Monday, 4 May 2015

Entertainment Monday: Jon Bear's Baseball Preview Part II and Part III (Monday 5/4/2015)

Entertainment Monday: Major League Baseball Preview Parts II and III

I am a little bit late with the remainder of my Major League Baseball Preview, so I have decided to combine parts two and three of my Major League Baseball Preview, which includes my American League Preview as
well as my playoff picks for the 2015 season. I try not to go along too much with trendy picks as it seems that the trendy pick rarely comes out on top at the end of the season. With the baseball season being so long it should also be acknowledged how much health plays a factor in success or failure. This is especially true of pitching staffs relative to the drastic number of arm surgeries that major league baseball pitchers have accrued over the last decade now. So hopefully those little caveats are not perceived as excuses, but fairly considered in the difficulty of making such predictions. Any detractors or those in agreement are always willing to voice there opinions on my picks should they wish to. Without further ado here are my American League predictions followed by my 2015 playoff picks.

American League Eastern Division:

1st Place: Baltimore Orioles
2nd Place: Toronto Bluejays
3rd Place: Boston Redsox
4th Place: New York Yankees
5th Place: Tampa Bay Rays

A.L. East Review: This is one of the most difficult divisions to pick as none of the teams should overwhelm any of the others from a talent perspective. With all the teams so tightly packed there is little doubt that injuries will play a bigger part here then in any other division. The Baltimore Orioles win with power and with relief pitching and good defense the last several years. With Gold Glove caliber players at Shortstop, Third base, Center field and Catcher and a reliable bull pen, the Orioles rarely give leads away late. I believe they have enough difference makers to carry them to the division title. The Toronto Bluejays also win with power, but they do not have the bullpen or defense that the O's possess. With Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes and Russell Martin the Bluejays lineup matches up well against almost anyone East or West of Detroit. I think the shortcomings of the pitching staff will make it a challenge to win the division but I see a team capable of remaining in the playoff conversation for most of the season. The Boston Redsox are also a pick that a lot of people think could make some noise and win the A.L. East this year. I just do not see enough starting pitching in Boston. While the lineup is very talented leaders like "Big Papi" David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are no longer spring chickens. The Redsox should be involved in a bunch of barn burners and high scoring games this season. The wear and tear that the bullpen will face this season will be too much for the Beaneaters to overcome. The New York Yankees always seem to find a way to remain in the playoff race, even when you think they are washed up and left for dead. Here's a team who's starting pitcher's arms are falling off and who's offensive is older than Santa Claus. With their team health more in question then a Sickle Cell child at Rugby Camp I just don't see the Yankees hanging in the race come the second half of the season. The Tampa Bay Rays have a ton of young and talented starting pitching. They always draft well and put themselves in a position to compete. I just don't see enough offense in Tampa Bay especially when they have to face the rest of the dangerous lineups in the A.L. East. Team leader Evan Longoria has always been on the cusp of super star status but always seems to fall short of it. The Rays will need him to step up into the elite stratosphere of hitters to have any chance to compete long term.

American League Central Division

1st Place: Cleveland Indians
2nd Place: Chicago Whitesox
3rd Place: Detroit Tigers
4th Place: Kansas City Royals
5th Place: Minnesota Twins

A.L. Central Review: I think this is probably the second most difficult division to predict after the A.L. East, but instead of being difficult because of a jumble of mediocrity the A.L. Central is tough to pick because of the high quality clubs and managers in the division. Right now my predictions for this division aren't looking the best, but it's still early in the year and there is a long way to go. I promised to stick to my guns too when I wrote up my review, so in spite of early season standings I have no issues with staying true to what I thought back in early April. The Cleveland Indians have great young starting pitching and enough talent on offense to be special. Particularly if they can get bounce back seasons from Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Michael Brantley is turning himself into a legit MVP candidate and Jason Kluber might push for two consecutive Cy Young awards as the League's best pitcher. The Chisox also have some young studs at the top of their pitching staff. An off season overhaul of the offense also makes the lineup much more potent and dangerous. Jose Abreu does not have to carry the team at the plate this season. The Detroit Tigers are always dangerous and a force to be reckoned with. Especially when you have Miguel Cabrera the best player in baseball save for Mike Trout of the Angels. The starting pitching took a major hit though losing Max Scherzer to free agency and Rick Porcello in the deal to acquire Yoenis Cespedes. The Tigers bullpen has always been a disaster that has let them down come playoff time. Losing Joe Nathan doesn't help an already gigantic question mark at the end of games. The Tigers just don't have enough pitching to sustain their hot start this year. Okay, I have to admit picking the Kansas City Royals to finish fourth right now isn't looking so smart. Can this magical offensive performance and power hold up though? The Royals win with relief pitching and speed, and now they have power and on base skills too. The track record suggests that the power at least will eventually fall off. I'm not sold on the Royals starting pitching staff. They have a spunky team though that kind of reminds me of my 1984/1985 Mets, so I may be underestimating what this team is capable of. The Minnesota Twins were an easy pick for last in the Central division. They may have the best Minor League system in all of baseball right now, but a lot of those young players will not see action until the second half of the season at the earliest and by then the Twinkies will be way out of the race.

