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.
I’ve decided to shift from the NL Central to the AL East for this week’s shirt giveaway. During the past two weeks, I’ve given away this Brandon Phillips TShirt to Matt Jackson, and this Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr.
I’ve decided to give away this Boston Red Sox Dustin Pedroia shirt:
Here’s the back:
Close up of the number:
And $25 tag.
The the way, the winner can choose the shirt in a size SMALL, MEDIUM, LARGE, EXTRA LARGE or 2XL.
I post blog entries every day. All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.
So, again, to enter:
1) Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment. Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted. If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry. For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries. If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.
2) Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet. Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link and I’ll count that as an entry. My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry. Each day, I’ll search who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters. By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url. For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.
At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or I will choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.
So let’s talk a bit about Dustin Pedroia.
Pedroia was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2007 and AL MVP in 2008. In 2011, he put up similar numbers to that of his MVP campaign, with a career high with 21 HR, 26 steals, and a .307 batting average. However, overshadowing Pedroia’s successful 2011 was the historic collapse of the Boston Red Sox in September.
The Red Sox had a 9 game lead in September in the wildcard race, and went 7-20 in September to be overtaken by the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Sox have a new manager at the helm, Bobby Valentine, which should help some, but many of the same players return and questions abound. Will Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit better than .235? Can Kevin Youkilis stay healthy? Will Carl Crawford continue to suck as he looks like a potential huge bust after only hitting .255 with 11 HR. He’s making 19.5 million this year. Will age catch up to David Ortiz like it appeared to in ’07-’08? (before Ortiz rebounded to have good seasons the last two years.) Will members of the starting rotation continue to eat chicken, drink beer, and play videogames while games are going on (let’s hope not). Can Jacoby Ellsbury repeat his 2011 MVP caliber performance? How will Clay Buchholz, Alfredo Aceves, and Dice-K fare in the rotation?
It’s a lot of questions, and I don’t think the Red Sox will make the playoffs in 2012. The Yankees and Rays are, in my opinion, better. What do you think?
Also, is Dustin Pedroia the best second baseman in the game? According to the MLB Yearbook and Fantasy Guide that I recently purchased, he’s #1, followed by Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano, Chase Utley, and Dan Uggla. Do you agree? Personally, I think Cano is better – the only thing that Pedroia beats him handily at is stolen bases.
What are your thoughts on the Red Sox and/or Pedroia?
Good luck in this week’s contest.
Hopefully it comes in handy to whoever wins it. I need a new Red Sox shirt too. Check out my Manny Ramirez shirt that I used in 2011:
By the way, that’s an excellent pic, as you can see Nick Pelescak’s frustration with the PNC Park crowd. PNC Park is tough on high attendance games. There’s 6 rows of bleachers, and everyone packs in. I only got 4 balls that game, and 7 the next thanks to some luck bounces.
There’s only 52 more days until Opening Day and 5 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
Today would be the largest crowd ever to witness a game at PNC Park, as 39, 483 would pack the park.
I was second in line behind Nick Pelescak. Zac Weiss, another Pittsburgh ballhawk would be third. There was lots of time to kill, so we stood around and talked a bit.
And played some catch in front of the gate.
What pitch am I throwing below? It has to do with the Red Sox starting pitcher tonight…
When the gates opened, I found a ball in the front row of section 137 to put me on the board.
A bit later in batting practice, a ball hit off of a the groundskeepers vehicle and settled against the wall in foul territory.
It would’ve been an easy snag – just a reach over the fence. So I ran over to get it. Just as I was entering the seating area in foul territory down the line, a Pirate sliced a line drive of home run distance into the seats. I was in the right place in the right time, as there wasn’t another fan within 100 feet. I walked over and picked it up for ball #2.
In the meantime, the groundskeeper picked the ball up as I was making my way down the stairs.
My third ball was a ground rule double that bounced over the fence here, and nearly took out pitching coach Ray Searage, who was walking over to the fence to give a ball away.
I wouldn’t snag another ball until 5:30.
At 5:30, the center field and right field seats opened, and I found a ball on the stairs in right field for #4 of the day.
Moments later, David Ortiz blasted a ball way over my head. I could tell it was going to carry, so I ran up the stairs towards the top of the Clemente Wall, hoping the ball would settle in a seat or empty row. It hit a seat and completely lost all momentum, and I picked it up a moment later for #5.
In the next group, I noticed a ball had landed in the ivy in center field that might have been reachable.
