My Heavily-Biased 2012 MLB Predictions

So it begins. Even though last week was technically the beginning of the 2012 baseball season, when the Mariners and A’s played a two-game series in Japan, tonight will feature the first official game played on U.S. soil, and really the start of everything that matters. For a wide variety of reasons, 2012 looks to be a very entertaining season for America’s pastime. There’s the two new wild card spots, which will place more importance on teams actually winning their division. There’s all the new roster moves, with so many players signing monster contracts for new teams. There’s the fact that, with the exception of only a few franchises, optimism is justifiably high in many different cities; only one division has a clear-cut winner. So, I’m going to make my predictions for which team will win each division, which four teams will take the wild card spots, and which two teams will eventually make it to the World Series. I’m not going to lie; there’s a certain amount of bias that informs my picks. But for the most part, I’m going to try to be objective. Let’s start out west and make our way east:

NL West

1. Arizona Diamondbacks

2. San Francisco Giants

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Colorado Rockies

5. San Diego Padres

It’s been interesting to read all the coverage for this division. Some analysts are predicting the Diamondbacks to regress this year, and that apparently the return of Buster Posey will propel the Giants back to the top of the division. Others say that the Diamondbacks have improved in the off-season, while the Giants have only marginally upgraded their anemic offense. My opinion is much closer to the latter than the former. Remember that at the beginning of 2011, the Diamondbacks were starting Melvin Mora at third base and a combination of Xavier Nady and Juan Miranda at first base. They also gave a considerable amount of starts to scrub pitchers like Zach Duke, Barry Enright, and Armando Galarraga. This will not be the case this year, with the corners of the infield and the starting rotation solidified. And even should starters Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter struggle, there is a trio of young studs just waiting to be called up from the minors in Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Trevor Bauer. The team has an incredible amount of depth, not to mention the increased power in the middle of the lineup with the addition of Jason Kubel. I just don’t see how the Giants, with their terrible, injury-prone offense and less-than-impressive back end of the rotation (Vogelsong is due for a regression and Barry Zito will be Barry Zito), will seriously be able to keep up with the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers and the Rockies are both interesting teams; the former has two incredible star players, but not much else behind them, while the Rockies have a potent offense but a rotation compiled of journeyman veterans and unproven young talent. I was surprised to read some analysts picking these teams as sleepers to win the division. While I suppose anything could happen, I’m just not seeing it this year. The Padres are a year or two away from seriously contending, but for a last-place team they’re not pushovers.

NL Central

1. Cincinnati Reds

2. St. Louis Cardinals

3. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Chicago Cubs

6. Houston Astros

I’m not sure there’s a team in this division that has the ability to run away from the rest of the pack. The Cardinals and Brewers have lost their star players, and the former has now lost their ace Chris Carpenter for an indefinite amount of time. This leaves the door open for the Cincinnati Reds, who have now got a new sense of momentum with the recent long-term signing of slugger Joey Votto. To be honest, any one of these three teams could contend for the division, but I’m not a fan of either the Cardinals or Brewers, so the Reds will be my pick. The Pirates look to be heading towards another losing reason, although there are reasons to be optimistic in Pittsburgh. The Cubs are in rebuilding mode under Theo Epstein, and they could be a major force in a couple years. As for the Astros, well, their last year in the NL will be a tough one. It’s not going to get any easier for them either when they move to the AL West.

NL East

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Washington Nationals

3. Miami Marlins

4. Atlanta Braves

5. New York Mets

The Phillies are no longer an unstoppable power, but they should still be considered the favorites to win this division. Their starting rotation alone is enough to keep them winning. But their lineup is old and injury-prone, with their two star players potentially out for the first couple of months, so they’re going to have some serious competition. Both the Nationals and the Marlins have improved considerably. Time will tell whether their talent will translate into wins, but these two teams could be major contenders in the next few years. The Braves right now look to me like a fourth-place team. Their lineup isn’t great and their starting rotation is capable of falling apart at any minute, meaning the bullpen is going to overtaxed again. Most concerning though is that, while the Nationals and Marlins got much better, the Braves did stayed the course and did nothing to improve. The Mets get back the long-injured Johan Santana, as well as David Wright, but they’re clearly a step below the rest of these teams in this division.

AL West

1. Texas Rangers

2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

3. Seattle Mariners

4. Oakland A’s

This is a two-team race between the Angels and the Rangers. Those two teams are among the best in the game, and while Seattle and Oakland still have reasons to tune into games, they haven’t got a chance in hell of winning the division, or even one of the wild cards. The Angels and Rangers should be fun to watch this year. The former has a terrific pitching staff and slugger Albert Pujols, while the Rangers have interesting new Japanese import Yu Darvish. It should all make for a great rivalry.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Kansas City Royals

3. Chicago White Sox

4. Minnesota Twins

5. Cleveland Indians

This is the weakest division in baseball. It’s basically Detroit versus everyone else. Seriously, the only way the Tigers aren’t winning this division is if they suffer season-ending injuries on several of their star players. A strong case could be made for the Tigers being the best team in baseball. It’s not that the other teams are terrible, it’s just that they’re nowhere near Detroit’s level. Kansas City has a strong crop of young talent, and not long from now they could be legitimate contenders again. Chicago, Minnesota, and Cleveland are basically interchangeable. Beyond a few watchable players, none of these teams are very interesting.

AL East

1. New York Yankees

2. Tampa Bay Rays

3. Toronto Blue Jays

4. Boston Red Sox

5. Baltimore Orioles

I hate picking the Yankees here, but as of right now they’re the best team in this division. Their offense is still potent, but they’re also starting to get a little long in the tooth. Any injuries to star players could open the gates for the other teams in the division. Tampa Bay has one of the best pitching staffs in the game but also an average offense. Toronto is the hot pick right now, and it’s possible they could contend for one of the wild card spots. I actually don’t like Boston all that much; too much inner turmoil, too many questions in the starting rotation, an aging offense. Baltimore will remain the perennial cellar-dweller.

NL Wild Cards

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Washington Nationals

AL Wild Cards

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2. Tampa Bay Rays

World Series

Detroit Tigers Vs. Arizona Diamondbacks

World Series Champion

Arizona Diamondbacks

Well, of course I’m going to pick my home team to win at all. Fortunately, this year a good case could be made that it’s actually possible. Time will tell, I guess. For the first time, I’m going to have MLB.TV throughout the season, so there’s going to be plenty of baseball watching in the future. I’ve been anticipating this 2012 season for quite awhile now. Bring on the major leagues!

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About Andrew Alan Ramseyer

I am a Phoenix resident and I graduated from Arizona State University in 2011 with a Bachelors degree in Film and Media Studies, and from Northern Arizona University in 2013 with an English Masters degree and an emphasis on Professional Writing. The real world made sure that I would need to continue schooling in other areas, but I still love watching films and writing about films. Maybe someday I'll be able to do something film-related on a professional level, but for now I'm content with writing for myself and for others, who hopefully find my thoughts worthwhile.
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