What a freakin' September and what a night to end the regular season. Nobody could have predicted what we saw. From the Red Sox and Braves choking, to the Rays erasing a 7-0 8th inning deficit, baseball proved once again that you can't predict it.
So let's try to predict it anyway. Here are your 2011 Postseason Predictions along with my Regular Season Awards presentation…
National League Division Series
Philadelphia Phillies (102-60) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (90-62)
Halladay, Lee, Hamels vs. a banged up Cardinals lineup with Matt Holiday a big question mark is the recipe for another quick Phillies win in the NLDS. The Cardinals have a few things that can give them a sliver of hope…the best player on the field is on their side (Albert Pujols) and they have had success against the Phillies this year. The Cardinals went 6-3 against the Phils, and were 1 of only 2 National League teams to have a winning record against Philadelphia this season. With that said…
Phillies in 3.
Milwaukee Brewers (96-66) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68)
I have talked about this a lot this season: the main thing that concerns me about the Brewers heading into October is their failures against good pitchers and good teams. They had a winning record against only 1 team that finished over .500. That team by the way was the Dodgers who needed a late push to finish with 82 wins.
On paper, the Brewers are the #1 contender to knock off Philadelphia, but they need to prove they can play with really good teams. For Arizona, the difference in 2011 has been their pen. Joe Patterson, who has been their lefty specialist this year, will have the job of containing Prince Fielder. I will go against my pet peeve of the Brewers and pick them because quite frankly because they are the better team…
Brewers in 4.
American League Division Series
New York Yankees (97-65) vs. Detroit Tigers (95-67)
Both teams have big time aces, both teams have pretty darn good lineups, but the main difference is the pen. Say what you want about Jose Valverde and the fact he's been perfect this year, but Mariano Rivera even at his age has the significant edge. Same goes with David Robertson over Joaquin Benoit. The Yankees bullpen to me is what makes them the favorite in the AL.
Of course, having a killer lineup helps, but the Rangers and Tigers can hit too! It's the Robertson/Mariano factor. Justin Verlander has been the best pitcher in baseball but this is not a team completely reliant on their ace. Doug Fister has been incredible since being acquired and they feature a lineup that has the best hitter in the series, Miguel Cabrera. (Robinson Cano is a close second.)
Point is, Verlander losing game 1 would not mentally destroy Detroit. The Yankees need to win this thing before it gets to a game 5. As of now, it would be Verlander against Nova…
Yankees in 4.
Texas Rangers (96-62) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (91-71)
Sometimes baseball makes no sense. My gut tells me one of the miracle teams (Rays or Cardinals) will make a deep run into October, because that's what baseball does! I think the Rays are more suited for that magical run than the Cardinals are.
The Rays' pen scares me and their lineup isn't nearly as deep as the other 3 AL teams, but they can pitch and they now have that "magic carpet" quality. They also have more post season experience than most teams with that average age. I think their right handed bats will do well against all the Texas lefties and they will ride the magic and exact some revenge on Texas for last year.
Rays in 5.
Regular Season Awards
NL MVP: Ryan Braun
I thought long and hard about Pujols despite his numbers not being up to par based on him carrying the Cardinals all the way to the Wild Card, but I have to give it to Braun. He put up sick numbers on the 2nd best team in the NL. He overcomes the split factor with Prince Fielder.
AL MVP: Curtis Granderson
This was a very tough decision, but the Red Sox choking away a spot to me eliminates all of their candidates. I can't go with Verlander because the MVP of the Tigers isn't even him. In the end I decided between Miguel Cabrera and Granderson.
NL CY YOUNG: Clayton Kershaw
Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are right there…but when you win the pitching triple crown for your league you get my vote.
AL CY YOUNG: Justin Verlander
Do I really need to explain?
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Craig Kimbrel
Despite his September meltdown, Kimbrel may have been the greatest rookie closer we have seen. Honorable mention to Freddie Freeman and Vance Worley.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jeremy Hellickson
What a rookie class. Nova, Hosmer or Trumbo could win this award in another year. But to me having a sub 3 ERA in the American League East takes the cake. He also didn't lose a game in September as the Rays roared back to win the Wild Card.
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Kirk Gibson
What a job he did in Arizona…also honorable mention to Tony LaRussa for what he did with the Cardinals.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Joe Maddon
No one thought they could catch the Red Sox… except for this guy.
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