The TYA Staff's 2011 MLB Predictions

In honor of the onset of the 2011 MLB season, we’re pleased to present the 2011 predictions of our entire 10-man staff. Apologies for the slight loss in fidelity of the below table, but it’s still readable. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to insert a chart into a post with 11 columns (for a larger version you should right-click on the graphic and open it up in a new tab, then click on it once more in the new tab).

To recap, nine out of 10 us expect the Red Sox to win the AL East, with William being the lone dissenter and going Yankees. However, the nine of us that picked Boston to win the ALE have the Yankees as the Wild Card, and so all 10 of us see the Yankees making the playoffs.

Regarding the Al Central champ, five picked the Twins, four have the White Sox, and one (EJ) picked the Tigers. In the AL West, six writers believe the A’s will dethrone the Rangers, only three of us think Texas will repeat, while one (William) has the Angels re-taking the West.… Click here to read the rest

A Look at the 2011 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

In 2009 the Angels won 97 games and came two victories shy of making the World Series. That team featured a high-powered offense that put the ball in play to score runs. Apart from Kendrys Morales, no other player on that team had more than 30 homers, but every single starter posted an OPS+ of 104 or better. To put how good that is into perspective, not even the 2010 Yankees featured a lineup of 100 OPS+ hitters top to bottom (than you very much, Derek Jeter). Unfortunately for the 2009 Angels, they didn’t offer much in the way of pitching. Baseball-Reference only lists four qualified starters for the team, and two of them were Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana. In all likelihood, had the 2009 Yankee offense not chewed up that rotation, the 2009 Phillies’ offense would have.

That was 2009. The 2010 version of the Angels was different. Longtime ace John Lackey left as a free agent.… Click here to read the rest

A Look at the 2011 Kansas City Royals

Our previews of the teams in the American League march on. Click here to see the other posts in this series.

It almost seems a bit premature to be writing this. No one expects the Royals to be any good in 2011. However, for long-suffering Kansas City fans hope may finally be emerging. According to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper, the Royals have “the deepest farm system in baseball.” The team is reported to have a slew of pitching and position prospects on the cusp of breaking into the Majors. Yankee fans need only point as far as Jesus Montero and Phil Hughes to demonstrate how exciting it can be for new prospects to break into the game. Even if the team is bad it can be exciting to follow the development of a top talent, and the Royals are said to have a few such players in the system. So, Royals fans have that going for them.

Unfortunately this isn’t a preview about the Kansas City farm system.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Seattle Mariners

Know thy competition; be sure to click here for the complete listing of American League previews.

The 2009 Mariners showcased promise despite obvious offensive shortcomings thanks to some stellar defense. After a third-place finish in the AL West, a renewed sense of optimism was reinforced last year after the organization added front-line starter Cliff Lee to an already-strong pitching staff backed by a superb defense, and free-agent infielder Chone Figgins in an attempt to spark the offense. Unfortunately for Seattle, the team grossly underachieved as they delivered an abysmal 61-101 record — finishing in last place in the AL West (29 games behind the Rangers). Needless to say, the 2011 outlook doesn’t have the same jovial aura resonating out of it.

In terms of player moves, the notable loss was Cliff Lee of course, who was traded midseason to the Texas Rangers. Lesser known players such as Casey Kotchman (who signed a minor league agreement with Tampa Bay), random-Yankee-destroyer Russell Branyan, recently-retired Ian Snell, and Ryan Rowland-Smith also departed.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Minnesota Twins

Joe Mauer (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Note: For previous Yankee Analyst 2011 team previews, click here.

The 2010 Minnesota Twins opened their beautiful new stadium with a bang, hitting (.334 wOBA, third-best team mark in the AL) and pitching (3.91 staff FIP, second-best mark in the AL) their way to the third-best record in the American League (94-68) and second straight AL Central division crown.

Unfortunately for their troubles they drew the Yankees in the American League Division Series for the second straight year. Despite holding home field advantage this time, Minnesota wound up getting swept out of the postseason by New York for the second straight October, falling to 0-9 in their last nine playoff games against the Yankees.

