Saturday, April 5, 2008

2008 Preseason All-AL East Team

I was originally going to do predictions for each division, but all the divisions are too close for me to call. So instead I have decided to go and create Preseason All-Star Teams for each division (First & Second teams). At the end of the series, there will be a vote on which team is the best. Please note I am factoring in last year's performance and this year's projected performance.

All-AL East First Team

C: Jorge Posada (NYY)
Posada's numbers from his career year last season trump all the other numbers of the other catchers in the East. I do not expect Posada to duplicate those numbers, but I definitely think he will still be the most productive catcher in the division.

1B: Carlos Pena (TB)
Like Posada, I do not think Pena will duplicate his numbers. That would be pretty cool if he did, but I do not expect him to hit 46 home runs again. Maybe 30, but not 46.

2B: Robinson Cano (NYY)
Cano had the best average and the most HRs and RBIs of any second basemen. He struggled in the field at times last season, but remains the top second baseman in the division. I expect him to only get better this season.

3B: Alex Rodriguez (NYY)
Need I say more?

SS: Derek Jeter (NYY)
Jeter is not the same player he was three or four years ago, but that does not mean he is not skilled. A .300 hitter, he comes through when needed and is adequately skilled in the field. Who cares if a study says he is the worst shortstop in baseball? I'm taking him over Julio Lugo, David Eckstein, Jason Bartlett, and Luis Hernandez.

LF: Hideki Matsui (NYY)
I originally had Manny Ramirez here because he is, well, Manny Ramirez. However, after looking at their numbers, Matsui hit more home runs and had more RBIs than Ramirez. Manny has adjusted his game away from being a power hitter a little bit, so he will not rake in the numbers we are accustomed to. However, I think Manny is in more of a decline than Hideki, so Hideki gets the nod.

CF: B.J. Upton (TB)
Upton will be a shining star in this league. He has 30+ home run power and batted .300 last year as a 22-year-old. I predict he will duplicate this performance.

RF: Nick Markakis (BAL)
Markakis is my newly christened mancrush, part of the reason he gets this spot. But love aside, I think he will have a better year than all of the other right fielders in the division. As a left-handed hitter, he has a short right field line in Camden Yards that he can exploit to his hearts delight.

DH: David Ortiz (BOS)
Ortiz was actually more productive last season even though he hit less home runs than he did in 2006. With no other team having a DH that can perform to Big Papi's level, he gets the nod.

SP: Scott Kazmir (TB)
Kazmir was the strikeout king for the American League last year and is only getting better. He should definitely be a 15-game winner behind his rising young offense. Kazmir will be one of the keys to the Rays projected success.

SP: Roy Halladay (TOR)
Halladay is only a few years removed from his Cy Young-winning season. He has declined recently, but can still hold his own against competition. He is still one of the best pitchers in the game on any given day.

SP: Josh Beckett (BOS)
There is not much to say about Beckett. He is a sure bet to win 17+ games and have an ERA under 3.50.

RP: Jonathon Papelbon (BOS)
The relief corps in the rest of the East pale in comparison to the staffs of the Red Sox and Yankees. Papelbon averaged a fantastic 13.0 K/9 and is still one of the most feared closers in the game.

RP: Mariano Rivera (NYY)
Rivera is most definitely on the decline, but he is still one of the better relievers in the East.

All-AL East Second Team

C: Jason Varitek (BOS)
This was a narrow choice over Baltimore's Ramon Hernandez, but with better offensive numbers and more able to handle pitching staffs, Tek gets the nod.

1B: Kevin Youkilis (BOS)
Youk gets the nod over Giambi, who is aging and has not showed anything recently. Youk is still Euclis, the Greek god of walks.

2B: Brian Roberts (BAL)
This was another close one, with Roberts getting the nod over Dustin Pedroia. Although Pedroia hit .317 to B-Rob's .290, I think that Pedroia will hit a sophomore slump as reigning AL Rookie of the Year.

3B: Mike Lowell (BOS)
Lowell will in no way repeat last year's numbers, but the Red Sox are betting on him to be a consistent presence in the order.

SS: David Eckstein (TOR)
See Jeter, Derek. Eckstein is the most proven and best fielder out the rest.

LF: Manny Ramirez (BOS)
I almost took Carl Crawford over Manny, but I expect Manny to rebound to 25+ HRs and 90+ RBIs this season.

CF: Vernon Wells (TOR)
Melky Cabrera almost got the nod here, but I Wells is a lot better than his stat line last year (.245/16/80) indicated. He should rebound to hit 30+ HRs with 100+ RBIs and bat over .270.

RF: Alex Rios (TOR)
Almost took Bobby Abreu here, but Rios continues to improve and should be a 30+ home run guy around the second or third spot in the order.

DH: Frank Thomas (TOR)
The Big Hurt can still hurt, as his 26 HRs last show. He will still impact the lineup, but not as much as in the past.

SP: Chien-Ming Wang (NYY)
It was tough to leave Wang off of the first team, but I think that Kazmir will have better year. Wang will still anchor the Yankees rotation, but he is liable to get knocked around a bit.

SP: James Shields (TB)
Shields is my sleeper for the year. I predict 15+ wins for him and a sub-3.60 ERA.

SP: Jeremy Guthrie (BAL)
Guthrie over Daisuke Matsuzaka? Just a wild guess. Dice-K was not really as productive as he seemed. Guthrie should win 13+ for the hapless O's this year.

RP: Joba Chamberlain (NYY)
No other relievers really.

RP: Hideki Okajima (BOS)
See above. Okajima will not be as dominate as last season thought…

All-American League East First & Second Teams.

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