If I would have known the year I don’t pick the Boston Red Sox to win the World Series they do exactly that, I would likely be smart enough never to pick them again. Alas, I’m not. But before I tell you why Boston will become the first back-to-back champs since their bitter rival, the New York Yankees, won three straight titles from 1998 to 2000, I’d be remiss if I didn’t look back at last year’s prognostications.
They were not at all impressive. On the positive side I did correctly predict half the playoff teams—I nailed Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay but missed Boston, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis—and foresaw that the both the Dodgers and Tigers would advance to the League Championship Series but fail to reach the Fall Classic. I also was correct in asserting that the Devil Rays would finish second in the AL East (I foolishly bought into the new fangled Blue Jays as a serious contender) and earn a Wild Card berth and that the Tigers would finish atop the American League Central. Other things I got correct included much of the AL West, with Texas finishing second and Seattle and Houston fourth and fifth, respectively. Most impressively I nailed the Mariners 71-91 record!
Over in the Senior Circuit, I was one win away from the Marlins final tally (I had them had at 63 victories but they only prevailed in 62) and two off the Reds final record (92-70 instead of 90-72) but I did have the Dodgers winning the National League West. Two teams I underestimated were the Rockies (shorted them three wins) and the ever-resilient Padres who won a remarkable 10 more games than I predicted they would.
But that was last year. This season will be one of redemption—for myself, personally, on the prediction front and a fellow Wisconsinite who also has plenty to prove to everyone but me. Ryan Braun won’t win the National League Most Valuable Player award—while his stats say he should it will go instead to Washington Nationals’ wunderkind Bryce Harper (consider it a retirement gift to Commissioner Bud Selig that Braun is rightly rewarded for his talents after his chief prosecutor has exited stage left)—but he will do something much more important to his team, city, and state: lead the Brewers back to the postseason.
There they will vanquish the hated Cardinals, 6-4, in the Wild Card Game before bowing out to the Pirates in seven thrilling games in the NLDS. Elsewhere the Nationals and Dodgers will win their respective divisions and Washington will field its first World Series team since the Senators enchanted our nation’s capital in 1933.
In the American League it will be the Baltimore Orioles playing the role of Cinderella, advancing to the division series after ousting Tampa Bay (who will have to play one extra game to end Cleveland’s season). Boston will be the third team to reach the playoffs from the AL East while Detroit and California will win the other two divisional crowns. It will be a rematch of last year’s thrilling ALCS with a similar result: the Red Sox breaking the hearts of Tigers fans everywhere.
And in a classic World Series, the Sox—led by shortstop phenom Xander Bogaerts—will outlast the Nationals in seven exhilarating contests.
Want to know how your favorite squad will fare? Check out my team-by-team predictions and get the first glimpse of how a wild 2014 postseason will shake out.
As for my Bold Prediction of the Year: Milwaukee’s Khris Davis will hit 33 home runs this season.
And the award(s) goes to . . .
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, LF, Washington Nationals
AL MVP: Mike Trout, CF, California Angels
NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
NL Rookie of the Year: Archie Bradley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
AL Rookie of the Year: José Abreu, 1B, Chicago White Sox
NL Comeback Player of the Year: Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Grady Sizemore, CF, Boston Red Sox
NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke, Milwaukee Brewers
AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles