The 2012 MLB season got underway this past week for the majority of teams after the opening in Japan a week ago between Oakland and Seattle. Yet timing has always been overrated to Bryan and Coley and so while releasing their MLB predictions after 5-6 games may be a complete credibility kill, that shall not keep them from doing so. The most amazing revelation of this preview….neither one of these gigantic homers picked their beloved Red Sox to win the World Series. In fact neither even have the Sox playing for the World Series. But we won’t give it all away, here’s how our Northeast brethren see it playing out in 2012…
1. Tampa Bay Rays (Coley & Bryan)
2. Boston Red Sox (Coley & Bryan)
3. Toronto Blue Jays (Coley), New York Yankees (Bryan)
4. New York Yankees (Coley), Toronto Blue Jays (Bryan)
5. Baltimore Orioles (Coley & Bryan)
Coley: Many people are up in the air with this division in particular. Let me shed those doubts for you. For all the talk about how bad the Red Sox pitching is you can go ahead and triple those concerns for a team that is bringing back Andy Petitte. Tampa Bay not only has the best pitching in the division but they have may have the best position player: Evan Longoria. I believe the Blue Jays are good enough to win most nights but they are a player away from contention in this division. The Orioles have a long, long way to go.
Bryan: Pitching has been key to this division in recent years. Even with the heavy bats of the Sox and Yankees carrying them, CC Sabathia nearly won 20 games last year along with 3 other pitchers recording double-digit wins and the Sox have had some elite pitching over the years as well. In 2012 the Rays staff may be 2nd to none in baseball and will carry them to the division title. Sox or Yankees you can throw as a toss-up. I think both rotations are only decent and I like the Sox lineup better. But wouldn’t surprise me if Yanks finished 2nd. The Jays will be better this year. I think Farrell has them on the move up and they have a ton of young talent. I just think they’re a year or two away. The Orioles…well…do you have them finishing higher? Of course you don’t.
1. Detroit Tigers (Coley & Bryan)
2. Kansas City Royals (Coley), Minnesota Twins (Bryan)
3. Minnesota Twins (Coley), Cleveland Indians (Bryan)
4. Cleveland Indians (Coley), Kansas City Royals (Bryan)
5. Chicago White Sox (Coley & Bryan)
Coley: This is a mere formality. The Tigers have already won this division. The question remains: how bad is the rest of this division? The Royals are loaded with young fire power on the offensive end but their pitching remains suspect. The Twins finally have their two best players healthy and active but they remain a relatively weak team outside of them. The Indians and White Sox are fairly similar in the fact that both need something drastic to happen to their respected organizations in my non-professional opinion.
Bryan: If you have anyone but the Tigers winning this division I will never listen to your opinion again. Not just on baseball, on anything. Picking a non-Tigers division champ disqualifies you from possessing the right to have opinion. The lineup is too strong and they have the best pitcher in baseball. Since Gardenhire took over for the Twins in 2002, they’ve never had back to back bad seasons. I just won’t believe it till I see it. I don’t think the talent edge is drastic between any of the other 3 and the Twins and I expect a bounceback. Indians 3rd on the strength of their arms. Royals 4th is along the lines of the Jays. I think they’re a year or two from moving up. White Sox imploded and have nothing, absolutely nothing, I feel good about.
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Coley), Texas Rangers (Bryan)
2. Texas Rangers (Coley), LA Angels (Bryan)
3. Seattle Mariners (Coley & Bryan)
4. Oakland Athletics (Coley & Bryan)
Coley: This really comes down to pitching. The Angels have plenty of pitching. The Rangers may not. Yu Darvish and Derek Holland could be a legit 1-2 but they remain unproven for a full season. Both have loaded offenses and both should make the second season. Seattle is emerging. They have one of the best pitchers in baseball with some exciting young bats but they are a few years out. Oakland will sell more tickets when Manny Ramirez is done serving his 50 game suspension. Until then, buy a Yoenis Cespedes jersey.
Bryan: I don’t like the Angels and when you have two teams so close you could flip a coin, well that helps solve the edge. The Rangers are built on offense while the Angels arms will carry them. The Rangers have been to 2 straight World Series and I don’t think Pujols’ signing solves everything offensively. Give me the Rangers by an edge over LAA. The Mariners on the back of my fantasy 2nd basemen Dustin Ackley and King Felix beat out the A’s for 3rd. But the Rangers and Angels should each be about 10-15 games clear of these other two.
