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One More Miracle?: Saturday’s Divisional Round Playoff Picks

Saints (-3.5) vs 49ers

The second round of the playoffs kick off with what will probably be the most competitive game of the weekend. The Saints, who have never won a playoff game in an opposing team’s stadium, will most likely have to win two such games to reach the Super Bowl.

A lot of people seem to be already penciling the Saints in to the NFC title game, but this will not be an easy game. New Orleans doesn’t play as well on the road and their defense is average to below average.  The Niners boast one of the leagues’ best defenses, they’re one of the healthiest playoff teams in recent memory, and they have the luxury of home field advantage.

I still think the Saints will win, but it won’t be easy, and I will not be shocked if the 49ers pull off the upset.

Unsung Hero: Robert Meacham, NO; The Niners defense has been great in 2011, but they have been susceptible to the big play. Meacham and Devery Henderson should be able to slip by the Niners’ secondary for a big play or two.

Pick: Saints 24 49ers 22

Patriots (-13.5) vs Broncos

For the Broncos to win this game, everything will have to break their way. They’ll have to get constant pressure on Tom Brady and force him into a few turnovers. Tim Tebow will have to play a perfect game, and the Denver running game will have to consistently move the chains and eat up clock.

It won’t be easy, but the way things have gone for the Broncos this season, nothing is out of the question.

Still, I think this is the end of the road for Broncos and their folk hero. In his first career road playoff start, Tebow won’t be able to keep up the scoring pace with Brady, Gronk, Welker and the rest of the Pats offense.

But really, who knows, it’s Tebow.

Unsung Hero: Patrick Chung, NE; The Pats can’t let Tebow come up with big plays, and they should be able to force him into a few turnovers. Watch for Chung to make some noise with a forced turnover or two.  Chung, one of the best players on the Patriots’ below average defense, missed most of the season’s second half, including the first meeting with the Broncos.

Pick: Patriots 38 Broncos 14

 

 

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Revisiting My NFL Predictions and Revised Playoff Picks: Part Three, Super Bowl XLVI and Awards

SUPER BOWL XLVI

Preseason Pick:

Packers over Ravens

Revised Prediction:

Packers 31 Ravens 20

I’m not going to change a thing. I think the Packers ride home field advantage to another Super Bowl, where Aaron Rodgers wins the game’s MVP again as the Packers win back-to-back Super Bowls for the second time in their history.

POSTSEASON AWARD PICKS (Preseason picks in italics):

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, GB – 4,643 yards, 44 TDs, 6 INTs, 68.3 comp %

Preseason Pick: Aaron Rodgers, GB

You really can’t go wrong picking Rodgers or Drew Brees as the league’s MVP. They both had outstanding seasons, two of the best season-long performances in NFL history. You really have to nit pick to choose one over the other. In the end, I went with Rodgers because he threw less interceptions and won two more games, including the head-to-head match-up between the two quarterbacks way back on the season’s opening Thursday. Rodgers’ 44-6 TD-to-INT ratio was just out of this world good.

Honorable Mentions: Drew Brees, NO; Tom Brady, NE

Offensive Player of the Year: Drew Brees, NO – 5,476 yards, 46 TDs, 14 INTs 71.2 comp %

Preseason Pick: Rodgers

I hedged my bets by picking Brees as the offensive player of the year. Brees put up tremendous numbers, breaking Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season and his own record for completion percentage.

Honorable Mentions: Rodgers; Brady, NE; Calvin Johnson, DET; Matthew Stafford, DET; Maurice Jones-Drew, JAX; Rob Gronkowski, NE; Jimmy Graham, NO

That would be T-Sizzle, from Ball Hard University of course…

Defensive Player of the Year: Terrell Suggs, BAL – 70 tackles, 14 sacks, 7 forced fumbles, 2 INTs

Another tough call here. I ended up going with Suggs because his numbers, 14 sacks and 7 forced fumbles, were too great to ignore. T-Sizzle made big play after big play this season, helping the Ravens to 12-4 record and AFC North division crown. 49ers’ lineman Justin Smith was also phenomenal this season, and was a big reason why the Niners had so much success his season. He would also be a deserving winner of this award.

