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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

All-Star Break Update: Prophet or Not?

We're more than half way through the 2011 MLB season. Hard to believe? Yes. Slightly depressing? Definitely. Starting to chafe? You have no idea.

Anywho, the All-Star break is good for a lot of things. It's a chance for players to rest mentally and physically, as well as catch up with their families and friends. For the outside spectator, it's a good opportunity to look back on the first half, see how far we've come, and look toward the future and all that lies ahead.

Before the season started Eric and I made some bold predictions as to how the season would pan out. In addition to major award winners, we picked our division winners and eventual World Series Champions. Some predictions are looking pretty good (Adrian Gonzalez for AL MVP), while others are losing steam (Oakland A's for World Series Champions).

We want to take this opportunity to look back on our picks, reward ourselves for our prophetic foresight, and if need be, modify those prophesies for the second half. For if Harold Camping taught us anything, it's that if your predictions don't come true, make a new prediction.

National League

NL East
Frankie: Phillies
The song remains the same. While the Braves look like the far-and-away favorite to win the NL Wild Card, the Phillies are still top dog in what may be baseball's best division. Even with the loss of Oswalt, the Phillies' pitching has been unfair. Halladay is Halladay. Cliff Lee gave up 1 earned run in the entire month of June. Cole Hamels is proving everyone (including me) wrong. The scary thing is, they're probably going to add another bat. Look out.

Eric: Phillies
Uhm, yeah. No one was fooled. The Phillies are just ridiculous. The pitching staff is out of control. Lee drove in more runs than he allowed in June. Oh yeah, and just for fun, Chase Utley is back and mashing. This team is out of control. Ok, yeah, the Braves have a pretty good team too, but unless there is a catastrophic flood, earthquake, or intestinal disease that ravages the Philadelphia area, they are taking the East.

NL Central
Frankie: Brewers
Props to Eric on predicting big things for the Brewers. The Central is jam-packed with contending teams, including the upstart Pittsburgh Pirates. While I do foresee the Buccos finishing above .500, a division title may be out of reach this year. The Brewers are going for broke this year and for the sake of beer everywhere, it better pay off.

Eric: Brewers
I did something right! This is a damn big deal for me. Also, they just went out and grabbed a legit closer in K-Rod. They addressed the weakness of the bullpen. Also, they've been winning with a hurt Corey Hart and a woefully underperforming Casey McGehee. If one of those bats get going, I don't think the Cardinals will be able to challenge in the slightest.

NL West
Frankie: Giants
Despite having watched them play 90+ games, I'm sticking with the Giants. The Diamondbacks are for real though, folks. A firy manager, solid pitching and a powerful young lineup could spell disaster for the Black and Orange. All we can hope is that the Giants add a bat, that Pablo stays healthy and that the Diamondbacks lose 10 games in a row. Hey, it worked last year!

Eric: Giants (originally Rockies)
FINE. You got me. They're going to add a bat, and the pitching is just too good to be challenged. The Rockies are going to get hot soon and make a run at it, but they've fallen too far behind to make an impact. The Diamondbacks are also a threat, but I can't keep help thinking that they don't have the bullpen or back end of the rotation to really be a threat. Once the Giants get Beltran/Reyes/other and send Sanchez to the bullpen, they should repeat as NL West champs.

NL Wildcard
Frankie: Braves (Originally Rockies)
The Rockies will indeed make their run, but the Braves look good -- damn good. With lots of disrespect to Philly, the Braves may have the better rotation of the two. Consider Jair Jurrjens is 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA and Tommy Hanson is 10-4 with a 2.44. And they're the #3 and #4 straters. Add that to veterans Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and rookie Brandon Beachy and you have a serious contender on your hands. Now just imagine if Dan Uggla starts hitting. Quick, run.

Eric: Braves (originally Giants)
It's mid-July and it seems as if they've locked it up for a second year in a row. The west and central will beat up on each other a bit, and the Braves get to pick on the Marlins, Natinals, and Mets. It's all but a lock for the Braves rotation and the surging Freddie Freeman.

American League

AL East
Frankie: Red Sox
Do they score in double digits more often than single digits? It seems like every other night I look up and the Sox have scored the Giants run total for the week in a single inning. Their only concern at this point could be their pitching. Minor injuries to Beckett and Lester are worrisome, as is the more serious injury to Clay Buchholz. John Lackey is a bum.

