2012 Sports with Balls Show MLB Preview

There is optimism in the air. Spring is here with summer around the corner, and ballparks around the nation are preparing to open their doors for the very first time this year.  Baseball is back and so is this “Sports with Balls” crew with our 2012 MLB Season preview & predictions.  So grab a hot dog, some cracker jacks and lets play ball!

Each member of the SwBS staff submitted a ballot, which was tabulated to form consensus picks. Individual Division, Wild Card, League Champion and World Series Champion picks for each staff member can be viewed at the bottom of the page.  

An asterick (*) denotes a consensus playoff team.

American League:

AL East

1. New York Yankees* – “In what is shaping up to be a four-team race, the Yanks could finish anywhere from first place to just above the basement.  But barring injuries and poor performances from the rotation as a whole, New York should find their way to the playoffs yet again.  The starting staff looked to be a major strength, but with the Michael Pineda out of shape and heading to the DL, that unit comes down a notch.  Even so, the bullpen appears to be rock solid and the lineup is still extremely strong.  The Yankees are certainly among of handful of AL World Series contenders.” – sherms18

2. Tampa Bay Rays – “The biggest off-season move for the Rays was bringing back Carlos Pena which will add some thump to a team that was 15th in runs scored last season. The Rays’ bread and butter will be their starting rotation that stars James Shields and David Price. Jeremy Hellickson, who won the AL Rookie of the Year posting a 2.95 ERA, will also be in the rotation. Matt Moore, who is ranked as the top prospect in baseball, will be the 5th starter for a team that ranked in the top ten in team ERA. The offense might struggle, but the rotation will keep them in contention all year.” – warrencroxton

3. Boston Red Sox – “Bobby Valentine takes over a team that had the worst collapse in baseball history last September. They added Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross to a still dangerous lineup that will miss Carl Crawford for the first few weeks. After the top 3 starters in the rotation the Sox  hold a lot of question marks with Daniel Bard and Felix Doubront.” – scottyb4

4. Toronto Blue Jays – “The blue uniforms are back and so is the talent in Toronto. The Jays have a powerful lineup lead by Jose Bautista and youngster Brett Lawrie along with an underrated pitching staff which is full of talent.  They may not break though in the East just yet but they aren’t far off” – Mike O

4. Baltimore Orioles – “Exceptions are not high in Baltimore as they appear to have their hands full in what may be the strongest division in baseball. That being said this might be a make or break year for an organization drawing ever close to a crossroads.  They will have to decide whether to extend the contracts of Adam Jones & Nick Markakis or move on with yet another rebuilding project. ” – williamfucich

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers* – “The addition of Prince Fielder to an already potent lineup combined with a strong pitching staff makes the Tigers the favorites in the Central.  The biggest question mark for Detroit will be whether a very mediocre fielding unit affects their starting pitchers and forces the bullpen to play a major factor.” – Michael Bedard

2. Kansas City Royals – “The Royals continue to build a strong franchise as they add young talent at all levels. The lineup maybe ready to make a playoff push but the starting rotation still needs help at the top.  Look for the Royals to battle for 2nd place along with everyone else playing catch up with Detroit ” – Mike O

3. Cleveland Indians – “The Indians picked up Ubaldo Jimenez last season in the hopes of putting together a playoff run.  After a surprising strong start the wheels came off late and in 2012 the question mark will be which Tribe squad shows up.  The addition of Derek Lowe could look good on paper, but more likely he eats some innings and the Indians again flirt with a .500 record.” – Michael Bedard

4. Chicago White Sox – “Robin Ventura gets his first managing gig on a below average team. The lineup needs Adam Dunn and Alex Rios to become the players they are being paid to be.
The White Sox expect to see a healthy Jake Peavy lead their rotation with young arms behind him. Their bullpen has a lot of questions and whether or not Matt Thornton can be a reliable closer is among of them.” – scottyb4

