Op-Ed: MLB 2011 season preview

Posted Apr 1, 2011 by Matt Harding
The 2011 Major League Baseball season is just getting started; will your team be crowned World Series Champions this year?
Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka
Daisuke Matsuzaka, No. 18, is one of the top pitchers on the Boston Red Sox.
by Mark Sobba
It's that time of year again: April! Baseball's Opening Day has came and went, but there is still a whole summer (and then some) to go. This season is sure to be filled with surprises. That leads us to the question: Who will win the 2011 World Series?
Here is a list of the best and worst teams this year, exactly the same set-up as last year's article. However, no season is exactly the same. Who are the teams to beat this season?
American League
Front-running teams
Boston Red Sox- With a strong rotation, lineup, and bullpen, this team has it all and is well on its way to 100 or more wins. I'm picking them to win the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. It will be their third Fall Classic victory since breaking the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.
Minnesota Twins- I'm picking the Twins to make it all the way to the ALCS, only to fall short to the Red Sox. It is simply their time to finally make it past the first round of the playoffs. With a solid lineup and experienced pitching, there is little doubt that the Twins will finally advance.
Teams that'll fall short
New York Yankees- The Yanks always seem to be front-runners, but, I believe this year—they'll fall short. While they're not short on star power, the back end of their rotation is weak. Their bullpen is fairly strong, however, the Yankees lack a productive catcher in their lineup to do really well. Their catcher, Russell Martin, hit less than .250 last season and isn't too well known for his defensive prowess either. I don't think New York can even earn themselves a Wild Card spot.
Texas Rangers- Many people have the Rangers winning their division, the AL West—so do I. Still, their youthful starting rotation and inexperience will cost them in the long run.
Bottom-of-the-barrel teams
Baltimore Orioles- This team simply has no chance to win anything this year. They'll be lucky to win 60 games. I dare you to tell me you can name one of their starting pitchers. I've been a baseball fan for many years and journalist for one year and had to take a look at the roster to see for myself. Nick Markakis is their only bright spot.
Cleveland Indians- Once a perennial winner, the Indians will need the help of a rookie—say—Rick Vaughn from Major League. Other than that, they'll be a last place team.
Surprise teams
Detroit Tigers- Everyone shies away from picking anyone at all in the always wide open AL Central. This year, I'm picking my hometown Detroit Tigers to win the Wild Card. It should be an exciting roller coaster ride; plenty of ups and downs. They have a great one-two in the rotation and their lineup isn't too shabby. I'm not saying they're a legitimate World Series contender, but, they'll squeak into the playoffs by a hair.
Oakland Athletics- The A's were this close to being my Wild Card pick. Yet, I chose the Tigers instead of them due to one reason: their inexperienced players, especially at the back of the rotation. However, look for them to make a serious run at the division.
National League
Front-running teams
Philadelphia Phillies- They've been winning for a few years now and won't stop this year. They'll easily make it to the NLCS and are my pick to win the pennant to face the Red Sox in the World Series. Mostly, the team looks like an All-Star Game squad. Their rotation has three guys that could be the ace. There is no doubt that the Fightin' Phils are playoff bound.
San Francisco Giants- Last year's World Series winners are poised to make another run. Although I believe they'll fall short of another appearance, losing to the Phillies in the NLCS, the Giants are more than qualified to make it there once again. Pitching and defense wins games and San Francisco has both.
Teams that'll fall short
Cincinnati Reds- The Reds will fall short, but, by how much is the question. Although I picked them to win the division, I'm a little leery about it. They're an energetic team in a virtually wide open NL Central. Depending on which way you look at it, they'll either be falling short of, or surpassing, people's expectations.
Milwaukee Brewers- The Brew Crew, in the same division as the Reds, have just as good of a do the Cubs and Cardinals. The Brewers, though, even with their solid lineup, will fall short. Take a look at their depth chart and you'll see their lack of pitching.
Bottom-of-the-barrel teams
Pittsburgh Pirates- Self-explanatory
Washington Nationals- Yet again, self-explanatory
Surprise teams
Florida Marlins- Yes the Marlins! Hear me out... This team is young and talented. With the addition of Omar Infante, who, with an everyday spot can prove he's a threat, the Marlins are sure to at least make a push. I'm picking them as my NL Wild Card team. Josh Johnson gets Florida (the Miami Marlins next season) at least 15 wins this year.
So, who are your picks?