jgnjr asked jonboynky and I who we thought the division favorites were for season 10, presumably because we were the World Series representatives from season 9, and I figured it might make a good blog post and (hopefully) something that the prior year's World Series participants are willing to do on a yearly basis. Also hopefully, something that Minnesota management will have to do in season 11 and beyond! ;-)
Without further ado, here are my picks for division favorites.
Milwaukee Brewers - The class of the NL North, the Brewers return an impressive staff bolstered by the big FA signing of Kyle Powell. When a 100-win team adds to its strength such as the Brewers have, it's tough to see them anywhere but the top of the division.
Washington D.C. Nationals - This will likely be a battle, and the Mets return seemingly intact after a division title last season. With no major losses and a couple of savvy veteran role player signings in FA - including the very experienced defensive wizard Jesus Moralez - the Mets could easily be the team to beat for the time being in the NL East. That said, the Nationals were solid last season and I think this may be Washington's year, and what fun is it to just predict repeat winners anyway?
St. Louis Cardinals - In what is likely the toughest division in the NL, the Cardinals have taken the somewhat unusual step of mixing things up via trade immediately following a title run. It remains to be seen how it will impact the franchise, but while the rest of the division is nipping at the Cardinals' heels, they've yet to make the move that would put them over the top to unseat St. Louis.
San Francisco Giants - Years of quality drafting and excellent international scouting have quietly turned SF into something of a powerhouse on the left coast. Not given much media coverage way out west, SF nevertheless is poised to repeat as division champs and make a deep postseason run.
Oakland Athletics - A regular season juggernaut, and with the franchise's core of talent locked up this season and beyond, there's no reason to expect Oakland to slip in season 10. After the incredible run of regular season success Oakland has had, however, it's fair to say that fans have become impatient and merely winning the division crown is not nearly as satisfying as it once was.
Nashville Sounds - In season 9, Nashville posted the best record ever by an AL South member, improving on the division's previous best by a remarkable nine games. Though Tampa also turned in a good effort to finish .500 - giving the division two teams at or above .500 for the first time since season 2 - Nashville has separated itself a bit from the pack and is the pick to beat in the division until proven otherwise.
Baltimore Orioles - With a relatively quiet off-season, it looks as though no one has been able to close the gap and catch Baltimore, who won the division in season 9 with a comfortable 18-game cushion.
Chicago White Sox - Ah, yes, the bloodbath that is to be the AL North. Defending division champion Detroit hasn't missed a step and should see the post-season again, but I couldn't just pick all of the season 9 AL division winners to repeat, and Chicago has made great strides signing two top FA bats - Turk Weaver and Taylor Mullin - and landing front-end pitcher Mike DeJean from Seattle for minor league prospects. These new additions should be enough to boost Chicago to the top of the division, though it'll be far from easy and Detroit remains a force to be reckoned with.