2011 MLB Predictions - American League

2011 AL Predictions

While the current NFL season comes to an end and main-stream interest in the NBA continues to plummet each and every year, most devoted sports fans will start to turn their attention to professional baseball and the 2011 MLB Season. That's right! Spring Training is just around the corner and pitchers and catchers are about to report any day.

Baseball spring training means new preseason favorites and predictions for the upcoming 2011 MLB Season.

Expert 2011 Predictions

Most baseball writers, bloggers, experts and so-called experts will be publishing their predictions for the 2011 baseball season if they haven't already. Most of their predictions for 2011 will be the product of in-depth research into the statistics, sabermetrics and results of the 2010 season, along with one-on-one interviews with professional baseball players and personnel. Due to their position as respected members of the media, it is important to not that their predictions will be completely free of bias and random thought.

My 2011 Predictions

So, if that's what you are looking for, well, you came to the wrong URL. The predictions for the 2011 MLB Season you are soon to dive into are almost solely based on bias with little to no research. I can tell you for a fact that I have not interviewed one front-office member of a single major league club nor did I attend the Winter Meetings, but, for what it's worth, I did once do a shot of Crown Royal with CC Sabathia.

Why read my predictions? Hmmm ... well, I definitely have watched my fair share of the sport over recent years and would like to think of myself as a knowledgeable fan. Which is to say, in terms of understanding baseball, I probably rank somewhere below Vin Scully and somewhere far ahead of the guy who doesn't know what WHIP stands for.

Credentials? Sure! Umm ... I participate in multiple Fantasy Baseball Leagues, I bought the Bill James Handbook 2011 and I pay for the MLB Extra Innings from my cable provider and go to somewhere close to 20 MLB games in a season, if that tells you anything. Obsessed much? Yes.

You're still reading? Fantastic! If so, you are probably at the edge of your seat waiting to see my predictions for the 2011 baseball season. So, drum roll please, here are my 2011 MLB Predictions for the American League (AL):

Source

2011 AL Division Winners

2011 AL East - Boston Red Sox

You could clone 50,000 Ozzy Osbournes, send them to Fenway Park and have them all scream at the top of their lungs at once and you're unlikely to make more noise than the Boston Red Sox did this past off-season.

What may be even more exciting for Red Sox fans is the fact that the New York Yankees barely made a whimper outside of the internal bickering between Derek Jeter, his agent and Brian Cashman.

The Boston Red Sox and Theo Epstein looked wicked smaaaat when they pulled of the biggest trade of the decade (so what if it's only a year old) by acquiring Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres, then only weeks later, made the second biggest splash of the off-season by signing superstar outfielder Carl Crawford from the division rival Tampa Bay Rays. With the addition of Gonzalez and Crawford, along with Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia returning from injury, look for the Red Sox to have the most intimidating offense throughout the 2011 MLB Season.

Their entire pitching staff from 2010 is returning, and while you might expect a slight decline in Clay Buchholz stats, you're almost guaranteed to see better seasons from Josh Beckett and John Lackey. Also, don't be surprised if Jon Lester seriously competes for the 2011 AL Cy Young Award.

AL East Roundup

New York Yankees: The New York Yankees are still feeling the chill of Cliff Lee's cold shoulder while waiting for word on Andy Pettitte's impending retirement. However, even with an off-season widely considered to be an epic bust, the New York Yankees enter the 2011 MLB Season with nearly the exact same lineup and rotation as the one that won them 95 games in 2010.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are beginning their ascent into baseball relevance and may have made the biggest addition by subtraction during the off-season by dumping Vernon Well's contract onto the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, freeing up tons of salary space for future free agent and draft signings. Look for Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero to break into the spotlight along with a whole lot of home runs from the hitters. Chicks should really dig this team in 2011.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Tampa Bay Rays lost both Carl Crawford (to the Red Sox, no less) and Carlos Pena during the off-season, two of the cornerstone pieces to their 2008 World Series run. They also lost Jason Bartlett who was an above average shortstop at the plate and traded away Mat Garza. Expect a career season from Evan Longoria, but it won't be enough to get this team any higher than fourth place in the best division in baseball.

Baltimore Orioles: Other than the Boston Red Sox, no other team in the AL East, or maybe even the American League, improved more during the off-season than the Baltimore Orioles. Mark Reynolds, Derek Lee and JJ Hardy are all upgrades from the 2010 season and the uber young pitching staff, as well as Matt Wieters, has another year under their belt. But, for the most part, they are too young with no experience with winning. Any other division and they might compete for third or even second, but not in the AL East.

