2012 MLB Predictions

Baseball 2012 has begun so it’s time I put my expertise to the test and make my predictions.  Here’s how I see everything shaking out:

AL East

  1. *Tampa Bay: this team has an excellent pitching staff (best in the division) and a very good lineup.
  2. *NY Yankees: suspect pitching and aging hitters still get this team a wild card.
  3. Toronto: up an coming talent which could rule this division for years to come- but not yet.
  4. Boston: bad pitching, depth and overpaid players lead to their downfall.
  5. Baltimore: need some young starters to step up before this team has a chance.

AL Central

  1. *Detroit: a no-brainer with massive offense, though worst infield defense in MLB could be a problem.
  2. Kansas City: a huge step for this organization as their talent level is on the rise.
  3. Cleveland: moving in the right direction but still missing legit pitching talent.
  4. Chicago White Sox: not sure what this team is doing, rebuilding, reloading, falling apart…
  5. Minnesota Twins: scrapiness can only get you so far and their time in the cellar has come.

AL West

  1. *LA Angels the money spent will do them well as they have power, pitching and depth.
  2. *Texas: unless Darvish can carry the staff, they’ll need every bit of offense they can muster.
  3. Oakland: amazing what Beane does with this small market team, but will fall short.
  4. Seattle: loads of cleanup to do before this team competes again.

NL East

  1. *Miami: Ozzie and the crew have a huge year with speed and pitching placing them atop the strongest division.
  2. *Atlanta: team is deep with both pitching and hitting
  3. Philadelphia: having 3 of the best starting pitchers in baseball doesn’t mean you can score. And they won’t.
  4. Washington: another team with talent up and in the minors which should make them competitive for a decade.
  5. NY Mets: only team defense will make them fun to watch. But that’s only window dressing.

NL Central

  1. *Cincinnati: a very good team with solid pitching and hitters. Should take this weak division.
  2. *St. Louis: Champs find it hard without LaRussa/Pujols but should scrape their way into the playoffs.
  3. Pittsburgh: another team rises from the cellar with better talent and effort.
  4. Milwaukee: should’ve sold the farm to keep Prince. Harder to score runs without that leftie power.
  5. Chicago Cubs: only thing keeping them from the cellar is Houston. Barely.
  6. Houston: this team is devoid of a face, identity and wins. A long road back, especially when they move to the AL.

NL West

  1. *Arizona: team becoming a league standard very quickly and will continue to rise- solid everywhere.
  2. San Francisco: big pitching keeps them in the hunt but will find run production difficult.
  3. Colorado: team with a solid core, but needs more pitching depth and an ace.
  4. San Diego: I like what this team is doing and their prospects should help them in seasons to come.
  5. LA Dodgers: a team with core star talent but needs so much help in other areas.

League Championships

  • Miami takes out Cincinnati in a full series
  • LA Angels defeat Detroit in a tough matchup

World Series

  • LA Angels use all of their talent and free agent pickups to defeat Ozzie’s Marlins

AL Awards

  • ROY- Yu Darvish, Texas, though I love Henderson Alvarez, Toronto
  • MVP- Albert Pujols, LA Angels
  • Cy Young- Justin Verlander, Detroit
  • Coach- Joe Maddon, Tampa Bay

NL Awards

  • ROY- Yonder Alonso, San Diego
  • MVP- Joey Votto, Cincinnati
  • Cy Young- Adam Wainwright, St. Louis (surprise!) though Zach Greinke shouldn’t be far behind
  • Coach- Ozzie Guillen, Miami

All of this is, of course, barring injuries.  I feel pretty good about these except that as a White Sox fan I am very biased toward Ozzie.  That being said, it doesn’t really matter who comes out of the NL because I strongly feel that the LA Angels are fully loaded and ready for league domination.  Feel free to share your opinions of whether I am a genius or a moron in the comment section- and thanks for reading!

 

Fantasy Baseball is Here!

The baseball season kicked off Godzilla style in Japan with heralded rookie Yoenis Cespedes and newcomer Dustin Ackley bashing HRs, and heavyweight pitchers Felix Hernandez and Bartolo Colon (extra extra extra heavy!) throwin’ fire.  If a game that pits Oakland vs. Seattle can be so thrilling then we know we’re in for a fun year!

Along with the baseball fun comes Fantasy sports.  I’m sure most of you have drafted your teams (I have as well) but whether you have or haven’t makes no difference- you’ll want to pay close attention to the players I drafted and make a move for them.  Here’s how my draft went down:

I’m in a 10 team daily 10×10 roto with H2H.  This sounds complicated but here’s the scoop- ESPN keeps track of ten hitting (Hits, Runs, HR, XBH, RBI, Ks, Runs Created, SB, BA & OPS) and ten pitching (IP, ER, Ks, QS, W, L, ERA, WHIP, K/BB, SV/H) and we face another team and try to win as many categories as possible.  While there is no win or loss, the total amount of categories won by the end of the regular season will determine whether you make the playoffs or not.

