It’s that time of the year again to make predictions for the upcoming Major League Baseball season.  Anyone who knows me is well aware that I’m a huge baseball fan, so this is all in fun. 

Just so you know, last season I predicted the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees in the World Series.  Well, we all know how that turned out.

Please don’t go rushing to your friends in Las Vegas and make some bets (but if you do and win some money, you know where to find me).  Okay, I’m kidding.  Here’s what I think will happen in the 2012 MLB season.

National League East:

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Florida Marlins

3. Atlanta Braves

4. Washington Nationals

5. New York Mets

This could end up being the toughest division in baseball.  I could see any of the top three teams winning the division.  The Phillies have the best pitching, the Marlins have the most powerful line-up and the Braves are the most balanced overall.  Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the Nationals hang around until September. 

The Phillies would be the easy choice if Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were healthy, but with the status of those two all-stars up in the air, it’s anyone’s division.

If Howard and Utley don’t come back by early summer, I could see the Marlins or Braves winning it, but with the Phillies pitching and experience, it’s hard to see them not claiming the division.

National League Central

1. Cincinnati Reds

2. St Louis Cardinals

3. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Pittsburgh Pirates

5. Chicago Cubs

6. Houston Astros

The defending champion Cardinals lost Albert Pujols and ace Chris Carpenter is not healthy.  Plus, they no longer have Tony LaRussa pulling the strings.  Meantime, the Brewers lost Prince Fielder.

The door is open for the Reds to finally breakthrough and claim the crown.  They have some pitching questions, but with that offense, I expect them to have enough.  Look out for the up-start Pirates.  I think Pittsburgh finishes above .500 this season.

National League West

1. Arizona Diamondbacks

2. San Francisco Giants

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. Colorado Rockies

5. San Diego Padres

The Diamondbacks are young, talented and poised to make a run to the World Series.  The Giants still don’t have enough hitting, in my opinion, while the other teams in the West are in rebuilding mode.

National League Wild Cards:

Marlins over the Braves in the Wild Card game

NLCS:

Diamondbacks over the Phillies

American League East:

1. Tampa Bay Rays

2. New York Yankees

3. Boston Red Sox

4. Toronto Blue Jays

5. Baltimore Orioles

The Yankees look like they can pitch plenty, but I worry about an aging offense.  Meantime, the Red Sox have question marks in the line-up and rotation.  That leaves the door open for a young Rays team to win the division crown.  They’ll finally upstage the Yanks and Sox.

American League Central:

1. Detroit Tigers

2. Cleveland Indians

3. Kansas City Royals

4. Minnesota Twins

5. Chicago White Sox

No real reason needed here.  The Tigers are the class of this division and it’s not even close.  Look for two young teams on the rise, the Indians and Royals, to battle it out for second place.

American League West:

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

2. Texas Rangers

3. Oakland A’s

4. Seattle Mariners

This is a top heavy division that includes what I think are the best two teams in baseball entering the season.  The Angels are stacked and have it all.  The addition of Albert Pujols drives them over the top.

American League Wild Cards:

Yankees over the Rangers

ALCS:

Angels over the Rays

World Series:

Angels over the Diamondbacks

Awards:

NL MVP:  Joey Votto, Reds

AL MVP: Evan Longoria, Rays

NL Cy Young: Roy Halladay, Phillies

AL Cy Young: Dan Haren, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year: Yonder Alonso, Padres

AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Moore, Rays

NL Manager of theYear: Ozzie Guillien, Marlins

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Rays

NL Batting Champ: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

AL Batting Champ: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

NL Home Run Champ: Jay Bruce

AL Home Run Champ: Nelson Cruz