American League Western Division:

1st Place: Seattle Mariners
2nd Place: Oakland Athletics
3rd Place: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4th Place: Houston Astros
5th Place: Texas Rangers

A.L. West Review: The Seattle Mariners have arguably the best pitcher in baseball in Felix Hernandez and arguably the best pure hitter in Robinson Cano. The addition of Nelson Cruz gives the M's the legit power bat they've been lacking in the lineup. So long as Nelson can keep from getting another steroid suspension. >.< The pitching staff behind Hernandez is good enough to make an impact, especially in Safeco Field where home runs go to die. The Oakland Athletics always find away to stay in contention. Billy Beane has taken the wrecking ball to last years team. The replacements for Derrick Norris and Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes do not really turn heads but Beane gets baseball players who fit his mold of on base machines with power potential. Ike Davis, Bret Lawrie Sam Fuld and Billy Butler are just quality baseball players albeit not star caliber. The pitching staff is always underrated and there is a ton of starting pitching depth after stars like Sonny Grey and Scott Kazmir. The L.A. Angels have Mike Trout and not much else. Trout on his own may be good enough for a third place finish. High spending upon aging free agent superstars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are coming back to haunt the team. Jared Weaver probably does more with less than any pitcher in the game but the staff behind him leaves a lot to be desired. The Houston Astros are a young team on the rise (perhaps more on the rise than even I thought with there current 10 game winning streak and first place spot) but they still strike out way too much to make a late season push in the A.L. west. Collin McHugh (former NY Met who's blog I once featured here) has become a staff ace and the rest of the Astros young staff is impressive as well. I like the Astros hitters too but outside of Jose Altuve pretty much every player in the lineup is capable of the Golden Sombraro (four strikeouts) on any given night. Look out for the Astros in 2016 though. The Texas Rangers are an unmitigated disaster, especially after the loss of staff ace Yu Darvish for the season to Tommy John surgery. Even with Darvish the Rangers were in trouble. Their highly regarded minor league system has yet to bear fruit and the offense lacks the pop it used to have.

Playoff Predictions:

National League Wildcards: New York Mets and San Diego Padres

Wildcard Winner: New York Mets 1-0

N.L. First Round :

New York Mets vs. Washington Nationals (Nationals win series 4-2)

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Pirates win series 4-2)

National League Championship Matchup:

Washington Nationals and Pittsburgh Pirates (Pirates win 4-3)

American League Wildcards: Chicago Whitesox and Oakland Athletics

Wildcard Winner: Oakland Athletics 1-0

A.L. First Round:

Oakland Athletics vs. Cleveland Indians (Indians win series 4-2)

Baltimore Orioles vs. Seattle Mariners (Mariners win series 4-3)

American League Championship Matchup:

Seattle Mariners vs. Cleveland Indians (Indians win 4-1)


Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Cleveland Indians

CHAMPION: Cleveland Indians (4-3)

Everyone talks about the Cubs ridiculous World Series Championship drought but the Cleveland Indians finally end their long Championship drought of 67 years (no titles since 1948)

There you have it folks. Read it and weep. Unless your an Indians fan,
and then those tears can be tears of joy! =)

1 comment:

  1. Jon Bear- I wish you luck and hope some of it goes as you predicted. To be honest, since I have little understanding of baseball, I stopped reading after the first paragraph. But what you wrote was great! You seemed to be more wittier than usual.


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