Who Will Win the AL East in 2011?

See results without voting

2011 AL East Standings

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. New York Yankees*
  3. Toronto Blue Jays
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

* 2011 American League Wild Card

Who do you think will win the AL East in 2011? Answer the poll to the right or share your comments below.

Source

2011 AL Central - Minnesota Twins

Their turning Japanese. I think they're turning Japanese. I really think so. The Minnesota Twins made the most out-of-character move this off-season by signing Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a shortstop from the Japanese League, to take over for JJ Hardy at one of the most important defensive positions on the field.

If Nishioka is more Suzuki than Matsui, the Twins could find themselves in a position to compete for the World Series.

And if Nishioka is a bust? Well, they should still win the AL Central, since afterall, when it comes to the pure Xs and Os of Major League Baseball, there may not be a team that does it better in all of baseball. Simply put, the Minnesota Twins make you beat them because they refuse to beat themselves.

There pitching is sufficient with Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Carl Pavano and Scott Baker, and their bullpen should be excellent with Matt Capps and the return of Joe Nathan. Another big return is Justin Morneau to the starting lineup, who, along with Joe Mauer, should help carry the team to their third straight division title and their seventh in the last 10 seasons.

AL Central Roundup

Chicago White Sox: Kenny Williams finally got his man when he signed free agent Adam Dunn to the Chicago White Sox during the off-season, but is it enough to snatch the division away from the Twins in the 2011 MLB Season? I don't think so. I don't see Paul Konerko repeating his 2010 season or Carlos Quentin playing in more than 110 games, it also seems unlikely that at this point in his career Jake Peavy is the kind of guy you can count on week in and week out to be on the mound every five days.

Detroit Tigers: The Detroit Tigers improved their already solid lineup with the addition of Victor Martinez during the off-season which should only improve Miguel Cabrera's stat line in 2011, maybe enough so to earn him his first MVP Award. But as far as pitching goes, the Tigers have Justin Verlander and not much else in the rotation or the bullpen. Pitching wins championships, and divisions, and the Tigers don't have it.

Cleveland Indians: The best news for the Cleveland Indians this off-season was Shin Soo Choo avoiding his mandatory military duty for South Korea. Other than that, well ... actually that's it.

Kansas City Royals: After trading David DeJesus and Zack Greinke during the off-season, the Kansas City Royals have without a doubt the best farm system in all of baseball. What does that mean in 2011? Mainly that the Kansas City Royals will be terrible, but good things, maybe even great things, are on their way for a franchise in desperate need of hope.

Who Will Win the AL Central in 2011?

See results without voting

2011 AL Central Standings

  1. Minnesota Twins
  2. Chicago White Sox
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Kansas City Royals

Who do you think will win the AL Central? Answer in the poll on the right or share your comments below.

Source

2011 AL West - Texas Rangers

Cliff Lee decided to take his talents to South Beach, or wait, I mean Philadelphia, giving the Texas Rangers the old, "It's not you, it's me routine" before packing his bags and heading east.

Did the Rangers put on sweat pants, eat a tub of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and call it quits on the off-season? No sir. They went out and signed one of the best third basemen in baseball in Adrian Beltre and traded for the most prolific power-hitting catcher in baseball, Mike Napoli.

Napoli was oft ignored in Anaheim, but in Texas, in a hitter's park, he could shine as one of the best offensive catchers in all of baseball. He won't have the average of Buster Posey or Joe Mauer, but he might have double the home runs and anywhere from 15 to 25 more RBI. Combine that with a lineup featuring reigning MVP Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Michael Young and you have one horrendous matchup for opposing pitching.

The pitching staff took a hit with the loss of Lee, but Nolan Ryan and Mike Maddux have shown the ability to find diamonds in the rough before and should see continued success from CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter. And, if need be, they have the possibility of bringing Neftali Feliz out of the bullpen and into a starting role.

AL West Roundup

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The LAA Angels missed out on both Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre in free agency before trading both Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for Vernon Wells (Napoli would later be traded to the Rangers). With Vernon Wells, the team takes on a massive contract along with a major logjam in the outfield with Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Peter Bourjos. Dan Haren and Jared Weaver should carry a somewhat strong rotation, but in the end, the success of the Angels will be determined by Kendry Morales' performance. If all goes well, they may compete for the division or go head-to-head for the AL Wild Card with the New York Yankees.