Preseason Pick: Ndamukong Suh, DET

Honorable Mentions: Justin Smith, SF; Jared Allen, MIN; Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG; DeMarcus Ware, DAL; Darrelle Revis, NYJ; Jonathan Joseph, HOU

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton, CAR – 4051 passing yards, 21 TDs, 706 rushing yards, 14 TDs

Preseason Pick: Mark Ingram, NO

This was a no-brainer. Newton had one of the best rookie seasons of all time. Newton has out of this world talent. I’m not sure there has ever been a quarterback with as much potential as Newton.

Honorable Mentions: A.J. Green, CIN; Julio Jones, ATL; Andy Dalton, CIN; DeMarco Murray, DAL

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Von Miller, DEN-  64 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Preseason Pick: J.J. Watt, HOU

Another really tough call here, this time between Miler and 49ers’ linebacker Aldon Smith. In the end, I went with Miller because he was the best player on a playoff team (be it as it may, an 8-8 playoff team). Tebow gets all the pub, but Von Miller was outstanding this season. Without Miller, the Broncos are likely out of the playoffs.

Honorable Mentions: Smith, SF; Watt, HOU

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Better Late Than Never: My 2011-2012 NBA Predictions

I had kind of been neglecting my blog the last few weeks amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I promise to get back to posting more in the new year, and I’ll start my finally posting my picks for the NBA season, even if the season is already a week old. So without further ado, here are my picks:

FINAL STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1. Heat

2. Bulls

3. Pacers

4. Celtics

5. Magic

6. Knicks

7. Hawks

8. Bucks

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL STANDINGS

1. Thunder

2. Nuggets

3. Spurs

4. Clippers

5. Lakers

6. Blazers

7. Mavericks

8. Grizzlies

PLAYOFFS

FIRST ROUND

Heat over Bucks in 4

Bulls over Hawks in 5

Knicks over Pacers in 7

Celtics over Magic in 7

Thunder over Grizzlies in 6

Nuggets over Mavericks in 7

Blazers over Spurs in 6

Clippers over Lakers in 7

The Western Conference playoffs could be outstanding. I love these potential series, how awesome would an all-Los Angeles playoff match-up be? And a Thunder-Grizz re-match in the first round? Yes, please. I think the Nuggets have the depth to excel in the shorten, compressed season, but how will they their talent translate to the playoffs? A re-match with the defending champs would be a tough, early test.

CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS

Heat over Celtics in 5

Bulls over Knicks in 7

Thunder over Clippers in 6

Nuggets over Blazers in 7

Thunder/Clippers, please happen. Blake comes home to OKC to battle KD. CP3 vs Westbrook. DeAndre Jordan vs Serge Ibaka. Yes. Please. And a good, old-fashioned Bulls/Knicks series? Love it.

CONFERENCE FINALS

Heat over Bulls in 6

Thunder over Nuggets in 5

NBA FINALS

Heat over Thunder in 6

Yep, we can all stop saying our lame LeBron doesn’t have any rings jokes. If LeBron and the Heat do win the title in 2012, LBJ will win his first ring in his ninth NBA season, at age 27. For comparison’s sake, Michael Jordan won his first championship in his seventh NBA season, at age 27…

AWARDS

MVP: Kevin Durant, OKC

KD leads the Thunder to the number one seed in the Western Conference and wins his first MVP award.

Rookie of the Year: Brandon Knight, DET

This is a tough call. There are a number of guys I could see taking home the award, including Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams, Ricky Rubio and Jon Leuer (just kidding… although he’s off to a solid start). Knight isn’t surrounded by much talent in Detroit, so I think he’ll have a solid chance of being the team’s featured player.

Sixth Man of the year: James Harden, OKC

I’m not really sure why Harden isn’t a starter, but he should average over 20 points a game this season as the Thunder roll to the one seed in the West.

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard, ORL

It’s really hard to pick against Dwight, he’s such a force in the paint. So, I won’t.

