TWINS MVP: Well -- how could anyone say a name other than Joe Mauer? It's kind of hard to be a team MVP when someone else overshadows everyone else in baseball the way your catcher does. Look for this guy to have an off year and hit around .330/.400/.525 while single-handedly renewing the integrity of baseball.
TWINS TOP PITCHER: Joe Nathan. Oh wait, too soon. I'm going to say Kevin Slowey. I've had my eye on the guy for a long time, and not just because Thrylos98 is enamored. His pinpoint control and ability to miss bats even without overpowering stuff is incredible. And the poise he displays on the mound is something only grizzled veterans tend to display. Years of brilliance about to display themselves in 2010.
TWINS BEST ROOKIE: Anthony Slama. Really, the only other real rookie I see coming up and getting playing time this year is Danny Valencia, and in general I think it takes longer for hitters to settle in to the majors as opposed to pitchers. Even though Valencia has more long-term upside in my mind, I think Slama makes the biggest impact on this team in 2010.
TWINS MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: Francisco Liriano. Without a doubt. If that slider and even a hint of his poise is back, he'll be a formidable pitcher.
BOLD PREDICTIONS: Delmon Young doesn't make it to midseason before Jason Kubel and Jim Thome claim all his playing time. Danny Valencia takes over 3rd base after the All-Star break and runs with it. Everyone in Twins Territory is calling for the amazing rookie, Anthony Slama, to close out ball-games by the time he's entrenched as the 8th inning guy in August.
A.L. CENTRAL PREDICTIONS:
2. White Sox
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS FOR THE TWINS:
1. Lack of significant regression. Mauer, Span, Kubel, Cuddyer, and several others had amazing years last year. The Twins are banking on the fact that they can at least show a reasonably similar performance this year. If that isn't the case, the cogs won't fit.
2. Orlando Hudson. OK, we all clamored for him. Defense and offense at one of our traditionally weak positions. If he can stay healthy and get on base at a decent clip, our lineup will be one of the most dangerous in baseball and our infield defense will be iron-clad.
3. Rotation. Those 5 guys are holding a lot on their shoulders. Considering that our back-up options are all kids without significant major league experience and don't seem to be banging on the door at the moment, they had better hold up their own and live up to and beyond expectations.
Rest of the League Predictions:
AL MVP: I'm likely just clouded in my judgement, but it's really hard for me to see anyone other than Mauer winning this. I'm trying to think of teams that will be in contention and there just aren't any clear standouts on them. Who knows if Jeter will have a similar year to last, but anyone 1-9 on that team will be mentioned in the MVP debate whether they deserve it or not. Boston has a few options but nobody really stands out heads above the rest, and I just can't think of anyone on the Angels, Mariners, or even Rangers that is just screaming MVP. Mauer it is.
NL MVP: Chase Utley. Maybe it's just because he was my first overall fantasy pick, but he's ridiculously good and his team will be vying for the World Series again in all likelihood. Hard to pass up such a solid player.
AL CY YOUNG: Justin Verlander. Yuck, I know, ugh. But he's just soooo good and deserves to win it soon. I love Greinke but two years in a row is a difficult accomplishment, no one who pitches in Yankee Stadium half the time will post stellar numbers, and Peavy isn't all he's cracked up to be. Plan B is Felix Hernandez, but I think Verlander wins by a margin.
NL CY YOUNG: Roy Halladay. I really want to say someone fun like Tommy Hanson, but I think Halladay just has the clout and can really dominate in the NL as well. Big assumption is that he stays healthy, but if he does he'll mow through the NL East.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Brian Matusz. One of the most promising pitchers I've seen and perhaps the only really bright spot this year for his organization.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Jason Heyward. Please, somebody throw out another name. It's impossible. The talent brimming in this guy is undeniable and I think anyone would sell half their team to get their hands on him. Pujols Jr.
AL BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Is this a real award? Ummm, I'm going to say Kevin Slowey. I think he's been good consistently but this is his year to finally shine. In 2011, no way does he slip below the 5th round of the draft, even if Thrylos98 isn't participating.
NL BREAKOUT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Pedro Sandoval. Maybe he doesn't qualify, because he wasn't bad last year, but I think after 2010 he becomes a household name.
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Francisco Liriano. After the first month he starts turning heads and doesn't look back. He won't be his old, old self, but he'll leave a wake of baffled hitters as he plows through the season.
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jose Reyes. He'll come back part-way into the season and start hitting with a vengeance, electrifying an otherwise lifeless and depressing Mets lineup with his OBP and speed.
AL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: Twins over Red Sox 3-1. Yankees over Rangers 3-2. Twins over Yankees 4-2.
NL PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS: Cardinals over Braves 3-2. Phillies over Giants 3-0. Cardinals over Phillies 4-3.
WORLD SERIES PREDICTION: Twins over Cardinals 4-1.