Oakland Athletics: Holy Cow! That was a long blurb on the Angels. Umm, well ... the Oakland A's got better on offense with the addition of Josh Willingham and David DeJesus, but neither player is talented enough to take Oakland to the same level as Texas or Anaheim in the division. But, the Moneyball movie is due to be released this summer, for whatever that's worth.

Seattle Mariners: The Seattle Mariners know they will get 200+ hits from Ichiro Suzuki in the 2011 MLB Season, 200+ strikeouts from Felix Hernandez and 200+ headaches from Milton Bradley, otherwise, there are far more questions than answers. Justin Smoak is still extremely young and Chone Figgins is an absolute mystery. If those two have nice seasons, who knows, maybe the Mariners will make some noise, but nowhere near enough to compete for the division or playoffs.

Who Will Win the AL West in 2011?

See results without voting

2011 AL West Standings

  1. Texas Rangers
  2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  3. Oakland Athletics
  4. Seattle Mariners

Who do you think will win the AL West in 2011? Answer in the poll on the right or share your comments and predictions below.

Source

2011 AL Awards

2011 AL MVP - Adrian Gonzalez

What do you get when you take a .284 career hitter in the prime of his career, averaging 35 HR the past five seasons and 100 RBI from the most pitcher-friendly park and drop him into the best lineup in the AL in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the MLB? You get the 2011 AL MVP, otherwise known as Adrian Gonzalez.

Comparing the Boston Red Sox lineup to the San Diego Padres is like comparing, well, the Boston Red Sox lineup to the San Diego Padres. The gap is simply immeasurable, then consider the differences between Fenway Park and PETCO, and what you have is a recipe for success with Chef Gonzalez doing the cooking. Bon Appetit!

Adrian Gonzlaez will likely bat cleanup in the lineup after Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford. It's hard to imagine three better table-setters in the league and the trio should provide a whole lot of RBI opportunities. I wouldn't be surprised to see 140 or more RBI from Gonzalez along with 40+ HR by season end.

Then consider that he will have Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz hitting behind him, providing protection as well as scoring him and you should see at least another 10+ runs in the 2011 MLB Season over his career average.

Get excited, Sawx fans! Like Kevin Garnett, anything is possible and I expect a season for the ages from Adrian Gonzalez in 2011.

2011 Adrian Gonzalez Stat Predictions

R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
111
46
142
1
.294
Source

2011 Cy Young - Jon Lester

That's right. I am picking the Boston Red Sox to not only win their division but sweep baseball's two most prestigious AL player awards in 2011, the MVP and the Cy Young Award. Sweet Caroline! Pass the clam chowder!

Fun Fact: The last time both the MVP and Cy Young came from the same team was in 2005 when Chris Carpenter and Albert Pujols accomplished the feat with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Last season, outside of ERA (3.25 compared to 2.27) and wins (19 to 13), Jon Lester had very similar numbers to 2010 AL Cy Young Award Winner Felix Hernandez and an almost equal season to runner-up CC Sabathia, with 28 more strikeouts 9225 to 197).

Were it not for the Red Sox running out of contention for their division in late August and early Septermber due to injury, I assume you would have heard Lester's name discussed amongst Cy Young candidates. As it was, it was not.

Now, I do still believe that Felix Hernandez is the best pitcher in the AL and will put up overall better statistics than Lester in most categories in 2011, but by a much narrower margin, so much so that Lester's 20+ wins will be too much to ignore compared to Hernandez 13, 14 or 15. Along with the fact that the Red Sox should win their division while the Seattle Mariners will be out of the race sometime in June.

Thanks to a dominant lineup, Lester will have the lead in a large majority of his starts and, thanks to a fantastic bullpen featuring Daniel Bard, Jonathan Papelbon and John Danks, his leads should be safe after the 7th, 8th and 9th Innings.

If the Red Sox win 100 games in the 2011 MLB Season, don't be surprised if close to a quarter of them are from Jon Lester.

2011 Jon Lester Stat Predictions

ERA
WIN-LOSS
SO
WHIP
BAA
242
22-8
242
1.12
.220
Source

2011 AL ROY - Jeremy Hellickson

Predicting the 2011 American League Rookie of the Year is a fairly difficult endeavor considering very few rookies in the AL are expected to break Spring Training on a big league roster. Candidates that come to mind include Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees, Tsuyoshi Nishioka of the Minnesota Twins and Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Rays have already reported that Jennings will start the season in the minor leagues, but, due to trading Matt Garza to the Chicago Cubs, there should be an available rotation spot for Hellickson to win in Spring Training.

