MLB 2012 Predictions

The 2012 Major League Baseball season is upon us.  The season began with the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics playing in Japan; however, the rest of the MLB begins their season this week.  Displayed below are the DuggerSports 2012 MLB preseason power rankings for all clubs and 2012 season predictions.

Power Rankings
1.  Tampa Bay Rays
2.  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3.  Philadelphia Phillies
4.  New York Yankees
5.  Boston Red Sox
6.  Detroit Tigers
7.  Texas Rangers
8.  St. Louis Cardinals
9.  San Francisco Giants
10.  Cincinnati Reds
11.  Milwaukee Brewers
12.  Los Angeles Dodgers
13.  Atlanta Braves
14.  Miami Marlins
15.  Chicago White Sox
16.  Colorado Rockies
17.  Washington Nationals
18.  Arizona Diamondbacks
19.  Chicago Cubs
20.  Kansas City Royals
21.  Pittsburgh Pirates
22.  Cleveland Indians
23.  Toronto Blue Jays
24.  Minnesota Twins
25.  Seattle Mariners
26.  Baltimore Orioles
27.  New York Mets
28.  Houston Astros
29.  Oakland Athletics
30.  San Diego Padres

I believe the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals can be surprising teams this season.  While I do not believe either team will make the playoffs, I do believe they are capable of winning the AL Central if the heavily-favored Detroit Tigers slip up.  I also believe the Los Angeles Dodgers are a more talented team than they are given credit for and will contend for a playoff spot.

AL Division Predictions
West:  Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Central:  Detroit Tigers
East:  Tampa Bay Rays
Wild Card:  New York Yankees
Wild Card:  Boston Red Sox

The AL will be a massive minefield during the postseason with three AL East teams.  For years, the Yankees/Rays/Sox were a trio of terror that struck fear into the hearts of other AL teams; the additional Wild Card spot may very well assure the AL East of seeing their top teams in the postseason.

NL Division Predictions
West:  San Francisco Giants
Central:  St. Louis Cardinals
East:  Philadelphia Phillies
Wild Card:  Cincinnati Reds
Wild Card:  Los Angeles Dodgers

The Reds have the pieces to be one of baseball’s highest-scoring teams but have lacked in pitching for years.  This may be the year the Reds’ pitching staff turns them into contenders.  Mat Latos, Johnny Cueto and Bronson Arroyo provide the Reds with a solid trio of starting pitchers.  Arroyo is not an overpowering pitcher; however, he consistently pitches 200 innings and is a veteran.  Latos and Cueto have the ability to be all-star pitchers and should give the Reds the chance to compete in games.

Aroldis Chapman will begin the season in the bullpen; however, he is expected to be slotted into the rotation when several relievers return from the disabled list.  Mike Leake is an underrated pitcher who can provide the Reds with solid pitching.  Due to Chapman’s move to the bullpen, Homer Bailey still has a job in the rotation (for now).  This season may be Bailey’s last chance to stay in Cincinnati’s starting rotation.

I believe the Dodgers will make the playoffs this season as Matt Kemp puts up another MVP-caliber season.  Andre Ethier will also have a great season and help Kemp form one of baseball’s deadliest one-two punches.  Young shortstop Dee Gordon will play a large role in the Dodgers’ success this season as he swipes bases.  I believe Gordon can hit .290 and steal at least 40 bases (perhaps even 60).  Clayton Kershaw will be a Cy Young Award candidate again.

AL Awards Predictions
MVP:  Albert Pujols (Angels)
Cy Young:  Jered Weaver (Angels)
Rookie of the Year:  Lorenzo Cain (Royals)

Cain will begin the season batting 2nd in the Royals lineup

In 128 games with the Omaha Storm Chasers (AAA) of the Pacific Coast League, Cain hit .312 and reached on base at a .380 clip.  Cain tallied 16 home runs and 81 RBIs with 16 steals and an OPS of .877 last season.

Cain is a good outfielder with a strong arm and blazing speed who will bat second in the Royals’ lineup to start the 2012 MLB season.  I expect Cain to put up good numbers and score plenty of runs while the likes of Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler drive him in.

If the Tigers fail to reach expectations, the Royals could be one of those sleeper teams that sneak in and steal the division crown.

NL Awards Predictions
MVP:  Joey Votto (Reds)
Cy Young:  Roy Halladay (Phillies)
Rookie of the Year:  Dee Gordon (Dodgers)

Predicting the MVP in the NL is a tough task for this season.  I believe the MVP vote may come down to Matt Kemp (Dodgers) and Votto (Reds).  Both will lead their teams to the postseason and collect MVP votes.

World Series
Philadelphia Phillies defeat Tampa Bay Rays

Despite the injuries the Phillies have to start the season (Ryan Howard, Michael Martinez, Jose Contreras and Micheal Stutes on DL) and concerns with Chase Utley’s health, the Phillies have a super trio of pitchers in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.  All three are capable of winning the Cy Young.

I believe the Phillies’ offense is being underestimated by many baseball pundits.  With or without Howard, the Phillies are still a force in the NL.  While there are a handful of teams in the NL with tremendous upside, I believe only the Phillies and Cardinals can legitimately be considered as favorites to reach the World Series in the NL.  The AL will be an explosive minefield in the postseason with the Yankees, Rays, Angels, Red Sox and Tigers beating each other up.  The AL playoffs will be full of teams with very high expectations and huge letdowns for the fan bases of the unfortunate teams to lose.

The additional wild card spots in the 2012 MLB playoff format will create very exciting postseason baseball.  I wish all you fans the best of luck with your teams and I hope you enjoy the season!

Christopher Wenrich is the editor of the series of DuggerSports blogs and a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance.  You can follow Wenrich on Twitter @DuggerSports.

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