Everyone else is making predictions, so why not MetsToday? We’ll focus on the National League, since that remains the only professional league still playing baseball, and not some twisted variation of the sport.
Cy Young Award
Obvious Candidates: Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, , Brandon Webb, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy, Dan Haren, Cole Hamels, Carlos Zambrano.
Sleepers: Edinson Volquez, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Cook, Ricky Nolasco.
If Santana remains healthy, he should pitch through the 7th inning at least 25 times this year. If his one-two finishing punch of J.J. Putz and Frankie Rodriguez also remains healthy, Johan could win 20 of those 25, if not more.
Should any of those three suffer a significant injury, my money is on Volquez.
Obvious candidates: Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Beltran, David Wright.
Sleepers: Hanley Ramirez, Brian McCann, Dan Uggla, Lance Berkman, Adrian Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Nate McLouth.
Prediction: This one’s too hard, you can’t really choose an MVP without knowing what teams are in the playoffs. I’m going to go on a limb and give it to Votto, who is poised for a breakout year.
Rookie of the Year
Candidates: Jason Motte, Colby Rasmus, Jordan Schafer, Jordan Zimmerman
Prediction: My research on the rookies is awful. I’m going to go with Motte, who could save 25+ games for the Cardinals. After Motte I like Schafer, who is slated to start in centerfield for the Braves.
Another tough one. I don’t see Chipper Jones hitting .364 again, though I wouldn’t be stunned to see Pujols hit .350 again. In fact, with Matt Holliday out of the league, this might be Pujols’ best chance for a triple crown. Someone’s going to come out of nowhere and surprise us all, and I say it’s going to be James Loney.
Can Francisco Rodriguez save 60 games again? Doubtful — he may not get that many opportunities in the competitive NL East. I’m betting on a neck-and-neck race between Jose Valverde and the “other” Francisco — Cordero, of Cincinnati.
NL West Champion: Arizona Diamondbacks
The Dodgers still have Manny, but they don’t have Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, nor Takashi Saito. After Chad Billingsley, the pitching staff looks questionable — even Jonathan Broxton looks like he might take a step back. I like the pitching of the Giants and the Diamondbacks, and think Arizona will have a little more offense and the better bullpen.
NL Central Champion: Chicago Cubs
On paper, the Cubs look to be the class of the NL, with great pitching depth and plenty of offense. However, they won’t run away with the division. I’m betting that the Reds have a surprising season, and that the Pirates climb out of the basement, while Houston and Milwaukee fight for last place.
NL East Champion: ?
This one’s too close to home. If I choose the Mets, I’m supposed to because this is a Mets blog. If I don’t choose the Mets, you wonder how I can’t since this is a Mets blog. So I’ll say this: the NL East is going to once again be a dogfight, and go down to the last weeks of the season. Further, neither the Marlins nor the Nationals will be pushovers in ’09, and the Braves won’t be left behind when it gets down to the wire. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if four games or less separates the Phillies, Mets, Braves, and Marlins when it’s all said and done. The Wild Card also will come from the East.
Agree or disagree with anything? Comment away!