Since predicting the divisional outcomes and winners of MVP's and Cy Young's have become standard among most baseball sites, I've decided to take a stab and offer my own forecasting.
I'll begin with the American League and then follow up with the National League after the jump...
2010 AL Predictions:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
AL Central: Minnesota Twins
AL West: Seattle Mariners
AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
It's obvious the wild card will be coming from the east and the only surprise I see are the Rays beating out the Yankees by a few games to clinch the last playoff berth. Last season's win total for Tampa Bay (85 wins) was surprising to some but I did expect them to regress a bit last season (due to bullpen concerns, natural defensive regressions and expected growing pains for young pitchers like David Price and Jeff Niemann).
In 2010 I figure the Rays should be a 93 to 95 win team and that should put them in between the New York/Boston rivalry. On the other hand, I'm expecting the Yankees to be very good and should crack the 90 win wall but with health concerns surrounding Jorge Posada and whether A.J. Burnett can make 30+ starts for the third consecutive season (2009 was the first time he put together back-to-back healthy seasons), I'm remaining skeptical.
Regarding the other divisions, even with the injury to Joe Nathan I think the Twins have enough parts to stabilize their bullpen. Of course, I'm expecting Matt Guerrier to regress a bit but the key will be how Jose Mijares handles both his recent vision problems along with trying to figure out right-handers. The Mariners are a fashionable pick and I know Cliff Lee's recent bout with abdominal muscle strain doesn't help matters; I still think they should be okay in fending off the pitching short Angels and young, unpredictable Rangers.
AL MVP: Evan Longoria
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
AL ROY: Chris Carter
I'm expecting a big season from Evan Longoria as he solidifies himself as the face of his franchise. Felix Hernandez should show no signs of slowing down from his big 2009 season, he did benefit in terms of having a solid defense and low HR/FB numbers that should revert back towards the MLB average (he posted a 7.5% HR/FB; the league average is 12%). Regardless, I do expect the M's defense to still hold up as Hernandez improves as a bonafide #1 starter.
Looking at the American League rookies, I know Detroit's Austin Jackson had an incredible spring but I'm still not sold on his power and BABIP inflated batting average. I think Jesus Montero will see time in a Yankee uniform due to expected injuries from Posada and DH Nick Johnson. If he hits well during his first two months of AAA, Montero will prove awfully tough to keep down. I'm also excited about Neftali Feliz putting together his first full season as a Texas Ranger but indecisiveness on whether he is a starter or a reliever should temper our expectations for the full season. I'm finally settling on Oakland's Chris Carter since Jack Cust's ineffectiveness and Eric Chavez's injury history should have Carter back as an Athletic in no time. His ability to hit for power despite his frequency of strikeouts and bad defense should still be enough to win over voters.
2010 NL Predictions:
NL East: Philadelphia Phillies
NL Central: Milwaukee Brewers
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Wild Card: Atlanta Braves
The Phillies, despite bullpen troubles uncovered this spring, are still a 95 win team. The Braves will be pushing for Bobby Cox to manage another post-season and with expected improvements to their bullpen and a full season of Tommy Hanson anchoring the middle of their rotation; they should easily improve upon last season's 86-76 mark.
I know the Cardinals are favorites to win the central but I have a feeling 2010 will be the year the Brewers put together everything. They've already shown they have a capable offense (scored 785 runs, third best in the NL) but their starting pitching (besides Yovani Gallardo) was a disaster. I think Randy Wolf was an important addition and should stabilize their rotation since I still believe that Manny Parra can be an effective mid-rotation starter. The Cardinals and Cubs bullpens are primed for disaster (especially the latter) and I don't think either teams have the necessary depth to weather this storm (Jason Motte needs to step up for the Cardinals and I'm still predicting Carlos Marmol to completely fall apart for the Cubs in 2010).
Over in the west, Colorado has been quietly building quite the formidable team and with Carlos Gonzalez and Seth Smith anchoring 2/3 of a solid defense and Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de la Rosa making strides as effective top-end starters but their recent spate of bullpen injuries should keep them from finally taking down the Dodgers. Next season, I expect the west to be wide open but the Dodgers still have too many options and if health stays favorable, they should find their way back to the playoffs in 2010.
NL MVP: Prince Fielder
NL Cy Young: Dan Haren
NL ROY: Jason Heyward
Prince Fielder is expected to put up monster numbers in his free agent year but I'm still a bit reluctant to name him MVP because Ryan Braun could cypher a few of those votes (similar to the way Alex Rodriguez helped to split the vote with Mark Teixiera last season). On the pitching side, Dan Haren still suffers from some late-season fatigue (ERA is 3.08 during his first half career while 4.28 after the all-star break as August and September have been his toughest months) but if the Diamondbacks can figure out an effective first half workload, he does have the numbers to be Cy Young worthy. Looking at the NL rookies, there are so many options to choose from but Jason Heyward's skills and maturity should be enough to take the prize this season.
That's it. I'm off to see the D-backs opener. Good day, all.