martin Prado .271-15-67
CF Michael Bourne .290-2-51
RF Jason Heyward .255-19-66
SP Tim Hudson 17-10, 3.05 ERA, 224 IP, 155 K
SP Jair Jurrjens 15-10, 3.57 ERA, 209 IP, 137 K
SP Tommy Hanson 15-8, 3.82 ERA, 177 IP, 171 K
SP Brandon Beachy 11-8, 3.78 ERA, 179 IP, 187 K
SP Julio Teheran 9-6, 4.01 ERA, 126 IP, 70 K
RP Craig Kimbrel 1.81 ERA, 35 saves, 70 IP, 118 K
RP Jonny Venters 2.35 ERA, 3 saves, 84 IP, 88 K
3rd place: Miami Marlins (My prediction 85-77)
The Marlins went on a spending spree this winter as they move into a new stadium this year. Despite losing out on the Albert Pujols sweepstakes, they did manage to sign impact free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, and Heath Bell. It’s full steam ahead for the Marlins in 2012.
The Marlins offense looks to be quite good. They’ve got John Buck, who has power, but struggles to hit for average behind the plate. He only hit .227 last year.
Gaby Sanchez is a solid first baseman offensively – he hit 19 homers last year. He’s no Albert Pujols, but he’s respectable. At least he throws a mean clothesline. Ask Nyjer Morgan.
Omar Infante and Emilio Bonifacio could share time at second base in 2012. Bonifacio could also spend time in the outfield, displacing Chris Coghlan.
Hanley Ramirez will garner some attention as he moves from shortstop to third base. Ramirez appeared to be upset with the move at first, which was necessitated when the Marlins traded for Reyes. However, he seems to be warming up to the idea of playing third, and hopefully his bat warms too, because he was bad last year. The former All Star only hit .243 with 10 homers.
Jose Reyes was the batting champ last year, and probably the third best free agent behind Pujols and Prince Fielder in 2012. He brings speed and excitement to the Marlins.
The outfield looks solid at the corners with Mike Stanton on track to have another monster year. He launched 34 home runs in 2011, and figures to hit even more as he continues to age and progress as a player. He’s only 22 years old after all.
Logan Morrison, known more for his antics off the field with his zany twitter alter-ego LoMo, hopes to make a name for himself on it as well this year. He did well in 2011, hitting 23 home runs, but saw his average dip to .247.
In center field, Emilio Bonifacion will play, or possibly Chris Coghlan. Coghlan was injured much of 2011, hitting only .230. Some would say it’s karma after this incident involving fellow ballhawker the Happy Youngster. Coghlan went on to win the rookie of the year, while the Happy Youngster got a bad rep and faded away from the ballhawking scene. Maybe the Youngster makes a comeback in ’12?
As far as their rotation is concerned, the Marlins look like they’ll be decent, but not great.
Josh Johnson is returning from an injury, but has the talent to be a front line starter. He had a 1.64 ERA in 9 starts before being injured last season.
Mark Buehrle is a proven veteran that is a solid #2 starter.
Behind those two, the Marlins have Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez. Nothing spectacular, but acceptable as starters.
Interestingly, the Marlins traded for Carlos Zambrano. After a rocky career in Chicago, things have been quiet so far on the Zambrano front.
At the back of the bullpen, they’ve got Heath Bell to close things out. Bell had 43 saves for a poor Padres team in 2011, so he could do even better in 2012.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C John Buck .241-17-66
1B Gaby Sanchez .262-18-76
2B Omar Infante .290-10-59
3B Hanley Ramirez .291-22-91
SS Jose Reyes .318-10-52
LF Logan Morrison .250-24-80
CF Emilio Bonifacio .292-4-31
RF Mike Stanton .265-38-97
SP Josh Johnson 14-6, 2.54 ERA, 226 IP, 216 K
SP Mark Buehrle 13-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 103 K
SP Ricky Nolasco 13-12, 4.60 ERA, 205 IP, 168 K
SP Anibal Sanchez 9-10, 3.64 ERA, 180 IP, 169 K
SP Carlos Zambrano 11-10, 4.52 ERA, 163 IP, 120 K
RP Heath Bell 2.64 ERA, 41 saves, 65 IP, 65 K
RP Juan Oviedo 4.00 ERA, 4 saves, 63 IP, 59 K
4th place: Washington Nationals (My prediction: 84-78)
The Nationals are an improved team over last year, they added Edwin Jackson and are getting Stephen Strasburg back from an injury that cost him most of 2011.