NL East (Coley and Bryan in complete agreement)
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Miami Marlins
4. Washington Nationals
5. New York Mets
Coley: The Phillies pitching is too good. As it has the past two seasons, it will carry them despite their lackluster lineup. The Braves are too good all around NOT to be in the postseason picture. Their pitching is a step back of Philly with a much more potent lineup. The Marlins and Nationals are in similar waters but the innings limit on Stephen Strasburg gives the Marlins the edge. The Mets… Well they’re the Mets.
Bryan: The Phillies will own this division till this rotation is broken up. Over the course of 162 games, the big 3 of Halladay, Lee and Hamels (in that order) is too dominant. Braves 2nd as they wish their were 5 playoff teams a year ago. Marlins finish 3rd as the talent is there to compete with the top 2, but the pitching is not. Nats are 4th due to nothing after Starsburg I respect in their rotation. Mets are 4-0 right now, but that’s a fluke more than anything and unless my boy Luke Duda goes off, then they’ll come up the rear.
1. Cincinatti Reds (Coley), St. Louis Cardinals (Bryan)
2. St. Louis Cardinals (Coley), Cincy Reds (Bryan)
3. Milwaukee Brewers (Coley & Bryan)
4. Pittsburgh Pirates (Coley), Chicago Cubs (Bryan)
5. Chicago Cubs (Coley), Pittsburgh Pirates (Bryan)
6. Houston Astros (Coley and Bryan)
Coley: This is the division with the most discrepancy. Cinci, St. Louis, and Milwaukee could all legitimately win this division. I’m giving the edge to the Reds after the other two lost their franchise first basemen to the AL. I’m giving the Cards the edge over the Brewers because of their pitching after the return of Adam Wainwright. The bottom half of this division is about as bad as it gets.
Bryan: I’ll roll with the defending WS champs to take the division crown. They lost Pujols but have the best top two once Carpenter is healthy. Lineup still has enough to get by. Reds in second as I think they’re closer to the 2011 version than 2010. Not sure I trust the pitching in the bandbox they play in. Brew Crew will miss Prince Fielder immensely as it should hurt Ryan Braun too. Cubs and Pirates are both terrible teams thanking their lucky stars for the pathetic excuse that is the Houston Astros keeping them out of the basement.
1. Arizona Diamondbacks (Coley), San Francisco Giants (Bryan)
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (Coley), Arizona Diamondbacks (Bryan)
3. San Francisco Giants (Coley), Colorado Rockies (Bryan)
4. Colorado Rockies (Coley), Los Angeles Dodgers (Bryan)
5. San Diego Padres (Coley & Bryan)
Coley: In all honesty, the Diamondbacks have quietly assembled one of the best teams in baseball. Their pitching and offense makes them a tough opponent on any night. Since there is now financial stability in LA I believe Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw will build off of their past success knowing greener pastures are on the horizon. San Fran is due for a slip even with their stellar pitching. Colorado and San Diego are both years away from where they want to be.
Bryan: I’m not sure how the Giants will score enough runs to get back atop the division but I’m confident the arms of SF will get the job done. Arizona is a dangerous threat to SF and will take 2nd and a Wild Card spot. Colorado led by one of the best combos in baseball, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos “Cargo” Gonzalez take 3rd but the lack of pitching kills them. Dodgers in 4th. Unless Kershaw learns to throw righty to double his starts per year, Dodgers are nothing to write home about. Padres pop up once every ten years or so. They were in contention about 2-3 years ago so check back in 2020.
Best offseason acquisition
Coley: Hard not to say Albert Pujols. The best player of this generation and one of the best offensive players in history makes the Angels an instant contender regardless of how much money they threw at him. He is an MVP candidate who will bring this team to the postseason for more than half of the life of the contract he signed. Still a great signing by Anaheim.
Bryan: Would love to disagree with Pujols but when you get arguably the best player in baseball, it’s hard to disagree with that as best acquisition. Prince Fielder a close 2nd. He’ll make that Tigers lineup lethal.
Worst offseason acquisition
Coley: Call me bitter, but this has to go Jonathan Papelbon. Closers are a dime a dozen and barring some major change in finances I don’t see how Philly is going to be able to retain Cole Hamels next season. Especially after the money Matt Cain received. Hamels is not just a lefty but he is significantly better than Cain in my eyes. Halladay, Howard, and Lee already have significant contracts. Now add Papelbon to the mix and you have a team that may be without their young ace heading into the future.
Bryan: That’s easy! Ryan Madson!!! Alright, alright, no hindsight. Worst acquisition is Carlos Zambrano. Why the Marlins would want to trade for a guy who is a cancer in the club house and hasn’t been elite in a few years is beyond me.
