Here we are, about 2/5 of the way through the season, and I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the predictions I made in March and see how they’re holding up.
NL East: Phillies — Obviously, Philadelphia’s pitching has been a disaster of late. But it’s not like the Met’s, with Tim Redding and Livan Hernadez featured prominently in their rotation, are lighting the world on fire. The Phils have lost 6 straight and still lead the NL East by 2 games. I’m actually more worried about the Braves, who are much improved with the addition of Tommy Hanson and Nate McLouth.
NL Central: Cubs — Chicago was the no-brainer choice to win the NL Central before the season started, and now that they’ve won 4 in a row and are only 2.5 games back, they’re looking like they’re finally ready to live up to expectations. Rich Harden’s inconsistency is a worry, but the team should get a boost when Aramis Ramirez returns from the DL, and they’ve got the pieces to make a dealine move.
NL West: Dodgers — Easy pick.
NL Wild Card: Cardinals — If the playoffs started today, St. Louis would win the Central. So I’m looking pretty good here. By no means are the Cards a lock, but they’re as good a bet as any. And it’s hard to bet against Albert Pujols.
AL East: Rays — The Rays are in fourth place and are 6 games behind the Red Sox. But their run differential is the best in the AL, at +76. They’ll be a real threat in the second half, and could yet make me look smart.
AL Central: Twins — I honestly didn’t know who to pick in this division, so I picked Minnesota because they’re always in contention, even if nobody can figure out exactly how they do it. And here we are 71 games into the season and the Twins are 4 games behind the Tigers and you just know that come September they’ll be hanging around, ready to sneak into first place. And nobody will be able to explain how a team that gives quality minutes to Nick Punto and Delmon Young made the playoffs.
AL West: A’s — So far this looks like my worst pick. But you know what? The A’s are a second-half team. Anybody who’s read “Moneyball” knows that. And the AL West is ripe for the taking. So I’m not giving up on them yet. But I’m really, really close.
AL Wild Card: Red Sox — If Boston misses the playoffs, despite having seven above average starting pitchers, a resurgent Papi, a dominant bullpen and a limitless budget, it’ll be a major upset. Then again, the AL East is a ridicously tough division.
NL Rookie of the Year: Colby Rasmus — Looking like a good pick. Rasmus is heating up after a slow start and, more importantly, he doesn’t have any real competition.
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters — Too soon to say, but Wieters has the hype and has been heating up lately. He’s raised his average 100 points in the last week.
NL CY Young: Tim Lincecum — He’s as good a bet as anyone. Rob Neyer says, “Meanwhile, in the National League, Tim Lincecum‘s making a serious bid to win his second straight award, though he too will have to cope with lousy run support from his mates. If that doesn’t work out, Chad Billingsley‘s a solid candidate. And then there’s Dan Haren and Javier Vazquez, both enjoying brilliant seasons but with only nine wins between them.”
AL CY Young: Josh Beckett — Zack Greinke, Roy Halladay and Justin Verlander are the leaders, and Eric Bedard and Jered Weaver are good candidates, too. But Beckett, who was very unlucky in the first two months of the season, is on a roll now and can’t be counted out. He’s got the benefit of playing for a first place team that scores a lot of runs. Still a good pick.
NL MVP: Albert Pujols — I’m rooting for Chase Utley, but Pujols is the strong favorite. He’s such a beast.
AL MVP: Mark Teixeira — He’s second in the AL in HR, fourth in RBI, fifth in OPS, and he’s a notorious second-half player playing in the most home-run-friendly park in history. Again, not a lock. But still looking like a real strong pick.
All in all, I’d say my picks are holding up pretty well, with the exception of the A’s.