I read many blogs and other publications about where teams will finish at the end of the season. Many call the baseball season a marathon and that is a good description. 162 games spanning seven months and close to eight if your team is winning it all. Throw in the spring training and we have a nine month journey. Pacing one’s self is necessary.Since Boston and the 2009 World Champion Yankees are kicking this race off tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to look at the past Boston and NYC Marathon winners to see if there are patterns that can help me in predicting the winner of the 2010 baseball season.
In recent history for the Boston Marathon, if you were male and from Kenya, you won 16 of the last 20 years. If you were from Kenya and your name was Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, you won 4 of the last 7 years. If you were female and from Kenya, you won 7 of the last 10 years. If you were female and your name was Catherine Ndereba from Kenya, you won 4 of those 7 times. For wheelchair marathon participants, winning 8 of the last 9 years from South Africa was Ernst Van Dyk for the men and for the women the last three years was Wakako Tsuchida from Japan.
For NYC, the marathon results tell not so clear a dynastic story. In the men’s division Martin Lel from Kenya had won twice in the last 7 years. Marilson Domes del Santos from Brazil had won twice in the last four years. In the woman’s division, both Paula Radcliffe from Great Britain and Jelena Prokopcuka from Latvia had won twice in the last five years. In the wheelchair division for the men, Kurt Fearnley from Australia has won the last four years and Edith Hunkeler from Switzerland won 5 of the last 6 years for the wheelchair woman’s division.
With dynasties and rivalries also present for marathons in these two cities as I have tried to show presently, I will now try to predict the winners of the 162 game baseball marathon and playoffs. My mantra for picking the winners this year is pitching and defense win the championship.
2010 American League East Division
With a rotation that has a proven ace in Josh Beckett, a ready-to-be ace in Jon Lester, a former ace of the Angels in John Lackey, a former ace of Japan in Daisuke Matsuzaka and arguably a future ace in Clay Buchholz along with a formidable bullpen that ends with Papelbon along with defensive improvements with the additions of Adrian Beltre, Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro, this team will be hard for the Yankees and Rays to beat. Add this to the lineup of Ortiz, Martinez, Youkilis and Pedroia and this seems like a team ready to win again.
I really think the Angels lost too much to repeat as the winners of this division. That being said, I wonder if anyone has an all-around stronger pitching rotation and defense than them. Here is where I wonder if I have to go against my mantra and pick the Rangers with a formidable “softball beer league” lineup. The Mariners made great improvement but red flags go up for me when I see two great aces but no one proven behind them and a bullpen that is unproven. Sure, Chone Figgins helps but with Milton Bradley present, expect there to be “behavior” problems. The Athletics are a team I do not think has enough to compete. Winner by default: the Angels (only because of the deepest rotation in the division, bullpen and manager.)
When I see the Phillies, I see Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels leading a staff and team that wants to return. This being said, the Braves are going to be a team to reckon with because if enough of the Braves players want to win one to send the old man to retirement with, look out! They have a team that can do it. Still I think that the defending National League champs have a mission in mind. It is sort of this “until they are beat, give them the prize” mentality. They have the proven offense and aces to win a lot of games. What holds me back from saying it is a sure thing is the fact that Lidge is listed on the DL.This worries me.
2010 National League West Division
Okay, take the offense of the Dodgers along with their closer. The starters just do not excite me so much. The starters of the Giants are the deepest rotation with a competitive pop in the offense and one never knows. The Rockies have a formidable rotation, good offense and better bullpen so perhaps they can regain the edge to be on top. This is a tough division to choose for me. I like the Giants with their pitching and defense slightly ahead of the Rockies to pull it out in the end.
2010 National League Central Division
When you have two of the best sluggers, an outstanding ace and a formidable bullpen in a division where a team that has a curse over its state of mind, one can say that your chances of repeating as division winners are good. I like the Cardinals to win in this division simply because I think they are the most balanced of all the divisional teams.
2010 American League Wildcard
I think of the teams remaining, one has to think that the team with the best pitching and defense of the rest of the teams is between the Rays and the Yankees. I like the Yankees simply because of their ability to be consistent. Experience and consistency does well in marathons. Give this one to the Yankees! I always wonder when age will catch up with the Yankees. I won’t be disappointed if the Rays regain the Wildcard. I just think it is easier to give a current world champion their due.
2010 National League Wildcard
At this point in the season, I like the Braves to regain the Wildcard but I will not be surprised to see a team like the Rockies and Dodgers here either. I’ll give it to the Braves just because it makes for a great story! l like their overall team better than all the rest that are not division winners at this time. The rotation and overall team is the strongest of the teams remaining. What a fitting tribute to have Bobby Cox go into the playoffs one more time.
Don’t ask me anything about the playoffs because the teams have to get there first! After all, I plan to be watching them without my favorite team there once again. Enjoy the season, everyone! By the way, I think it is brilliantly ironic that the season starts on Easter this year. After all, every baseball fan holds a miracle of hope that somehow their team will rise up and become the champion they want them to be!
Hey I was wondering how many of you bloggers think like I do. I think King of Cali looks a lot like this MLBlogger and fellow MLB starter, Bengie Molina. Ironically, Molina and King of Cali both love the Giants. One plays for them and the other cheers for them.
The San Diego Padres have a lot of former Indians for me to notice. Led by Bud Black, former Indians pitcher and former Indians and current Padre players like Jody Gerut, Brian Giles, and Kevin Kouzmanoff, Indian minor leaguer, this Tribe fan would look and say perhaps. Yet looking at how this team has been gutted, with the loss of former closer Trevor Hoffman and the constant trade talk for Jake Peavy along with the off the field pending sale of the Padres due to a messy divorce settlement of the owner that may be settled by Opening Day, one must think that 5th place is inevitable for the Padres in 2009.
The Rockies just do not appear to be deep enough for me to get excited. I think they lost too much offense with the loss of Holiday. The rotation does not appear to be deep enough for me to see much of the return of 2007. I see the Rockies slightly better than the Padres for fourth place.
Now here is where things get hairy as they do with most division previews. I pick the Dodgers and former Indian Manny Ramirez, third for 2009. However, a few bounces here or there and LA might reach the top as they did last year. I cannot see that this year however. The Dodgers lost too much in last year’s rotation. Manny cannot save them every night. Still Joe Torre will have his team ready and in every game. So it will be close.
The Diamondbacks had an outstanding rotation in Haren and Webb. Now add Jon Garland to the mix for 2009. This in addition to the lineup with some solid, yet no big name talent, hopefully will produce. The hunger of just missing the playoffs may be what they need to push them into the postseason this year. Again with some solid play, and a bounce here and there might be an opportunity to see the baby Backs atop the NL West for 2009. I take them for second place though.
The Giants have the strongest rotation of the bunch and it should carry them to the title. However, there are signs, due to their offense, that 3rd will be their fate. If they are still in contention, they may be able to pick up some offense at the trading deadline. If they have just enough offense and the pitching is sound, they will win the NL West which I will say they may do in 2009. It will be very close if they do, though.
So I think after further review, the Giants, D-Backs and Dodgers will battle for 1st place. I have a crazy notion to take the Giants to win the NL West and live with the crow afterwards if I am wrong. I just think the Giants have deepened the rotation so much and now will battle for the top spot in the division. I am going totally on faith with this pick and would not be surprised if LA or AZ also won due to their track record. Tell me where you think these teams will end up from your point of view?