Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

MLB 2013 Predictions


Opening day has past and I forgot to post the obligatory “predictions” piece for 2013.  Here’s some far-too-early predictions on who makes the playoffs this year.  For comparison purposes. here’s the Writer’s slate of predictions, with lots of success predicted for our Nats.  My predictions below look awfully similar to’s Baseball Preview standings too.

(For a trip down memory lane, here’s a link to my 2012 seasonal predictions, and as you may have guessed, I was way off).

  • AL East: Tampa Bay
  • AL Central: Detroit
  • AL West: Los Angeles Angels
  • AL Wild Cards: Toronto, Oakland

AL East Narrative: The year the Yankees died; they’re too old, too dependent on aging arms and aging bats, and did next to nothing to improve in the off-season (though they did just pick up Vernon Wells, the Angels’ 4th outfielder.  Great!)  For a team that makes hundreds of millions of dollars of profits a year from the stadium and their TV station, they seem awfully worried about a few million dollars of luxury tax.  (see *ahem* Los Angeles Dodgers *cough*).  I think Baltimore regresses back to the .500 team they should have been in 2012 (they too failed to appreciably improve their playoff team), and Boston seems stuck in some weird middle-ground for the time being.  Toronto seems greatly improved but falls slightly short of the champ.  Tampa is left standing in the AL East; they won’t miss James Shields that much with their amazing pitching depth and can call up the next version of Trout/Harper in Wil Myers in mid June.

In the AL Central, Kansas City’s short sighted trade will net them a .500 record, but isn’t nearly enough to catch the Tigers, who return their whole rotation, get back Victor Martinez and add a possibly underrated Torii Hunter to add to their formidable lineup.  How they only won 88 games last year still amazes me.  The White Sox could challenge, but what have they really done this off-season either?   On the bright side, all these teams get to feast on Cleveland and Minnesota, both of whom look to lose 90+ games.

In the AL West, the Angels (who had the best record in baseball post Trout-callup) continue where they left off and bash their way to a 90 win divisional title despite serious questions in the rotation.  Texas hasn’t replaced what they lost in the last two off-seasons in terms of either hitting (Josh Hamilton) or pitching (C.J. Wilson, Ryan Dempster, or Colby Lewis)  but should still compete for the 2nd wild card.  But, absent signing Kyle Lohse (too late; he went to Milwaukee) or doing something to augment their starting pitching, I see trouble in the back of their rotation.  Meanwhile, Seattle made one curious move after another this off-season, all to finish in 4th place.  And Houston will challenge the 1962 Mets for futility, to the benefit of the entire division.

Wild Cards: Toronto has bought themselves a playoff team with their wholesale purchase of half the Marlins team.  However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see both WCs come out of the AL west, who get to feast on two pretty bad teams.  For the time being i’ll predict that Oakland and Texas duke it out to the wire, with Oakland pipping them for yet another surprise playoff appearance.  Oakland won the division last year; who would doubt them again this year with a very young pitching staff having one additional year of experience?  I think it comes at the expense of Texas this year instead of the Angels.

How about the NL?

  • NL East: Washington
  • NL Central: Cincinnati
  • NL West: San Francisco
  • NL Wild Cards: Atlanta, St. Louis

NL East Narrative: Despite some people thinking that Atlanta has done enough to get by the Nats, I don’t quite see it.  The Upton brothers are high on potential but so far relatively low in actual production except in fits and spurts.   Philadelphia can make a decent run up to perhaps 88 wins … but it won’t be enough, and reports of Roy Halladay‘s declining velocity are more than troubling.  Meanwhile the Marlins are going to be historically bad; in the past when they’ve done sell-offs they had marquee crops of rookies to rise up.  Not this time; their farm system is decimated and they didn’t really get back the A-1 prospects of all their salary dumps that they should have.  The only way the Nats don’t cruise to a title would be significant injuries in the rotation, for which they have little insurance.

In the NL Central, St. Louis’ loss of Chris Carpenter may be just enough to knock them out of the divisional race, where Cincinnati looks like the most complete team outside of the Nats in all of baseball.   Pittsburgh is a couple years (and a couple of pitching aces in Jamison Taillon and Gerrit Cole) away from really competing, the Cubs are content losing 95 games, and Milwaukee still looks like the same team that barely was .500 last year (even given the Kyle Lohse signing).

In the NL West; who would bet against the Giants at this point?   Despite the ridiculous payroll, I don’t think the Dodgers are really that good and they’re hoarding starting pitchers for too few spots (though, looking at the Spring Training performance of some of these guys … they’ll likely not fetch what the Dodgers need).  Arizona keeps trading away its best players to get marginal prospects who happen to fit Kirk Gibson‘s mold of a “gritty player” … and they seem to be set to be a 3rd place team again.  Colorado and San Diego seem to be in various states of disarray, again.