Coach of the Year: George Karl, DEN

Like I said earlier, I think the Nuggets are built to win a lot of games in this shortened, compressed schedule. I think Denver will earn the second seed in the West thanks to their ten or eleven deep rotation. 

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2011-2012 NHL Predictions

It’s time for another round of sports predictions. This time it’s the NHL. I’ve grown to love hockey over the last couple of years thanks to having season tickets for the Badgers and the success of my hometown Chicago Blackhawks. However, I still know less about the NHL than I do about any other of the major U.S. sports, so these will probably be more wrong than my usual predictions…

EASTERN CONFERENCE

ATLANTIC

1 Pittsburgh Penguins

2 Philadelphia Flyers

3 New York Rangers

4 New Jersey Devils

5 New York Islanders

NORTHEAST

1 Boston Bruins

2 Buffalo Sabres

3 Montreal Canadiens

4 Toronto Maple Leafs

5 Ottawa Senators

SOUTHEAST

1 Washington Capitals

2 Tampa Bay Lightning

3 Carolina Hurricanes

4 Winnipeg Jets

5 Florida Panthers

WESTERN CONFERENCE

CENTRAL

1 Chicago Blackhawks

2 Detroit Red Wings

3 Nashville Predators

4 St. Louis Blues

5 Columbus Blue Jackets

NORTHWEST

1 Vancouver Canucks

2 Minnesota Wild

3 Calgary Flames

4 Colorado Avalanche

5 Edmonton Oilers

PACIFIC

1 Los Angeles Kings

2 San Jose Sharks

3 Anaheim Ducks

4 Phoenix Coyotes

5 Dallas Stars

Playoff teams in italics

STANLEY CUP FINAL

Penguins over Kings

AWARDS

HART TROPHY: Jonathan Toews, CHI

VEZINA TROPHY:Henrik Lundqvist, NYR

NORRIS TROPHY: Shea Weber, NSH

SELKE TROPHY: Pavel Datsyuk, DET

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Fun With MLB Awards and Playoff Predictions

AL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Ellsbury had a tremendous season all around. He got on base at a .376 clip, hit over 30 homers, stole almost 40 bases and played great defense in center. I gave Ellsbury the slight nod over Jose Bautista (MLB’s best hitter in 2011) because of Ellsbury’s superior defense at a premium position. Ellsbury’s speed, he stole 39 bases, also helped put him over the top.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS

.321 AVG, .376 OBP, .552 SLG, 32 HR, 39, SB, 9.6 WAR

2. Jose Bautista, TOR

.302 AVG, .447 OBP, .608 SLG, 1.056 OPS, 43 HR, 8.4 WAR

3. Justin Verlander, DET

24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 170 ERA+, 8.6 WAR

4. Miguel Cabrera, DET

.344 AVG, .448 OBP, .586 SLG, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 7.3 WAR

5. Curtis Granderson, NYY

.262 AVG, .364 OBP, .552 SLG, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 25 SB, 6.9 WAR

6. Dustin Pedroia, BOS

.307 AVG, .387 OBP, .474 SLG, 21 HR, 26 SB, 8.0 WAR

7. Ian Kinsler, TEX

.255 AVG, .355 OBP, .477 SLG, 32 HR, 30 SB, 7.8 WAR

8. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

.338 AVG, .410 OBP, .548 SLG, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 6.4 WAR

9. Robinson Cano, NYY

.302 AVG, .349 OBP, .533 SLG, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 5.6 WAR

10. CC Sabathia, NYY

19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 147 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

AL CY YOUNG

Verlander has been flat out dominant this season, and gets my vote for Cy Young. However, the resumes of Verlander and Sabathia are closer than it is made out to be, as Verlander is seen as the far and away favorite.

