Your 2009 The Oriole Way predicted standings, playoff winners and awards. Better late than never...
American League East
1. Boston Red Sox
2. New York Yankees*
3. Tampa Bay Rays
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays
The Red Sox, Yankees and Rays are all going to be really good. I think the pitching depth of the Red Sox gives them a leg up; the Yankees lineup looks much less fearsome without A-Rod in the middle, and we don't know exactly when he'll return. The Rays are the odd team out in my rankings, but if they finish first I certainly wouldn't be surprised. The Orioles and Blue Jays are both solid teams that would be contenders in the NL Central, AL Central or AL West.
American League Central
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Minnesota Twins
4. Detroit Tigers
5. Kansas City Royals
This division lacks a true standout team, and the Indians are the pick by default. Grady Sizemore is an MVP contender, and the rest of the pieces are solid, if unspectacular. I'd like the Twins more if Joe Mauer were healthy. Just a blah division.
American League West
1. Oakland A's
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners
This division could best be described as "lots of question marks about the pitching." Did I really pick a division winner that started Dallas Braden on Opening Day? Healthy returns from John Lackey and Ervin Santana are crucial for the Angels, and the Rangers are a year away, even though they have a lot of young talent in the field and on the mound. If Felix Hernandez turns into the King and Erik Bedard returns to 2007 form, the Mariners are dangerous, too, but would be moreso with Brandon Morrow in the rotation.
National League East
1. New York Mets
2. Atlanta Braves*
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Florida Marlins
5. Washington Nationals
When your core is David Wright, Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and Johan Santana you're going to win lots of games; too bad Oliver Perez is the # 2 starter. All those pitchers the Braves signed would sure look good at Citi Field this October, but 2/3 of the opening day starting outfield (Jeff Francouer and Garret Anderson) could combine for a .310 OBP. Like the Mets, the Phillies have a championship caliber core; I like the rest of the pieces less, though. As always, the Marlins have some live arms, and hopefully Washington can dig itself out from the Jim Bowden debacle.
National League Central
1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Milwaukee Brewers
4. Cincinnati Reds
5. Houston Astros
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
The Cubs look like the class of the division, but don't come without significant risks. You can never take Albert Pujols lightly, and a Chris Carpenter comeback would help a lot. The Brewers missed their chance last year, and the Reds have some pitching but too many offensive holes. The Astros are a long way from contention, both this year and in the future. At least the Pirates are starting to rebuild.
National League West
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamondbacks
3. Colorado Rockies
4. San Francisco Giants
5. San Diego Padres
The Dodgers are a very good team but might need one more starter. The Diamondbacks have a good top of the rotation and breakout seasons from Chris Young and Justin Upton could lead this team to the playoffs. The Rockies will be much improved with a full season from Troy Tulowitzki, and the Giants might have the best front four starters in baseball. Too bad they don't have any offense. Adrian Gonzalez is about the only thing the Padres have going for them; the Jake Peavy sweepstakes in July could get interesting.
AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, with condolences to Evan Longoria, Josh Hamilton and Mark Teixeira
AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, with strong consideration for CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay and Jon Lester
AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters, of course. Followed by Travis Snider and David Price
NL MVP: Albert Pujols. In the human division, David Wright, Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez merit stong debate.
NL Cy Young: Johan Santana edges out Tim Lincecum
NL Rookie of the Year: Andrew McCutchen collects the most points from a quintet of centerfielders (Cameron Maybin, Dexter Fowler, Colby Rasmus and Jordan Schafer).
American League Championship Series
Boston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians
National League Championship Series
New York Mets over Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Mets over Boston Red Sox