An annual tradition for writers and bloggers alike involves making predictions for the upcoming season. Most of these posts appear throughout Spring Training, before things formally get underway. Over the course of the past two months I have reached out to many of my fellow members of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance for their 2011 predictions. Many of my colleagues were kind enough to respond to this inquiry and I’ve been calculating the totals while waiting for an opportunity to get them all posted. In all I received votes from just over 50 members of the BBA for each of the division winners and for the major year-end awards.
The 2011 season may already be through the first week of games, so without further delay here are some predictions for the upcoming season.
Division Winners (AL)
AL East: Of all the ballots received, 96% of submissions chose the Boston Red Sox as the eventual winners in the AL East. This, of course, was before an 0-6 start to the season and an onslaught of questions about how the team’s pitching staff will eventually hold up. The Red Sox certainly have the offense (at least on paper) to be a formidable threat for the division crown but their pitching will continue to be the question mark going forward. However, the same can be said about the New York Yankees – the only other team to receive consideration here.
AL Central: Three teams received votes here in what proved to be the closest race in the American League. Leading the way with 46% of the votes were the Chicago White Sox. The Minnesota Twins received 33% and the Detroit Tigers received the other 21%.
AL West: The Texas Rangers, the defending AL Champions, were a clear favorite among voters for the AL West division, receiving 83% of the votes. The remaining selections went to the Oakland Athletics, the hot choice of the offseason to surprise this season.
Division Winners (NL)
NL East: Nearly as unanimous as the Red Sox selection in the AL East, the Philadelphia Phillies received 98% of the votes for the NL East crown. The lone vote for any other team went to the Atlanta Braves.
NL Central: Hands down the closest race of them all. 37% of the vote went to the Cincinnati Reds. 33% went to the St. Louis Cardinals. 30% to the Milwaukee Brewers. This is one race that should prove to be fun to watch as the season progresses.
NL West: This was the lone division where every team received at least one vote, perhaps showing just how much parity exists in the division. The Leading vote getter here was the Colorado Rockies with 42% of the vote. The defending WS Champion San Francisco Giants received 33% of the vote. The remainder was split between the three remaining teams.
Wild Card Winners
In each league the runaway winner in the Eastern Division received nearly all of the votes. However, the lone other team to receive a vote in either contest – the Yankees and Braves – would end up receiving the most selections for the respective league Wild Card winners.
World Series Matchup
Amazingly 50% of the ballots submitted predicted a World Series matchup featuring Boston and Philadelphia. However, those voters were split over who would ultimately win such a matchup. Other popular picks were Boston vs. San Francisco, Boston vs. Milwaukee, Atlanta vs. Texas, and there was even one vote for Oakland vs. Colorado.
Cy Young Award
AL: 2010 winner Felix Hernandez received the most votes here – 25% in total – in what proved to be a wide field of submissions. Also receiving consideration included Justin Verlander, Brett Anderson, CC Sabathia, Trevor Cahill, Clay Buchholtz, and Jon Lester.
NL: Cliff Lee received the most votes – 10% – for the NL but not by a big margin. The next closest selection will actually miss the entire season – Adam Wainwright – as many of the votes were submitted before his latest injury. Also receiving consideration were Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, Tommy Hanson, and Zack Greinke.
Most Valuable Player
AL: Newly acquired Adrian Gonzalez received the most votes here, 37%. Also receiving consideration were Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton, Adam Dunn, Joe Mauer, Alex Rodriguez, and Carl Crawford.
NL: Albert Pujols easily took this nomination with 42% of the votes. Ballots also named Carlos Gonzalez, Buster Posey, Prince Fielder, and Troy Tulowitski.
Rookie of the Year
AL: Kansas City’s Mike Moustakas received the highest number of votes for AL ROY with 33%. Jeremy Hellickson and Dustin Ackley tied for second with some consideration also given to Jesus Montero, Desmond Jennings, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
NL: Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman easily won the NL vote with 28% of the vote. Also receiving consideration were Domonic Brown, Brandon Belt, Dillon Gee, and Craig Kimbrel.
Part of the fun of making predictions for the upcoming year also includes going beyond the division winners and year-end awards. As such, I opened things up for voters to make any other predictions they so chose to. Here are some of the other ideas submitted:
- Pujols will win the Triple Crown.
- There will be one no-hitter in the NL and two in the AL.
- Kansas City will be the top “team to watch” in 2012.
- Cliff Lee and Justin Verlander will start the All Star Game.
- We’ll see 10 total 20-game winners.
- Attendance figures will reach a 10-year high.
- Kevin Youkilis will be named World Series MVP.
- A rookie (unnamed) will hit 3 HR in one game.
- Bud Selig will do something inherently wrong.
Thank you to all those bloggers who submitted ballots this year.