After reading Scott Miller's predictions (and quickly realizing the MLB season is about to start), I've decided to put together some predictions regarding the MLB for this season. There will be some shocking performances here and there, yet overall, I see a pretty straightforward year for the contenders. With that being said, I also see a nice surprise come World Series time...
American League Predictions
AL East Division Winner: New York Yankees
In the East, it's hard to pick against the defending champions. They have a solid group of players who know they can win it all once again, and made some solid additions in the offseason, including pitcher Javier Vazquez and outfielder Curtis Granderson. Combine those two with the likes of Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Derek Jeter, etc., and you have a team more than capable of winning their second consecutive World Series.
AL Central Division Winner: Minnesota Twins
With one of the best players in the league in Joe Mauer, as well as a superb supporting cast that includes Justin Morneau, reborn Michael Cuddyer, up and coming Denard Span, and underrated offseason addition Orlando Hudson, this is a team that can hit. The pitching is something to watch as always, but look for Kevin Slowey to have a solid year. He's got great command and his low walk rates will definitely help the Twins and their pitching woes.
AL West Division Winner: Texas Rangers
I expect Ian Kinsler to have a huge year, and I don't really know why. I have a feeling his batting average will raise greatly this season, while maintaining his home run total from last season. I really believe Kinsler will contend for the AL MVP this year, and possibly win it. He's got all the talent to make it happen. As for the rest of the team, there is a lot of talent among the Rangers. If Josh Hamilton can even improve slightly, and stay healthy, it's a huge plus for the Rangers.
AL Wild Card: Boston Red Sox
Victor Martinez didn't make as huge of a splash last year as I thought he would, but I like him to have a solid year this season. Here's a guy who is a hard worker and an overall well rounded player. Boston has too many talented players, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Lackey, Jonathan Papelbon, not to make the playoffs. As always, they will contend for the division title as well.
AL Champions: Boston Red Sox
It's a bit of a stretch, but I really like Boston's chances this year. Tim Wakefield is no Jamie Moyer, not yet, and as the worst pitcher in the rotation can still provide some solid innings here and there. Clay Buchholz has great potential, and the trio of Beckett, Lester, and Lackey could be dangerous come playoff time. And as mentioned earlier, a lot of talented hitters on the squad as well.
AL MVP: Evan Longoria
Ian Kinsler, Alex Rodriguez, Joe Mauer, and Dustin Pedroia will all be in MVP talks, but I like the young third baseman from Tampa Bay to win the MVP this year. He's got great power and just needs to improve slightly on his batting average, which I believe he will this year. Definitely see a breakout year coming, and a huge breakout year at that.
AL Rookie of the Year: Brian Matusz
He's got an unbelievable amount of potential, even with everything he's already shown. As a young pitcher, a mixture of nerves and inexperience may lead to a higher ERA than most would expect, but his strikeout numbers and wins should offset that. A scary good young pitcher, always hard to go against.
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
The best strikeout artist in the American League and a 20 win threat, it's hard not to respect Justin Verlander as one of the best aces in the league. Felix Hernandez and C.C. Sabathia will have strong years and contend for the Cy, but I like Verlander and his consistency to get the job done. With that being said, it would be nice to see him get that ERA down, even if slightly.