It’s the most wonderful time of the year. . .. It’s all about the numbers, numbers, numbers, and here are mine. . ..
World Series Champions: Seattle
Mariners over San Francisco Giants
World Series MVP: Ichiro Suzuki
The Mariners’ top three pitchers as well as their superb bullpen will dominate the bats of the Giants. Barry Bonds will hit 5 home runs in the series, all at Pac-Bell and all off Mariners’ starting pitching. However, he will be limited to 6 RBI’s in the series and he will flirt with the Mendoza Line.
Ichiro Suzuki will win Series MVP honors after a perfect bunt sends home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth of the fifth game of the series in Seattle. Jamie Moyer, Freddy Garcia, and James Baldwin will combine for 43 strikeouts in the series and, besides those served up to Bonds, will not give up the long ball. Lou Piniella will watch the last 8 innings of the first game from his clubhouse after he kicks dust all over the home plate umpire.
AL East Champs: Boston Red Sox
AL Central Champs: Cleveland
AL West Champs: Mariners
AL Wild Card: New York Yankees
The Red Sox will continue to dominate the Yankees this year and will finish the year-long series 15-4. The Sox will win the East by 7 games as Pedro manages to stay healthy for the greater part of the year. The Cleveland Indians will destroy the Central after winning 23 games in April and 22 in May. They will establish the record for the earliest clinching of the division title. The Seattle Mariners will win 104 games even though Edgar Martinez will miss the first two months of the season and Bret Boone will not reproduce his MVP-worthy numbers. Their strengths will come from the bullpen, again, and from off-season pickups Ruben Sierra, Jeff Cirillo and Ben Davis.
The division playoffs will set the Indians against the Yankees and the Mariners against the Red Sox. The Red Sox will blow a two-game lead in the series after Pedro tears his rotator cuff in a pivotal game-three appearance. Shane Hillenbrand will demand to be traded after his MVP year, noting “we finally beat the Yankees and we still can’t make it to the series. Have Steinbrenner call me.” The Indians will sweep the Yankees. George Steinbrenner will begin to complain and won’t stop until the 2003 World Series, which the Yankees will win. His off-season will include the pickups of Bret Boone and Ken Griffey, Jr. His payroll will exceed the national budgets of 78% of the world’s countries.
The Mariners will sweep the Indians, holding Cleveland to three total runs in four games behind awesome pitching. Kazuhiro Sasaki will have seven saves in seven appearances in the AL playoffs.
NL East Champs: Montreal Expos
NL Central Champs: Cincinnati
NL West Champs: Giants
NL Wild Card: New York Mets
The Montreal Expos will surprise the Braves and the Mets with a showing that will culminate in an “in-the-black” year for ownership. Selig will be unable to justify the collapse of the organization and will instead focus on the Devil Rays and the Marlins, where his attention should have been focused years ago. The Reds will succeed behind the bat of Griffey, whom ESPN the Magazine claims is still the best player in baseball. The Giants will clean up the West in mid-September after going 14-5 on the year against the Diamondbacks. Finally, the Mets will take the wild card and promptly fade into oblivion, as is their style.
The playoffs will be less than exciting, as is usually the case in the National League. The Giants will outbat the Expos in four games, scoring a total of 34 runs to the Expos’ six. One game will establish a playoff record for game length in a nine-innning 9-6 slugfest that will last over six and a half hours. The Reds vs. Mets series will also lack enough excitement to garnish double-digit ratings for Fox. Junior, though, will destroy any hope of a Mets defense, slugging four homeruns in the five game series.
In the NL Championship, Griffey will tear his left hamstring in the first game, and the Reds will not hope for another chance. The Giants will outslug the punchless Reds and sweep the series before Fox even has a chance to run a featurette of the two greatest sluggers in the game.
AL MVP: Sean Hillenbrand, Red
NL MVP: Ken Griffey, Jr., Reds
AL Batting Champion: Ichiro
NL Batting Champion: Griffey
AL HR Champ: Jason Giambi (58),
NL HR Champ: Griffey (76)
The offensive categories may surprise some, especially the AL MVP decision, as Hillenbrand’s reputation as “Yankee killer” becomes carved in the green monster. His propensity to rock Rivera will only develop, and he’ll finish the year with a .312 batting average, 46 home runs, and 138 RBI’s. Ken Griffey, Jr. will pick up where he left off when he left Seattle, driving in 146 runs on 76 home runs. He will strike out fewer than 40 times and will finish the season with an awesome .387 batting average.
Ichiro Suzuki will bat .361 in the AL and, on another note, will steal 64 bases. Giambi will hit 58 home runs (49 on the road) and will bat only .212 at Yankee stadium but .365 on the road. The Bronx will boo him out of town.
AL Cy Young: Freddy Garcia,
NL Cy Young: Randy Johnson,
Garcia’s ring-garnering performances will include a 1.32 ERA. He’ll average 16 k’s a game. He will also toss two no-hitters during the year and establish himself as the premier young pitcher in the game after defeating Pedro in three head-to-head appearances.
Randy Johnson will give up an average of 0.92 runs a game and average 19 strikeouts a game. He will establish the Major League record of 26 strikeouts in a game in a one-hitter versus the Florida Marlins. Curt Schilling will not be a factor in the Arizona lineup, leading to the demise of the Diamondbacks.