I'm a big fan of Baseball America.
But their preseason predictions have me scratching my head. Their pick for World Series champs? The Tigers over the Mets. And they have the Yanks missing the playoffs (paywall, sorry).
Click 'Read More' to find out all the ways I disagree with BA
Now, I know that everyone says the Tigers have the best lineup in baseball, but I take some issue with that. Sheffield is an injury risk. Magglio Ordonez is due for a .100 point regression in SLG and a .080 regression in OBP. Placido Polonco is likely to regress a little, and he would need to play back-to-back 140 game seasons for the first time since 2001-2002 (the only other time). The 32 year-old Edgar Renteria's .332/.390/.470 year has 'fluke' written all over it, and if it is, then the Tigers have basically moved Carlos Guillen to first just to put Sean Casey's offense in at short. And out in left field, Jacque Jones' .285/.335/.400 line looks like a significant upgrade only in comparison to sub .300 OBP platoon of Thames/Monroe.
All in all, the Tigers are only the best offensive team in the majors if they repeat several career years with Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson the only regulars under 32.
And then there's the pitching and defense side of things.
The upgrade of slightly below average Guillen to slightly above average Renteria probably won't offset the down-grade from defensive wizard Inge to the average-or-less defense of Cabrera.
You think the Yankees' rotation has question marks? This is a team that saw only Justin Verlander start double digit games with a WHIP below 1.38.
Kenny Rogers needs to forget he's 43 years old. Nate Robertson and Jeremy Bonderman each have a single season on their resumes with better than average ERAs (both in 2006). Those two are going to need to have big years to keep the front-office from regretting trading away Jair Jurrjens and Andrew Miller (to Atlanta and Florida, respectively).
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Dontrelle Willis had a 1.60 WHIP and 5.17 ERA in the National League. I will bet a pitcher of beer for every 10 points of ERA+ that Mike Mussina is better than Willis this season.
And in the bullpen, without Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya in front of Todd Jones, the Tigers will be depending on the likes of Jason Grilli (1.94 K/BB, 1.42 WHIP) and Zach Miner (1.55 K/BB, 1.45 WHIP) to repeat last season's success. Keep in mind, that is a Kyle Farnsworth version of 'success' (1.78 K/BB, 1.45 WHIP).
My point is not to belittle the Tiger's chances. But when we remember that the Yanks won the Wild Card by 6 games last season, I don't see how Baseball America can pick the Tigers to beat out the Yanks for the Wild Card (let alone win the division and then top the BoSox and Mets to win the Series).