I must warn you that my selections tend to be contrarian at times, but I did pick the San Francisco Giants to win the World Series (over Chicago – not Texas) in 2010.
This year I predict that there will be four different teams in the playoffs, as the Rays, Yankees, Twins and Rangers will watch the October and November games from their homes.
The Red Sox added offense, should have improved starting pitching over last year and are almost two deep at every position. As for the Yankees, a three man rotation and two solid relievers are fine for the playoffs, but you have to get there first – and the #4 and # 5 spots in the rotation are shaky. Toronto, the Yanks and Tampa will all bunch in the 83 to 88 win zone in 2011, while rumors of Baltimore’s resurgence will have to wait until 2012.
I picked the White Sox to play in the World Series last year, and due to the added and retained offense in 2011, I pick them to win the AL Central, barely beating Detroit and an injured Minnesota squad. Kansas City is about two years away from perhaps making a run at the division title due to its stacked minor league system, and the Indians are still trying to recover and re-tool.
Pitching, relief pitching and a modestly improved offense will take the A’s from an 81-81 team in 2010 to a 90-win plus team in 2011. Texas will miss Cliff Lee, and the Angels and Mariners are in disarray for at least another season.
Wild card: Detroit
The improvement of Boston, Toronto and Baltimore (and decline of New York and Tampa) will cause the wild card team to come from the AL Central in 2011.
ALDS: Boston over Detroit, Oakland over Chicago
ALCS: Oakland over Boston
….as Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane’s “stuff” finally works in the playoffs.
Much like the Seattle Mariners amazing 1995 end of season run and playoff victory over the Yankees, the A’s will use their success and appearance in the World Series to get public, political and Major League Baseball support to build their new ballpark in the San Jose area. And if they are denied, baseball Commissioner Bud Selig will reward A’s owners Lew Wolff and John Fisher by giving them the right of first refusal to become the new owners of the New York Mets.
hornface.com’s 2011 MLB Season Preview