2012 Major League Baseball Predictions from Ken Carman and Chris Fillar.

    AMERICAN LEAGUE

East

Ken:
1. Yankees 93-69
2. Tampa Bay 90-72
3. Boston 87-75
4. Toronto 85-77
5. Baltimore 65-97

– While it always seems that the Yankees have pitching problems, they have always been able to hit themselves out of trouble. Losing Joba Chamberlain isn’t the biggest loss, since he usually isn’t healthy to begin with. The AL East will still give them some close games, and for the first time ever, you can consider Mariano Rivera risky at the end of games.

The Red Sox are the prime example of why every game counts. If they don’t get swept by the Indians in April last season, they make the post season, and Terry Francona may still be their manager. Boston is a team that pays to stay competitive, and will still be in 2012.

The Blue Jays offense has some boost, and can surprise if Adam Lind can return to form after a miserable 2011. Either way it will be nice to see Omar Vizquel have one more year in the sun.

Fillar:
1. New York 95-67 (division winner)
2. Tampa Bay 92-74 (wild card)
3. Toronto 85-77
4. Boston 85-77
5. Baltimore 68-94

-The Yankees obviously remain a strong team with a feared line up. The difference to me is the consistent pitching the team acquired over the offseason, instead of overpaying big arms and big egos. Maybe nobody in baseball is as consistent as Hiroki Kuroda and although there’s been problems in Spring early, Michael Pineda should be huge for the Pinstripes.

The Rays keep defying the odds of building a juggernaut without a platinum credit card. They have one of, if not the best, rotations in baseball one through five and could crack 1,000 innings on their way to a wild card berth. Toronto has one of the most feared line ups in baseball but so do two other teams in the division.

I can’t give Boston my blessings with their ongoing pitching issues. Baltimore fans have my sympathies.

Central

Ken:
1. Detroit 95-67
2. Cleveland 84-78
3. Kansas City 79-83
4. Minnesota 78-84
5. Chicago 76-86

– Detroit has a lineup of home run threats, but poor defense. Even if they have a lot of errors, they’ll still be able to out score a lot of those errors. Pitching was something that always plagued the Indians in the 90’s but the Tigers have no problem with it from the starting rotation to the closer. Anything can happen in baseball, but it’s a pretty complete team.

Speaking of anything being able to happen, while I don’t have the Indians making the post season, they can still make a leap forward with a few more wins and prove that there is good, young talent on the ballclub. A lot will be on the shoulders of the starting rotation, especially Ubaldo Jimenez. Some were very angry with the trade last year, but Jimenez still put together quality starts (literally by baseball stats terminology) after his first big league trade. If he doesn’t return to some form of the 19-8 year he had in 2010, things could go from hopeful to sour really quick.

A lot of folks are high on Kansas City, but the starting rotation, with the exception of Sanchez is questionable. They could have a much sunnier disposition if 23-year old Danny Duffy comes to form. The Royals are signing a lot of their young talent to longer, cheaper contracts, reminiscent of the early 90’s Indians. The lineup can mature for another year. While I believe it will be another year, they do look to be on the right track.

Fillar:
1. Detroit 97-65 (division winner)
2. Cleveland 83-79
3. Kansas City 80-82
4. Minnesota 74-88
5. Chicago 71-91

-Many feel that the Tigers are the runaway favorites for the division, and I think they’re right. When making baseball predictions, one thing I refuse to do is predict injuries. Injuries is the only thing that can keep any other team in the mediocre AL Central in the race, and for that reason I put the Indians second. Health is key for Cleveland after a strong start to last season, they can keep pace in the second spot if their under rated line up can stay out of the hospital.

K.C. has the young bats that could one day make them a true contender, but with Bruce Chen and so-called future aces that refuse to break out.. I can’t back them. I may not be able to predict injury, but I can see how it ravaged Minnesota last season and is still lingering going into 2012. The White Sox went full-on rebuild. If you want an Oscar, you never go full rebuild.

West

Ken:

1. L.A. Angels 94-68
2. Texas 92-70
3. Oakland 75-89
4. Seattle 70-92

– Texas is still a great team offensively, but a lot of stock will be put into their new no. 3 starter, Yu Darvish. It also shows how improved the Angels are when C.J. Wilson was the no. 1 starter in Texas last year, but is only the no. 3 in L.A. behind Jared Waver and Dan Haren. Add in Earvin Santana as the fourth starter and that’s a rotation that can hammer away at any opponent in any series.

Fillar:

1. Los Angeles 95-67 (division winner)
2. Texas 90-72 (wild card)
3. Seattle 71-91
4. Oakland 66-96

-Has any division been more split in half between dominant and irrelevant? To me, the Angels are top to bottom the best team in all of baseball after the blockbuster additions of Pujols, Wilson and the roaring return of Morales in Spring. Although the Rangers lost Wilson, the bats are still wicked and Darvish/Feliz should fit in nicely as the power pitchers in the rotation.

I guess I have to say something about the Mariners and Athletics here too. Uh… I’ll go with Seattle because they have King Felix. Or something.