The Nationals were unlucky and lost out on the Prince Fielder sweepstakes to Detroit and are stuck with Adam LaRoche as their first baseman. LaRoche should not get Nationals fans excited. Based on his track record, he will be abysmal until the All Star break and then recover to finish with a slightly above average line. I’ve seen it in Pittsburgh. Us Pirates fans were expecting 40 HR and 100 RBI with the short right field fence, but it never came close to happening with LaRoche. If LaRoche really bombs in his rebound year from injury, the Nats could put Mike Morse at first base and open up a spot in the outfield for Bryce Harper.
Wilson Ramos, acquired from the Nationals for ex-Pirates reliever Matt Capps survived a harrowing ordeal during the offseason when he was kidnapped at gunpoint and held captive. Thankfully, he was rescued without injury and looks to follow up a 15 HR, .445 slugging season with another decent offensive showing.
The Nationals have a power source at second base in Danny Espinosa. He slugged 21 homers last year despite hitting just .236.
Ryan Zimmerman just signed a $100 million dollar contract to keep him in a Nationals uniform til 2020. That’s a serious commitment to what many in the Nationals brass consider the face of the franchise. Zimmerman was injured for part of 2011, and hit only 12 homers – but if healthy, he’s capable of putting up 25-30 HR on the board while playing excellent defense. He’ll want to prove to everyone that he’s worth the $100 million. Although one baseball writer tweeted, “$100 million is an awful lot for a one time all-star.”
In the outfield, the Nationals are set with Michael Morse, Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth. Werth was terrible in 2011. He may have hit 20 homers, but Nationals fans expected more power, and certainly better than a .232 batting average and .389 slugging percentage. Werth was one of the best players in the league before signing with the Nationals. His statistics took a nosedive once he joined the team. He is one of several reasons why the Nationals could be the surprise team in 2012. Can he return to the Werth that roamed the outfield for the Phillies?
Michael Morse is probably my favorite Nationals player. If you get the chance to go to a Nationals game, simply stand in left center field and get ready to be bombarded with home run balls. The guy is a monster. He reminds me a lot of Mike Stanton in terms of body structure and pure power. After hitting .303/31/95 in 2011, he could be a candidate to hit 40 homers.
A major question in the Nationals outfield leading into 2012 is if Bryce Harper will be the starting right fielder in 2012. Manager Davey Johnson said the 19 year old has a chance. If he makes the team, expect the same level of hype to follow Harper around that Stephen Strasburg had back in 2010.
In terms of the rotation, its much improved after the signing of Edwin Jackson to an 11 million dollar one year contract. Personally, I don’t think much of Jackson after he spurned the Pirates 3 year $30 million offer to accept less money with the Nationals. He’s an excellent #2 pitcher though.
The ace of the Nationals is Stephen Strasburg and he may be babied again in 2012 as the Nats seem terrified of him getting injured again. If Strasburg weren’t on strict pitch counts, his strike out numbers could be ridiculous. However, he still has amazing stuff and should baffle hitters all season long. He’s a special player. I’ll never forget attending his major league debut against the Pirates in Washington DC in June of 2010.
The Nationals’ third starter is Gio Gonzalez, the ex-ace of the Oakland Athletics. He posted a 16-12 record with a 3.12 ERA in the American League last year. Reason states that his ERA should drop a little since he doesn’t have to face the DH in the National League anymore.
