Is this the year the American League returns to dominance after losing three of the last four World Series? It would certainly seem so, as the AL is stacked compared to its National League counterpart.
In what many thought was an inconceivable notion a year ago, Albert Pujols left St. Louis this offseason to sign with the Los Angeles Angels, while Prince Fielder inked a massive deal to play in the same city in which his dad once starred (Detroit). The Tigers, Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Rays and Red Sox should all compete for a postseason berth this season, while teams like the Royals, Blue Jays and Indians could make things interesting as well.
On the other side, one free agent star did stay in the National League this year as former Met Jose Reyes signed a lucrative deal with the Miami Marlins. The Fish now have a new name, a new manager, a new stadium, and several new players for the 2012 season. And thanks to Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Heath Bell and skipper Ozzie Guillen, things should be awfully interesting in South Beach this year.
As far as the rest of the National League is concerned, well, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the dynamics will play out. Many still believe the Phillies are the team to beat and with their pitching staff, they’re still considered the favorites to win the NL East. But their lineup is aging and will be without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for the first part of the season. The Braves are a dangerous team but they choked in pressure moments each of the last two seasons, while the defending World Series champion Cardinals lost the aforementioned Pujols and will be without Chris Carpenter, Allen Craig and Skip Schumaker for the early part of the year. The Giants, Diamondbacks, Reds, Marlins, Brewers, Rockies and Dodgers should all be competitive, but they all have major flaws as well.
So how will all of this change impact the 2012 MLB season? Below you’ll find division, pennant and World Series predictions for the upcoming year, as well as our picks for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and MVP.
Baseball is back, folks!