As for the regular season, the Twins went 2-4 against the Yankees, avoiding being swept at Yankee Stadium in mid-May thanks to a rather shocking Jason Kubel grand slam off Mariano Rivera, and also avoiding a sweep a week later in Minnesota due in part to a wretched Javier Vazquez outing.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Texas Rangers

Your 2010 AL MVP

Note: For previous Yankee Analyst 2011 team previews, click here.

In divvying up the 2011 team previews, I knew I wanted both the Rangers and Twins. Having spent massive amounts of time analyzing both teams for the the 2010 ALCS and 2010 ALDS, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on these two AL rivals, and so today our 2011 season preview series brings us to the 2010 American League pennant-winning Texas Rangers, who finished atop the AL West (90-72) for the first time since 1999, which was also the last time the franchise made it to the postseason prior to 2010. Coming into the 2010 playoffs, the Rangers had but one playoff victory to their name, a road win against the Yankees in the 1996 ALDS.

However, last year’s Rangers wasted no time in dispelling any lingering thoughts of playoff futility, as they beat the AL East-winning Rays in a tense five-game ALDS and followed that up by throttling the Yankee pitching staff senseless (.890 team OPS) while simultaneously locking the Yankee bats in cold storage (the Yankees’ team OPS of .670 in the 2010 ALCS was their sixth-worst mark of the 31 playoff series they’ve appeared in since 1995) in winning the American League Championship Series four games to two en route to the franchise’s first-ever World Series appearance.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Cleveland Indians

The fantastic World of Sports hasn’t been entirely at all kind to Cleveland fans. He-who-must-not-be-named left the now-crippled Cavaliers in decidedly mind-boggling fashion in preference of the weepy Miami Heat. The Browns have enjoyed only three winning seasons over the past two decades resulting in a measly two postseason appearances.  And of course, this ultimately brings us to baseball where aside from 2001 and 2007, in which the Indians lost in the ALDS and ALCS respectively, the Tribe has been generally underwhelming at best.

After finishing in fourth place in the AL Central with a 69-93 record in 2010, the Indians look to compete in what is widely considered a three-team race. The good news for the Tribe is they really didn’t have any notable free agent departures as they have in years past. The bad news is in terms of signings, they didn’t really make any significant splashes either. They did, however, acquire journeyman Orlando Cabrera to fill in at shortstop.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Oakland Athletics

Trevor Cahill (Photo: Swingin

Note: For previous Yankee Analyst 2011 team previews, click here.

The 2010 Oakland Athletics (81-81, 2nd place in the AL West) represented quite the dichotomy — on the one hand, their starting pitchers boasted the best ERA in the American League by nearly half a run, at 3.47 (Seattle’s second-best mark was 3.83). However, that same staff was 6th in FIP (4.10), and had the AL’s largest negative delta between ERA and FIP by far (-0.62), indicating that the pitching staff benefited from some of the best luck in the game (second-highest strand rate among AL starting staffs, at 74.7%, 0.1% behind Tampa Bay; and lowest BABIP, .269) as well as a notorious pitcher’s park with perhaps the most expansive foul territory in the game, which undoubtedly helped spike many a potential rally.

The 2010 team’s bullpen was also good, but not quite as good as the starters, compiling a 6th-best 3.83 ERA and 9th-best 4.19 FIP.… Click here to read the rest

A look at the 2011 Detroit Tigers

Last season I visited a friend of mine in Ann Arbor. While I was there my buddy Josh and I saw all four games the Yankees played in Detroit in 2010. It was a miserable series for the Bombers. Apart from an explosion in the top of the 9th inning in the second game, and a homer from Mark Teixeira in the first game, the Yankees produced virtually no offense the whole series.

While the Yankees’ play didn’t stand out in my mind (for anything but its crappiness), many elements of the Tigers and Detroit did, including Jose Valverde‘s ridiculous antics on the pitching mound, the city of Detroit itself, Comerica Park, and, of course, the force of nature that is Miguel Cabrera. You may not want him driving your car on a Friday night, but you absolutely want him swinging the bat for your team. For these reasons I requested the 2011 Tigers’ preview. I needed to reminisce a little.… Click here to read the rest