bill-swift - March 31, 2012
If you missed it, don't worry; you were not the only one. That whole overseas thing messed everybody up. The Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics kicked off the season in Japan on Wednesday causing havoc for fantasy baseball leagues everywhere, but ushering in that one thing that fans wait a long time for.
It's the start of the Major League Baseball season.
There are still plenty of teams finishing up spring training, trying to figure out who should get the last remaining spot on the big league roster. For some reason the head honchos in charge of scheduling decided to tease us with a couple early game in Japan. The season will not really get rolling 'til next week after spring training wraps up on Wednesday, with seven games on Thursday.
So for the time being everyone is equal. Everyone has the same record. Everyone has the same chance to get to the World Series (except the Houston Astros—come on folks, let's just be real here).
Right now truly anything can happen with the 2012 MLB season. In honor of the time-honored tradition of speculation, here are some predictions for the 2012 season:
Ryan Braun is going to disappoint. The man was guilty as sin and should have been suspended for using PED; he's just lucky some moron took his sample home before sending it. Now that he'll be watched by anyone and everyone he'll have to play clean. Combine that with the loss of Prince Fielder and his numbers are going to drop across the board.
Albert Pujols will have a down year in Los Angeles. In St. Louis he had a pretty good group of hitters around him. If teams pitched around him someone else would light them up; if they pitched to him then he did it. In LA he does not have that protection. Combine that with playing in a more pitcher friendly park and the home run total starts to decline.
The Atlanta Braves will win the NL East this year. Philadelphia will be favored due to their pitching, but they may have a hard time recovering to injuries to some of their key bats. While the Braves pitchers are not of the same caliber as the Phillies, they are all solid pitchers. Should any get hurt, they are deep in the minors too.
All the Braves will need to do is remember how to hit (they forgot last season; league low .248 batting average). Should they do that—which they will—they will take the NL East.
The Texas Rangers will return to the World Series this year, but will win this time. The Rangers may have lost C.J. Wilson, but they gained Yu Darvish. While the Japanese phenom will have some growing pains, by time the post season rolls around he'll be ready as will Neftali Feliz. This season the bats will connect better and the Rangers will close out those key games. Third time will be the charm.
The New York Yankees will not make the post season. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but think about it. The Bronx Bombers are loaded with talent, but too much of it is on the decline. There is some young talent, i.e Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, etc., but there isn't enough.
Look for guys like A-rod and Jeter to have career lows in a lot of ways. CC Sabathia will rock as always, but it remains to be seen what the rest of the rotation will do. Don't be shocked if the Yankees trade CC for tons of prospects (the Braves could spare a few quality young pitchers).
This could finally be the season when the Toronto Blue Jays are able to make the post season. Being stuck with the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox has always made it nearly impossible, but with the Yankees having a down year and the Red Sox secretly enjoying too much chicken the door might squeak open just enough.
The Tampa Bay Rays will not surprise anyone this time. Last season the Rays were expected to stink after they spent the offseason trading away all their talent. Turns out they were getting rid of some guys because they had others that were even better. I wouldn't be shocked if they trade a pitcher for some offensive help. At the same time, I wouldn't be surprised if all five starters rank in the top ten of fantasy leagues.
They'll play the Rangers in the ALCS. The series will go to seven games and will be much better than the World Series (which the Rangers sweep).
Article by Travis Pulver
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