5. Minnesota Twins – “A team that struggled to score runs last year, the Twins added Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit to help the offense. Losing fan favorite Michael Cuddyer will hurt, but the team does get Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau back healthy to start the year. Morneau isn’t healthy enough to play the field, but will be the every day starting DH. The pitching staff isn’t very good, so the team will likely struggle unless Morneau and Mauer stay healthy for the entire year.” – warrencroxton

AL West

1. Los Angeles Angels* – “Albert Pujols alone could win this team a World Series; he’s done it before in St. Louis.  Beyond Pujols, C.J. Wilson heads to Anaheim and will find himself in a much more pitcher-friendly park than he dealt with in Texas.  Kendrys Morales can basically be seen as an addition as well, after missing all of 2011; if healthy, 30+ home runs is more than possible.  The bullpen is not as strong as its been in the past when the Angels haven been major contenders, but this team is loaded with enough talent to compete for a championship.” – sherms18

2. Texas Rangers – “The Angels may have taken all the headlines during the off season but its the Ranger who have been winning ball games in October the past two years.  With the lineup intact and depth in the pitching staff, expectation couldn’t be higher in Texas.  Look for the Rangers to compete for a spot in the postseason yet again.  ” – williamfucich

3.  Seattle Mariners – “Last year’s punching bag still has a lack of offensive pop even with Jesus Montero, Justin Smoak, and Dustin Ackley providing a youthful boost.  Felix Hernandez will cornerstone the staff but at the end of the day this is a very pedestrian ball club that should have no illusions about 2012 being anything but rebuilding year.” – Michael Bedard

4.  Oakland Athletics– “An offensively challenged lineup added the Cuban import Yoenis Cespedes, who just like Yu Darvish of Texas comes with high acclaim. The rotation who lost Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill will have to hope that Brandon McCarthy can stay healthy and one of their young arms rises to stardom. ” – scottyb4

National League

NL East

1. Philadelphia Phillies* – “People will make note of an offense that will start the year without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard which is justified. However they will eventually be back in the fold, which will help a team that was actually second in the National League in runs scored after the All-Star Break. The Phillies boast three of the top ten pitchers in baseball which will, again, lead the way. An interesting side bar will be Cole Hamel’s impending free agency. They are still the best team in the division, but the gap is getting narrow. ” – warrencroxton

2. Atlanta Braves – “They return basically the same team that collapsed in September, but still have a very talented team. They need bounce back years from Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla and Michael Bourn to be a table setter at the top.” – scottyb4

3. Miami Marlins – “New ballpark. New uniforms. New players. New attitude.  Hard to believe a roster with a ton of talent managed to finish 2011 in last place despite a good solid start.  The Marlins certainly have the piece to compete in the National League.  The biggest question will be health and attitude in Miami.” – williamfucich

4. Washington Nationals – “The Nats look like they are building something special in DC.  They might be 1-year away but they certainly won’t be a push over in the NL East anymore. The rotation looks strong with a healthy Stephen Strasburg anchoring the rotation. They won 80 games in 2011 without Ryan Zimmerman being healthy and a slumping Jayson Werth.  Expect bounce back years from them along with a mid-season call up of Bryce Harper.” – Mike O

5. New York Mets – “If the Mets can avoid the bottom of the NL East it would be considered a minor miracle.  As of this moment, Johan Santana is healthy, as is the meat of the batting order.  If (and underline “if” five times) the Mets can avoid the injury bug for a change, they may surprise some people.  Maybe not playoff appearance-type of surprise, but .500 record-type of surprise.” – sherms18

NL Central

1. Cincinnati Reds – “The Reds took a step back in 2011 but look to bounce back into the playoffs in 2012. Despite losing new closer Ryan Madson for the season in spring training optimism i sky high in Cincinnati as the Reds bolstered their pitching staff with the additions of Mat Latos & Sean Marshall.  The offense is powerful and should be for years to come ad Joey Votto was locked up to a massive 10-year contract.  The Reds are young and hungry and I’m looking for big things out of them this season and beyond.” – Mike O

