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Today is the first, so it’s prediction time. I will highlight my changes in red.
Rays. This is not going to change. This team just keeps on winning despite losing Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford to injuries. The Red Sox have been bit by the injury bug, too, and have not fared nearly as well. Right now, they sit 5.5 games behind the Rays in the division and are struggling to hold onto the wild card.
White Sox. I’m not changing here. Even with the Twins adding Francisco Liriano they aren’t better than the White Sox. The White Sox have the far better hitting than the Twins, as well as a better bullpen. So the slight advantage the Twins have in starting pitching doesn’t make up for the White Sox’ offense.
Angels. This is still the easiest pick. The second place Rangers elimination number is 9. They have lost the “best team in the MLB” tag, however. They play in the second worst division, and don’t have the dominant top 3 that you need in the playoffs. The still might get to the World Series, but probably won’t win it.
AL Wild Card
Red Sox. They’ll still make the playoffs. There pitching will eventually get healthy, and they have a way better offense than the Twins. The Red Sox and White Sox are almost the same in my mind. The Red Sox with a little better starting pitching when healthy, the White Sox with a better bullpen. And they’re both better than the Twins. By the way, the Yankees have no chance. I am so glad there will be a post season without the Yankees in it.
Phillies. This one is the tougest I have chosen thus far. I was wrong about the Mets and Marlins. I thought the Mets would fade and the Marlins had a good chance at the division. Now the Marlins have faded and are out of the race, while the Mets have surged and taken over first place in the division. I still like the Phillies in the race over the Mets, though, becasue they got Brett Myers to be the old Brett Myers. His resurgence gives both teams about an even rotation. They both have similar offenses. The bullpen is what separates the Phillies from the Mets. The Mets still don’t have a closer, and even though the Phillies bullpen has struggled as of late, they still are far superior to the Mets.
Cubs. Is there any way they don’t win this division? They are only 4.5 games over the Brewers, but have played awesome. This is now not only the best team in the NL, but the best team in the MLB. They have the best playoff rotation of Carlos Zambrano, Rich Harden, Ryan Dempster. They have a great bullpen, and the best lineup. This team, gulp, is the favorites to win the world series in my mind.
Diamond Backs. This is my only change. The D’Backs are just a better team than the Dodgers, with Manny Ramirez or not. They still have the better starting pitching, and the Dodgers still have the better bullpen. I said in last month’s predictions that the Dodgers have a better offense. Over the last month, the D’Backs were fifth in the NL in runs scored, while the Dodgers were tenth. Adam Dunn has helped their lineup out a ton. The younger players have started to hit as well. This team might even get somewhere in the post season. They have arguable the best 1-2 punch of playoff contenders and a solid bullpen.