Eric: Red Sox
Their lineup is incredible. It's the murderers row of it's time. When healthy, opposing starters get no break. Their pitching staff.... well, it's hurting. But look, they score runs in bunches, and their rotation could probably have an average ERA of 5.50 and they'd still win the East.

AL Central
Frankie: Tigers

Much like Eric struck gold with the Brewers, I have the Tigers to thank. Justin Verlander has finally reached his potential as the best pitcher in baseball, and he has a top 10 lineup mashing for him. The Tigers certainly aren't a perfect team, but consider their competition. The White Sox, Twins and Royal are essentially out of the picture and the I don't believe the Indians can keep this pace for 70 more games. The Tigers could win this divsion by default.

Eric: Tigers (Originally White Sox)
The Sox stumbled too far, and Cleveland has been too much of a surprise. The Tigers, behind the lithe and supple arm of Justin Verlander and a host of run producers in what has turned into a scary lineup, will hold off the Indians to reach the post season.

AL West
Frankie: Rangers
While the Rangers only hold a one game lead over the surprising Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles' California Adventure, I still think they are the team to beat out West. Their lineup is as good as any, ranking 2nd in MLB in batting average, runs scored and slugging percentage. The pitching certainly misses Cliff Lee, but trading for even just a solid starter could nail this thing down.

Eric: Angels (Originally A's)
Defeated by my own hubris. Yeah. That ain't gonna happen. But watch with me as the Rangers' pitching staff falters down the stretch and the Angels sneak into the post season behind Weaver, Haren, and Santana.

AL Wildcard
Frankie: Yankees

Despite one of the most puzzling starting rotations in baseball, the Yankees continue to dominate and rack up wins. You wouldn't think a rotation of C.C. Sabathia and [insert name you don't know] x4 could win in that division, but that's exactly what they're doing. Of course, having a lineup of All-Stars takes the edge off. That and the fact that Curtis Granderson, who looks like he weighs less than one of Pablo Sandoval's legs, has hit more home runs than the entire Giants roster combined.

Eric: Yankees (Originally Tigers)
Sigh, I hate to admit it, but they're good. Yeah the Rays and Indians are too, but the Yankees are really good. Cano, Granderson, Rodriguez, Texieria. Damn. But they will not win the East because of their lack of depth in the starting rotation.

NLDS: Giants over Braves
NLDS: Phillies over Brewers
NLCS: Giants over Phillies

ALDS: Red Sox over Rangers
ALDS: Tigers over Yankees
ALCS: Red Sox over Tigers

WS: Giants over Red Sox

NLDS: Phillies over Giants
NLDS: Brewers over Braves
NLCS: Brewers over Phillies

ALDS: Yankees over Angels
ALDS: Red Sox over Tigers

WS: Brewers over Red Sox in 6 games (maybe another pipe dream)


Frankie: Jose Reyes (originally Troy Tulowitzki)
Well, I looked like a genius for about two weeks. Apparently Tulo got tired of hitting a home run in every at-bat. The NL MVP will be a tight race. Prince Fielder will enjoy a huge momentum boost from his All Star MVP award, as well as playing for a title contender. Reyes numbers, however, are too gaudy to ignore. If he continues to bat at a .354 clip, the award is his. His chances will only be bolstered if he's traded to a contender.

Eric: Prince Fielder (originally Ryan Braun)
Braun has been good, but he's been playing second fiddle to the Prince. His 72 RBI (tops in the NL) and 22 HR through the break are nothing short of outstanding. Playing in a contract year for a contender with that kind of pop and an average that should eclipse .300? He's the man.

Frankie: Adrian Gonzalez
As the Nard-Dog would say, "Nailed it!" Gonzalez has been one of the best hitters in baseball for the past few years. All that's changed is he's taken his sweet swing from an enormous pitcher's park in San Diego and transported it to one of the best hitter's parks in baseball. He may not have the HR total to rival Bautista this year, but I'd put good money down that he will be baseball's next Triple Crown winner.

Eric: Adrian Gonzalez (originally Miguel Cabrera)
Again, Cabrera has been good, but Gonzalez has been a monster. Even after getting off to a slow start, he's pounded 17 HR and 77 RBI. Oh yeah, he's also batting .354. He has the most hits before an All-Star break of any Red Sox ever (or so I thought I saw during the telecast of the ASG). Man, this guy is freaking good.