The Nationals rest of the rotation is average. At the back end they’ve got Drew Storen to close out games, or possibly new addition Brad Lidge.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Wilson Ramos .269-16-55
1B Adam LaRoche .243-14-56
2B Danny Espinosa .258-23-72
3B Ryan Zimmerman .296-24-81
SS Ian Desmond .261-8-51
LF Michael Morse .300-30-90
CF Roger Bernadina .238-7-30
RF Jayson Werth .245-20-64
SP Stephen Strasburg 13-6, 2.40 ERA, 139 IP, 151 K
SP Gio Gonzalez 16-11, 3.25 ERA, 211 IP, 208 K
SP Jordan Zimmerman 10-19, 4.33 ERA, 141 IP, 102 K
SP Edwin Jackson 13-9, 3.95 ERA, 203 IP, 156 K
SP John Lannan 12-11, 4.01 ERA, 191 IP, 117 K
SP Chien Ming Wang 9-7, 3.83 ERA, 125 IP, 47
RP Drew Storen 3.01 ERA, 38 saves, 81 IP, 81 K
RP Tyler Clippard 2.34 ERA, 0 saves, 85 IP, 100 K
5th place: New York Mets (My prediction 62-100)
The Mets are going to be bad in 2012. They are slashing payroll left and right, and might deal David Wright at the trade deadline this year.
Am I wrong Mets fans? I think they’ll lose 100 games. The division is tough, and they are worse than last year.
David Wright is the long bright spot, but there’s really no one to protect him in the order.
Ike Davis has some pop, but will be be consistent throughout the season?
Then there’s Jason Bay, one of the biggest free agent busts since Barry Zito. After signing a $66 million contract, Bay has done next to nothing. Maybe moving the fences in at Citi Field will help him some.
Andres Torres, a 4th or 5th outfielder on just about every other team, will be the starting center fielder.
Ruben Tejada is no Jose Reyes at shortstop. He has no power, but can hit for an acceptable average near .300.
The rotation pales in comparison to the other four teams in the division. Johan Santana will finally be back after missing an eternity due to injury. If he’s half the pitcher he used to be, he’ll still be the best pitcher on the Mets.
It’s going to be a long year. At least watching RA Dickeys facial expressions and knuckleball should be fun.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Josh Thole .273-4-46
1B Ike Davis .260-20-73
2B Daniel Murphy .318-8-66
3B David Wright .269-20-87
SS Ruben Tejada .288-0-60
LF Jason Bay .252-16-76
CF Andres Torres .237-6-27
RF Lucas Duda .301-13-61
SP Johan Santana 12-7, 2.84 ERA, 162 IP, 142 K
SP Mike Pelfrey 11-11, 4.39 ERA, 193 IP, 106 K
SP Jonathon Niese 10-11, 4.43 ERA, 167 IP, 146 K
SP Dillon Gee 12-10, 4.79 ERA, 179 IP, 134 K
SP RA Dickey 9-12, 3.13 ERA, 201 IP, 125 K
RP Frank Francisco 3.33 ERA, 28 saves, 51 IP, 55 K
RP Jon Rauch 4.05 ERA, 5 saves, 53 IP, 39 K
So, to review, I have:
I think the Braves, Marlins, and Nationals could be pretty much interchangeable though, as they are all similar in talent level.
What are your thoughts?
Leave a comment!
There’s only 37 days until opening day, and 4 days until the first broadcasted game on MLB TV (Yankees vs Phillies). Also, the first listed Spring Training game on the MLB schedule is tomorrow when the Phillies take on the Seminoles. Also, just five more days to win this LA Dodgers shirt.
Opening Day is fast approaching, spring training camps are set to open any day now, and many teams have begun selling individual game tickets. Fans all around the country are getting ready for baseball season and offering their opinions on how their team is going to do. I’ve decided to do the same. Rather than do a team-by-team break down, I’ll offer my predictions by division.
I’ve also included 2012 Predicted statistics from the 2012 Major League Baseball Yearbook and Fantasy Guide
I’ll start with the American League East.
In 2011, the Yankees took the division, while the Rays capitalized on the Red Sox epic collapse to earn second place and a wild card spot. Toronto played decent ball in baseball’s toughest division, finishing with as many wins as losses, and Baltimore brought up the rear of the division.
So, here’s my picks:
1st place: New York Yankees (My projection 96-66)
The Yankees made a major move during the offseason, acquiring Michael Pineda from the Mariners to shore up their rotation. Their rotation is anchored by CC Sabathia, who along with Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia, and Pineda, should be about average.
