I suggested this as a new topic for John but I thought we could do it ourselves. Basically I want to take a look into the future and predict what the year 2012 will look like from a baseball perspective. I picked 2012 because Baseball America has the 2012 predicted lineups and it seems like a good point where our favorite prospects we love talking about will actually be contributing. Also, I’m an Indians fan so if I could I’d crawl into a cryogenic freeze chamber and wake up in the year 2012 I would. This isn’t as much statistically based as it is ‘for fun’ but I’d like to get opinions from everyone including stats geeks, team geeks, and player geeks. I thought it might be fun and informational---plus it’s not a vs./=/</> type post. So let’s begin…
AL East: The entire division was close but this year marked the first time that neither Boston nor the NY Yankees raised the division flag. 2011’s surprise Wild Card Winner, The Baltimore Orioles, roared out to a hot start and never looked back winning the division by 4 games over the Boston Red Sox. Led by three of the most feared hitters in all of baseball (Jones, Wieters, and Markakis) and the best young pitching staff in baseball (Tillman, Arrieta, and Matusz) they held off Joe Mauer’s Boston Red Sox. The surprise of the division was the aging NY Yankees, who not only missed the playoffs, but finished just fourth in the division behind Baltimore, Sox, and Toronto. The 2010 World Series winner, Tampa Rays, regressed all the way back to last place and look to build another core of young players, possibly by trading their star slugger, Evan Longoria after the season. Hey, they got a ring.
AL Central: It’s 1995 all over again! The young and brash Cleveland Indians ran away with the division in 2012. 2011 ROY Carlos Santana is now a bona fide star and along with Matt Laporta, Sizemore, Choo, Weglarz, Brantley, and Asdrubal Cabrera---they formed the AL’s top scoring offense. But it wasn’t all offense as their pitching staff of Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco, and All Star Hector Rondon was formidable all year. It got a boost in September from young fire baller Jason Knapp who went to the bullpen and immediately made an impact. The rest of the division was not even close with Minnesota nearest at 8 games back and KC a game behind them. Chicago was the most disappointing team finishing in last place in what ended up being Ozzie’s last as White Sox manager. Beckham and Danks had exceptional years and the offense still clicked but the gutting of the farm system finally caught up to Kenny Williams and their pitching staff couldn’t be pieced together this year. 2011 FA acquisition Brandon Webb pitched in only 15 games before going on the DL and their main reclamation project, Jeremy Bonderman, couldn’t put things together and was eventually released in July. Detroit’s lone bright spot was sending Rick Porcelllo to the mound every five days as he put together a phenomenal year. But it was only good enough to finish a game above the last place Sox.
AL West: This is where things get interesting. The division has been dominated by the powerful Texas Rangers the past three years, winning the AL crown in 2011. But this yea their rival, the Oakland A’s, finally overtook them. The past few years we’ve been treated to fantastic pitching battles between the Ranger’s Feliz and Holland and the A’s Cahill and Anderson. The Rangers had the upper hand in previous years but this year the A’s got the final push when 21 year Old, Michel Inoa, stormed on the scene and had a year for the ages. M.I.K, as he’s became known, mowed through the league and conjured images of Doc Gooden and Fernando Valenzuela wrapped in one. He got the call to pitch game 163 and promptly shut down the Rangers in a complete game effort to get the win in the play in game. The surprise of the division was the announcement of Ichiro’s retirement at year’s end. The first ballot HOFer gathered three hits in his last game including a double in his final at bat.
AL CY YOUNG: Michel Inoa, OAK
AL MVP: Nick Markakis
AL Manager of the Year: Travis Fryman, Cleveland Indians
AL ROY: Michel Inoa, OAK
AL HR leader: Josh Hamilton, Texas
AL Avg Leader: Joe Mauer, Boston
AL RBI leader: Joe Mauer, Boston
AL SB leader: Michael Brantley, Cleveland
ALCS: Baltimore Orioles vs Cleveland Indians
AL Winner: Baltimore Indians
NL + World Series Predictions to come….