We also were able to hold two keepers, so I kept Albert Pujols and Justin Verlander.  I found out I was slotted 9th and we always run a snake draft.  This meant that I was basically drafting Pujols #9 and Verlander #11 overall.  I then proceeded to trade Verlander for a 3rd rounder (#28) and an 8th rounder (#72).  I was thinking I could get two pitchers that would put up comparable stats to Verlander 2012.  So let’s get into the picks:

Round 3 (#28)- this was one of the picks I traded to get and while I normally mocked to get Jeff Weaver here, both he and King Felix were gone as there was a huge run on pitchers.  But I was able to grab Adrian Beltre here to grab one of the top 3Bs where there isn’t a lot of depth.

Round 3 (#29)- I wanted a top OF but someone already took Josh Hamilton, so I grabbed Michael Bourn.  I knew I could fill up on HRs later in the draft but a guy who hits .290 and steals 60 bases is almost impossible to find.  Plus anytime you here others groan when you make your pick you have to celebrate!

Round 4 (#31)- I knew I needed a pitcher and I thought about reaching for Cole Hamels, but I love Zach Greinke.  He already has a Cy Young and was the hottest pitcher in the 2nd half of 2011.  It was a reach but I knew he wouldn’t be there at my next spot.

Round 5 (#49)- I love taking an SS here because you drop off a cliff after the first few.  I went with Jimmy Rollins.  His combo of power and speed are great, plus he has to make up for the fact Utley and Howard are hurt.  I also like Starlin Castro but he was taken.

Round 6 (#51)- I grabbed Jay Bruce right away.  I was shocked 4th round talent made it down this far.  He came in lighter and stronger, which means an improvement on last year’s 35 HRs is possible and I look for him to slightly improve his BA and Ks.

Round 7 (#69)- I always mock CJ Wilson here and think he’s in for a great season, but I couldn’t believe Dan Uggla fell this far!  Dude hit 35 HRs last year, was the hottest hitter in MLB’s 2nd half and I picked him up on waivers last summer.  I love and hate this pick- tell you why at the end.

Round 8 (#71)- Madison Bumgarner was an easy pick here, as I had the luxury of drafting another OF because I had next pick!  He’ll put up low ERA and WHIP along with high IP, QS and K/BB.  I’m thinking he’s the ace of the Giants by year’s end.

Round 8 (#72)- I like this guy, think he’ll put up great #s and would’ve been gone by my next pick: Shin-Soo Choo.  He fought with a DUI, bad shoulder and depression last season and will put that all behind him to go back to his yearly output of .300 BA, 25 HRs, 20+ SBs.  Plus he makes a great 3rd OF!

Round 9 (#89)- With Wainwright long gone I knew I needed a pitcher and Mat Latos is touted as the ace of the Reds.  Not a hard choice.  His #s might be affected by Great American Ballpark but he has better hitters behind him too.

Round 10 (#91)- I normally like taking Cuddyer as my 1B/3B here, but he was gone.  It seems like all I had to do this draft is wait for players to fall to me- Aramis Ramirez was an easy pick this low.  Taking Prince’s place at the heart of the Brewer order should put him around .290 with 30 HRs.  Great value.

Round 11 (#109)- I liked to take Josh Johnson with this pick but I was playing against some smart customers.  So I went with Tommy Hanson.  If those two can keep themselves on the mound, their numbers should be close.

Round 12 (#111)- I saw this guy still hanging around and couldn’t pull the trigger on him, but if you can get Jason Werth this late, you gotta go for it.  High Ks, but 20/20 and bounce-back potential.  I like to take Posey or Mauer here, but they were gone and I had a backup strategy.

Round 13 (#129)- I always reach for this guy and he’s gonna make me look good- Melky Cabrera.  A huge year in 2011 and with him being the main man in SF, he should come close to duplicating the numbers.  My OF was set, plus I heard a lot of groans again!

Round 14 (#131)- I saw a lot of teams that still needed a 2B and wasn’t about to be trumped out of my 2012 Steal of the Draft pick- Jemile Weeks.  I had him for the last month of 2011 and he was great.  I’m thinking at least .290 BA with 30-40 SBs and double digit HR potential.  I plug him right into my 2B/SS spot.  Some groaning was heard here as well.

Round 15 (#149)- Tim Hudson is out for April but should be strong for 2012 with always steady numbers.  Hard to pass up this late.

Round 16 (#151)- Jaime Garcia has been improving yearly and even though he breaks down in the 2nd half, I think he’ll have the stamina to stay strong after two full years in the majors.  And he’s a great pick here.