1. Justin Verlander, DET

24-5, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 170 ERA+, 8.6 WAR

2. CC Sabathia, NYY

19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 147 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

3. Jered Weaver, LAA

18-8, 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.6 K/9, 158 ERA+, 6.6 WAR

4. C.J. Wilson, TEX

16-7, 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 152 ERA+, 5.0 WAR

5. Dan Haren, LAA

16-10, 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 5.81 K/BB, 120 ERA+, 4.0 WAR

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Hellickson is clearly the AL’s rookie of the year for his solid performance this entire season. However, is he even the most talented rookie pitcher on the Rays? Phenom Matt Moore, who only made one start for the Rays this season, will be the Game 1 starter for Tampa tomorrow.

1. Jeremy Hellickson, TB

13-10, 2.95 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 126 ERA+, 4.2 WAR

2. Eric Hosmer, KC

.293 AVG, .334 OBP, .465 SLG, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 1.6 WAR

3. Dustin Ackley, SEA

.273 AVG, .348 OBP, .417 SLG, .340 wOBA, 2.7 WAR

4. Mark Trumbo, LAA

.254 AVG, .291 OBP, .477 SLG, 29 HR, 87 RBI, 2.3 WAR

5. Ivan Nova, NYY

16-4, 3.70 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 5.3 K/9, 119 ERA+, 3.6 ERA

This is a really close call. Kemp and Braun both had great seasons, and no matter who wins the winner will be deserving. However, I went with Kemp because his offensive are slightly better than Braun’s, and he plays a more premium position than Braun, and plays it a bit better.

NL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

1. Matt Kemp, LAD

.324 AVG, .399 OBP, .586 SLG, 39 HR, 126 RBI, 40 SB, 8.7 WAR

2. Ryan Braun, MIL

.332 AVG, .397 OBP, .531 SLG, 33 HR, 111 RBI, 33 SB, 7.8 WAR

3. Justin Upton, ARZ

.289 AVG, .369 OBP, .529 SLG, 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB, 6.5 WAR

4. Joey Votto, CIN

.309 AVG, .416 OBP, .531 SLG, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 6.8 WAR

5. Prince Fielder, MIL

.299 AVG, .415 OBP, .566 SLG, 38 HR, 120 RBI, 5.6 WAR

6. Troy Tulowitzki, COL

.302 AVG, .372 OBP, .544 SLG, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 6.2 WAR

7. Shane Victorino, PHI

.279 AVG, .355 OBP, .491 SLG, 17 HR, 61 RBI, 5.8 WAR

8. Albert Pujols, STL

.299 AVG, .415 OBP, .566 SLG, 37 HR, 99 RBI, 5.2 WAR

9. Lance Berkman, STL

.301 AVG, .412 OBP, .547 SLG, 31 HR, 94 RBI, 5.0 WAR

10. Jose Reyes, NYM

.337 AVG, .384 OBP, .493 SLG, 39 SB, .386 wOBA, 6.3 WAR

Again, another close call. I’m going with Kershaw because his numbers are just a bit better than Halladay, who had another tremendous season. Lee also had a Cy-worthy season for the Phils. Man, is that rotation going to be a beast in the playoffs.

NL CY YOUNG

1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD

21-5, 2.28 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 163 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

2. Roy Halladay, PHI

19-6, 2.35 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 164 ERA+, 7.4 WAR

3. Cliff Lee, PHI

17-8, 2.40 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 5.67 K/BB, 161 ERA+, 6.9 WAR

4. Ian Kennedy, ARZ

21-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 137 ERA+, 5.5 WAR

5. Matt Cain, SF

12-11, 2.88 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 123 ERA+, 3.9 WAR

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Kimbrel stumbled down the stretch, perhaps due to overuse by manager Fredi Gonzalez. It’s no wonder Gonzalez wanted Kimbrel on the mound as much as possible because Kimbrel was flat out un-hittable before September.

