Bastian’s 2014 preseason picks
It is a time-honored tradition: completely misfiring on predictions for the upcoming season. Then again, maybe some Cleveland fans are happy I picked Detroit to win it all last year. My track record of jinxing things speaks for itself.
One of the beauties of baseball is the unknown. We don’t know which team or player will be the breakout performer in the year ahead. We don’t know which player will come out of nowhere after being nowhere to be found.
I’m talking about the Scott Kazmir’s of the world. Could anyone have seen that coming last season? Maybe this season’s comeback story will be Grady Sizemore in Boston. Who knows? That’s the great part of it.
We barely knew how to say Yasiel Puig’s name during Spring Training last year. Now, he’s must-see TV. Everyone was on the Blue Jays bandwagon before the wheels came tearing off. The Pirates made the playoffs. The Indians did, too. What a world.
Last year, I did predict five (Rays, Tigers, Braves, Reds and Dodgers) of baseball’s 10 postseason teams, but I only correctly called two division winners (American League Central and National League East). I did correctly predict 14 of the 30 teams’ place in the standings, but I went 0-fer in the AL East. I did, however, nail the one-through-five finish in the AL Central. I just didn’t expect Cleveland to claim a Wild Card spot.
I’m not going to make that mistake this season. While I am not going to list the Indians as the division’s top spot just yet — I think Detroit has earned that place in the predictions — I do think Cleveland will give the Motor City a good fight. I think the Tribe might even win the Central, but I won’t call that just yet. I do think the Indians have what it takes to grab one of the two Wild Card spots again. The key will be solid seasons from the arms behind Justin Masterson in the rotation.
How did I fare in other predictions last year? Well, I had the Red Sox finishing in last place in the division. So, there’s that.
For the awards, the only one I had right was Wil Myers taking home the AL’s Rookie of the Year honor with the Rays. Adrian Beltre (.880 OPS in 161 games) and Joey Votto (.926 OPS in 162 games) had nice runs as my MVP picks, but they finished seventh and sixth, respectively, in voting. I had Joe Maddon (92 wins) and Fredi Gonzalez (96 wins) taking home the Manager honors. Nice showings, but no dice. Shelby Miller (15-9, 3.06) was third in RoY voting in the NL as my pick.
As for the Cy Young Award, let’s just say my record remains flawless, in that my picks in that category often crash and burn. Jered Weaver was my choice in the AL, and he went 11-8 with a 3.27 ERA in 24 starts. Not terrible, but an injury hurt his cause and he garnered no votes. In the NL, I gave the nod to Matt Cain, who then went 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA for the Giants. Sorry, guys.
I’m tempted to make Justin Masterson my man for the AL Cy Young this season, but I know how important he is to the Tribe’s chances. I’ll steer clear of that jinx, Tribe fans.
With all of that said, here are all of my preseason picks for 2014…
1. Red Sox
4. Blue Jays
4. White Sox
*indicates Wild Card pick
NL Wild Card: D-backs over Pirates
NL Division Series: D-backs over Nationals
NL Division Series: Dodgers over Cardinals
NL Championship Series: Dodgers over D-backs
AL Wild Card: Indians over Orioles
AL Division Series: Indians over Red Sox
AL Division Series: Tigers over Angels
AL Championship Series: Tigers over Indians
Dodgers over Tigers
AL Most Valuable Player: Mike Trout, Angels
AL Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
AL Rookie of the Year: Jose Abreu, White Sox
AL Manager of the Year: Brad Ausmus, Tigers
NL Most Valuable Player: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
NL Cy Young Award: Jose Fernandez, Marlins
NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Reds
NL Manager of the Year: Matt Williams, Nationals