No April Fool's trick or anything, these are really our predictions.
Chris: Even with an expeditious return by Chase Utley, the Phillies' lineup is not what it used to be. Although I still expect them to succeed, the Braves appear to me a more complete team this year. Those predicting the Mets to finish last in the division are way off. I doubt the Mets finish behind the Marlins and would be absolutely shocked if they were bested by the Nationals. As for those two teams, I'll pick the Marlins over the Nationals every year until I'm proven wrong.
Eno: The cavalry is not there yet for the Nationals, the Marlins need to spend some dosh to fill out their holes, and even if we take the under on the Phillies' win total, they should 'find a way.' I see the Braves within striking distance if a couple things turn out in the Mets' favor.
Eric: I believe the hype. I don't think their offense will be spectacular, but I think the Phillies' starting pitching is too good to fail. Sure, players get hurt a lot, and pitchers are especially susceptible to injury, but I think the Phillies are the best team in the division, even if the Braves' future looks brighter. Just to hedge my bets a bit here, I would hardly be surprised if the Braves won the division outright, and if the Mets manage to win the Wild Card it won't be the strangest thing that happens this season.
James: Is Cliff Lee really a Phillie? Did that happen? Was Brett Favre on the Jets for a year? It's all dream-like. Anyway, screw the Braves and Phillies, but the former is a well-run organization and the latter still has more than enough talent to make the playoffs. Let's say 81 wins for the Mets and plenty of Dickey to Buchholz to Frankie, good night the lights.
Joe: If 1999 Joe saw this prediction, he'd smack 2011 Joe upside the head. The truth is, the Phillies have made it so much easier for me to come close to hoping that the Braves win the division. Of course, my #1 hope is for the Mets to take the crown, but the competition is just too stiff. The Braves, with a rotation to match the Phillies and a younger, more potent offense, will take the division.
Matthew: The Phillies might be dropping like flies, but as yet no one from their starting rotation has fallen, and as long as that stays intact, they win the division. They'll get a fight from the Braves, though I expect Atlanta to finish 2nd and capture the division. 3rd place is probably the Mets' ceiling, but one I see them hitting. I'm not as sold on the Marlins' pitching after Josh Johnson as everyone else seems to be. The Nationals will play just like a team that thinks giving a 7-year contract to Jayson Werth should. (That's bad.)
Rob: The Phils have won this thing four years running -- the second longest streak in the division's history -- a stretch built on a core of impressive veterans. However, with veterans comes age and this year it trips them up; I'm half-expecting the Brewers to steal that playoff spot. Conversely, the Braves bolster good veterans with a very talented youth movement, plus some of the best pitching prospects in baseball bubbling up. As for the Mets, they're better than the MSM (group)thinks and if the stars align the talent is there to be relevant come August; and at that point, who the hell knows.
Sam: This is the year.
