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MLB Predictions

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With opening day less than two weeks away, PSR takes a look at the top teams and players across Major League Baseball in 2011.

World Series Contenders
Braves: Brian McCann and Jason Heyward are two of the top 10 position players in the NL. The rotation is deep, and Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel form a sinister left-right combo in the late innings.
Giants: While Aubrey Huff isn't likely to replicate his 2010 production, a full year from Buster Posey and a rebound from Pablo Sandoval would keep the pitching-rich Giants in contention.
Phillies: Good luck scoring against a rotation featuring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.
Rangers: Losing Cliff Lee really hurts. But the Rangers have the best defensive left side in baseball with Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre, as well as superb (if fragile) players like Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz. There's upside at the bottom of the rotation with Derek Holland and Brandon Webb, and Neftali Feliz could transition back to starting, too.
Rays: Crawford's gone, as are Matt Garza and Rafael Soriano. Still, Tampa is teeming with young talent and has a front office that knows how to ball on a budget. This won't be a rebuilding year for the Rays.
Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford supplement an offensive core already featuring Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, and a healthy Josh Beckett should bounce back.
Reds: Jay Bruce is about to join Joey Votto as a superstar, and while the rotation might not be elite, Cincy's depth will keep the team from relying upon minor league lifers or waiver bait to make starts.
Twins: Joe Mauer's a stud and the pitching staff paints the black, through the Alexi Casilla-Tsuyoshi Nishioka middle infield is questionable and Justin Morneau is still recovering from post-concussion ailments.
Yankees: They're an offensive juggernaut, but the rotation gets perilously thin after CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes.

NL Cy Young Contenders
RHP Zack Greinke, Brewers: Greinke pitched better last year than his ERA suggests, and he'll get to pick on pitchers now that he's out of the DH league.
RHP Roy Halladay, Phillies: The most efficient hurler in baseball walks no one, burns worms and gets punch outs when needed. With four plus pitches and unparalleled durability, Halladay is the picture-perfect pitcher.
LHP Cliff Lee, Phillies: This gum-chomping strike zone assassin might have better control than Halladay, and he has topped 200 innings in each of the past three seasons.
RHP Tim Lincecum, Giants: Lincecum is a far different pitcher now than when he debuted, dropping several ticks in fastball velocity and throwing more off-speed stuff, but hitters are still flailing at the plate.

AL Cy Young Contenders
LHP Brett Anderson, Athletics: The 23-year-old's precision and power-sapping ground ball tendencies make him a dark horse candidate, though his elbow will need to hold up.
RHP Felix Hernandez, Mariners: Don't let the win-loss record fool you: King Felix remains an ace for a team that provides him precious little run support.
LHP CC Sabathia, Yankees: Swapping some strikeouts for double plays, Sabathia remains a stalwart for a Bronx rotation rife with concerns.
LHP Jon Lester, Red Sox: Lester has pushed past 200 frames for three straight seasons, limiting extra-base damage with grounders and Ks aplenty.
RHP Justin Verlander, Tigers: Mid-90s heat, a wicked hook and workhorse innings totals make Verlander one of the best in the Junior Circuit.  

NL MVP Contenders
1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals:
Pujols' career slugging percentage ranks fourth all-time, ahead of Jimmie Foxx and behind Lou Gehrig. He's the guy you'll one day tell your grandkids about in a hushed, reverent tone.
SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins: Ramirez topped 20 homers and 30 steals during a "down" season. He's not a slick defender at shortstop, but he's playable there and possesses a bat that few other middle infielders can touch.
SS Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: A vacuum at shortstop and an offensive threat at any altitude, Tulowitzki is a perennial MVP contender just entering his prime.
1B Joey Votto, Reds: Votto has blossomed into a devastating hitter capable of challenging Pujols for first base supremacy in the NL.
3B Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals: A Scott Rolen doppelganger, Zimmerman's blend of patience, power and prolific defense deserves more attention.

AL MVP Contenders
1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers:
According to Baseball-Reference, Cabrera's most comparable players through age 27 are Frank Robinson, Hank Aaron and Ken Griffey Jr. Pretty good company, eh?
1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Freed from cavernous Petco, Gonzalez is primed for a monstrous season.
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers: This fierce hitter could repeat as MVP, but he'll need to avoid the injuries that have plagued him in the past.
3B Evan Longoria, Rays: He gets on base, smacks extra-base hits, plays Gold Glove defense, and he's just 25. Longoria might be the most well-rounded player in baseball, and the best may be yet to come.
C Joe Mauer, Twins: While the position burdens his body, Mauer's patience, contact ability and receiving skills at catcher make Minnesota's $184 million man a perennial MVP contender.

NL Rookie of the Year Contenders
OF Domonic Brown, Phillies: Brown's got all five tools, but Charlie Manuel need to commit to the lanky lefty hitter for him to mount a ROY campaign.
1B Freddie Freeman, Braves: Just 21, Freeman's smooth lefty stroke and big year at Triple-A convinced the Braves to hand him a starting job entering 2011.
LHP Aroldis Chapman, Reds: Will Chapman flirt with triple-digits in the rotation or out of the 'pen? Either way, hitters will whiff often.  

AL Rookie of the Year Contenders
LHP Zach Britton, Orioles:
Britton's best-in-the-minors sinker should produce bushels of ground balls, and his sharp slider makes him more than a pitch-to-contact prospect.
RHP Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays: Doug's son has a quality curveball and can touch 94 MPH with his fastball.
RHP Jeremy Hellickson, Rays: With five pitches and plus control, Hellickson is as MLB-ready as any prospect can be.

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