I recently asked for other bloggers and readers to post their predictions for the 2010 season. Several bloggers have already posted their predictions, so I definitely suggest that you cruise around the Twins blogosphere to see them (I am hoping to make a list of links to the sites at some point today). On Twitter, several bloggers have started a hashtag of #2010TwinsPicks. If you're not following me already, you can find me @JoshsThoughts.
But without further adieu, here are my predictions for the 2010 season.
Twins MVP: Joe Mauer - No surprise here. Considered Denard Span, but how could I not choose the reigning American League MVP?
Twins Top Pitcher: Kevin Slowey - This pick has become a pretty popular choice among Twins fans, and for right reasons. Slowey had ten wins before being shut down last year due to a wrist injury. Through Spring Training, Slowey was absolutely dominant and showed no signs of his wrist holding him back. If he can stay healthy, I think Slowey will have a great season for the Twins.
Twins Best Rookie: Danny Valencia - If everything goes according to plan, Valencia will force a promotion sometime around June and from that point forward, he should receive most of the playing time at third base.
Twins Most Improved Player: J.J. Hardy - Hardy was awful for the Milwaukee Brewers last season and all signs are pointing to him turning over a new leaf. I'm not sure that I see him returning to his pre-2009 form just yet, but I do think he'll significantly improve his numbers.
The Twins will have four All-Stars. Mauer, Justin Morneau, Span and Jason Kubel.
Jesse Crain will lead the Twins in saves. Yeah, I went there.
Delmon Young will hit 18 home runs.
A.L. Central Prediction (Standings):
2) White Sox
5) Kansas City
Three Keys to Success for the Twins:
1) Health - We've already been hit with a huge injury and if we receive any others, it'll significantly lower our chances of winning the division. This is really something that is key to all teams, not just the Twins.
2) Strong Pitching - In both the bullpen and the rotation, the team needs to be solid through and through. Lest we forget how poor both performed at times last year?
3) Someone needs to step up - Young, Crain and Francisco Liriano are guys that I'm putting a lot of pressure on this year. All three have shown that they're talented, but the hype is over and now it's time to put up or shut up. No more babying.
Rest of the League Predictions
A.L. MVP: Joe Mauer - Don't accuse me of being a homer. Mauer's shown that he's arguably (with respect to Albert Pujols) the best player in baseball, and with both Span and Orlando Hudson hitting ahead of him, I can see Mauer driving in 120+ this season. I don't see him hitting as many home runs, but I don't think that it will be a significant drop-off.
N.L. MVP: Justin Upton - This pick is a little biased as Upton is my favorite non-Twins player, but I truly believe he'll become one of the elite players in baseball in 2010. He is only 22-years-old, but he is already one of the best hitters in baseball. He had a breakout year in 2009, but I think he'll open a lot of eyes in 2010.
A.L. : Felix Hernandez - He plays in a pitcher's paradise and has stellar defense behind him. On top of that, he has some of the best 'stuff' and has quickly become one of the best pitchers in baseball at the age of 23.
N.L. Cy Young: Roy Halladay - One of the American League's best pitchers moving over to the National League. He has one of the best lineups giving him run support and there's no doubt in my mind that he'll be a runaway winner for the award. As good as he is, I don't see Tim Lincecum winning for a third straight season.
A.L. Rookie of the Year: Scott Sizemore. He's an offensively-gifted second baseman who will be taking over full time second base duties from Placido Polanco on the Detroit Tigers. As a Twins fan, I hope this isn't true, but I'm a sucker for good second basemen.
N.L. Rookie of the Year: Jason Heyward. It's an obvious choice, but he looks to be the real deal. While both Aroldis Chapman and Stephen Strasburg are both attractive picks for this selection, I have to go with Heyward. He's widely considered the best prospect in baseball and the Atlanta Braves are forgetting about service time and are set to begin the season with Heyward as their starting right fielder. Both Chapman and Strasburg will start the year off in the minor leagues.
A.L. Breakout Player of the Year: Travis Snider - He's so young, but after cruising through the minor leagues, a lot of hype surrounded him in 2009. He struggled at the Major League level, but still held his own as a 21-year-old. He has a great power swing and has shown the ability to hit for average. If the Blue Jays are patient, which they should be, I think that this could be a big year for Snider.
N.L. Breakout Player of the Year: Carlos Gonzalez - Gonzalez turned it on down the stretch in '09 and he's primed for a breakout year in 2010. He has a sweet left-handed swing with good power. I think he'll emerge as one of the best center fielder's in baseball come this season.
A.L. Comeback Player of the Year: Brett Anderson - He was 11-11 with a 4.06 ERA last year but improved a lot after the All-Star Break. I think he'll become yet another good young pitcher for the Oakland Athletics in 2010 and I think 15 wins and 175 strikeouts with a 3.75 ERA is definitely in the realm of possibility.
N.L. Comeback Player of the Year: My initial reaction is to choose Jose Reyes, but being that he's already dealing with problems, I'm going to go with my other choice. Tim Hudson most of the 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. I think that he'll help the Braves be a contender for the National League East.
A.L. Playoff Predictions:
East - New York Yankees
Central - Minnesota Twins
West - Seattle Mariners
Wildcard - Boston Red Sox
N.L. Playoff Predictions:
East - Philadelphia Phillies
Central - St. Louis Cardinals
West - Colorado Rockies
Wildcard - San Francisco Giants
World Series Prediction:
Minnesota Twins over Philadelphia Phillies. Call me a homer, but with one of the best lineups in baseball and the potential for the pitching staff to step it up, I think that the Twins could be the team to beat in the American League. The New York Yankees will be very tough, as will the Boston Red Sox, but I think that the Twins will finally get out of the first round and keep the momentum through the World Series. The Phillies are an easier selection. They were already the best team in the National League and with Halladay, they got even better.