The Major League Baseball Season is more than halfway over. The best contenders have risen to the top, while the others have sunk to the bottom. There have been pleasant surprises like Boston and Pittsburgh. There have been unfortunate surprises like Milwaukee and Toronto. There have been major injuries, and there have been major breakout performances. There have been trades, and there have been trade rumors.
We know where teams stand, and we have an idea which direction they’re going. With that said, it’s time to predict how they’ll finish.
AL East Champion: Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are just 2.5 games behind Boston. Boston has played great, but Buchholz won’t be back for at least a few weeks, while David Price is back and pitching like last season. The East is extremely competitive. Baltimore will make a strong push, and the Yankees are certainly still relevant. However, the Rays have the pitching and the right amount of youth to take the division.
AL Central Champion: Detroit Tigers
I can’t imagine that there’s a person outside of Cleveland that is not picking the Tigers to win the division. Detroit’s combination of pitching and hitting is formidable. The fact that Cleveland has managed to stay just 1.5 games back is very impressive, and they should find themselves competing for the wild card in September.
AL West Champion: Texas Rangers
Texas has a great team, as usual. This year, the A’s are their only true competition. Texas has the roster and the trade chips to overtake Oakland and run away with the division in August and September.
AL Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees
Boston is playing very well, and even if they don’t have enough to stay on top of the Rays, I still see them winning a lot of games. Their fate may rest on Buchholz’s second half. The Yankees are playing better than expected, and only sit 3 games out of the wild card. They’ll be getting Jeter and Pineda back, and they have the ability to take on money in a trade. They were able to keep their heads above water during the tough times, and I see them making a big push in the second half as the storms calm down.
AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
Cabrera’s numbers at the All-Star Break would be a great season for 95% of the players in this league. He’s batting .365 with 30 HR and 95 RBI. And there are still 68 games to play. Chris Davis could give Cabrera a run for his money, but he won’t have the AVG to take home the award.
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
Felix has been classic Felix this year. The voters have been showing that you don’t need to win a ton of games any more to win the Cy Young, and Felix has been, and should continue to be, dominant.
AL Rookie of the Year: Wil Myers
Wil Myers has somewhat quietly put up a solid month. He will be a big part of the Rays making the playoffs, and most of the AL’s best young players lost their rookie eligibility last season.
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
This is a tough award to predict, as it usually goes to the manager of the most surprising team to make the playoffs. My playoff picks aren’t all that surprising. Perhaps Girardi or Farrell will give Maddon some competition, but I see this one being between Maddon and Bob Melvin.
NL East Champion: Washington Nationals
This could probably be categorized as my surprise pick, but I see the Nationals as being far too good to not have a great second half. I’m not even predicting a Braves’ collapse. That’s just how hot I think the Nationals, with that pitching staff, and those bright young hitters, are going to get.
NL Central Champion: St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are like a bottomless beer mug; they just keep coming. Think their best pitcher’s career is over? They’ll just call up the rookie of the year. Oh, and that injured pitcher will be back after 4 months. If an outfielder goes down, they’ve got a great one sitting in AAA. The Pirates are good, but I’m not yet convinced that they can hang with the Cards and Reds for an entire year.
NL West Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers were a popular pre-season pick, due to all of the spending, even though many of the players they brought in were past their prime. However, the West is a fairly mediocre division. The top end of the Dodgers’ pitching is better than the Diamondbacks’, and they’re always liable to trade for a former All-Star at the deadline. I see LA taking the division in August and holding on by a couple games in September.
NL Wild Cards: Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves
The Reds have a great roster, top to bottom, and they currently hold the second wildcard. Being in the Central, they get to beat up on the Cubs and Brewers, which certainly helps their chances of winning the Wild Card. I see the other wild card slot coming down to the Pirates and the Braves. Maybe Philly or San Francisco will make some noise, but I’ll take the Braves’ pitching and power over any of those teams.
NL MVP: Joey Votto
Votto’s not swinging the bat as hard as he was in his MVP year, but it’s more controlled, and he’s got the best plate discipline in the game. Even if the voters choose to ignore his OBP (currently .434), his AVG and slugging are tremendous. He won’t have gaudy RBI numbers, but his Runs should be well over 100. I think most voters will understand why that is.
NL Cy Young: Adam Wainwright
I see the Cy Young vote being between Wainwright and Jordan Zimmerman, with Innings Pitched being the difference. Wainwright’s innings will result in more K’s, and that will push him over the top. There are plenty of great choices for NL Cy Young, but I see those two rising to the top.
NL Rookie of the Year: Shelby Miller
Miller has transitioned seamlessly to the MLB level, replacing Chris Carpenter in the Cardinals Rotation, and quickly becoming their second best pitcher. Assuming Yasiel Puig cools off, this is Miller’s award to lose.
NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson
As I alluded to with the American League, this award is a bit of a crapshoot. If the Pirates make the playoffs, Clint Hurdle wins the award. But given my playoff predictions, I think the Nationals’ huge run at the end of the season will create a compelling argument for Davey Johnson. Don Mattingly will also receive numerous votes if I’m correct about the Dodgers winning the West.