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Asher's 2009 Predictions!
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Final Standings

AL East W L Pct. NL East W L Pct.
Boston Red Sox 90 72 0.556 New York Mets 101 61 0.623
New York Yankees 86 76 0.531 Philadelphia Phillies 92 70 0.568
Toronto Blue Jays 85 77 0.525 Atlanta Braves 74 88 0.457
Tampa Bay Devil Rays 84 78 0.519 Florida Marlins 73 89 0.451
Baltimore Orioles 67 95 0.414 Washington Nationals 65 97 0.401
AL Central W L Pct. NL Central W L Pct.
Minnesota Twins 89 73 0.549 Milwaukee Brewers 95 67 0.586
Detroit Tigers 87 75 0.537 St. Louis Cardinals 88 74 0.543
Cleveland Indians 84 78 0.519 Chicago Cubs 85 77 0.525
Kansas City Royals 75 87 0.463 Cincinnati Reds 84 78 0.519
Chicago White Sox 71 91 0.438 Houston Astros 82 80 0.506
Pittsburgh Pirates 60 102 0.370
AL West W L Pct. NL West W L Pct.
Los Angeles Angels 88 74 0.543 Arizona Diamondbacks 87 75 0.537
Texas Rangers 84 78 0.519 Los Angeles Dodgers 85 77 0.525
Oakland Athletics 81 81 0.500 San Francisco Giants 81 81 0.500
Seattle Mariners 59 103 0.364 Colorado Rockies 78 84 0.481
San Diego Padres 70 92 0.432


Individual Leaders

Hitters American League Stat National League Stat
AVG Ian Kinsler 0.331 Chase Utley 0.356
OBP Nick Markakis 0.435 Albert Pujols 0.477
SLG Miguel Cabrera 0.595 Ryan Ludwick 0.631
OPS Miguel Cabrera 1.003 Albert Pujols 1.068
R Curtis Granderson 137 Hanley Ramirez 128
H Curtis Granderson 212 Chase Utley 217
2B Dustin Pedroia 49 Chase Utley 57
3B Curtis Granderson 16 Jose Reyes 19
HR Miguel Cabrera 44 Adam Dunn 48
RBI Magglio Ordonez 136 Ryan Howard 157
BB Jack Cust 121 Adam Dunn 123
SO Jack Cust 188 Ryan Howard 199
SB Carlos Gomez 54 Jose Reyes 73
CS Carlos Gomez 17 Hanley Ramirez 23
Pitchers
IP Roy Halladay 245.1 Brandon Webb 247.2
W Chien-Ming Wang 22 Brandon Webb 24
L Carlos Silva 17 Ian Snell 19
ERA Zack Greinke 2.67 Jake Peavy 2.14
H Carlos Silva 252 Zach Duke 241
K Zack Greinke 234 Johan Santana 221
HR Brandon McCarthy 34 Jamie Moyer 41
BB Dana Eveland 97 Daniel Cabrera 121
Sv Joe Nathan 47 Francisco Rodriguez 51
LSv Joe Nathan 6.1 Brad Lidge 4.3


Awards

Awards American League National League
Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera (.320/44/123) Chase Utley (.356/36/137)
Cy Young Zack Greinke (20/2.67/234) Brandon Webb (24/2.78/189)
Rookie of the Year Travis Snider Jordan Schafer
Comeback Player Travis Hafner Chris Carpenter
Surprise Player Brandon Inge Ryan Zimmerman
Disappointing Player Chris Davis Cameron Maybin
Dave Kingman Mike Jacobs Chris Young
Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Alex Rios Carlos Delgado
Josh Towers Derek Jeter Barry Zito
Mark Redman C.C. Sabathia Tom Glavine


Playoffs

American League National League
Division Series Red Sox over Tigers, 3-1 Phillies over Brewers, 3-0
Twins over Angels, 3-0 Mets over D'Backs, 3-2
League Championship Twins over Red Sox, 4-2 Mets over Phillies, 4-3
World Series Mets over Twins, 4-2


Comments on the Upcoming Season

Looking for a Surprise Team in 2009? Here is a brief list of surprise team candidates, at least as I see it:

Texas Rangers

The Rangers biggest problem in 2008? They led the league in hitting, but were the worst pitching team in baseball. But they didn’t finish last in the majors in pitching on pitching talent alone – the Rangers also led the majors in errors committed and hits allowed per game. Where I come from, those two stats point rather directly to a pitching staff being undermined by their defense.