Round 17 (#169)- I made it this far without a Catcher and it could wait some more.  At least until Jesus Montero gains eligibility!  If he hits like everyone thinks he will, his numbers will rival catchers taken 10 rounds earlier.

Round 18 (#171)- I kept looking for pitching depth and found another sleeper in Clay Buchholz.  His 2010 numbers were amazing, he was down with injuries in 2011, so I smell bounce-back.  If not, I wasted a round 18 pick…

Round 19 (#189)- I was looking for my DH and I love Kendrys Morales for, yes I’m saying it again, a bounce-back!  If he puts numbers close to his last full season (.306, 34 HRs, 108 RBIs) he is an amazing bargain.

Round 20 (#191)- While everyone was striking early for relievers who might gain them 30-40 saves, I was biding my time before taking a reliever who might gain me 40 holds (and in this league it doesn’t matter!).  I went for the best setup man in the biz, Tyler Clippard.

Round 21 (#209)- I had a huge, key, late pick in my draft coming here and I can’t believe I waited so long for him and he was still here!  Brett Myers will be closing games for the hapless Astros, but he has SP eligibility.  I can have him plugged into any SP spot who has the day off and get Saves/Holds from him along with my other two RPs.  Genius!

Round 22 (#211)- I knew I needed a Catcher while Montero gains eligibility so I took Wilson Ramos.  He’s looking more like a platoon candidate with Jesus Flores, so I later dropped him for Kurt Suzuki.

Round 23 (#229)- I wanted to grab another reliever who had great numbers and Holds/Saves potential, so I picked Kenley Jansen.  I immediately dropped him after the draft for Francisco Liriano, who I’d been keeping my eye on.

Round 24 (#231)- Wanting more reliever depth, I took Sergio Santos.  I loved him on the White Sox last year and he should put up amazing #s in Toronto (as long as he holds off Coco).

Those are the picks, now here’s a great move to pick up the fish that got away.  I said that I wanted CJ Wilson, so I offered Francisco Liriano (who was a waiver pickup anyway), Jaime Garcia (Round 16) and Jason Werth (Round 12) for CJ Wilson and Adam Jones.  I basically moved up in draft spots for the SP and OF for a waiver pickup,  though I think a healthy Liriano could kill it.  But try not to dwell on it!  I have amazing OF and SP depth and have top 5 players at just about every other position.

Let me know how your draft went or if you like my picks.  Go Fantasy!

Super Bowl XLVI Prediction

Super Bowl XLVI is this Sunday at 5:30pm CST and I think it’s about time I go on record with my predictions.  This is going to be fun as it’ll be the first time I prognosticate on record for the universe to see!  Just like I said before- if I get some stuff right then give me some kudos and if not, lambaste me on the comments!  Here we go.

QBs.  Tom Brady is one of the best killer assassin QBs that football has ever seen.  He’s clutch and puts up stats as well as anyone.  However, he’s going against a defense which is allowing under 16 ppg in their last 5, and one of those was against monstrous Green Bay.  Eli Manning has become a QB you don’t want to face with less than two minutes.  His numbers and resume is up there with the league’s best and he was terrific this season.  He’s facing a defense which regularly gives up 20+ ppg but doesn’t break much beyond that.  I think Brady will win on yards but Eli will be mistake free with more TDs.  Plus he did the Pats in once before.

RBs.  Neither team has put up very good running numbers, but with aerial attacks like those, who needs it?  The Pats have impending free agent BJGE “The Law Firm” and promising youngster Stevan Ridley.  The Giants have bruising Brandon Jacobs but boast a healthy Ahmad Bradshaw, who had injury problems during the regular season.  I’ll take the Giants tandem in this matchup.

Receivers.   I decided to lump in the TEs & WRs for the obvious reason that the Pats have two freakshow TEs who can block on the line, but are also fast and furious in the secondary.  Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Wes Welker are enough without adding former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch.  The Giants have one of the best in Hakeem Nicks and out of nowhere stud Victor Cruz- who would’ve put up video game numbers had he started all season.  Nonetheless, the Pats have the edge here.

Defense.  The Giants defense has been amazing for it’s last five games only allowing 15.6 ppg.  They boast a mediocre secondary but an epic front four which should give Brady fits all day.  The Pats have been bent but hardly break and don’t normally allow their opponents to go over 30 pts.  They’re gonna have to do better than that.  Edge Giants.

Special Teams/Intangibles.  Neither team boasted very good special teams but the Pats do have a stronger kicker.  During their regular season matchup, the Giants forced 4 turnovers and might be able to approach that with their added pressure.  Both coaches have been here before and each has enjoyed a fair amount of success.  This category is a push.