1. Craig Kimbrel, ATL

46 Saves, 2.10 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 14.8 K/9, 181 ERA+, 3.0 WAR

2. Vance Worley, PHI

11-3, 3.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 129 ERA+, 2.8 WAR

3. Freddie Freeman, ATL

.282 AVG, .346 OBP, .448 SLG, 21 HR, 76 RBI, 1.1 WAR

4. Danny Espinosa, WSH

.236 AVG, .323 OBP, .414 SLG, 21 HR, 17 SB, 3.5 WAR

5. Wilson Ramos, WSH

.267 AVG, .334 OBP, .445 SLG, 15 HR, .332 wOBA, 3.1 WAR

PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS

DIVISION SERIES

Brewers over D-Backs in 4

Phillies over Cardinals in 3

Yankees over Tigers in 4

Rangers over Rays in 4

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Brewers over Phillies in 7

Rangers over Yankees in 6

WORLD SERIES

Brewers over Rangers in 6

MVP: Corey Hart

My predictions are usually wrong, and this is one case where I really, really hope I’m wrong. Anybody but the Brewers, please…

Everything is going Wisconsin’s way (sports wise, definitely not with politics)

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2011 NFL Predictions

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots 14-2

2. New York Jets 11-5 (WC)

3. Buffalo Bills 4-12

4. Miami Dolphins 3-13

AFC NORTH

1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4

2. Baltimore Ravens 12-4 (WC)

3. Cleveland Browns 5-11

4. Cincinnati Bengals 2-14

AFC SOUTH

1. Houston Texans 10-6

2. Tennessee Titans 9-7

3. Indianapolis Colts 8-8

4. Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13

AFC WEST

1. San Diego Chargers 11-5

2. Oakland Raiders 7-9

3. Kansas City Chiefs 6-10

4. Denver Broncos 5-11

NFC EAST

1. Philadelphia Eagles 12-4

2. Dallas Cowboys 9-7

3. New York Giants 7-9

4. Washington Redskins 5-11

NFC NORTH

1. Green Bay Packers 14-2

2. Detroit Lions 8-8

3. Chicago Bears 6-10

4. Minnesota Vikings 6-10

NFC SOUTH

1. New Orleans Saints 12-4

2. Atlanta Falcons 11-5 (WC)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6 (WC)

4. Carolina Panthers 2-14

NFC WEST

1. St. Louis Rams 8-8

2. San Francisco 49ers 8-8

3. Arizona Cardinals 7-9

4. Seattle Seahawks 4-12

AFC PLAYOFFS

WILD CARD ROUND:

Jets over Chargers

Ravens over Texans

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Patriots over Jets

Ravens over Steelers

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Ravens over Patriots

NFC PLAYOFFS

WILD CARD ROUND:

Falcons over Rams

Eagles over Bucs

DIVISIONAL ROUND:

Packers over Falcons

Saints over Eagles

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP:

Packers over Saints

SUPER BOWL XLVI

Packers over Ravens

The title belt will stay in Green Bay.

Other Predictions:

NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, GB

Offensive Player of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, GB

Defensive Player of the Year: Ndamukong Suh, DET

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Mark Ingram, NO

Defensive Rookie of the Year: J.J. Watt, HOU (Total homer pick)

Andrew Luck Sweepstakes Winner: Bengals (Panthers might get the #1 pick, but they picked Cam Newton last year…)

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Revisiting My Preseason MLB Predictions

Before the season started, I posted my predictions for the 2011 MLB season on my tumblr page. Now that its almost Septembter, I want to take a look and see just how awful my preseason predictions look now. (Original picks in italics.)

NL Central

1 Cincinnati Reds

2 Milwaukee Brewers

3 St. Louis Cardinals

4 Chicago Cubs

5 Houston Astros

6 Pittsburgh Pirates

Uh, I don’t think the Reds are going to win the division…

The Brewers have used an extreme hot streak since the all-star break to pull 10.5 games ahead the pack in the NL Central. The Reds have had a very disappointing season, they currently sit 13 games behind the Brewers and are only one game over .500. I regret not picking the Astros last, they’re currently 13 games worse than the 5th place Cubs.

Re-Do Pick: Brewers

NL East

1 Philadelphia Phillies

 2 Atlanta Braves

3 Florida Marlins

4 New York Mets

5 Washington Nationals

The top two teams in this division were easy to pick. The Phillies have used their epic rotation (but who expected Vance Worley, not Roy Oswalt, to be the 4th ace?) to pull six games ahead of the Braves. The Braves have a comfortable wild card lead, and they should, barring an embarrassing Sept. swoon, be joining the Phillies in the playoffs.

