Had Eddard Stark spent his years in the United States, rather than Westeros, he might have uttered during winter, “Baseball is coming.”
After an unbearably long period of anticipation, this evening’s match-up between the Rangers and Astros at Minute Maid Park will mark the beginning of a six-month odyssey otherwise known as the 162-game regular season.
Below you will find my 2013 MLB predictions and a few comments. For a good chuckle, check out my 2012 prognostications.
American League East: Tampa Bay, Toronto, New York, Baltimore, Boston
Despite the loss of workhorse James Shields, the Rays have the fewest roster question marks in the division, which should enable them to hold off the new-look Jays in the final week. Third, fourth, and fifth place are up for grabs.
AL Central: Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Chicago, Minnesota
With Victor Martinez back in what was already a powerful lineup and return of a similarly dominant starting rotation, the Tigers run away with the division. The Indians improve markedly but fall just short of the second wildcard berth.
AL West: Texas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Houston
Between Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and newcomer Josh Hamilton, the Angels have tremendous offensive firepower, but the Rangers possess the superior pitching staff. Like Cleveland, the A’s fall narrowly miss out on the postseason.
AL Wild Card Winner (Play-in): Angels
AL Champion: Detroit
AL MVP: Albert Pujols (runner-up: Robinson Cano)
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (runner-up: Matt Moore)
AL Rookie of the Year: Jurickson Profar (runner-up: Wil Myers)
National League East: Washington, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New York, Miami
A surplus of above-average talent and weaker division pushes the Nationals over 100 victories for the season and enables the Braves to finish with a wild card berth. As for the Phillies, Ryan Howard is healthy again but otherwise the Phillies pitchers will have to carry the load.
NL Central: Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago
These teams will sorely miss the deprated Astros, who took their 55-107 record and staggered over to the AL West. The Reds will cope the best while the Pirates, Cardinals, and Brewers battling each other to stay at .500.
NL West: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arizona, San Deigo, Colorado
The Dodgers go into ‘13 with a starting rotation arguably better than their hated rivals, the defending world champion Giants. Although some Diamondback offseason transactions raised eyebrows, the club still has sufficient talent to make a run at a wildcard spot.
NL Wild Card Winner (Play-in): Atlanta
NL Champion: Cincinnati
NL MVP: Joey Votto (runner-up: Matt Kemp)
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (runner-up: Stephen Strasburg)
NL Rookie of the Year: Gerrit Cole (runner-up: Travis D’Arnaud)
World Series Champion: Detroit in five games
Your thoughts on these picks, constructive and otherwise, are always appreciated.