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Monday, March 31, 2014

MLB Playoff and Award Predictions

Opening Day has arrived! We'll have our annual Giants preview going up a little later today before the game, but I wanted to get our Playoff and Award post out before the games started picking up.

Playoffs

NL Wild Card
Giants over Reds

AL Wild Card
Royals over Angels

NLDS
Cardinals over Giants
Dodgers over Nationals

ALDS
A's over Royals
Tigers over Rays


NLCS
Dodgers over Cardinals (7 games)

ALCS
Tigers over A's (6 games)

WORLD SERIES
Dodgers over Tigers (6 games)

As hard as it is to pick the Dodgers to run the table this year, I think it's accurate. They've had this team set-up for two years now, and it will be their first full year with Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig. If Matt Kemp comes back healthy, Puig misses a sophomore slump and that pitching staff stays healthy, they just have too much firepower to compete with. The only other team I see up in their class in terms of talent are the Washington Nationals. If there's one team who can take them down it'll be them. I think no matter who makes it, the World Series champion will be coming out of the NL this season. They have a much stronger league than the AL in my opinion. The top teams in the NL have far superior pitching than those in the AL. Obviously a lot can happen, injuries, trades, bad years and so forth, but as of March 31st, I like the Dodgers as the 2014 World Series Champions.

The Dodgers just have that depth to where they can afford to lose an outfielder of a few months and be OK. They can lose a starter for a while and be OK, and that extraordinary depth alone should keep them from enduring any kind of pro-longed losing streaks. They have the top front-end starting rotation built for the playoffs and just have too much firepower in a number of areas for any other team to compete so long as they stay relatively healthy and don't fall apart at the seems like they have so often in the past. I'm not the only one picking the Dodgers to go all the way either, but this year does seem to have many different teams that should be in the mix. ESPN predicted a Tampa Bay Ray's parade at the end of the October while the experts over at Sports Illustrated rolled mainly with St. Louis. According to SportBet.com, these are the favorite teams to win the 2014 World Series. Interesting to see how the so-called experts and odds-makers aren't always on the same page.

National League Awards

NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals- I think 2014 is going to be a huge breakout year for Harper. I could see him going 30-30 with a ton of RBI and a .320 average in a talented lineup. (Runner Up: Yasiel Puig, LA Dodgers)

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers- I originally typed Madison Bumgarner into this slot, but I have to be realistic, and as long as Kershaw's healthy and with that lineup and bullpen built around him, in that yard, he could win 24 games this year. (Runner Up: Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins)

Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds- If Javier Baez started the year in Chicago, he'd be the pick here, hands down. Hamilton will start year in Cinci though and should score a ton of runs and rack up a ton of steals. (Runner Up: Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs)

Manager of the Year: Matt Williams, Washington Nationals- Williams is set up well with a strong team in Washington, and the rookie manager will look like a seasoned vet. (Runner Up: Walt Weiss, Colorado Rockies)

Comeback P.O.Y.: Matt Kemp, LA Dodgers- Kemp has the clear leg up in this category, so long as he stays on the field for 140+ games. If that happens, the Dodgers win the NL Pennant and he probably is even in the MVP discussion. (Runner Up: B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves)

American League Awards


AL MVP: Mike Trout, LA Angels- After coming up just short of Miguel Cabrera in 2013, Trout is destined for his first of many MVP awards in 2014. He should lead the Angels back to October and has the ability to go 40-40. (Runner Up: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays)

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners- The Mariners improved their lineup this winter, which should lead to more wins coupled with that great K-rate and ERA that King Felix sports. (Runner Up: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers)

Rookie of the Year: Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees- Another obviously easy choice. If he performs close to how he did in Japan, he's going to be a start in the States right off the bat. (Runner Up: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers)

Manager of the Year: Ned Yost, Kansas City Royals- I think the Royals are going to surprise some people this year, and Ned Yost will be pushing all the right buttons as they sneak into the playoffs. (Runner Up: Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay Rays)

Comeback P.O.Y.: Mark Teixiera, New York Yankees- I'm picking Tex here just because he's going to put up numbers if he's healthy in that yard, and all signs are pointing towards him being healthy. (Runner Up: Michael Pineda, NY Yankees)
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