Well…here we are. It’s Opening Day! Granted, the season kicked off a week ago in Australia, and then again last night with the Padres defeating the Dodgers in come-from-behind fashion. But come on, all the teams are cranking it up today, which is what we all consider the “true” Opening Day.
Anyway, here are my 2014 predictions. Some may be right, some may be wrong, and some may even raise and eyebrow or two, but that’s the fun of predictions. Take a read and relax for now…you can yell at me in October when we see how it all shakes out.
Manager of the Year: Ned Yost. I know Bob Melvin and Joe Maddon are the sexy picks here because they get more out of less than any other two managers in the game, but I like the Royals this year, and if Yost can get them to the postseason for the first time in ages, he’ll deserve the award.
Rookie of the Year: Xander Bogaerts. The kid has all the tools, and while Masahiro Tanaka will probably win the award, I’m one of those guys who are on the fence about “rookies” from over seas winning the award after pitching professionally in Japan for a number of years. Regardless, Bogaerts will play everyday and hopefully play up to the potential we’ve been hearing about for the past couple of years.
Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez. After the brass broke the bank signing Robinson Cano, I think “King Felix” will be on a mission this season, not only to live up to his own lofty contract, but to also remind everybody who the face of the Mariners is. The extra pop in the lineup should help a little too. A little run support will go a long way for a guy like Hernandez who has suffered the lack of such support over the years.
Most Valuable Player: Prince Fielder. After being traded away just two years into his mega-deal, I think Prince will have a chip on his shoulder entering 2014, and what better way to exploit that chip than to have Shin-Soo Choo on base ahead of you and Adrian Beltre batting right behind you in one of the most hitter-friendly parks around. Also, homeboy almost never misses a game. I think the Rangers will just miss the playoffs, but it won’t be for a lack of production from Prince, he’ll be the main reason they get so close.
East – Tampa Bay
Central – Detroit
West – Oakland
Boston, Kansas City
Tampa Bay Rays
Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy. I know the team was down a little last year, which will make it that much sweeter when they get back to the playoffs this season. The Giants have a good rotation top-to-bottom, a sold bullpen, and they’ll score enough runs to get by. Bochy is one of the few “old school” skippers left in the game, and I think he’ll guide his crew to another deep run this year.
Rookie of the Year: Archie Bradley. His stuff is so good, that when he does come up to stay, he’ll power his way to phenom status a la Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez. Bradley will provide a spark to a rotation in need, and will give the team the jolt it needs to make a push.
Cy Young Award: Stephen Strasburg. I know Clayton Kershaw is the best in the game, and he could easily win another, but I wanted to not be boring…baring injury, I think this could be the year that Strasburg finally puts it all together and comes away with some hardware. He’ll be leading a staff destined to make the playoffs, and that always helps.
Most Valuable Player: Freddie Freeman. People can call this a homer pick if they want, but all the guy does is rake, play great defense, and lead that clubhouse at the ripe old age of 24. The guy finished fifth in the race last year, and he’s only getting better.
East – Washington
Central – St. Louis
West – Los Angeles
Atlanta, San Francisco
Los Angeles Dodgers
World Series Prediction: Tampa Bay over the Dodgers. It’s David versus Goliath. I honestly love what the Rays have been able to do over the past few years. They gut it out in the toughest division in baseball year in and year out, and they’re always right there at the end of the bell. What better way to finally bring home a title than to win it over the team with the game’s highest payroll, while consistently operating with a lack of financial resources, and one of the worst ballparks around. Go get ‘em Rays.