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Rich's 2009 Predictions!
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| Hitters || American League || Stat || National League || Stat |
| AVG || Ian Kinsler || 0.339 || Albert Pujols || 0.349 |
| OBP || Nick Markakis || 0.415 || Albert Pujols || 0.451 |
| SLG || Evan Longoria || 0.576 || Albert Pujols || 0.663 |
| OPS || Evan Longoria || 0.978 || Albert Pujols || 1.114 |
| R || Ian Kinsler || 131 || Shane Victorino || 126 |
| H || Ian Kinsler || 232 || Albert Pujols || 208 |
| 2B || Nick Markakis || 50 || Albert Pujols || 48 |
| 3B || Curtis Granderson || 15 || Fred Lewis || 18 |
| HR || Evan Longoria || 44 || Ryan Howard || 60 |
| RBI || Carlos Pena || 132 || Ryan Howard || 162 |
| BB || Nick Markakis || 112 || Adam Dunn || 115 |
| SO || Jack Cust || 178 || Ryan Howard || 206 |
| SB || Jacoby Ellsbury || 62 || Willy Taveras || 72 |
| CS || B.J. Upton || 14 || Jose Reyes || 17 |
| || || || || |
| Pitchers || || || || |
| IP || CC Sabathia || 242.1 || Tim Lincecum || 234.2 |
| W || Francisco Lirano || 21 || Brandon Webb || 23 |
| L || Luke Hochevar || 16 || Scott Olsen || 17 |
| ERA || Francisco Lirano || 2.69 || Tim Lincecum || 2.43 |
| H || Luke Hochevar || 243 || Aaron Cook || 249 |
| K || Francisco Lirano || 246 || Tim Lincecum || 258 |
| HR || Armando Gallaraga || 36 || Scott Olsen || 38 |
| BB || Scott Kazmir || 94 || Daniel Cabrera || 102 |
| Sv || Jonathan Papelbon || 41 || Brad Lidge || 51 |
| LSv || Joakim Soria || 6.1 || Francisco Rodriguez || 5.7 |
| Awards || American League || National League |
| Most Valuable Player || Evan Longoria (.313, 44 HR, 128 RBI) || Ryan Howard (.282, 60 HR, 162 RBI) |
| Cy Young || Francisco Lirano (21-7, 2.69, 246 K) || Tim Lincecum (20-9, 2.43, 258 K) |
| Rookie of the Year || Rick Porcello (15-5, 2.95, 175 K) || Jordan Schafer (.328, 10 HR, 33 SB) |
| Comeback Player || David Ortiz (1.094 OPS, 36 HR) || Todd Helton (.316/.395/.515, 25 HR) |
| Surprise Player || Matt Joyce (.294, 27 HR, 89 RBI) || Travis Ishikawa (.286, 19 HR, 88 RBI) |
| Disappointing Player || Carl Pavano (2-8, 6.78, 12 GS) || Edgar Renteria (.256/.309/.363, -10 DR) |
| Dave Kingman || Mike Jacobs (.291 OBP, 31 HR) || Pedro Feliz (.286 OBP, 20 HR) |
| Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins || Brian Roberts (.308/.817 - .265/.736) || Eric Byrnes (.316/13/46 - .246/6/29) |
| Josh Towers || Carlos Silva (3-12, 6.32) || Scott Olsen (7-17, 5.67) |
| Mark Redman || Jeremy Guthrie (9 W, 3.96 / 4 W, 5.65) || Hiroki Kuroda (10 W, 3.33 / 4 W, 5.02) |
| || American League || National League |
| Division Series || Tampa over Chicago 3-1 || Chicago over Arizona 3-0 |
| || Boston over Los Angeles 3-2 || Philadelphia over St. Louis 3-1 |
| || || |
| League Championship || Tampa over Boston 4-2 || Chicago over Philadelphia 4-3 |
| || || |
| World Series || Tampa over Chicago 4-3 || |
Comments on the Upcoming Season
2009 MLB Predictions
Richard Van Zandt
I want to make one thing abundantly clear. This yearís predictions are in no way my best effort to properly prognosticate the 2009 major league season. In seasons past, I have made spreadsheets containing the entire roster of every major league team with full stats, including non-roster invitees, while updating off-season transactions daily. This year, I took a few minutes over a couple nights to scan each teamís depth chart on their official web site. Such is life when you have two-year old twin boys and work a full-time job (essentially working two full-time jobs). Free time is at a premium these days. And if all this sounds like Iím making excuses, well then, youíre right. I certainly am. But hey, Iím nothing if not bold, and Iíll always take my chances. Who knows, maybe this is the year I actually get more things right than wrong! I certainly canít do any worse than I did last year when I picked Jeff Francoeur to win the MVP award (yeah, thatís right, I admit it. So what?).
At any rate, this is how I see the 2009 baseball season playing out, for better or worse.
Itís been over a hundred years now since the Chicago Cubs last tasted post-season glory. Now theyíve built perhaps the best team theyíve ever had. Yet once again, they will come oh-so-close to finally getting over that hump, only to fall short yet, this time in a heartbreaking game-seven thriller with the no-longer-Cinderella, Tampa Bay Rays.
Yup, Iím sold. The Rays did things last year I thought they had no right doing, certainly not because I didnít think they had the talent, and thatís what is most impressive. You knew they had lots of ability but there was such a lack of experience. To go out and win the AL East, much less the league championship as they did was more than just a daunting task. Yet they did just that. And now, a year later, the talent is still there, still hungry, and vastly more experienced. This club is going to be very good for a long time and they arenít going to wait very long to start piling on the trophies.
Tampa has a very solid core with a bunch of great young stars. They have good pitching depth, a strong offense, and the only player in the 2006 draft that I might, retrospectively, have considered taking ahead of Tim Lincecum that year, the 2009 American League home-run-leader-and-MVP-to-be, Evan Longoria. Longoria was my Rookie of the Year pick last year and wasted no time in becoming one of my favorite players in the game. Like Lincecum, Iím convinced heís going to be one of the best in baseball for a very long time with a likely enshrinement at Cooperstown when all has been said and done. Thatís how high I am on Longoria. In fact, itís not going to take long for people to start comparing his career offensive numbers to those of last yearís NL MVP, Albert Pujols.
And speaking of Sir Albert, he will have a typical monster year and be quite deserving of some more hardware, only this time, Ryan Howard will edge him out based on the strength of 60 home runs and another NL East championship for the defending champion Phillies.
Oh and speaking of Lincecum, entering his first full season, I didnít have the guts to pick my guy to win the Cy Young last year (though I was convinced heíd win at least one in his career), instead picking another worthy candidate, Johan Santana. Never again. Mark Timmy down as my Cy Young pick for the next decade. Heís the real deal, folks, and is going to be dominant for a long time.
Over in the junior circuit, Francisco Liriano will make San Francisco fans curse A.J. Pierzynski once again as Liriano returns to full strength and wins the AL Cy Young. If Rick Porcello opens the year in Detroit, he may give the Twins ace a run for his money, but if the rookie opens in Toledo, you can bet he wonít be there long. Expect to see the Tigersí top prospect make at least 20 starts in the majors this year andmshow why he already deserves to be there by earning the leagueís top rookie honors.
In the NL, Jordan Schafer will show why the Braves traded Josh Anderson by winning the NL ROY award. He could face stiff competition from Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa, who I boldly predict will surprise a lot of people with a breakout performance.
Of course youíre wondering about the big question. How will the Yankees do in my world? Well, good but not good enough. The problem, and howís this for irony, is that they play in the same division as the Rays! They will give the Red Sox a run for their money for the Wild Card spot, but the Sox pitching depth should carry them over the hump, with the caveat that David Ortiz can stay healthy. Call it karma as they move from the House that Ruth built, into the Palace of Opulence that is the new Yankee Stadium. The Angles will hold off a hard-hitting Texas team that lacks enough pitching to overcome while the White Sox will once again pull the Central out of their hat, only to lose in the first round again to Tampa.
In the senior circuit, the Phillies will defend their title and win the NL East, pulling away from the aging and fading Mets down the September stretch run yet again. The Cubs will win the Central handily, though St. Louis will surprise by winning the Wild Card. Never rule out Tony LaRussa and Dave Duncan. This time, however, the Cubs will down Arizona in the first round before ousting Philly on their way to their heartbreaking Series loss to the Rays.
Well thatís the 2009 season in a nutshell as I see it happening. Whatever actually happens, I wish everyone the greatest baseball season ever! Play Ball!!!
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