Welcome to my 2008 MLB Preview. I’ve been making predictions on baseball for the past few years, but have never taken the time to write an actual in-depth preview. This is not an in-depth preview, but it’s a lot more substantial than me just tossing some predictions up.
By the way, this is the first of what will probably be many, many baseball posts over the coming season. If you’re visiting this site from Google and you like what you read, please bookmark my main page or subscribe to my RSS feed. Or, even better, do both! Thanks for taking the time read my humble little preview.
The full preview is after the jump. And thanks in advance for reading.
East: Everyone seems to be predicting that the Yankees won’t win this division this year, and some are saying they’ll even fall to third. I’m not sure what their rationale is, but it isn’t going to happen. I don’t know if they are going to be able to ride the young arms of Phillip Hughes & Joba Chamberlain to a World Series ring this year, but they’ll certainly win this division. It’s going to be a close one, but I think they’re going to win 97 games, have the best record in baseball and beat Boston out by six games or so for the division title. I also think they’re going to score more runs than anyone else in baseball. (Final standings: New York, Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore)
Central: Cleveland is a great team, but Detroit is better. They’ve got Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera, both of whom will compete for individual awards at the end of the season. Top to bottom, they may have the most potent roster in all of baseball. Cleveland and Detroit will compete for the division title, but no one else will be above .500. The scary thing is that Cabrera is already one of the top three players in baseball, and he’s only 25. (Final standings: Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Minnesota, Kansas City)
West: Los Angeles and Seattle are pretty much deadlocked in this division. The addition of Erik Bedard to the M’s pitching staff gives them one of the deepest rotations in baseball. It’s hard to predict a race as close as this one will likely be, but I’m going to go with Seattle. Good pitching can carry you a long way, and it will carry Seattle to a division title. (Final standings: Los Angeles, Seattle, Oakland, Texas)
Wild Card: Tampa Bay. This team is going to shock a lot of people, and they may even contend for the American League championship. Evan Longoria probably won’t spend more than a month in the minors, and they’ve got Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford, Delmon Young and Akinori Iwamura making up the future nucleus of a potentially deadly offense…not to mention David Price, the 2007 #1 pick, who could end up as one of the better pitchers in baseball over the next ten years. I think the Rays are for real.
East: The New York Mets are easily the team to beat in this division. A lot of baseball guys are saying that the Mets choke job in 2007 was an indicator that the club can’t win the big one, that they lack toughness, etc. I think that’s pretty much a load of crap, and I fully expect the Mets to have the second best record in baseball this year at 95-67. They were a very good team last year, and adding the best pitcher in the game can’t hurt. I think Philly will compete for the wildcard, and they’re a talented team, but Brad Lidge’s tendency to blow saves could end up making a huge difference in their playoff hopes. Everyone makes a big deal about how overstated the closer role is, but you never truly realize what a difference a dependable closer can make until you have someone like Lidge blowing games left and right. (Final standings: New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, Florida)
Central: Despite being a gigantic Astros fan, I just can’t see a way for Houston to have a good season this year. I would love to see them contend for a playoff spot, but we’ve got a pitching rotation that is one of the worst I can remember the Stros having. If Wandy Rodriguez can settle down and live up to the potential Nolan Ryan sees in him, we’ll be better — but outside of Roy Oswalt and Rodriguez, the rotation takes a sharp downturn in terms of quality. Some of that can be blamed on Ed Wade and some of it can be blamed on Tim Purpura, but no matter who takes the blame, the end result is that we have a bad staff. The offense will be measurably improved from last year with the addition of Tejada, Bourn and Matsui and the incredible abilities of Hunter Pence, but it won’t be enough to offset the horrid pitching. The Central is going to be one by the Chicago Cubs, who have an amazing pitching staff and a very deep lineup. I think Carlos Marmol will end up taking over the closer role from Kerry Wood by the end of May at the latest, and they’re going to win 91 games. The Brewers and Reds may give Chicago a tough time heading into the All Star break, but neither of those teams have the pitching depth to compete with the Cubs over the second half. (Final standings: Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Houston, Pittsburgh)
West: This is the closest division in baseball. Three teams — Los Angeles, Arizona and Colorado — will be closely locked in a battle for division supremacy. I don’t see these three teams being separated by more than 3 games when the playoffs roll around, and it’s going to be an exciting race to watch. I’m picking Los Angeles to win the division and win 88 games because I think they’ve got some hot young bats that will make all the difference in the world as the season wears on and people start getting tired. Russell Martin is a rare breed that you don’t see too much these days; a catcher that is also a five tool guy. Arizona also has a very deep lineup, and Colorado still has Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki, but I think Los Angeles will have a slight edge. This division is going to be very fun to watch, unless you’re watching San Francisco; they’re the worst offensive team in baseball by a large margin, and they’re going to be beaten very badly by a lot of teams. (Final standings: Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado, San Diego, San Francisco.)
Wild Card: Milwaukee. The Brewers are very, very good, and in any other year besides 2008 winning 89 games would probably be enough to seal up the Central division. It won’t be good enough this year, but it will be good enough to get them a wild card berth.
Biggest Surprise: Washington Nationals. This is another team that is full of prospects that can flat out play. Ryan Zimmerman will lead this team to far more wins than most people are projecting for them. Just like the Rays, they aren’t going to make the playoffs, but I think they’ll come quite close to being a .500 team, which would exceed most expectations.
MVP TOP THREE (BOTH LEAGUES): Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun
CY YOUNG TOP THREE (BOTH LEAGUES): Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Jake Peavy
Division Series: Rays d. Tigers, Yankees d. Mariners
Championship Series: Rays d. Yankees
Division Series: Cubs d. Dodgers, Mets d. Brewers
Championship Series: Cubs d. Mets
WORLD SERIES: Cubs d. Rays