2. St. Louis Cardinals – “You cannot replace Albert Pujols.  That being said the Cardinals still have a solid lineup and solid pitching staff.  This is the quintessential mid range team that could overachieve or become overwhelmed with the number of changes in the offseason.  Mike Matheny has some time to work out the kinks after taking over for Tony LaRussa, but any expectation of a repeat of 2011 may be just a bit much.” – Michael Bedard

3. Milwaukee Brewers – “The Brewers lose a huge piece in Prince Fielder (LOL), but keep a pitching staff that ranked in the top ten in ERA. The team added Aramis Ramirez which should soften some of the load from Prince. Mat Gamel has always been a great offensive prospect, but his defense has kept him from staying the Majors. I think the Reds and Cardinals are better, but the Brewers are good enough to stay in contention for a wild card berth.” – warrencroxton

4. Pittsburgh Pirates – “It has been a long long time since the Pirates were in a race.  The 2011 team showed flashes in the first half.  It may be another year but the franchise is certainly improving and slowly winning back the city of Pittsburgh after locking up Andrew McCutchen for the foreseeable future.” – williamfucich

5. Chicago Cubs – “David DeJesus will be a nice addition to the top of lineup, but they need big years from Soriano and Soto to have any chance of competing in central. Jeff Samardzija impressed this spring in the rotation but lets see if he can do it when it counts. The pressure begins for Theo in Chi town.” – scottyb4

6. Houston Astros – “The Astros were in full rebuilding mode in 2011, and you can just about say the same thing for 2012.  Other than Carlos Lee, there isn’t a heck of a lot of experience in that lineup.  Wandy Rodriguez is a constant at the top of the rotation, but the rest is a mixed bag.  After some success in the starting rotation, Brett Myers moves to the closer role as part of a pretty nondescript bullpen.  Best case scenario is that all these young hitters make a big jump this year and the Astros find a way to lose less than 90 games. ” – sherms18

NL West

1. San Francisco Giants – “Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are both awesome, and now they’re both extremely rich.  Madison Bumgarner could very well follow in their footsteps.  Unfortunately, the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation are a bit sketchy, though the bullpen remains a strength in San Fran.  The lineup gets immediate help by the return of Buster Posey.  Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan add some much-needed speed in the vast outfield at AT&T Park. ” – sherms18

2. Arizona Diamondbacks – “The Diamondbacks had a breakout 2011 as they won the NL West by a wide margin over the prior champion Giants.  They fell short of advancing in the postseason and were not satisfied as they went into the off season with an aggressive plan. Jason Kubel was brought in to help the offense and a pair of pitchers in Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow were brought in from Oakland to strengthen the pitching staff.  They may have the most balanced/talented team in the National League is all goes as planned. ” – williamfucich

3. Los Angeles Dodgers – “As down as the franchise was just a year ago with the ownership divorce mess, they seem to be just a rejuvenated going into 2012. Matt Kemp has developed into a superstar and Clayton Kershaw is coming off a Cy Young award.  They have the talent to compete now and young know they are itching to add some more big names following the season. ” – Mike O

4. Colorado Rockies– “The Rockies made subtle but potentially effective moves in the off-season.  Their pitching staff of misfit toys, pieces, and castoffs doesn’t appear competitive.  The lineup is at least solid if not extremely strong at times but there has to be someone who can be a stopper in the rotation and at this point no one stands out as that pitcher.” – Michael Bedard

5. San Diego Padres – “The best free agent move by the Padres was signing a 20 year that could give them a 20 percent stake in a new regional San Diego Sports Network. The Padres will rely on Yonder Alonso, who was acquired in the Mat Latos deal, to provide an offensive spark along with Carlos Quentin. This year won’t be the year for the Padres to contend, but if Alonso is what everyone says he is, the future could be sooner then most think for the Padres.” – warrencroxton

