Just watched MLB Network’s: 2013 Season Preview Round-table Special and of course, I’m not shocked that the Padres are generally disregarded in the suddenly-star-studded/powerhouse NL West division. I say “generally disregarded” because out of the 6 members in this round-table discussion, one Greg Amsinger made a couple mentions about the Padres being a sleeper candidate to make noise. He especially made a point to mention the team’s top prospect and recently named the Opening Day starting 2nd baseman, Jedd Gyorko, as a name to Google and stick this upcoming season. Does that mean it will happen? No, but it’s nice to see mentions on the national scale on the premier network for baseball.
So, to you, Amsinger: I hope we’re not out of line with these expectations. However, if Chris Rose were to say that Gyorko is the real deal and will win the NL Rookie of the Year, I’d definitely believe that ol’ Jerk (apparently ‘Jerk’ is what he’s mostly referred to as) would be sent down by mid-May and hitting .022 with 60 Ks. Getting a nod from Chris Rose is essentially the “kiss of death.”
With the new season starting up tomorrow, it’s time I make my final predictions for this 2013 campaign.
Division Winners –
- AL West – Los Angeles Angels
- AL Central – Detroit Tigers
- AL East – Toronto Blue Jays
- Wild Card Matchup – Cleveland Indians vs Tampa Bay Rays
Admittedly so, I’m “buying the kool-aid” on several of these teams that made big moves in the offseason. Josh Hamilton jumping ship from Texas to LA/Anaheim represents a shift in the balance of power. I like the Angels offensive firepower over the Rangers – and I think that alone is enough to put them over the hump. I don’t see Oakland replicating their magic again this year, especially with Seattle retooling their lineup and possibly playing the sleeper role Oakland did last season.
I’m definitely drinking the blue Canadian kool-aid with the Toronto Blue Jays. That division is tough but not as tough as in the past. The Yankees are showing their age, Boston does not look sure if they are rebuilding or competing, and Baltimore made no moves in the offseason to move them from last year’s shocker to legitimate contender. Though anyone of these 5 teams could easily move ahead of the other to win the crown, Toronto has hedged their bet the best and most looks the part of the contender. Tampa Bay’s youthful pitching staff and crafty manager in Joe Maddon is probably my 2nd pick in that division.
Detroit should handle their division easily but we all said the same thing last year too and they made it a sweat down the stretch. KC’s youth and retooled pitching staff should give them a boost over .500 but they will do no more than play third fiddle. I expect Cleveland with new manager Terry Francona, who led Boston to 2 World Series titles, and a mix of newly acquired veterans to make some noise this season. Though they lost Choo, the acquisitions of Bourn and Swisher bring excitement and previous postseason experience to that lineup and clubhouse. Still, Detroit’s experience and star power is not only the favorite in this division, but my choice as the favorite to win the American League crown.
American League Champion: Detroit Tigers
Division Winners –
- NL West – San Francisco Giants
- NL Central – Cincinnati Reds
- NL East – Washington Nationals
- Wild Card Matchup – Atlanta Braves vs Los Angeles Dodgers
There’s definitely more competition in the National League for the division crowns: SF and LA will be a dogfight all season and Washington has no easy road with Atlanta still hot on their tail and Philadelphia looking to bounce back. Cincinnati probably has the “easiest” road in their division but I still don’t see them getting over the hump and taking the National League pennant. Milwaukee and St. Louis won’t roll over for them in that division but Cincinnati is definitely the favorite should their rotation and MVP candidate Joey Votto stay healthy.
It’s hard to pick the Giants over the Dodgers but it’s also hard to choose against the defending World Series champions who did not lose any key parts to their championship squad – aside from Melky Cabrera, who was lost at the end of the season and playoff run because of his suspension. SF’s pitching staff is just too good, maybe even the best top-to-bottom rotation in all of baseball, next to Washington’s. LA will be without Hanley Ramirez to start the year, and questions about the back-end of the their rotation put them behind SF.
Washington has a tough road ahead of them but have plenty of weapons to help them repeat as NL East division champs. A whole season with no limits on Strasburg? Should he stay healthy, watch out. As if Gio Gonzalez didn’t step up as the ace down the stretch, the Nats are so pitching-rich that it will be scary for opponents come playoff time. Bryce Harper will continue his maturation and progression as a young, elite talent. Atlanta will be a tough roadblock, as will Philadelphia if Utley and Howard can remain everyday forces. But Washington is no longer the underdog and certainly for real. That’s quite a special ballclub in the nation’s capital and they’re my choice to parlay their continued success into the National League Champions.
National League Champions – Washington Nationals
2013 World Series Champions – Detroit Tigers