Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Canon Review 2010 MLB Preview Mid-Season Review

With the All-Star game being played tonight, I figured that this is as good a time as any to review my 2010 baseball preview and see how I have done so far. If you want to look back at the original post, you can check it out right here: Let's see how I've done so far.

AL East (* - Wild Card)

Prediction:                                Current Standings:

1. New York Yankees               1. New York Yankees 56-32
2. Tampa Bay Rays*                 2. Tampa Bay Rays    54-34*
3. Boston Red Sox                     3. Boston Red Sox      51-37
4. Baltimore Orioles                  4. Toronto Blue Jays  44-45
5. Toronto Blue Jays                 5. Baltimore Orioles    29-59

Other than overestimating the Orioles. I have done pretty well so far in the AL East. At the beginning of the year, I said that the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox were arguably three of the top five teams in baseball, and at the break, the Yankees and Rays have the top two records in baseball, and the Red Sox have the fourth best. Bottom line, since there is only one wild card spot, one of these great teams are going to be sitting at home during the playoffs. At the beginning of the year, I said it would be the Red Sox, and with their injury problems, I don't see any reason to change my mind. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are better than I expected, but still not a factor and are likely to slip somewhat in the second half. The Orioles are just awful, having the worst record in baseball. At this point, it's time for the Orioles to start trading veterans such as Miguel Tejada and Ty Wiggington and start playing some younger players to give them some experience.

AL Central

Prediction:                                Current Standings:
1. Minnesota Twins                 Chicago White Sox  49-38
2. Chicago White Sox              Detroit Tigers          48-38
3. Detroit Tigers                      Minnesota Twins     46-42
4. Cleveland Indians               Kansas City Royals 39-49
5. Kansas City Royals            Cleveland Indians    34-54

My primary mistake in this division was underestimating the Tigers, who I felt would be a .500 team. Well, at this point they have proven to be a little better than that, and barring a string of injuries, they should be right in the thick of the pennant race for the rest of the year. Minnesota had led the division for most of the year, but a recent cold streak has landed them in third place at the All-Star break. The White Sox got off to a slow start, but after a league best 15-3 record in interleague play, and an eight game winning streak to close out the first half, the Sox have made themselves a factor in the race once again. The Royals and Indians are non factors at this point, although the Royals have looked better since hiring Ned Yost as manager. Overall, I still think the Twins have the most talent in the division, although it would help if players like SS J.J. Hardy and SP Scott Baker would stop underachieving. Still, the White Sox and Tigers should make this an interesting race, and don't be surprised if the division title is once again not decided until the last game of the season.

AL West

Prediction:                                Current Standings

1. LA Angels of Anaheim        1. Texas Rangers             50-38
2. Texas Rangers                    2. LA Angels of Anaheim 47-44
3. Seattle Mariners                 3. Oakland Athletics         43-46
4. Oakland Athletics               4. Seattle Mariners           35-53

Remember when the Mariners were the hip pick to win the AL West? Well, while their fielding and pitching have remained solid, their hitting has been awful, as they rank dead last in the AL in runs scored. I was skeptical about their offense coming into the season, and time has proven me right. I wasn't correct, however, about the Texas Rangers, as they have proven to be the best team in this division and with the addition of ace SP Cliff Lee from the Mariners this past Friday, the Rangers should be the favorites to win the AL West. It would be unwise to count the Angels out, however, even with the season-ending injury to slugging 1B Kendry Morales. They've still got the talent available to win the division once again. The Athletics have good pitching, but don't have enough offensive firepower to be a factor in the race. Ultimately, I think the Rangers will prevail and win their first division title since 1999.

NL East

Prediction                                Current Standings
1. Philadelphia Phillies           1. Atlanta Braves             52-36
2. Atlanta Braves*                 2. New York Mets           48-40
3. New York Mets                 3. Philadelphia Phillies     47-40
4. Florida Marlins                  4. Florida Marlins            42-46
5. Washington Nationals       5. Washington Nationals  39-50

It looks as if I underestimated the Braves, who are playing top notch baseball in their manager Bobby Cox's final season. Even with CF Nate McLouth and SS Yunel Escobar struggling, the Braves just keep on rolling, and their starting pitching is going to make them tough to knock off the top of the division. The Mets have done better than I expected, while the Phillies have done slightly worse than I projected, but both teams have enough talent to challenge for the division title and the wild-card spot. The Marlins fired their manager (Fredi Gonzalez) in the middle of the season, and are unlikely to be a factor. The Nationals, even with the arrival of SP Stephen Strasburg, are probably a year away from contention, and will more than likely be looking to trade some of their veterans before the trade deadline.