Rookies of The Year
Coley: In the American League, I have to go with Matt Moore of the Tampa Bay Rays. After his short stint in the majors last season, he seemed like he had been pitching in the bigs for years. His velocity alone makes him an ace in the wings. Add him to an already terrifying Rays staff and you have a potential 15 game winner as a number four.
In the National League, I’ll take Yonder Alonso from the San Diego Padres. While he plays in a pitcher’s park he has been billed as the next big thing since his time in the Reds organization. He was never going to see time in Cinci, but in San Diego he has free range and little pressure which should equate to a monster year for the young slugger. If you haven’t heard of Alonso before right now, I’m sure you’ll hear his name plenty throughout the season.
Bryan: In the AL I’m going with MY MAIN MAN Yoenis Cespedes. The Cuban defect to the Oakland As will put up numbers on a team that won’t win a lot of games which will allow him plenty of pitches to hit. He’s got 25 HR power with a decent average. We’ll see if his team’s record comes back to bite him.
Screw Yonder Alonso!!! Drew Pomeranz gets the NL ROY hardware at the back end of the Rockies rotation. The Rockies rotation is so piss poor he’ll look like a miracle worker when he lights it up as the 5th starter. TAKE IT TO THE BANK.
Coley: In the American League I am handing this award to Clay Buchholz. Buchholz won 17 games two years ago with a top five ERA in the Bigs. He was pitching well last season until a back injury put him on the disabled list. Buchholz is back to 100% and he should return to form as the Red Sox number three. He has the tools of an ace and if he can duplicate his success from two season’s ago, CPOY wont be the only award he’s in contention for this season.
The NL has four main horses in the CPOY race: Buster Posey, Adam Wainwright, Johan Santana and Jason Heyward. Posey, Santana, and Wainwright lost 2011 due to injuries while Heyward was made a prime example of the sophomore slump. All three reported to camp healthy and hungry to re-establish themselves in 2012. For me, I believe Wainwright will end up with the hardware. He is just too good of a pitcher not to regain his dominance early on in ’12. Heyward and Posey are both young and in line to rake on my fantasy squad, but I believe Wainwright is primed to bounce back with more urgency due to the fact that he has less time left on his baseball clock. One could make the same argument for Santana, but I’m not completely sold on the Mets in general in a tough NL East.
Bryan: I think the NL is easier for me. I’m going with Buster Posey. He’s a household name since the Giants won the WS two years ago and seeing as I have the Giants winning the NL West, he’ll likely have to play a big part in that. So I’ll ride with Posey to take home the comeback POY award after a gruesome knee injury last season.
In the AL I’ll roll with Justin Morneau. After the unfortunate concussion issues he’s faced that have forced him to miss a lot of time he swears he’s back and healthy and in the middle of that Twins lineup could have a strong season in 2012. He’ll need to be back to an elite level if the Twins have a chance of getting back into the playoff discussion so you can probably tie the team’s success and his chance at the award together.
Coley: In the American League I can’t ignore the beastlyness that is Tampa Bay. But, since they are such a strong staff I am going to assume that each pitcher will take away attention from the other in this rotation and almost disqualify them in the voter’s mind. Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia will stay in contention, but I am going with Ricky Romero from the Toronto Blue Jays. Romero is a true ace who has benefitted greatly by being around John Farrell. Romero is a career 42-29 with a career 3.63 ERA & 497 strikeouts. He is primed to have the best season of his career.
In the National League, I’m sticking with Clayton Kershaw. If I could have one pitcher in the league to build a staff around it would be Kershaw. The hard throwing lefty plays in one of the worst divisions in baseball giving him plenty of opportunities to rack up wins while yielding paltry amounts of runs. He will likely throw around 240 innings while striking out at least a batter an inning. Kershaw is a flat out beast who may go down as one of the all time greats if he keeps up this pace. Maybe we haven’t seen the last of the 300 game winners after all…
Bryan: In the AL give me Verlander again. That offense will win them so many games he should get to 18-20 wins in his sleep so if he ends up with a respectable ERA, he’ll move right to the top of the candidates list. Safe pick here.
In the NL I’ll go with Halladay. On top of being my favorite pitcher in the game, he’ll have to be better without the services of a great lineup this year but there’s few pitchers I’d want on the mound to win one game.