NL Cy Young
Frankie: Clayton Kershaw
I'm sticking with the young left hander. He has stiff competition in the NL between Halladay, Lee, Jurrjens and others. But Kershaw's numbers aren't half bad either. He ranks 10th in ERA, 4th in WHIP, 7th in Wins and 1st in Strikeouts. His team, however, will put him at a sever disadvanatge, both in the sense that they suck and that national writers aren't likely to reward a franchise in such embarassing turmoil with a major award.

Eric: Roy Halladay (originally Josh Johnson)
If Johnson didn't get hurt, this may still have been his. But Halladay now emerges from the pack Frankie mentioned as the winner, just because of his cutter. I've heard more than one terrible national announcer say opposing hitters say, "It's like facing Mariano Rivera for nine innings." I believe it. His stuff is just so nasty. Lee has the control, Hamels and Tim have a changeup, Jurrjens can be nasty, Kershaw is insanely deceptive, but Halladay is still the king of the NL.

AL Cy Young
Frankie: Justin Verlander (originally Jon Lester)
No disrespect to Jon Lester, but Justin Verlander is putting together a truly spectacular 2011 season. His no-hitter aside, Verlander is 12-4 with a 2.15 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and 147 Ks. He could shelled every time out in the second half and still have good numbers! While Jered Weaver is having himself a tremendous year as well, Verlander's No-No is going to be a pretty big card to lay down when this is all said and done.

Eric: Jered Weaver
That's right, I'm sticking with a pick. Verlander may be sexy with his 100 MPH fastball, but Weaver has the nastiest overall stuff in the league. He's 11-4 with a 1.86 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, and 120 Ks. Don't change horses, I always say... unless necessary to save face. (yeah, Verlander is probably going to win, but I needed a different pick from Frank, and hey, who knows.

NL Rookie of the Year
Frankie: Craig Kimbrel
So yeah, about that. The Belt show didn't run as planned, but stepping into the spotlight is the young closer in Atlanta. It takes some moxie to fill Billy Wagner's shoes, but Kimbrel is doing it with ease. The hard-throwing youngster is nailing down saves at a tremendous clip and sports a 1.04 WHIP. He may tire down the second half, opening the door for the Nationals' Danny Espinosa. But unless he loses the closing job to Venters, Kimbrel should take home ROY honers. The award is certainly his to lose.

Eric: Craig Kimbrel
NAILED IT. That's right. I got one. Horray for Eric. He's been out of control. And Espinosa has been good, but it's actually Freddie Freeman or Darwin Barney that he should be most worried about. I really don't think it will matter though, Kimbrel is the real deal.

AL Rookie of the Year
Frankie: Michael Pineda (Originally Jeremy Hellickson)
Hellickson is having a great year in his own right, but Michael Pineda is in a league of his own at the moment. He already has 8 wins in run-starved Seattle and sports a .198 opponent batting average. But in all honesty, I base this mostly on seeing his performance in the All-Star Game on Tuesday. He made Scott Rolen and Rickie Weeks look silly with an absolutely devestating slider.

Eric: Mark Trumbo (Originally Dustin Ackley)
Trumbo has stepped into first base in a big way, and his 17 jacks show his potential as one of the game's next great sluggers. He takes it over strong showings from Aaron Crow and Miguel Pineda. Ackley has been good, but I think he got called up a little too late to have the numbers he'll need to be a contender.

So there you have it folks. Check back in a few months for end-of-the-season recap and watch us justify our incorrect predicitions!

Also, Plays of the Half

Pronk goes yard for the win

Asdrubal Cabrera does a good job to turn

Verlander's No-no


  1. I definitely like the pick of the Brewers. If it can't be the Giants, I'll root for the Brewers to make it.

    Also, you guys should get your font colors checked. Looks like you're typing in black for some of the sections.

  2. Eric, I can't help but think all my Angel's talk this past week may have influenced some of your picks. Nevertheless I giggled in glee as I read them, even if you do have us losing to the Yanks. Sigh. You're probably right. As long as we're not matched up with the Sox.

    Also, pretty sure Christopher Lloyd picked up Torii for this one: