Just about everyone seems to agree that there are six good teams in the A.L., and then a bunch of filler. With the addition of a second wildcard spot this year, that means the regular season should basically amount to a 162-game of musical chairs. I apologize to Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, Minnesota, Oakland, Seattle, and Toronto, perhaps one of you will find your way into the playoffs, but I'm not seeing it.
Red Sox 93-69*
Blue Jays 78-84
Unless you think this is the year age finally catches up with the Yankees (and it might be), I don't know how you can expect them to miss the playoffs. They've got the best line-up in baseball, and they've reinforced their rotation. The Red Sox seem overlooked to me, I'd pick them to win any other division in baseball. Perhaps I underestimate the evil powers created by fried chicken in the clubhouse. I admire the hell out of the Rays, and if it can't be the Indians' year (and it can't be), I'd love to see Tampa win the World Series. I think they're slightly overpowered though. Toronto will have a great shot at making the playoffs, as soon as Selig adds that third wildcard spot. And the Orioles have gone back to their old logo, so they're winners this season, no matter what happens on the field.
White Sox 76-86
Predicting my favorite team to finish with a winning record counts as extreme optimism for me. The Tigers were head and shoulders ahead of the division last year, I don't see any good argument that that's changed. The Indians and Royals (them especially) seem to be moving in the right direction, but they're not there yet. The White Sox seem torn between trying to compete now and rebuilding, I think they'd be better off accepting the latter, because the pieces just aren't there to be good in 2012. The Twins could be a lot better than this, if they get Mauer and Morneau back to something close to their 2006-2010 productivity, my picking them to finish last reflects how likely I think that is to happen.
Two haves, two have-nots. I think the Angels clearly made up some ground on the Rangers by signing C.J. Wilson away from them and signing that other guy, whatshisname. I still like the Rangers just a little bit more, in part because I think Darvish will be the real deal. At the bottom of the division, Oakland seems somewhat adrift, perhaps it's the lack of resolution over the San Jose situation. I liked the Montero/Pineda deal for Seattle, and their offense almost has to be better than it's been recently; I like a lot of their young players, but I don't expect much improvement in the standings just yet.
Unlike the A.L., where there seems to be a clear difference between the contenders and the slop, the National League seems wide open; there are ten teams I can very easily envision making the playoffs, only one of whom I'd pick to make the playoffs if they were in the American League.
As has been said many times by many voices, the Phillies offense is awfully old. They were pretty old last year though, and still managed to win 102 games. Many people seem to think the East will be a tight race this season, but I don't see it. The race for 2nd place, on the other hand, seems wide open. I see Washington, Atlanta, and Miami as being very close, and the order I've put them in might be different if I were making these predictions tomorrow. The Mets are also in this division, which is all I have to say about that.
Somewhat like the A.L. West, there seems to be a good half and a bad half, except each half has three teams, instead of two. I think Milwaukee might get a little more out of their rotation this season, off-setting some of the blow from losing Fielder. Wainwright coming back would seem to do the same thing for St. Louis, though Pujols is a bigger loss to make up for. Cincinnati is right there too. What the hell, let's put all three of them in the playoffs. I hope they'll all send thank cards to Houston, for losing so many games to them all. The Cubs and Pirates will just have to take comfort that things are going to get better. They should also send thank yous to Houston, and bemoan that they won't have the Astros to kick around much longer. Houston will be BAD.
I don't love any of these teams, but I'm banking on the Giants' pitching carrying the day. Arizona strikes me as due for some fallback to Earth after last year, but maybe I was just wrong to be surprised by their success in 2011. The Rockies were my pick last year, but I'll be damned if I let them make a fool of me again. The Dodgers will soon have Magic Johnson running the point, but I don't see how that will help them this season. I reserve the right to change my mind if James Worthy gets involved. The Padres must settle for living their lives in San Diego, which leaves little room for complaint.
ALCS: Yankees over Rangers (one great offense beats another)
NLCS: Phillies over Giants (one great rotation beats another)
World Series Champions: New York Yankees
AL MVP: 1. Albert Pujols 2. Evan Longoria 3. Adrian Gonzalez
AL Cy Young: 1. CC Sabathia 2. Justin Verlander 3. Yu Darvish
AL Rookie of the Year: 1. Yu Darvish 2. Matt Moore 3. Jesus Montero
NL MVP: 1. Joey Votto 2. Justin Upton 3. Giancarlo Stanton
NL Cy Young: 1. Clayton Kershaw 2. Roy Halladay 3. Tim Lincecum
NL Rookie of the Year: 1. Bryce Harper 2. Devin Mesoraco 3. Brett Jackson
Don't hold me to any of this.