Fast-forward to 2009. Despite one of the most ridiculous Gold Gloves of all time, Michael Young moves to third base and Elvis Andrus takes over at shortstop. Right away this improves the up-the-middle defense. Throw in what will hopefully be a full season from Ian Kinsler at second, and a stable (if not terribly great) season from David Murphy, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz in the outfield, and this Rangers defense could improve dramatically in 2009.

On the other hand, the starting rotation itself is pretty much unchanged from last year, which is not good news. But anytime you have a team perform embarrassingly poorly in the pitching-defense category, the following season there could always be a correction. Throw in the fact that the Rangers never hurt for hitting, and it could be something.

Atlanta Braves

The Braves have quietly assembled a shockingly good pitching staff with Derek Lowe (yes, I’ve come around on Lowe), Jair Jurrjens, and Javier Vazquez composing the front three and Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami, Tom Glavine, and (later) Tim Hudson bringing up the rear of the staff. The rotation alone should make the Braves competitive. Throw in Chipper Jones and his ageless hitting, Casey Kotchman and his excellent defense/refusal to be struck out, and Brian McCann’s best hitting catcher in the league routine, and you’ve got the makings of an offense.

The Braves also finished seven games under their Pythagorean Projection last year – 72 wins instead of 79. Unfortunately, Garrett Anderson will probably only hurt the team at the plate and in the field, but if this team can simply replicate what they did last season at the plate while improving on the mound, they should improve by at least 10 games.

Cincinnati Reds

While I do not share Keith’s enthusiasm for this squad, I can admit (freely) that interesting things are a-foot at the Great American Ballpark. The Reds could have simply the best up-the-middle defense in the National League in 2009 with Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins, Brandon Phillips, and Willy Taveras patrolling shortstop, second base, and centerfield, respectively. Throw in Joey Votto, an excellent defensive third baseman, and it is almost easy for forget Edwin Encarnacion is still a starter on this team.

The Reds starting rotation is filled with promising pitchers who had bad 2008 seasons. Of Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Micah Owings, and Bronson Arroyo, only Volquez had a good season. If Harang and Arroyo return to form and Owings and Cueto live up to expectations, this will be an excellent rotation.

The Adam Dunn Era is over in Cincinnati, but this team will still score runs in 2009. The Reds finished fourth from the bottom of the NL in pitching last year, and only fifth from the bottom in hitting. If they can improve moderately upon those rankings, this team wins 80 games easily.

New York Yankees

So, the Yankees have gone out with the old, in the new, eh? So long, Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi, and Sidney Ponson. We hardly new ya’, Ivan Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu. Wait until next year, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes. Welcome aboard, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, and welcome back Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and Chien-Ming Wang.

Expect this team to win, at most, as many games as they did in 2008, and at worst, about 80 games. Why? First and foremost – their best hitter, Alex Rodriguez, is out until at least mid-May with a hip, and then who knows how long it will take him to get back into the swing of things. Second, for some reason this team just does not get that Jose Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and Jorge Posada is one of the worst. Last season, Mike Mussina won 20 games for the only time in his career pitching exclusively to Molina, and by the end of the year Pettitte demanded Molina catch him as well.

But the third, and most important, reason to expect the Yankees to backslide this season is up-the-middle defense. The Yankees now have controversy in centerfield, as Brett Gardner has won the starting job but Melky Cabrera is likely to get at-bats – instability in centerfield is no good. Then there is the infield – Derek Jeter actually performed far better than expected last season, which is to say he wasn’t the absolute worst defender at shortstop by a mile, as usual. But he was still bad. And Robinson Cano, whom we’d thought was pretty good, looked awful in 2008.

In my opinion, the Yankees are not going to succeed until they start putting – at a minimum – league average defenders at the most important spots on the field, shortstop, second base, and centerfield. They aren’t doing it in 2009, and there is not much reason to think this team is going to be vastly improved simply because they added some pitching.

------------

Justin Morneau is a strict every other season guy – more strict than A-Rod or Juan Gonzalez. This is a down year for the Twins first baseman.

C.C. Sabathia has never given up over a hit per inning in his entire career. That streak ends in 2009. The New York Yankees defense has not limited opposing teams to less than a hit per inning since 2001, and currently sport two of baseball’s worst defender up the middle in Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. Plus, the Yankees don’t get that Jose Molina should play every day while Jorge Posada should move to DH full time. Plus A-Rod is out to begin the year.

The Seattle Mariners may feature three of the worst players, by position, in baseball in 2009 – Kenji Johjima, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Miguel Batista.

Derrek Lee declines. Aramis Ramirez does not.

When Carlos Delgado joins the 500 homerun club, it will officially be time to reevaluate what that club means.



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