|2||Giants (WC)||Rockies||Giants||Rockies (WC)
|1||Red Sox||Red Sox||Red Sox||Red Sox||Red Sox||Yankees|
|2||(WC)||Rays (WC)||Yankees (WC)||Red Sox (WC)||Yankees (WC)||Rays (WC)||Yankees (WC)||Rays (WC)|
|4||Orioles||Blue Jays||Blue Jays||Blue Jays||Orioles||Blue Jays|
|5||Orioles||Blue Jays||Blue Jays||Orioles||Orioles||Orioles||Blue Jays||Orioles|
|1||Twins||Twins||White Sox||Twins||White Sox||Twins|
|2||White Sox||Tigers||Twins||Twins||White Sox||Tigers||Indians|
|3||White Sox||Tigers||White Sox||Tigers||Tigers||Tigers||Twins||White Sox|
|NLDS Champs||Brewers and Rockies||Phillies and Braves||Phillies and Giants||Braves and Rockies||Giants and Rockies||Phillies and Brewers||Braves and Phillies||Mets and Brewers|
|ALDS Champs||Twins and Red Sox||Twins and Red Sox||Red Sox and Yankees||A's and Yankees||Red Sox and Rangers||Red Sox and Rays||Red Sox and Yankees||Yankees and Rays|
|ALCS Champs||Twins||Red Sox||Red Sox||Yankees||Red Sox||Red Sox||Yankees||Rays|
|World Series||Twins||Braves||Red Sox||Yankees||Red Sox||Red Sox||Braves||Mets|
|NL MVP||Albert Pujols||Albert Pujols||Jason Heyward|
|AL MVP||Adrian Gonzalez||Adrian Gonzalez||Adrian Gonzalez||Adrian Gonzalez|
|NL CY||Roy Halladay||Tim Lincecum||Josh Johnson|
|AL CY||Jon Lester||Felix Hernandez||David Price|
|NL ROY||Aroldis Chapman||Craig Kimbrel||Brandon Belt||EMAUS|
|AL ROY||Jeremy Hellickson||Jeremy Hellickson||Jeremy Hellickson||Zach Britton||Michael Pineda|
Chris: If the Mets make a run this season, I would not be shocked. If they don't, I'd have no problem pulling for the Rockies and Twins to get to the World Series, and if that happens, I think the Twins finally avoid an early exit from the playoffs and capitalize by winning it all.
Eno: If anyone surprises in the post-season this year, it's the Brewers. Gallardo and Marcum make for solid one-two and Fielder-Braun in the order could be great with a little bounceback.
Eric: The Rays have like five players who could reasonably win the Rookie of the Year, but just one who might win the MVP. They're tough to peg because so many of their players are unproven at the big league level, but if they adjust quickly I wouldn't be shocked to see them overtake the Yankees, whose starting rotation is as uninspiring as the Phillies' lineup. I think the Pirates and Orioles will finally crawl out of their respective divisional basements at the expense of the even-more-woeful Astros and Blue Jays.
James: Jose Reyes will have a monster year and I'm not thinking beyond 2011 right now.
Joe: I remember the offseason when I convinced myself that Kaz Matsui and Mike Cameron would propel the Mets to a world championship. In fact, it was an offseason ritual for me probably up until last year) to plan a trip home for an October victory parade. I'm not getting those hopes up this year, but, at the same time, I don't think I could feel better about this team or about the MLB season in general. It's a different type of excitement, but one built on a more solid foundation than moving Jose Reyes to second base. Plus, this year I'll get to see the Phillies collapse under old age, big contracts, and a hyper reactive fan base. It's going to be a good year.
Matthew: "So many things were disappearing now, it was difficult to keep track of them. Quinn tried to work his way through the Mets' lineup, position by position, but his mind was beginning to wander. The centerfielder, he remembered, was Mookie Wilson, a promising young player whose real name was William Wilson. Surely there was something interesting in that. Quinn pursued the idea for a few moments, but then abandoned it. The two William Wilsons canceled each other out, and that was all. Quinn waved good-bye to them in his mind. The Mets would finish in last place again, and no one would suffer." -- Paul Auster, City of Glass
Rob: Braun will push for that MVP and Pujols should but won't as the Cards drop out too soon. I expect Reyes to garner MVP votes if the pitching keeps them relevant. I've bought in on Atlanta; they don't have many weaknesses and what's more they've got the farm system to supplement an already talented club for years. I expect Kimbrel to push Belt for that ROY if he doesn't garner enough ab's.
Random speculation: I feel there's a very good chance that not only does Pedro return, he gives a club in the hunt a 10-15 start boost late in the summer. As close as I think the Wild Cards will be, I think that could be a real determining factor in how things shake out. (Pedro to the Reds?)
Sam: I couldn't find a way to give Dickey, Greinke, and Heyward all awards, but I expect big things from them. My picks would probably look exactly like Matthew's, if my allegiance to Nashville wasn't there. I'm also copying James with the Emaus pick.