Individual SwBS Staff Picks:

Michael Bedard

AL East – Yankees

AL Central – Tigers

AL West – Angels

AL Wild Cards –  Rays, Rangers

AL Champion – Tigers

NL East – Phillies

NL Central – Reds

NL West – Giants

NL Wild Cards –  Braves, Diamondbacks

NL Champion – Phillies

World Series Champion – Phillies

Mike O

AL East – Red Sox

AL Central – Tigers

AL West – Rangers

AL Wild Cards –  Yankees, Angels

AL Champion – Rangers

NL East – Phillies

NL Central – Reds

NL West – Diamondbacks

NL Wild Cards –  Brewers, Dodgers

NL Champion – Reds

World Series Champion – Rangers

scottyb4

AL East – Yankees

AL Central – Tigers

AL West – Angels

AL Wild Cards –  Red Sox, Rangers

AL Champion – Tigers

NL East – Phillies

NL Central – Reds

NL West – Giants

NL Wild Cards –  Braves, Marlins

NL Champion – Phillies

World Series Champion – Tigers

sherms18

AL East – Rays

AL Central – Tigers

AL West – Angels

AL Wild Cards –  Yankees, Blue Jays

AL Champion – Tigers

NL East – Marlins

NL Central – Reds

NL West – Dodgers

NL Wild Cards –  Phillies, Brewers

NL Champion – Marlins

World Series Champion – Tigers

warrencroxton

AL East – Yankees

AL Central – Tigers

AL West – Angels

AL Wild Cards –  Rangers, Rays

AL Champion – Angels

NL East – Phillies

NL Central – Cardinals

NL West – Diamondbacks

NL Wild Cards –  Braves, Giants

NL Champion – Phillies

World Series Champion – Angels

wfucich

AL East – Rays

AL Central – Tigers

AL West – Rangers

AL Wild Cards –  Yankees, Angels

AL Champion – Tigers

NL East – Braves

NL Central – Cardinals

NL West – Giants

NL Wild Cards –  Phillies, Reds

NL Champion – Cardinals

World Series Champion – Tigers

—————————————————————————————————

Scotty B’s Award Picks:

AL Rookie of the Year – Matt Moore, Tampa Bay, SP
He follows in the footsteps of teammate Jeremy Hellickson and wins 12-13 games with a mid 3 ERA and impresses with solid starts over the Yankees and Red Sox in big situations.

NL Rookie of the Year – Bryce Harper, Washington, OF
-I know this is premature, but by June he will be tearing the cover off the ball down in the minors and the Nats front office wont be able resist the temptation as he gets the big call and joins the Nationals outfield for the summer.

AL CY Young – Jered Weaver, LA Angels, SP
-He was so close last year and with the offense improving he will get more run support which means more wins and more attention from the national crowd.

NL CY Young – Roy Halladay, Philadelphia, SP
-I know its the predictable answer but he will continue to dominate offenses and post close to 200 innings and 20 wins yet again.

AL Manager – Jim Leyland, Detroit
-His team will dominate the AL Central and be right in the middle of the pack in the postseason.

NL Manager – Dusty Baker, Cincinnati
-They have a tremendous lineup with an improved starting rotation and will control the NL Central this year.

AL MVP – Miguel Cabrera, Detroit, 3B
-Has protection with Prince Fielder behind him in the lineup, which can only help his offensive production.

NL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton, Miami, RF
-New name, new uniform and a budding star. Stanton will put that lineup on his back and absolutely frustrate NL East pitchers all season.

—————————————————————————————————

-There you have it.  Our thoughts on what will go down in the 2012 MLB season.  What do you think happens in 2012?

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One thought on “2012 Sports with Balls Show MLB Preview

  1. Pingback: Opening Day Arrives « Sports With Balls Blog

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