Wild Cards: Atlanta may be a 96 win wild card.  Meanwhile, despite losing Carpenter the Cardinals can slot in any one of a number of high-powered arms to replace him in the rotation and continue to draw from what is now the consensus best farm system in the majors.  They’ll sneak into the wild card much as they did last year and commence bashing their way through the playoffs.

AL Playoff predictions:

  • WC play-in: Toronto beats out Oakland, whose youngsters will be completely baffled in a one-game playoff versus R.A. Dickey.
  • Divisionals: Toronto beats intra-divisional rival Tampa Bay, while Detroit takes advantage of a weakened Los Angeles rotation and takes a close series.
  • ALCS: Detroit outlasts Toronto in the ALCS on the strenght of its starting pitching.

NL Playoff predictions

  • WC play-in: Atlanta beats St. Louis in the play-in by NOT allowing an infield-fly pop up to fall in this year.
  • Divisionals: Washington outlasts Atlanta in one brutal divisional series, Cincinnati gets revenge on San Francisco in the other.
  • NLCS: Washington over Cincinnati; they’re just slightly better on both sides of the ball.

World Series: Washington’s proclivities to strike out come back to haunt them as the Tigers excellent starting pitchers dominate.   Can’t be too confident in our Nats; i’d love to be wrong and send out Davey Johnson a winner.

Awards: this is just folly to do pre-season awards picks but here’s a quick run through without much commentary:

  • AL MVP: Mike Trout gets the award he should have won last year
  • AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander as he wins 24 games in the weak AL Central
  • AL Rookie; Wil Myers, who rakes once he gets called up in June
  • AL Manager: Joe Madden, who guides Tampa to the best record in the AL.
  • NL MVP: Joey Votto, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bryce Harper in the mix either as the default “best player on a playoff team” voting scheme takes over.
  • NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg, who won’t have as good of numbers as Clayton Kershaw but gets the nod because of east coast bias.
  • NL Rookie: Jedd Gyorko, though Julio Teheran could finally have it figured out.
  • NL Manager; I have no idea; this usually just goes to the most “surprising” team and I don’t see many surprises in the NL this year.  Bruce Bochy.

8 Responses to 'MLB 2013 Predictions'

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  1. Something has to change in the NL as I just don’t see the same five teams ending up in the playoffs in the same spots they were last year. With one less divisional patsy to beat up on, I think the Cards willend up on the outside looking in as the Dodgers ridiculous payroll at least gets them to the postseason.


    5 Apr 13 at 11:32 am

  2. A fair point. There’s no surprises in my predictions. But are the Cardinals really that different from last year? They didn’t really have Carpenter last season anyway, Lohse is replaced by the very good Miller, Wainwright is one year healthier from TJ, Lynn has one additional year of experience under his belt. I think their rotation is improved. And they’ve still got all these fantastic arms to step up if someone gets hurt (unlike us). Basically the same lineup that scored a ton of runs last year (765 runs, 2nd in the NL).

    Meanwhile, I really don’t think that the Dodgers are that good frankly. Kershaw-Greinke is great of course, but then you go Beckett (who is he now? and what can he do?), Harang (35yr old who was already mediocre) and newby Ryu (whose scouting reports showed a pretty hittable fastball). Meanwhile for all that payroll, they’re starting no-names at 3rd, SS, and 2nd, huge question mark in Crawford, Kemp coming off injury. I dunno; I think it may just come apart for them.

    Todd Boss

    5 Apr 13 at 1:08 pm

  3. I don’t think Cleveland is a 90+ loss team this year. They improved their offense with Bourn/Swisher/Stubbs over Choo. Yes Choo is a good player but they were able to upgrade at 1st and in CF while plugging in a guy who is a lottery ticket in RF. Not to mention Reynolds at DH is an improvement for them. The pitching is a question mark but Jiminez and Masterson are both capable of being brilliant and awful from start to start. If they both even out more this season I think you are looking at a team that is better than the Royals.

    As far as Texas not replacing people they did sign Darvish to replace Wilson and Colby Lewis was resigned he is just injured. No they didn’t resign Hamilton or Napoli but they did at least bring in Pierzynski and Berkman to fill a couple of spots. Dempster was only a rental for them and wasn’t that good while in Texas so not bringing him back makes sense. Harrison/Darvish/Holland/Oganda should be decent and eventually Lewis comes back from his injury in the 2nd half. The 5th starter spot may be hit or miss for awhile but a long term contract for Lohse didn’t seem to make much sense. He looks like the type of guy whose numbers would inflate in the AL.

