Webb: MLB Predictions

American League MVP: Alex Rodriguez This is the year that the league's best young player will win the Most Valuable Player Award. The only reason ARod didn't win the award last year is because his team finished last in its division and wasn't very competitive. This year the Rangers improved their bullpen quite a bit, and added an excellent manager in Buck Showalter. Chan Ho Park and Juan Gonzalez are healthy and the additions of a now ready Hank Blalock and phenom Mark Teixiera will help this team win 15-20 more games this season, making the Rangers competitive enough to justify ARod winning the first of many Most Valuable Player awards.

National League MVP: Barry Bonds It's another season and another MVP Award for the greatest player in the game. This season Bonds has Ray Durham leading off, Jose Cruz batting 2nd, and a healthy Rich Aurilia batting 3rd. He also has a very good hitter in Edgardo Alfonzo providing some protection in the lineup behind him. I expect Bonds to make a serious run at .400 and if he sees pitches he could hit 50 + HR and 140 RBI.

American League Cy Young: Pedro Martinez Pedro is healthy and has the best Boston Red Sox club of recent memory behind him. Zito could repeat as the Cy Young winner, but I look for Pedro to have a fantastic season as he pitches for his contract extension.

National League Cy Young: Wade Miller Bold, huh? Wade Miller had an electric 2nd half last season after starting the season on the DL. I expect for Miller to continue that torrid pace with a scary offense giving him plenty of run support. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Unit win this award for the 5th straight time or to see Miller's teammate Roy Oswalt walk away with the Cy Young, but my money is on Wade Miller to have a breakout season.

American League Rookie of the Year: Hideki Matsui Though Matsui isn't technically a rookie, MLB allows people who played years of professional ball in other countries qualify for this award. While I don't think Matsui is going to come over and club 50 HRs, I do think he will have a nice enough season to win this award. If the Rangers play Teixiera consistently, he has an excellent shot at this award as well, but I think Teixiera may be a platoon player for a while.

National League Rookie of the Year: Brandon Larson Brandon Larson spent a ton of time in the minors, but it appears his time is now. Aaron Boone is making the move from 3B to 2B to make room for Larson. After a recent lasik surgery, Larson is said to be seeing the ball very well and had a monster year in AAA last year. Look for Larson to head a talented rookie pack that includes Hee Seop Choi, Lyle Overbay and John Patterson.

American League Comeback Player of the Year: Jeff Cirillo
National League Comeback Player of the Year: Kevin Brown


First Manager Fired: Bob Boone


NL East Division Standings
Philadelphia 90-72
Braves 87-75
Expos 79-83
Mets 77-85
Marlins 75-87


Playoff Predictions:
NL East: Phillies
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wildcard: Astros


AL East: Yankees
AL Central: White Sox
AL West: Oakland
AL Wild Card: Boston


NL Championship Series: Dodgers vs. Cardinals (4-3)
AL Championship Series: Oakland vs. Yankees (4-3)
World Series: Dodgers vs. Athletics
World Series Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers (4-2)


Braves Predictions:
Overall Record: 90-72
MVP: Andruw Jones
Mike Hampton's Record: 11-11
Outstanding Rookie: Jung Bong
# of Smoltz Saves: 44
Underachiever: Paul Byrd
Overachiever: Henry Blanco
Minor Leaguer to make most impact: Andy Pratt

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