Re-Do Pick: Sticking with the Phillies; Braves for the WC

NL West

1 Colorado Rockies

2 San Francisco Giants

3 Los Angeles Dodgers

4 San Diego Padres

5 Arizona Diamondbacks

Yeah, I really screwed up on this one… The D-Backs have a four game lead over the Giants, and a 11 game lead over the Rockies.

Re-Do Pick: D-Backs

NL Awards

NL MVP: Troy Tulowitzki, COL

Tulo is having a great season (28 HRs, .377 OBP, .397 wOBA, 6.4 WAR) but his team’s place in the standings most likely means TuLo has a very small chance of winning MVP, or even cracking the top five.

The Brewers’ success probably means the award will be given to either Ryan Braun (25 HRs, .406 OBP, .438 wOBA, 6.1 WAR) or Prince Fielder (29 HRs, .409 OBP, .399 wOBA, 4.1 WAR), but if the D-Backs hold on for the NL West crown, Justin Upton (25 HRs, .371 OBP, .392 wOBA, 6.1 WAR) may have a chance at the honor.

Matt Kemp (31 HRs, .390 OBP, .414 wOBA, 6.4 WAR) and Joey Votto (26 HRs, .440 OBP, .425 wOBA, 6.6 WAR) are also strong candidates on sub-par teams.

Re-Do Ballot:

1 Ryan Braun, MIL

2. Justin Upton, ARZ

3. Matt Kemp, LAD

4. Joey Votto, CIN

5. Prince Fielder, MIL

NL Cy Young: Josh Johnson, FLA

It was silly to pick against Roy Halladay (2.56 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 2.12 FIP, 8.64 K/9), the guy should come into every season as the Cy favorite. Johnson was great, maybe on a path to win the Cy, until he was shut down due to injury. Cliff Lee (2.71 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 2.71 FIP, 9.24 K/9) and Clayton Kershaw (2.51 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 2.51 FIP, 9.82 K/9) join Halladay as the top 3 pitchers in the NL to date.

Re-Do Ballot:

1. Roy Halladay, PHI

2. Clayton Kershaw, LAD

3. Cliff Lee, PHI

4. Tim Lincecum, SF (2.46 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 2.87 FIP, 9.5o K/9)

5. Cole Hamels, PHI (2.62 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 2.65 FIP, 8.11 K/9)

NL Rookie of the Year: Brandon Belt, SF

Belt hasn’t gotten the playing time that he deserves or that was expected of him before the season. For some reason, Aubrey Huff has continued to stay in the lineup despite his lackluster season. Craig Kimbrel has been just outstanding as the Braves closer. He’s Carlos Marmol with control, scary stuff.

Re-Do Ballot:

1. Craig Kimbrel, ATL

2. Freddie Freeman, ATL (18 HRs, .354 OBP, .356 wOBA, 1.5 WAR)

3. Vance Worley, PHI (2.65 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 3.15 FIP, 7.60 K/9)

AL Central

1 Chicago White Sox

2 Minnesota Twins

3 Detroit Tigers

4 Kansas City Royals

5 Cleveland Indians

The White Sox probably would be leading this division if it weren’t for their two high-paid, low production busts (Adam Dunn and Alex Rios). Instead, the Tigers have pulled to a comfortable six game lead. The Indians aren’t going to finish last, but they’ve basically been playing like a last place team since they started out 30-15 (15 games under. 500 since).

Re-Do Pick: Tigers

AL East

1 Boston Red Sox

2 New York Yankees

3 Toronto Blue Jays

4 Tampa Bay Rays

5 Baltimore Orioles

Both the Sox and Yanks will make the playoffs, it’s just a matter of who wins the division and who wins the WC. Still, who ever wins the division will hold a big advantage heading into the playoffs. The division winner will have home field in the first round, likely against the Tigers, while the WC winner will not have home field, and will likely play the Rangers (who knocked the Yanks out in the ALCS last season). Also, if the Sox and Yanks were to meet in the ALCS, the division winner would have homefield.