    Pretty much dead on on the NL though. The only team I can see maybe sneaking into the playoff hunt for the 2nd wild card are Arizona and Philadelphia if a lot breaks right for both teams. Pittsburgh is still a dreamer and other than that someone is going to really have to pull off a heck of a season. The NL seems to be turning into what the AL used to be with Oakland/Anaheim/Minnesota/Boston/New York always making the playoffs from year to year.


    5 Apr 13 at 1:38 pm

  4. I could have dismissed Cleveland without really thinking enough about it.

    I just think Texas is working backwards. They go from nearly winning the WS in 2011 to collapsing down the stretch in 2012 and getting bounced in the playoffs to now, all the while losing marquee players and replacing them with non-marquee players. Hamilton/Napoli to Berkman/Pierzynski is a massive downgrade. I don’t think Holland is that good, Ogando is a massive injury wildcard and who knows who their 5th starter is.

    Todd Boss

    5 Apr 13 at 2:34 pm

  5. If I was the Rangers front office I would have had a hard time paying Hamilton what the Angel gave him. He is a difference maker when healthy and focused but those are 2 big question marks to committ $25mil a year too for half a decade. Same goes for napoli on the 3yr $39mil contract he initially signed. He isnt a marquee player. I am however quite baffled by the team extending Andrus. If the plan was to extend him why not use Profar ti acquire Justin Upton?


    5 Apr 13 at 5:00 pm

  6. I absolutely can not believe the Andrus extension either … and wrote up a post that I havn’t published yet about it. Perhaps will publish it tmrw.

    Todd Boss

    6 Apr 13 at 9:26 am

  7. Todd:

    Maybe I missed it, but I never saw a reply to my comment about your “Local Baseball” article. The Industrial Baseball League (I wrote the league history that is on the league website), CGL, etc. You can E~mail me at or go to my website and find my E~mail address there. I loved your support of ALL LOCAL BASEBALL even if some of your facts were a little off the mark. In my ten seasons in the Industrial League as a Player/Coach, Manager, General Manager, Team Owner and League President, we laid the wood to the CGL as did most every team in the league. We (my Diamonds) had a .700 approx winning pct in 25 to 30 games. I don’t have the stats at hand currently, I did when I sent you the post a couple weeks ago. Anyway, Joe Antonellis various teams from Classic Printing to Fedlock Falcons in 30+ games vs the CGL (as of 2005) have never lost a game. Fairfax Furniture, Mercury Van Lines, Washington Union Printers, Apple Credit Union, Carroll’s Mobil and Iron Baseball were all major crushers of the CGL.

    In 1993 (Sept. 15 through Oct. 1, 1993) we sent an Industrial League All Star Team (no ringers) to Cuba (see pictures on my website and article) to represent the USA in the “Third, World Club Championships” and we came home with a Bronze Medal. We were at that time the ONLY AMATEUR TEAM to EVER beat the Cubans twice in one tournament. The 1993 Cuban National Team had 19 players from the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal squad. The other Cuban team (the National Championship Club Team) had 6 members of the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal squad playing for them. We also played the Venezuela National Team and were 1 and 1 vs them.

    When we merged at the end of the 1992 season for the start of the 1993 season, we all took the best of the best to make what was rated by both the NABF (est. 1914) and the AABC (est. 1931) as the most powerful Adult Unlimited, Semi~Pro League in the Nation.

    Eight young players from my Diamonds were picked up in 1994 or 1995 and one in 1998 to play professional baseball. Also 5 players from my 1993 squad, were on the USA Team that went to Cuba. That five is over and above those young eight players who went professional.

    Bob Schnebly

    ……. .

    Bob Schnebly

    19 Apr 13 at 6:57 pm

  8. Hey Bob; yeah the comment response was probably buried since the original post was so old.

    I never knew the Cuba trip; that’s awesome. There’s always been great local amateur baseball support in this area and this is one more confirmation.

    As far as Credit Union/Industrial league teams versus Clark Griffith Teams, I think a shift of power has occurred over the years. Back in the late 90s-early 2000s the CGL was weaker and the Credit Union stronger. In fact, wasn’t there a year in the early 90s when the CGL didn’t even exist? Anyway; by the late 2000s the shift in power had gone back to the CGL, when it had great backing, more teams, and better talent while the Industrial/Credit union was withering to its current state. A GM of a former CGL team told me that scrimmages between Industrial and CGL teams in the late 2000s were always blowouts in favor of the college kids and for good reason; they had squads of 25 players with a dozen arms while the Industrial teams could barely field 9 guys.

    Its one of the reasons I think its a shame the CGL suddenly folded the way it did. Politics.

    Todd Boss

    20 Apr 13 at 7:50 am

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