Coley: I firmly believe in what the Arizona Diamondbacks have built. Justin Upton is now a year older with more power around him in that lineup. As a five tool player, Upton should be able to finish with a monsterous statline. Something in the area of .300 with 30 homeruns, 100 RBI, 100 runs, and 20 stolen bases. On a first place Diamondback squad, I believe that will be enough to get him this award.
In the AL, I am giving the edge to Evan Longoria. Longoria was banged up last season but raked as soon as he got back from his stint on the DL. On a team I predict will win the AL East, Longoria will be the main run provider driving in approximately 120 runs and scoring at least 90. Longoria has been a top third baseman since he entered the league but it is his time to make the next step in his career. 35 homeruns are not out of the question and a .300+ average will certainly give the Rays an MVP to call their own.
Bryan: AL MVP I’ll go with Miggy. The Tigers are going to win 95-100 games playing in that soft division and Miggy is going to get a chance to rake with Fielder behind him. He was a legitimate MVP candidate last year without him. I think it’s the year of the Tigers and Miggy will contribute with an MVP.
In the NL I’ll go with Matt Kemp. Despite the low finish I don’t think any hitter on the projected division champs I have will stand out enough and I don’t feel like picking Justin Upton this season with my consigliaire selecting him.
Play In Games
Coley: Red Sox Over Rangers and Cardinals over Braves
The Red Sox and Rangers will likely combine for north of 15 runs in this game while the Cardinals will be a pitching durl for the ages.
Bryan: Red Sox over Angels, Braves over Diamondbacks
Lester outduels Weaver at home sending me on another epic “Boston is LA’s daddy” rant. In the NL, the pitching of Atlanta sends Coley’s WS pick home as I remind him that he should stop picking obscene champions in sports.
Coley: Red Sox over Tigers Rays over Angels
Teams who win in December and January usually do not win come October. The Angels and Tigers were two of the top dogs in the offseason but will falter come the postseason. The two AL East teams will face off for the American League crown for the second time in five years.
Reds over Phillies and Diamondbacks over Cardinals
The Reds and Dbacks have too much balance not to be here. Votto and Upton could finish in the top two for NL MVP voting. While the Cards and Phills remain two of the top teams in all of baseball, I believe their lack of offense will catch up to them come playoff time.
Bryan: Tigers over Red Sox, Rays over Rangers
Sox get the one team they don’t want to face in the AL and Verlander beats Beckett at Fenway in Game 1 sending Detroit to a 4 game series win. Bobby Valentine gets ripped endlessly by the media for poor in-game decisions. In the other series TB gets revenge from last year and sets up a GREAT ALCS by taking Texas out in 5, eliminating the two-time defending AL champs.
Phillies over Giants, Cardinals over Braves
The lack of hitting from the Braves comes back to haunt them against the Cardinals as St. Louis gets back to the NLCS. In the other series Philadelphia’s pitching outduels another strong staff as they win in 5 to eliminate the Giants.
Coley: Rays over Red Sox and Diamondbacks over Reds
The Rays and DBacks have better pitching than the Sox and Reds and that will be the determining factor in what should be two classic series. Longoria and Upton will make names for themselves on a national level while Ian Kennedy and David Price will cement their ace titles. Trevor Cahill, Daniel Hudson, James Shields, and Jeremy Hellickson are the key role players – shockingly, all pitchers. These Championship series will lead up to one hell of a duel in the World Series.
Bryan: Tigers over Rays, Phillies over Cardinals
In the AL, Detroit’s lineup wins a low-scoring series as the depth of their lineup wins out over a TB team who can be punchless at the plate at times in 6 games. In the NL, the Phillies redeem their loss in the NLDS last year and take the Cardinals out in a great 7 game series with Halladay winning 3 starts to close out the defending champs.
Coley: For all the marbles, the National League will prevail for the third straight season. The second from the NL West. The Diamondbacks have all the pieces in place. Chris Young will come alive with his bat and glove while Justin will outplay his brother B.J.. The pitching in this series will be phenomenal while Kennedy, Hudson, and Cahill will outduel Shields, Price, Moore, and Hellickson. Arizona farm hand Trevor Bauer could potentially be the midseason call up who becomes the difference maker out of the pen a la Alexi Ogando. For no reason whatsoever.
Bryan: With all the marbles on the line, Tigers fans are haunted by the ghosts of the 2006 World Series as they lose a devastating 7 game series to Philadelphia on their home field. Roy Halladay beats Justin Verlander 1-0 with a Shane Victorino triple and run proving as the only scoring. Phillies fans in attendance throw batteries in celebration while orchestrating a “Santa Sucks” chant throughout the night.