The Yankees have a great offense. C Russell Martin is not much of an offensive threat, but the Yankees have Mark Teixeria, Robinson Cano, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher to provide the firepower – all of who have 25+ home run potential. It will be interesting to see how Derek Jeter does as he enters his age 38 season. Might this be his last as a starting shortstop before age necessitates a position switch to the outfield or DH? Speaking of Jeter, will he still hit leadoff, or will Girardi put speedster Brett Gardner there?
Here’s the Yankees 2012 Statistical Projections (AVG-HR-RBI):
C Russell Martin .242-15-59
1B Mark Teixeira .253-36-108
2B Robinson Cano .308-28-114
3B Alex Rodriguez .271-26-101
SS Derek Jeter .297-8-65
LF Brett Gardner .261-6-37
CF Curtis Granderson .258-35-103
RF Nick Swisher .268-23-84
SP CC Sabathia 21-8, 3.12 ERA, 231 IP, 213 K
SP Hideki Kuroda 15-12, 3.49 ERA, 211.1 IP, 171 K
SP Ivan Nova 14-7, 4.10 ERA, 167 IP, 101 K
SP Freddy Garcia 12-7, 4.13 ERA, 153 IP, 96 K
SP Phil Hughes 13-9, 4.60 ERA, 172 IP, 134K
SP Michael Pineda 13-12, 3.96 ERA, 200 IP, 203 K
RP Mariano Rivera 1.78 ERA, 61 IP, 57 K, 40 Saves
RP David Robertson 2.19 ERA, 66 IP, 98 K, 2 Saves
2nd Place: Tampa Bay Rays (My prediction 90-72)
I kept going back and forth between the Rays and Red Sox for my second place pick. I ultimately decided that the Rays had a better pitching staff that the Red Sox along with miracle worker Joe Maddon.
The Rays offense isn’t nearly as strong as the Yankees and Red Sox. They have Evan Longoria, but besides him, there’s not much else that makes me say, ‘wow.’ BJ Upton has been up and down his whole career, but there’s some in the business who think that he could break out in a big way in 2012 – just like Matt Kemp did for the Dodgers last year.
I really like the Rays pitching staff. All five starters are dependable and should keep the Rays in the game day in and day out.
Here’s the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2012 Statistical Projections:
C Jose Molina .266-8-39
1B Carlos Pena .236-32-93
2B Ben Zobrist .264-18-91
3B Evan Longoria .268-36-91
SS Sean Rodriguez .229-9-51
LF Desmond Jennings .269-15-50
CF BJ Upton .241-20-72
RF Sam Fuld .266-2-23
OF Matt Joyce .270-21-86
DH Luke Scott .249-22-59
SP James Shields 14-13, 3.57 ERA, 227 IP, 226 K
SP David Price 15-11, 3.12 ERA, 219 IP, 216 K
SP Jeremy Hellickson 15-9, 2.92 ERA, 219 IP, 145 K
SP Matt Moore 12-10, 3.99 ERA, 160 IP, 163 K
SP Wade Davis 11-10, 4.09 ERA, 189 IP, 114 K
RP Kyle Farnsworth 2.30 ERA, 23 saves, 55 IP, 51 K
RP Joel Peralta 3.44 ERA, 5 saves, 71 IP, 73 K
3’rd place: Boston Red Sox (My prediction 87-75)
The Red Sox crashed and burned in 2011, missing the playoffs despite holding a nine game advantage heading into September. I believe that they will narrowly miss the playoffs again in 2012. Red Sox nation is excited to have Bobby Valentine at the helm. A new manager will bring a new voice and hopefully hold all of the players accountable for their actions. Are the Red Sox players too whiny? How will they take to Bobby V? The Red Sox have an offense that rivals that Yankees, but they’re pitching staff isn’t as good. And my bold predictions are the Kevin Youkilis absolutely tanks this year while Carl Crawford rebounds from a poor 2011.