NL Central

Prediction                                Current Standings

1. St. Louis Cardinals             1. Cincinnatti Reds        49-41
2. Milwaukee Brewers           2. St. Louis Cardinals    47-41
3. Chicago Cubs                      3. Milwaukee Brewers  40-49
4. Cincinnati Reds                   4. Chicago Cubs            39-50
5. Houston Astros                   5. Houston Astros         36-53
6. Pittsburgh Pirates               6. Pittsburgh Pirates      30-58

I was just a little off in this division, as I had the Cubs and Brewers doing a little better and the Reds in fourth place. The Reds have surprised a lot of people with their winning ways by hitting the crap out the ball, leading the league in runs, batting average, and OPS. But I'm still convinced that the Cardinals will win out in the end, although it wouldn't hurt if they acquired another bat for their lineup. The Reds and Cardinals will continue to battle for first place, while everyone else in this division will try to avoid ending the season with a losing record. Look for the Brewers and Cubs to be active around the trade deadline as they try to rid themselves of some veterans with hefty salaries. The Pirates will have a losing season for the 18th straight season, and the only question regarding them is whether or not they can stay out of last place.

NL West

Predicted                                Current Standings:

1. Colorado Rockies              1. San Diego Padres          51-37
2. Los Angeles Dodgers        2. Colorado Rockies*        49-39
3. Arizona Diamondbacks      3. Los Angeles Dodgers*  49-39 
4. San Francisco Giants         4. San Francisco Giants     47-41
5. San Diego Padres               5. Arizona Diamondbacks  34-55

I was dead wrong about the Padres. I wasn't the only one, but still. Who would have thought the Padres would have the fourth best record in baseball at the All-Star break. The Padres have excellent pitching, leading the NL in ERA, but their offense outside of All-Star 1B Adrian Gonzalez leaves something to be desired. The Padres' main problem may be that they play in one tough division, as any of the top four teams are capable of winning the whole thing. I'm still going to pick Colorado to win the NL West, but I feel that San Diego will make the playoffs as a Wild Card. You can expect the Dodgers and Giants to be in the thick of things as well, while the Diamondbacks have officially given up on this year. 

Award Predictions:
1. Joe Mauer, C, Twins (.293 BA, 4 HR, 35 RBI)
2. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees (.254 BA, 17 HR, 60 RBI)
3. Kendry Morales, 1B, Angels (.290 BA, 11 HR, 39 RBI)
Dark Horse: Nelson Cruz, RF, Rangers (.299 BA, 11 HR, 41 RBI, 50 Games)

Of these four, only Mauer made the AL All Star team, Morales could have, but he suffered a season-ending injury celebrating a game winning home run a month ago. Teixeira's been healthy, but got off to a terrible start and only now is starting to hit out of it. He is a historically a better hitter in the second half, so he might emerge as an MVP Candidate yet. Cruz has hit the ball hard, but has also battled injuries. The top candidates for AL MVP after the first half include Detroit Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera (.346, 22 hr, 77 rbi), the current AL leader in batting average, RBIs, and OPS+ (186), Texas Rangers OF Josh Hamilton (.346, 22, 64, and a league leading 118 hits), Minnesota Twins 1B Justin Morneau (.345, 18, 56, league-leading .437 OBP) and Yankee 2B Robinson Cano (.336, 16, 58). Of those men, Cabrera might be the MVP thus far, but don't be surprised if Hamilton ends up with the award at the end of the season.

1. Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies (.277,  11, 37)
2. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals (.308, 21, 64)
3. Ryan Braun, LF, Brewers (.292, 13, 54)
Dark Horse: Justin Upton, RF, Diamondbacks (.259, 14, 52)

Utley's been injured and won't be back until mid-August, while Braun and Upton both play on losing teams and aren't having great seasons anyway. Pujols is putting up his typical numbers, but he isn't the clear-cut favorite, as a few other hitters have also had great years. Chief among them is Cincinnati Reds 1B Joey Votto (.314, 22, 60), the league leader in home runs, on-base percentage (.422), slugging percentage (.589), OPS (1.011) and OPS+ (167). Votto would probably be my pick if the season ended today, but he'll get some stiff competition in the form of New York Mets 3B David Wright (.314, 14, league-leading 65 RBI), San Diego 1B Adrian Gonzalez (.301, 18, 56) and Atlanta Braves 2B Martin Prado (league-leading .325 batting average, 10, 39, league leading 121 hits).