If he makes the rotation on Opening Day, Hellickson should be in the driver's seat for the 2011 AL ROY based on his brief stint in the big leagues last season.

In four starts with the Rays in 2010, Hellickson compiled a 3-0 W/L record along with a .766 WHIP, 2.05 ERA and 25 K.

He then went on to appear in six games out of the bullpen where he didn't fare quite as well. In the end he wound up with a 4-0 W/L record, 1.10 WHIP, 3.47 ERA and 33 K. Still, not too shabby.

2011 Jeremy Hellickson Stat Predictions

ERA
WIN-LOSS
SO
WHIP
BAA
3.67
12-5
167
1.19
.236

Read my 2011 MLB Predictions - National League.

What are your predictions for the American League in 2011? Which player do you think will win the AL MVP, Cy Young Award or Rookie of the Year? Share your predictions in the comments below.

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Comments 27 comments

10aeinhorn profile image

10aeinhorn 5 years ago from West Chester PA

i think there is a small chance of the white sox winning the wild card instead of the yanks


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

Hi 10aeinhorn -

Spoken like a true Red Sox fan. You could very well be right. I would put them right up their in the competition and if they get a healthy season from Peavy and solid contributions from Edwin Jackson and Mark Buerhle you might just be right.


10aeinhorn profile image

10aeinhorn 5 years ago from West Chester PA

haha yess, my natural bias always seems to kick right in


Husky1970 5 years ago

Sweet Caroline!!!!! Love your predictions. I, for one, would not want to be taking the mound against the new Red Sox batting order. Pitching will be the key but I have confidence the staff will perform better in 2011 than they did in 2010. Excellent Hub.


Tom T profile image

Tom T 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

I can't argue with your predictions. I think the loss of Cliff Lee will hurt Texas more than people realize and they may not be able to compete with the Angels pitching. I also think the Orioles hiring of Showalter is going to pay dividends beyond the upgrades in personnel. Good Hub.


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

@Tom T - Texas will suffer a little in the pitching department, although they were winning the division prior to Lee joining last season and their offense is just plain dominant dominant. If Hamilton, Cruz and Kinsler could all play 150 games it's scary to think how many runs that team could score. I also like the Rangers to make a major move at the deadline if need be and they still have prospects to spare.

The AL East should be crazy. Every team will win its fair share of games, but BOS and NYY will do enough outside of the division to cement their place at the top. Who knows though? I'm pretty excited to see how many HR Toronto could hit this season.


Brahmins profile image

Brahmins 5 years ago from Boone, NC

As an A's fan, I hope the team does a little better than 3rd. I'm not saying that they will, but it'd be nice to challenge the Angels for the pennant.


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

@Brahmins - The A's certainly have the pitching to compete for the AL West. I'm just not sure that Josh Willingham and David DeJesus are big enough additions to put Oakland in the ranks of Anaheim and Texas.


Darryl 5 years ago

I think you missed the boat on Oakland. That pitching staff got stronger with all the great bullpen addes and Matsui, Willingham and DeJesus will make them a mediocre offense, which is all they need since they have the best pitching in the league (led the league in ERA last year and have gotten better).


bogerk profile image

bogerk 5 years ago from Midwest Author

@Darryl - I am aware of their excellent pitching staff. However there offense is simply non existant and the loss of Rajai Davis will also hurt them. DeJesus is coming back from a serious injury and Matsui is far past his prime.

Pitching might be able to carry you in a division like the NL West and the SF Giants, but you need to score runs in the AL to win and since both LAA and TEX pitching staffs are at least above average and their offenses are far superior to OAK, I think the rankings for that particular division are pretty spot on.

The one I am questioning at this point is the AL East as BAL keeps getting better and better every day with the moves they are making.


Fullerman5000 profile image

Fullerman5000 5 years ago from Louisiana, USA

I couldnt agree more. Finally someone who knows about baseball. BoSox are going to take it all this year


RichERich1175 profile image

RichERich1175 5 years ago

Great hub! I can see that you put a lot of thought and research into your work and it shines through! Of course, being a New Yorker, I have to go with my Yankees, but I think you might be right-on with a lot of your other predictions. I look forward perusing though your other writings.


Derrick_Gingery 5 years ago from Silver Spring, Md.

Since you appear to be a Red Sox fan, I also assume you are partial to the AL East in general. I think you are underestimating the White Sox. If Peavy is healthy, their starting pitching is going to be among the best in the league, much better than the Twins.