I was fighting with myself hard thinking the Pats should do better than the Week 9 matchup.  Four turnovers are hard to come back from and they still almost won that game.  But the Giants defense is greatly improved and Eli is so confident I thought I heard him call himself Peyton (joke).  Plus Bradshaw didn’t even play in that game.  They look more and more like the team to beat (even though the 49ers should have) and I see the defense stepping up big in this one.  Final score: Giants 24- Patriots 19.  If you’re a betting man, put your money on the Giants +3 and the under (54).

See you on Monday!

Only Victim of NBA Lockout- The Fans

D-Wade isn't the only one hurting this season

The recent NBA Lockout was long and drawn out but a resolution was finally found between the owners and players two months ago.  While I did keep track of the demands and wants of each side, I really didn’t care how it turned out.  The players ultimately make way more money than they are actually worth while the owners are not much better. 

They’re both intertwined into a system which continually drives the fan’s cost up- tickets, concessions, merchandise.  This is a problem in most major sports: players and their agents continually look for better deals, always driving the price of players up.  Big market owners outbid other teams to sign the free agents, raising salary caps and average cost of players.  This is transferred down to the fans, the consumers.  The owners bring the new costs to ticket prices, concessions and merchandise to try to squeeze out more profit.  Also, the price of tickets and items is hurt by brokers and scalpers, but that’s a conversation for another day.

As fans, we’re victims on a regular basis, but this NBA season in particular just stinks.  The owners managed to negotiate the worst schedule ever seen in professional basketball- they squeezed 66 games into a 4 month period.  The average team normally plays 55 games in a four month period, so they’ve essentially added 11 games into the mix.  As a fan this hurts you in two ways:

  1. You may be forced to either watch more basketball than you normally do or just miss games, which greatly (financially) affects season ticket holders
  2. Players get hurt or are just plain worn out, which lessens the product

I’d have to bust out some mathematical statistics (which I don’t have time for) to prove players are getting hurt more often but as a Fantasy player, I’ve seen way more injuries than normal.  When a player is injured, especially stars, this hurts fans because they came out or tuned in to see certain players that are unable to play.  Also, when a schedule is compressed, that player misses more total games.  Last season if a player missed two weeks, he might miss 6-7 games, while this season he’ll miss 8-11.  When that star player goes down, a bench player comes in to take his place which further dilutes the product.

The compressed season has also affected scoring.  Players are getting less rest and playing tired.  This is leading to less scoring- much less.  For example, in the 2010-11 season, the lowest scoring team was the Milwaukee Bucks with 91.9 pts/game.  This season there are 10 teams scoring 91.9 or less pts/game- that’s one-third of the league!  It also stands to reason that Field Goal Percentage would be down.  In the 2010-11 season there were only 2 teams which shot under 44%- the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks.  This season there are 14 teams under 44%- that’s almost half the league! 

One of the worst things that could (and probably) will happen is that a team with a legit chance at an NBA title, or even a playoff shot, will have a player go down for an extended period or for the entire season.  It’s already happened to a couple of contending teams- the Atlanta Hawks with Al Horford and the Memphis Grizzlies with Zach Randolph, and with a couple teams vying for a playoff spot- the Milwaukee Bucks with Andrew Bogut and the New Jersey Nets with Brook Lopez.  Fans could lose out on possibly seeing their favorite teams not at their best in the playoffs, while others will see their team miss out on the postseason when they normally would’ve made it, further diluting the experience.

In summary, this schedule has affected everyone- attendance is down, players are getting hurt or tired, and we’re clearly watching an inferior product.  The owners might be making less money and the players may be physically hindered, but both are still getting compensated.  The only ones losing in this, as usual, are the fans.

Hello Sports World!

Welcome to Fantasy Sports On Demand.  I’m happy to be sharing my sports opinions and knowledge with you, along with any up to date news I hear.  Be sure to sign up for my RSS Feed, follow me on Twitter @FanSportsDemand, and look for my soon to be active Facebook Fan Page.

To kick this off I’ll share a bit of my sports passion and make sure to comment and give us your passions and views.  I was raised as a Chicago White Sox fan on Chicago’s south side.  My father was a Cubs fan but liked both teams, along with the entire game of baseball.  I was raised to love all of Chicago’s teams- the Bulls, Blackhawks, Bears and the Sting if you remember those guys!  I’ve been along for their ups and downs- the Bulls Jordan years and the Baby Bulls, the ‘Hawks with Mike Keenan and post Chelios (though I did boycott them after that!), the ’85 Bears and the Angelo Bears (I’ve been waiting a long time for that guy to get fired!), and have also been following the other teams and players at the same time.

Blackhawks Ice Crew

As far as Fantasy Sports goes, I lost the ’11 finals in Baseball, just lost the Football Championship by 1 point and am 4-1 in Basketball.  I’m getting psyched for 2012 Baseball but other than my usual keeping up with headlines I haven’t done any advanced draft prep.  But we’ll get deep into that later- stay tuned and let us know how you’re doing!