I made my way down the stairs and as I was under the Clemente Wall walking to center field, I heard WHHHAPPP – the sound of a ball hitting the concrete. A ball had cleared the Clemente Wall completely and was about twenty feet in the air above my head, as it rebounded off of the back wall. I jumped up and snagged it for ball #6.
‘Wow, that was lucky,’ I thought.
Not but fifteen seconds later, the same thing happened. Completely obstructed from the path of the ball, another home run cleared everything, hit a Red Sox fan, and deflected directly to me for ball #7.
Two completely lucky snags in a matter of seconds. I was later told it was Jarrod Saltalamacchia who hit those two balls.
In the meantime, another ballhawk snagged that ball in the ivy in center field. Nothing really happened in center field, except David Ortiz sauntered out to receive the adulation of Red Sox nation.
I spent the last fifteen minutes in left field, and this was the scene.
There was no where to go. I stayed over towards the foul pole where I had at least a half row of range, but no balls came withing fifty feet of me.
After batting practice, I left PNC Park for a bit. I checked the bushes to baseballs, but didn’t find any.
I also took one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken after looking through those bushes.
The Pirates ended up winning the game, setting the stage for a possibly sweep of the mighty Boston Red Sox tomorrow.
After the game Amy and I found a secluding spot in a park during the firework show and
Anyway, before heading home we stopped off at a Giant Eagle and picked up a few snacks for a possible road trip next week… It will probably be the last extended road trip for awhile because… well, we’re so pregnant.
And tomorrow is the baby shower!
Game: 7 balls (5 hit, 2 found)
Season: 251 balls (101 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 28 found)
Games: 43 games
Average: 5.84 balls per game
Career: 1,373 balls
The Red Sox were in town, bringing their well traveled fan base into PNC Park.
I got to the park early, and waited at the gate until I saw the Pirates pitchers begin to take batting practice.
When it got underway, I headed down to the Riverwalk and searched through the weeds, just in case either team took early batting practice.
There was nothing. And no luck on the Riverwalk today.
When the gates opened, there were already seven people in the bleachers with guest passes, so the Easter Eggs were long gone.
In about the first minute of batting practice, I caught a home run on the fly in section 136. Here I am labeling it:
My second ball also came during the first five minutes, and it was a glove trick ball. After adjusting the band twice, I reeled it in.
The Pirates only hit until 5:06, which is a growing trend this year. They’ve been ending between 5:03-5:06 lately.
During the Boston Red Sox first group, which featured a bunch of lefties, I was able to snag an Adrian Gonzalez ground rules double in the left field corner.
It bounced into the first row in the aisle where I picked it up.
Then BP slowed way down.
For the last group of Red Sox batters, I stood on the Clemente Wall in right field, where I caught a home run on the fly. I was checking the rooftops below the wall for baseballs (which occasionally there are. Its rare, but it happens), when I caught the track of a fly ball. I was just re-entering the seats, and ran to my left and made a snag on the move. I caught it in front of the guy in the black shirt:
Amy and I left right after batting practice.
Game: 4 balls (3 hit, 1 device)
Season: 244 balls (96 hit, 53 thrown, 60 device, 26 found)
Games: 42 games
Average: 5.81 balls per game
Career: 1,366 balls
Like I mentioned yesterday, I decided that I didn’t want to waste four hours of my day standing around at a run down parking lot behind the left field wall of McKechnie Field. With my girlfriend Amy, we decided to make better use of our time in Florida and head to a different beach.
There were thousands of sea shells on the beach, so we wrote something in ‘shelligraphy.’ Here’s the finished product. I wrote ‘Amy.’
After some beach fun, which included swimming in a cold, empty ocean, we headed to the Orioles Spring Training complex on the way to Bradenton.
He and some coaches were picking up the balls in the outfield.
I called out to one of the coaches and asked if he could toss a ball over. He did.
Then he asked, “How tall are you?” “About 6’5” I answered. I must’ve looked way taller because my whole head was above the six foot fence. I think there must’ve been a tiny mound or something I was standing on. “You look way taller than that!” The coach replied.
There were some cool trees bhind the center field wall:
And a woodpecker that kept drilling holes in the trees above us:
A view of Ed Smith Stadium off in the distance:
A look at the area behind the fences:
A baseball graveyard, protected by barbed wire:
One that didn’t make it:
Here’s a short video of the area where I got the ball at:
After a few minutes, we headed back to our illegally parked car (we weren’t going to pay $9 for 15 minutes of standing outside of a baseball practice field). We then made the trip to Bradenton.
When we arrived, these are the lineups that both teams would put on the field today:
The Red Sox lineup was pretty disappointing – no David Ortiz, no Carl Crawford, no Adrian Gonzalez, no Dustin Pedroia.
We got there just as the game was starting and Mike Cameron was digging in for the Red Sox.
Here was a view of our seats. Notice the large crowd? It was the largest crowd ever in McKechnie Field’s 42 year history.
Here’s some pictures from the game, taken courtesy of Counting Baseballs’ official blog photographer, Amy:
Jose Tabata, the Pirates starting left fielder, awaits a pitch. Hopefully Tabata can improve on his power numbers this year:
Josh Beckett, Boston’s ace, took the mound for the Red Sox.
Here’s a short video of Josh Beckett battling Garrett Jones:
Panorama of a packed house at McKechnie Field:
Pedro Alvarez prepares to react to a pitch:
The Grandstand at McKechnie Field:
John Bowker’s home run swing, as he watches a towering fly ball clear the right field fence:
Brad Lincoln delivers a pitch:
JD Drew, one of the very few regulars from the Red Sox, at the plate:
Another long time Red Sox player, Jason Varitek:
Before we left, we checked out the Pirates’ clubhouse store. Check out the new Pirates hoody this year. Amy is going to get it for me at PNC Park and use my Pirates’ clubhouse store discount.
After the game, we headed back to the ocean for some beach fun.
Later, we had an epic game of miniature golf. On the way back to the hotel, we passed a miniature golf place. Trash talking ensued, and it was on.
The course had a big lake with fountains in the middle of it along with live gators.
By the third hole, I had a slim lead, and was feeling confident.
However, Amy, who typically slugs the heck out of the ball as if it were a driving range, started putting like a PGA pro golfer.
This video just demonstrates my bad luck:
I managed to hold a three stroke lead through the first 9 holes. I had a little bit of trouble in one of the mini golf caves,
but bounced back with a ridiculous hole in one soon after, the only one of the day.
I managed to keep a two stroke lead through most of the game, but started to get too overly confidant.
Another cave brought more bad luck for me.
I tried to distract Amy by pretending that I thought that the caves were actually real and that the golf course was built around the caves. The distraction didn’t work, as she worked her magic and tied up the score.
The game came down to the very last hole. The score was tied up. I went first and the ball came to rest several feet from the hole. Amy came up and used pin point precision to put the ball 8 inches from the hole. It was an easy tap in for her. There was no way she could lose. I had to sink a long put just to tie and keep my non-losing streak in tact. I can’t remember ever losing in miniature golf to a girl. That would all change today, I missed the putt, lost the game, and a private bet between Amy and I.
It was almost 11, so we went back to the hotel to relax before another day in Florida tomorrow.
This weekend, I went to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown NY.
Cooperstown is a little over 7 hours from Pittsburgh, so we drove most of the way on Saturday afternoon and stayed overnight in Binghamton NY.
The next day, we braved the 8 degree weather and snow and made our way to Cooperstown. There were lots of baseball shops lining Main Street on the way to Cooperstown. Unfortunately, since it was Sunday, most of them were closed. The Hall of Fame is open 9AM-5PM daily though.
Here I am outside of the Hall of Fame. (I know, Where’s my coat?!)
From Ebbets Field:
There was a large portion on this floor for Hank Aaron
And another section of the third floor was dedicated to Statistics. It featured all major statistical categories with the all time career record holder and active leaders:
Here’s a short video of that section of the Hall.
Also nearby was a display case of a ball from every No-Hitter thrown in the major leagues since 1940.
Another brief video:
The next exhibit was a display of World Series rings dating back to the early 1900’s.
It was pretty cool.
Here are two short videos of the rings:
Near the exit of the third floor was a large display of baseball cards that included all different kinds of cards from baseball’s history. There was another Honus Wagner 1909 card in there.
Another brief video:
We finished our trip by heading over to the library on the first floor which we missed the first time through.
There was a small area devoted to movies:
that had old baseball movie posters
The library section was a ghost town, everything was closed there. The Giamatti research center, the museum, the bullpen theater. All of it.
After several hours it was time to go. We left a bit before 3PM and got back home around 10.
It was well worth the trip. I wouldn’t buy a membership and go all the time, but it’s a must for any baseball fan that has never been there. I’d say there’s pretty much something for every hardcore baseball fan there.
Coming up next: Pirates Winter Caravan and Piratefest entries.