Luke Hallman 5 years ago

Blue Jays will be a suprise to most of you. Dont be shocked if we finish 2nd in the AL East ahead of the Yanks, we did destroy them in the season series last year and our young talent is only getting better. Lets see how many how many home runs we hit...


4yearstrong profile image

4yearstrong 5 years ago

Another good hub! Personally, I'm a white sox fan. I think you're right, but I think they will put up a good fight for at least part of the year. They tend to do so. But I cannot see them going too far this year. However, I disagree with your Konerko statement.


billyblogthornton profile image

billyblogthornton 5 years ago from Boston

don't count out the Tigers or the Rays just yet...


froggywentcourtin 5 years ago

While Boston is going to be better with their grabbing Carl Crawford, I think that Tampa Bay'll repeat in the East. Not to take anything away from the Red Sox or Yankees but they're both getting a little long in the tooth. Toronto's going to be decent and perhaps have another above .500 season and the Orioles will be decent but not great.

As for the Central... it might come down to two teams, Chicago and Minnesota and it might come down to the last day of the season. Detroit was okay in 2010 but they might fade if Cabrera's legal problems get in the way. Cleveland could be a lot better than some say and Kansas City hasn't had a winning season since Jesus raised Lazarus. They need pitching after they let Zack Grenke walk.

The West could also go down to the last day as well. Texas proved to be tougher than most of us thought in the post season and with new ownership, the Rangers will make some noise in the west. Oakland looks good and getting a new stadium might help them get over the hump in a couple of years. Los Angeles just could be a lot better than some think and Seattle needs more than Ichiro to get them through the season.


DJProfessorK profile image

DJProfessorK 5 years ago from York, PA

The White Sox are going to win the AL Central. Quentin has looked fantastic throughout the spring and the first two games, if he and Dunn can stay healthy, they'll support Konerko to another 30 HR/100 RBI season.

Lester will not win 22 games, nor will his ERA be under 3.0. He might go 16-10, 3.54 ERA. He is not the dominant pitcher people make him out to be.

Oakland has the pitching, but they don't have near enough power to win the West.


alex 5 years ago

silly red sox fans... enjoying the 1-6 start?


alex 5 years ago

Btw, my picks:

West-rangers

central-white sox

east- red sox

wildcard- tigers

Lester will not win the cy young. i expect it will be either verlander, price, or King Felix.


Dave030966 5 years ago

WHEN did you write this? My fault for only finding this toda. I don't doubt that Jon Lester could win a Cy Young award this year (and maybe many in the future), what you wrote about John Lackey hasn't seemed to surface yet. And I don't have much faith in Daisuke anymore. He was a high-priced washout. I do like Buchholz and Bard, along with Beckett and my all-time 'take-one-for-the-team' Tim Wakefield!! This team has some juice! A-Gon at 1B, Pedey at 2B, Lowrie (what a surprise) at SS, Youk at 3B, Crawford in LF, Ellsbury in CF. The holes I see are at RF and Catcher. Neither have to be monster hitters, but they do need to show some defense Varitek has lost a lot in run production, but he does know how to handle a pitching staff. Either he'll end up a pitching coach (many were catchers) or a manager (many of them were also catchers (Mike Scioscia, Joe Torre, etc).

But, I digress. Find a way to sign Benjie Molina, bring up Ryan Kalish (I know, he's hurt now), Daniel Nava or Josh Reddick and find a way to cut J.D. Drew loose.

Any other team you want me to rattle on about?


Jay 5 years ago

John Danks? Really? Try Bobby Jenks. Horrible article.


MLB Expert Picks 5 years ago

Best NFL Predictions by the professional team of sports experts.


Jon Hunt profile image

Jon Hunt 5 years ago

Looking good so far! Although it really looks like a Weaver and Verlander race for the cy young.


zzzzzssssss 5 years ago

bump!


carlo_olano profile image

carlo_olano 5 years ago from Cebu City, Philippines

as of Sept. 6 not including today's games: Pennant races

http://caloysports.wordpress.com/2011/09/06/mlb-pe...


Malchiah profile image

Malchiah 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Looking at this from the beginning of the season to now, it's fairly accurate. I can forgive overlooking the Tigers though, as they've ran away with the Central at this point AND picking Lester to win the Cy Young, as Verlander is a LOCK.

Being a die-hard Yankee fan -since the days of Billy Martin, Thurman Munson and Reggie, I'm still believing that the Yanks will win the East, but it's about figuring out if they're better off against Verlander (if they win the East) or the Rangers (if they're the Wild Card). Should be interesting down the stretch.

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