Re-Do Pick: Sticking with the Red Sox for the division, Yanks for the WC

AL West

1 Texas Rangers

2 Los Angeles Angels

3 Oakland A’s

4 Seattle Mariners

I expected the Rangers to run away with this division, but the Angels have been much stronger than I expected. I still think the Rangers will hold on and win the division, but the Angels, led by their rotation’s big three (Jered Weaver, Dan Haren and Ervin Santana), will push this race to the end of the season. It might be the only pennant race worth watching as the season wears on.

Re-Do Pick: Rangers

AL Awards

AL MVP: Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

Gonzalez (23 HRs, .406 OBP, .410 wOBA, 5.8 WAR) might still be the favorite to win AL MVP, but he’s probably not even the most deserving on his team. Jacoby Ellsbury ( 23 HRs, .369 OBP, .391 wOBA, 7.4 WAR) and Dustin Pedroia (17 HRs, .398 OBP, .385 wOBA, 7.2 WAR) both have higher WAR values this season.

Jose Bautista (37 HRs, . 452 OBP, .455 wOBA, 7.8 WAR) should win the award, but because his team is in 4th place in the best division in baseball, he might be unfairly punished.

Curtis Granderson’s (38 HRs, .376 OBP, .414 wOBA, 6.8 WAR) pinstripes and high home run and RBI (yes, people still highly value the misleading stat…) totals could earn him the MVP. If the Yankees win the AL East, the media will likely tab “The Grandy Man” AL MVP.

Re-Do Ballot:

1. Jose Bautista, TOR

2. Curtis Granderson, NYY

3. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS

4. Dustin Pedroia, BOS

5. Adrian Gonzalez, BOS

AL Cy Young: C.C. Sabathia, NYY

Sabathia (2.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 2.81 FIP, 8.39 K/9) has had a great season, but he’s behind Justin Verlander (2.38 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 2.85 FIP, 9.10 K/9) and Jared Weaver (2.28 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2.98 FIP, 7.51 K/9) in the AL Cy Young race at this point.

Verlander is the favorite at this point, and he’s even getting some MVP buzz. Verlander is going to win a lot of games, he already has 20, and the media is still transfixed by that mostly useless stat.

Re-Do Ballot:

1. Justin Verlander, DET

2. Jered Weaver, LAA

3. C.C. Sabathia, NYY

4. Dan Haren, LAA (3.19 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 2.93 FIP, 7.35 K/9)

5. James Shields, TB (2.96 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 3.36 FIP, 10 CG, 4 SOs)

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, TB

Hellickson has had a solid rookie season (3.01 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 4.16 FIP, 6.15 K/9) for the Rays. But he has competition from Seattle’s Michael Pineda (3.71 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 3.41 FIP, 9.18 K/9) and Anaheim’s Mark Trumbo (23 HRs, .294 OBP, .312 wOBA, 2.0 WAR) and Jordan Walden (2.70 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.39 FIP, 9.90 K/9)

Re-Do Ballot:

1. Michael Pineda, SEA

2. Jeremy Hellickson, TB

3. Mark Trumbo, LAA

4. Jordan Walden, LAA

PLAYOFFS

NLDS

Phillies over Giants

Rockies over Reds

Re-Do Picks:

Braves over Brewers

Phillies over D-Backs

ALDS

Rangers over Yankees

Red Sox over White Sox

Re-Do Picks:

Yankees over Rangers

Red Sox over Tigers

NLCS

Phillies over Rockies

Phillies over Braves

ALCS

Rangers over Red Sox

Red Sox over Yankees

World Series

Phillies over Rangers

Phillies over Red Sox

I believe that that if Cole Hamels comes back strong off his DL stint and the Phillies rotation as a whole stays healthy, Philadelphia will be extremely hard to knock off in the playoffs. At this point, I can’t pick anybody else but the Phillies and their rotation of aces to win the 2011 World Series.

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