Happy Opening Day – A look ahead

With opening day just around the corner I might as well throw my hat into the ring and boldly predict how the season will turn out. But, please, don’t rush off to Vegas as I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.

There’s way too many storylines to keep an eye on and I won’t even start with the Astros moving to the American League which will bring inter-league play upon us for all of the season. I have to admit, I’m taking an old school approach. Which is why I like the Koshien tournaments so much. Let the pitcher hit. The game was supposed to be played that way. Oh my, nobody would listen to someone from Germany making suggestions. Other things to watch out for are the sophomore seasons of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, how the aging Yankees and Phillies hold up to the 162 game grind and if the Giants can repeat. But for now, I’ll stick with the divisions.

Let’s start in the east. Which, if you are looking at it from Europe, is closest to home. So those are the teams I get to watch most of the time. Just for the fun of it, I’ll start with the NL East.

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Philadelphia Phillies
  4. New York Mets
  5. Miami Marlins

As much as I’d like the Mets to stay competitive deep into September I just can’t see that happening. The competition is just too tough. Washington and Atlanta might end up the other way around, but as for now I see the Nationals running away with the division just because of their pitching. And they have the bats to go along with it. The Braves’ outfield is loaded, but I somehow can’t see them pitching their way into the postseason. Philly will run into injuries sooner or later and the whole drama surrounding Doc Halladay isn’t encouraging either. As for the Mets, they should have enough talent to reach the finish line in front of the depleted Marlins.

Moving on to the American League East.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. Baltimore Orioles
  4. Boston Red Sox
  5. New York Yankees

Just for the fun of it I put the Yankees in last place. Don’t we all who we are not Yankees supporters want them to fail? Hey, Schadenfreude is a German word. Anyway, if – and this is a huge “if” – they can stay healthy anything can happen. But they too, just like the Phillies, are bound to lose players to injury given the track record of the roster. And I just can’t see their pitching keeping them in the race. Especially if their rotation hits the DL. The Rays, on the other hand, just always seem to find a way to cope. And they got the pieces to replace players who are hurt. I simply got them in first place because you don’t win divisions, pennants or even the World Series just because you won the offseason. Toronto is loaded and should contend. But I like Tampa’s chances a tick better. Baltimore and Boston are caught in between. Too “bad” (which really isn’t that bad) to compete, too good for last place.

So let’s move on to the Central. Again, first a look at the National League

  1. St Louis Cardinals
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs

Because I was watching the Mets games in spring training I got to take a close look at the Cardinals since they play each other often. C’mon, does anybody think they won’t make the postseason? There’s just too much talent. If there’s one tiny weakness it might be their pitching, but I just don’t think so. I have the Pirates in second place because I want them to finally have something to cheer about. They should, at last, have a winning season. The Reds were good last year, but this year I think the Pirates win the race. Milwaukee might prove me wrong, but they’ll end up fourth. And, oh well, the Cubs, they are a little bit like the Mets. the talent is there, but it isn’t ready yet.

Over to the American League Central.

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Kansas City Royals
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins

I have to admit, I have absolutely no idea what to make of the AL Central. Okay, the Tigers should run away with it. At least with a hitting order that goes Jackson (1), Hunter (2), Cabrera (3), Fielder (4), Martinez (5). And we haven’t even talked about the pitching. But after that? All hell breaks loose, as we say over here. I put the Indians in second place because I’m curious what the additions of Swisher and Bourn on the field and Francona at the helm will have an effect on the team. Kansas City should be better with the trade for “Big Game” Shields and Wade Davis. The White Sox, well, maybe it’s my bias toward Hawk Harrelson. And Minnesota, they’re waiting for next year.

Off to the West. First the division of the reigning World Series champions

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies

I think you can flip-flop places one and two, it won’t make that much of a difference. LA and San Francisco should finish way before the rest of the pack. The gap between second and third place should be huge. I don’t see how any club out of the group of Arizona, San Diego and Colorado can keep up with the talent of the Giants or the deep pockets of the Dodgers. Let’s face it: just in case the Dodgers aren’t where they’d like to be at the trading deadline they will just add pieces, no matter the cost.

And lastly, the American League West.

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Houston Astros

The big question here, I guess, is whether the Astros can avoid a 40-122 season, right? I really hope Texas wins the division so Yu Darvish gets a shot at pitching in the MLB postseason. Which is why the Angels have to come in second. Seattle is intriguing, I really think they can surprise people. The same way as Oakland can disappoint. And, well, yes, the Astros. Welcome to the American League.

So that’s how I see the season play out. With those rankings here’s my postseason predictions. Again, first up the National League:

  • Wildcard: Giants over Braves
  • NLDS: Nationals over Giants / Dodgers over Cardinals
  • NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers

And for the American League:

  • Wildcard: Blue Jays over Angels
  • ALDS: Tigers over Rangers / Rays over Blue Jays
  • ALCS: Tigers over Rays

Which brings us to the World Series

  • Tigers over Nationals

And there you have it. And I am really looking forward to reading this post again when the calendar flips to November.

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