2012 Red Sox Statistical Projections:
C Jarrod Saltalamacchia .230-18-62
1B Adrian Gonzalez .337-34-136
2B Dustin Pedroia .308-24-101
3B Kevin Youkilis .282-24-99
SS Mike Aviles .275-9-45
LF Carl Crawford .274-13-68
CF Jacoby Ellsbury .316-25-81
RF Ryan Sweeney .272-4-53
DH David Ortiz .292-26-96
SP Jon Lester 16-9, 3.43 ERA, 194 IP, 197 K
SP Josh Beckett 13-9, 3.67 ERA, 191 IP, 176 K
SP Clay Buchholz 13-7, 3.27 ERA, 154 IP, 112K
SP Alfredo Aceves 12-7, 3.72 ERA, 172 IP, 122 K
SP Daniel Bard 4-3, 3.03 ERA, 62.1 IP, 65 K
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka 6-5, 4.89 ERA, 96 IP, 80 K
RP Andrew Bailey 2.52 ERA, 38 SV, 54 IP, 49 K
RP Mark Melancon 3.39 ERA, 4 SV, 72 IP, 67 K
4th Place: Toronto Blue Jays (My prediction 79-83)
I am the least familiar with the Toronto Blue Jays of the five teams in the AL East. Their only player that I keep an eye on is Jose Bautista, who for a while was my favorite player on the Pirates. I loved that he was versatile and played infield and outfield for the Buccos. He used to play center field and toss balls into the stands between innings. I caught his 10th career home run on the fly. I’ve loved the guy ever since. Of course, the Pirates traded him for some bum named Robinzon Diaz, and then he became arguably the best player in the MLB after he left town.
Here’s their 2012 statistical predictions:
C JP Arencibia .223-25-83
1B Adam Lind .246-25-83
2B Kelly Johnson .238-22-59
3B Brett Lawrie .304-13-70
SS Yunel Escobar .298-10-53
LF Eric Thames .257-13-40
CF Colby Rasmus .254-18-62
RF Jose Bautista .284-41-99
DH Edwin Encarnacion .268-21-65
SP Ricky Romero 15-10, 3.30 ERA, 213 IP, 170 K
SP Brandon Morrow 13-12, 4.65 ERA, 201 IP, 230 K
SP Brett Cecil 10-14, 4.08 ERA, 212 IP, 146 K
SP Henderson Alvarez 10-9, 4.13 ERA, 146 IP, 105 K
SP Dustin McGowan 7-8, 4.10 ERA, 123 IP, 102 K
RP Sergio Santos 3.64 ERA, 29 saves, 59 IP, 88 K
RP Casey Janssen 2.78 ERA, 1 save, 58 IP, 53 K
5th Place: Baltimore Orioles (My prediction: 69-93)
The Baltimore Orioles haven’t had a winning season in years. Fourteen years to be exact. They’ve toiled at or near the division for all these years, not able to succeed with the big spending Yankees and Red Sox in their division. You have to feel bad for them. I can relate. My favorite team, the Pirates, haven’t had a winning record in 20 years. However, I do believe the Pirates have a better chance of a winning season that the Orioles since the Buccos don’t play the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox 18 times. That’s tough. Frustratingly tough.
The Orioles have a few decent players in Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis, but not much else. Their rotation looks dreadful.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Matt Wieters .280-23-74
1B Mark Reynolds .219-36-85
2B Brian Roberts .260-8-42
3B Josh Bell .260-9-40
3B Wilson Betemit .286-9-44
SS JJ Hardy .266-28-82
LF Nolan Reimold .247-21-72
CF Adam Jones .285-27-83
RF Nick Markakis .286-15-72
DH Chris Davis .273-9-35
SP Jake Arrieta 12-11, 5.05 ERA, 162 IP, 118K
SP Tsuyoshi Wada 11-11, 4.23 ERA, 202 IP, 136 K
SP Zach Britton 11-10, 4.76 ERA, 144 IP, 91 K
SP Brian Matusz 7-15, 5.97 ERA, 146 IP, 118 K
RP Jim Johnson 2.63 ERA, 22 SV, 82 IP 66 K
RP Kevin Gregg 4.25 ERA, 12 SV, 59 IP, 56 K
So, to summarize, I’ve got
How do you think they’ll finish?
Leave a comment. Thanks to Frank Peavy for pointing out several roster moves that weren’t reflected in this post. They’ve since been edited.
49 days until opening day, 2 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, and 3 days left to win this Dustin Pedroia T-Shirt.