AL Cy Young Award:
1. Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners (7-5 win loss record, 2.88 ERA, 131 strikeouts)
2. C.C. Sabathia, SP, Yankees (12-3, 3.09, 104, league leading 12 wins)
3. Zack Greinke,  SP, Royals (5-8, 3.71, 101)
Dark Horse: Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics (2-1, 2.35, 22)

Hernandez and Sabathia both made the All-Star team, but at this point aren't among the favorites to win the award. However, a strong second half from either man could propel them to the award, so it would be silly to count them out. Greinke's been good but not great, while Anderson's only started six games due to injuries. Right now the favorite may be All-Star game starting pitcher David Price, who leads the league in both wins with 12, and in earned run average with a 2.42 mark. Other contenders include Mariners/Rangers pitcher Cliff Lee (8-4, 2.64, 91, league leading .950 WHIP), the Boston Red Sox's Jon Lester (11-3, 2.78, 124, league leading 6.5 hits per nine innings), and the Angels' Jared Weaver (8-5, 3.20, league leading 137 strikeouts. Also, don't forget about Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (20 saves, 1.05 ERA).

NL Cy Young
1. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies (10-7, 2.19, 128)
2. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants (9-4, 3.16, league-leading 131 strikeouts)
3. Chris Carpenter, SP, Cardinals (9-3, 3.29, 108)
Dark Horse: Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies (league leading 15 wins, 15-1, 2.20, 113)

Overall, I feel pretty good about my choices, as all four of these men made the All-Star team, and Jimenez and Halladay have to be among the favorites for the Cy Young Award at this point. A couple of other pitchers with good cases for the award include the Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (13-5, 2.11, 127), the Marlins' Josh Johnson (9-3, league leading 1.74 ERA, 123), and the Braves' Tim Hudson (9-4, 2.30, 61). If you're looking for a closer to emerge as a potential candidate, than look no further than the Giants Brian Wilson (23 saves, 1.91 ERA).

AL Rookie of the Year:
1. Wade Davis, SP, Rays (6-9, 4.69, 62)
2. Scott Sizemore, 2B, Tigers (.206 BA, now in the minor leagues)
3. Brian Matusz, SP, Orioles (3-9, 4.77, 80)
Dark Horses: Lou Marson/Carlos Santana, C, Indians (Marson: .191 BA, now in minors, Santana: .284, 5, 16, in 29 games)

Not my best choices here. At least Davis and Matusz are still in their respective teams' rotations, although it remains to be see how many chances the contending Rays are willing to give Davis. So far, the clear cut rookie of the year has to be Detroit Tigers OF Brannen Boesch, who has come out of nowhere to hit .342, with 12 homers and 49 RBI. If Boesch can keep up anything close to that pace, he should run away with the award, but don't be surprised if Boesch's teammate OF Austin Jackson (.300 BA, 52 runs, 14 SB) or the Rangers' closer Neftali Feliz (23 saves, 3.82 ERA, 42 strikeouts in 37.2 innings) make a run at the award.

NL Rookie of the Year:
1. Jason Heyward, RF, Braves (.251, 11, 45, All-Star)
2. Alcides Escobar, SS, Brewers (.244, 2, 24)
3. Stephen Strasburg, SP, Nationals (3-2, 2.32, 61 strikeouts in 42.2 innings)
Dark Horse: Pedro Alvarez, 3B/1B, Pirates (.214, 3, 11)

Strasburg and Alvarez both started the season in the minors and were called up after two months of seasoning. While Alvarez has struggled, Strasburg has taken the league by storm, and if he can keep up his pace, the ROY Award may be his to lose. Heyward got off to a tremendous start, but struggled with a thumb injury that eventually put him on the disabled list. If Heyward can get back to being the player he was during the first six weeks of the season, he'll have a good shot at the award. Escobar is probably a non-factor at this point. Other candidate include Cardinals SP Jaime Garcia (8-4, 2.17, 80), Reds SP Mike Leake (6-1, 3.53, 70) and Marlins 1B Gaby Sanchez (.302, 9, 38). For now, I'll stick with Heyward, but this is a talented crop of rookies in the NL.

Originally, I had the Yankees beating the Phillies in the World Series. I still have the Yankees winning it all, but I'm changing my NL pick to the Atlanta Braves, as they have the best combination of pitching and offense in the league, in my opinion. As for the Yankees, they are just too talented and now will be more motivated than ever to win a World Series in honor of their owner George Steinbrenner, who passed away earlier today. I say the Yanks will win it in five games. Thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts, or have any thoughts about this or other posts, than feel free to share those thoughts either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at

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