A.L. Predictions

Ken:

A.L Champ- Detroit
A.L. MVP- Prince Fielder
Cy Young- Jared Weaver
MGR of the Year: Jim Leyland

Fillar:

A.L Champ- Los Angeles Angels
A.L. MVP- Albert Pujols
Cy Young- Justin Verlander
MGR of the Year: Jim Leyland
Rook of the year: Matt Moore

    NATIONAL LEAGUE

East

Ken:

1. Philadelphia 94-69
2. Washington 88-74
3. Miami 86-76
4. Atlanta 85-77
5. N.Y. Mets 70- 92

– Being without Ryan Howard until May will hurt a Philly club that is already in desperate need of offense. They are great defensively, and with the returning pitching, they can still win the division. The division should be tighter this year, and while I have Atlanta finishing fourth, but I could be woefully wrong if Jason Heyward has a bounce back year, and 1B Freddie Freeman can slug. The pitching has the potential to completely fall apart with four of five guys having a history with injuries.

Washington can be a great story with Stephen Strasburg coming back as the no.1. If Philly has more injuries or slips up, the Nationals can be an even better story.

Fillar:

1. Washington 91-71 (division winner)
2. Miami 88-74 (wild card)
3. Philadelphia 85-77
4. Atlanta 81-81
5. New York 68-94

-I can’t bring myself to trust Philly even with their trio of aces, including the early sketchy health of Roy Halladay. Their offense is aging, battered and Ryan Howard won’t bring his bat to the party for months. If Jose Reyes and Hanley can play nicely together along with Stanton, Morrison and Gaby.. they can score a lot of runs.

The obvious, perhaps glaring, prediction here is Washington who I love here. I would like to see Strasburg be without inning restrictions, but Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman will be solid. With the beastly Bryce Harper waiting in the wings to charge into action at any point, the Nats will finally break free. The Braves are easily the most unsure I am about any team… the Mets I’m fairly sure about.

Central

Ken:

1. Cincinnati 93-69
2. Milwaukee 89-73
3. St. Louis 86-76
4. Pittsburgh 74-88
5. Chicago 70-92
6. Houston 60-102

– For the Reds, I like Johnny Cueto as a no.1 starter, but I’m not sure it has 200 innings in it. The rest of Cincinnati’s rotation may have problems staying healthy, but they’ll definitely have some problems throwing hard. Bronson Arroyo gave up way too many home runs last year, and there will be a lot of pressure on Homer Bailey and Mike Leake.

St. Louis getting Carlos Beltran was nice, but Beltran isn’t Albert Pujols, and we may find out how important managing really is with the loss of Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan. Milwaukee getting Ryan Braun back without suspension is a big help to the offense, but can still puts them second in the division.

Fillar:

1. Cincinnati 93-69 (division winner)
2. Milwaukee 87-75 (wild card)
3. Pittsburgh 80-82
4. St. Louis 77-85
5. Chicago 70-92
6. Astros 59-103

-Even with the Joey Votto megadeal that I find RIDICULOUS, I love the Reds this year. Matt Latos could be a dynamite pick up for their staff if he can adapt to the short walls of Great American Ballpark. I don’t mind the loss of Madsen all that much because anything is better than Francisco freakin’ Cordero, the roller coaster closer.

Burnett won’t be the savior of that rotation of the Pirates who finally set Maholm free after years of horror with the franchise, but the young bats are collectively another up-and-coming slugfest. Beltran doesn’t make up for the loss of the Machine on the Cards, Wainwright is returning off TJ and Carpenter is a giant question mark.

Cubs and Astros.. maybe they should start a Tennis club for August and September.

West

Ken:

1. San Francisco 90-72
2. Arizona 88-74
3. L.A. Dodgers 81-81
4. Colorado 72-90
5. San Diego 70-92

– Ian Kennedy is definitely quality, but I just believe in San Francisco being able to take back the NL West. The lineup can be solid, but the back end of the rotation is more than questionable. The Dodgers have Matt Kemp and an “ok” rotation after Clayton Kershaw, which could make my 81 win prediction a low-ball one. Colorado has Troy Tulowitzki which will bring some people to the ballpark, and the Padres are lost in a corn field somewhere.

Fillar:

1. San Francisco 91-71 (division winner)
2. Los Angeles 84-78
3. Colorado 81-81
4. Arizona 79-83
5. San Diego 65-97

-The Padres are awful. There, now that’s out of the way. I may already be regretting my Arizona fall, but the Rockies have an impressive array of pitchers including the always fun to say out loud Joulys Chacin. If the hurlers can keep the opposing team’s balls in the park, Colorado could be dangerous.

However, the obvious Cy Young candidates will likely be battling back and forth for the award. Kershaw and Kemp may be mostly all of what the Dodgers have, but the team finally selling and getting behind Magic could be a huge boost for the franchise. I give the Giants the edge due to a deeper rotation and momentum from past years.

N.L. Predictions

Ken:

NL Champ- Cincinnati
NL MVP- Joey Votto
NL Cy Young- Tim Lincecum
MGR of the Year- Dusty Baker

Fillar:

NL Champ- Cincinnati
NL MVP- Joey Votto
NL Cy Young- Tim Lincecum
MGR of the Year- Dusty Baker (glad Ken and I could take such different stances.. insightful)
Rook of the Year- Yonder Alonso

WORLD SERIES PREDICTIONS

Ken: Detroit over Cincinnati in five games.

Fillar: Angels over Cincinnati in six games.

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