MLB Previews: Playoffs and Awards Predictions

This is my final post in our Spring Training baseball series.  Just over two weeks remain until real baseball and the anticipation is killing me.  Luckily we have March Madness to hold us over until teams start making their way north for real games.  This post outlines my predictions for the playoffs (who will get in and who will win it all) and awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year).  Sound off in the comments with your best guesses, I’m fairly certain they won’t be the same as mine.

Playoff Predictions

National League

East: Philadelphia Phillies

Fantastic rotation, powerful lineup.  If they’re healthy (no given), the regular season is really more of a formality at this point.  I have my doubts about the bullpen, but that is really of secondary importance.

Central: Cincinnati Reds

Their rotation won’t be dominant like the Phils, but their depth in that area is excellent, which should allow them to absorb an injury if need be.  I’m not sold on some of the lineup pieces, but Jay Bruce and  Joey Votto are good enough to make the rest of the bats look better than they really are.

West: Colorado Rockies

They have good pitching depth and a solid lineup.  Like the Phillies, health is key.  This team cannot sustain a significant Ubaldo Jimenez or Troy Tulowitzki (again) injury  and still win the division. 
Wild Card: Atlanta Braves

I like the pitching staff and if Chipper Jones and Nate McLouth are healthy and productive, this lineup goes from good to great.  There’s also tons of young talent on the way.

Can anyone topple Roy Halladay and the Phillies?

NL Champs: Philadelphia Phillies

The only team in the NL that can match up with them pitching-wise in the playoffs is the San Francisco, but I think the Giants’ offense is too weak to get them to the postseason again.

American League

East: Boston Red Sox

I’m a little worried about the catcher position, but the lineup should be excellent otherwise and they have plenty of starting pitching to absorb an injury.  The rotation will put them a step ahead of the Yankees here.

Central: Chicago White Sox

If Jake Peavy is healthy for the majority of the season, they easily have the best rotation in the division.  Adam Dunn should provide them the pop at DH that they were missing last season and Gordon Beckham is ready for a serious breakout.

West: Oakland Athletics

Here’s your surprise playoff team.  This rotation is going to be downright nasty.  The Angels are weak in a lot of areas and the Rangers can only win so many 9-8 games.  There’s no stars in the lineup, but GM Billy Beane has put together a lot of solid bats.

Wild Card: New York Yankees

Everyone is worried about the rotation, but the offense alone is going to win them a ton of games.  Sabathia, Hughes and Burnett should be fine, and I have high expectations for young Ivan Nova.  If they need another starter, you know GM Brian Cashman will go get one.

Kevin Youkilis is moving across the diamond this year, from first to third.

AL Champs: Boston Red Sox

They have the deepest talent pool of any team in the AL.  I’m not crazy about their rotation, but the lineup is going to score a ton of runs and the bullpen should be very good too.

World Series

Champs: Philadelphia Phillies

Assuming health, I just don’t see anyone who can challenge them in a best-of-seven playoff series.  The offense is good, but the rotation is great.  No team can match up with a playoff rotation of Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels.  Don’t write that in pen though.  People said the same thing about the Braves in the 90’s and they only ended up winning one World Series title with that Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz rotation.

Awards Predictions

National League

Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

He was having a fantastic season last year before injuries hobbled him early in the summer.  I expect his power numbers to return to normal (if not go up) and his plate discipline to improve.

Starting pitcher Tommy Hanson #48 of the Atlanta Braves pitches to the Detroit Tigers at Turner Field on June 27, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Tommy Hanson isn’t a household name yet, but he will be.

Cy Young: Tommy Hanson, SP, Atlanta Braves

Maybe this is a little aggressive, but this guy has been extremely good very early in his career.  This is not nearly as outrageous as you might think.  The stuff is there, and with a little seasoning, he will be a yearly contender for this award.

Rookie of the Year: Mike Minor, SP, Atlanta Braves

He’s young, lefthanded and has great mound presence.  He’s got a fantastic change and the fastball picked up a couple extra ticks last season.  I think he spends the majority of the season in the Atlanta rotation and gets a ton of whiffs on that change.  Reminds me of a young Tom Glavine.

American League

Most Valuable Player: Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Boston Red Sox

Take a look at his numbers from San Diego, then put him in Fenway for half his games and in the middle of the Boston lineup.  Yeah, MVP sounds about right.  He’s also an excellent defender.

Cy Young: David Price, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

If he brings the walks down, he might be the favorite for this award.  He plays in a tough division, but that never bothered Roy Halladay.  The stuff is otherworldly.

Jeremy Hellickson won’t wow you with velocity, but he’s got everything else scouts look for.

Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays, the richest of the pitching rich teams, get richer.  Hellickson is a combination of Zack Greinke and Greg Maddux on the mound.  He paints the corners with ease and his stuff is vastly underrated.

Wrap Up

This concludes our Baseball Preview series.  Hopefully you guys learned a little something and it got you hyped for the upcoming season.  If you’ve got differing opinions, feel free to sound off below.  Who you got?

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