Haven't had time to draft a post, however, you have my word that our picks are authentic and were crafted before the season actually started (you'll see from the picks that none of us are front-running).  And this is really for our benefit, anyway (not yours... if anyone out there is considering betting off of our analysis, let me be the first to advise you against doing that).











Hersh

AL MVP-Adam Eaton
NL-MVP-Bryce Harper

AL CY-Chris Sale

AL ROY-Sean Newcomb
NL ROY-Kris Bryant

AL MOY-Terry Francona
NL MOY-Joe Maddon

AL Comeback -  Prince Fielder
NL comeback  -Matt Harvey

AL Most Excited-Adam Eaton
NL Most Excited-The Cubs

Mc

AL MVPMike Trout
NL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton

AL CYFelix Hernandez
NL CYClayton Kershaw

AL ROYCarlos Rodon
NL ROY Kris Bryant

AL MOYRobin Ventura
NL MOYTerry Collins

AL Comeback – Prince Fielder
NL Comeback – Matt Harvey

AL Most Excited – Alex Rodriguez
NL Most Excited – Matt Harvey

OCP

AL MVPRobinson Cano… this is linked to my WS pick and Trout is certainly the best player on the planet but Cano has been really good for a really long time and I think if the Mariners do well, he will be in serious conversation (deserving of an MVP in his career)
NL MVPAndrew McCutchen… thought about Puig but I think McCutchen is the best player (non-pitcher) in the NL by pretty wide margin.  Barring injuries, it’s his to lose. 

NL CY – Clayton Kershaw… I really want to go with someone else but I can’t.  I wasn’t
AL  CY – Felix Hernandez… admittedly, hedging my bets here.  I don’t expect Felix and Cano (both Mariners) to win these major awards but I think that one of them will. 

AL MOY – Robin Ventura… it’s hard not to like what the White Sox are doing and I think Robin Ventura will have his ball club playing well this year.
NL MOYDon Mattingly better results with (seemingly) less.  I think that this year’s Dodgers team is built to win, addition by subtraction.

AL ROYDalton Pompeythe Blue Jays have a couple other guys that could vie for the ROY award (namely, starting pitchers Alex Sanchez and Daniel Norris) but Pompey will be a Web Gem favorite, he’ll steal a bunch of bases and he’s slated to lead off in front of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson… in a relatively weak AL-ROY class, Pompey, who is starting in Center Field for the Blue Jays has an opportunity create some early buzz and help his team reach the postseason.
NL ROYJoc Pedersonall of the ROY buzz has been focused on the Paul Bunyan-esque slugger known as Kris Bryant but he’s not on the opening day roster for reasons outside of his control so the door has been cracked for someone like Joc Pederson or Bryant’s teammate Jorge Soler to make it a competition.  I like Joc Pederson… in 553 minor league at bats, he posted 33 HR, 30 SB and a 1.017 OPS.  It’s very unlikely he’ll replicate those numbers at the big league level but the soon-to-be 23 year old slugger is a player to watch in 2015.

AL Comeback – Derrek Holland
NL Comeback Joey Votto
  




 







Mc

NL EAST
1.       Nationals
2.       Mets*
3.       Braves
4.       Marlins
5.       Phillies

I concur that this division belongs to the Nationals.  Their lineup is solid and with Gio Gonzalez as your 5th starter, you’re doing something right.  As a Mets fan, I’m hopeful they pull it together for their first playoff run since 2006.  Losing Wheeler will hamper that somewhat, but there’s hope that fireballer Noah Syndegaard will break in with the team sometime this year.  The Braves and Marlins could flip flop for 3rd and 4th place, but losing Justin Upton and Jason Heyward will deplete the Braves.  The Phillies are still too old, too injured, and haven’t been able to rebuild yet.  Miracles do happen, but the situation looks bleak for the Fightin Phils.

NL CENTRAL
1.       Cardinals
2.       Pirates*
3.       Reds
4.       Cubs
5.       Brewers

I hope the Pirates can pull out the division and make a deep playoff run, but the Cardinals are just so balanced of a team.  Adding Heyward should help, and their staff is still strong with Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn at the top.  I don’t think the other 3 teams in the division will put up much of a fight for a playoff spot.  The Reds get Joey Votto back, but his numbers were declining before the injury last year.  The Cubs have some nice young talent and they’re very much anticipating big things from Kris Bryant, whenever they bring him up.  I think they’re a year or two away from being a big presence in the NL Central. 

NL WEST
1.       Dodgers
2.       Padres
3.       Giants
4.       Rockies
5.       Diamondbacks

I think the Dodgers are still the favorites in this division, but the Padres have made some bold moves in the off season.  The Dodgers lost their middle infield, but defensively their replacements in Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick should succeed.  Yasiel Puig should come into true form negating the loss of oft-injured Matt Kemp.  Two Cy Youngs helming the staff in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke should provide plenty of wins.  The Padres added Upton and Kemp to their outfield as well as Big Game James Shields as their #1 starter.  Scouts and pundits are also expecting a good showing from Andrew Cashner as well.  I don’t think it’s enough to overrun the Dodgers.  The Giants are always that team you don’t think will be good and then they win the World Series.  They replaced Pablo Sandoval with comeback player of the year Casey McGehee.  Madison Bumgarner is a legit Cy Young candidate, but the rest of the staff is either old or shaky (ahem..Tim Lincecum).  Brandon Belt could have a breakout season.  There’s no major reasons to be optimistic for either the Rockies or Diamondbacks this year.

AL EAST
1.       Yankees
2.       Blue Jays
3.       Red Sox
4.       Orioles
5.       Rays

The AL East is one of the hardest to predict.  I think every team except the Rays have a shot at the division.  The Red Sox seem to go last to first every other year, so who knows how they’ll perform.  The Yankees get Tanaka back from injury along with hit or miss Michael Pineda and aging CC Sabathia.  I’m sure the lineup will produce runs, but consistency will be a key factor in their success.  Josh Donaldson was a homer and 2 RBI away from a 30/100 season last year and he bolsters the bash bats of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.  The key for Toronto will also be consistency of their pitching.  If crafty and aging pitchers RA Dickey and Mark Buerhle can fool hitters, they could make a run.  The Orioles also suffer from pitching, and I don’t think they’ll repeat as Division champs.  Or I could have it completely wrong. 

AL CENTRAL
1.       Tigers
2.       White Sox*
3.       Indians
4.       Royals
5.       Twins

Another tough to call division, the Tigers have the bats to produce runs, but pitching is a bit of a question mark here as well.  They lost a Cy Young ace in Max Scherzer to Washington and Justin Verlander begins the season on the DL.  If he bounces back and they get typical performances from Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes, it’s theirs to lose.  The White Sox and Indians will battle for the top spot all year as well, both of whom have solid young talent ready to produce right now.  I don’t think the Royals did enough with the rotation to be a viable threat, and the Twins don’t look very promising either.

AL WEST
1.     Mariners
2.      Angels*
3.      Athletics
4.      Rangers
5.      Astros

The Mariners and Angels should jockey positions throughout the season.  The M’s added Nelson Cruz to give Robinson Cano some additional weight in the lineup.  For the Angels, a lot will rest on the type of season they get from Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  The Rangers have Prince Fielder coming back but lost their ace Yu Darvish to Tommy John.  The Astros are a year or two away from making some noise in this division.

AL Champ – White Sox
NL Champ – Cardinals
WS Champ – Cardinals


I think the Cardinals are just too balanced and solid with scrappy players that find ways to get hits and score runs.  

Hersh

NL WEST
   1. Dodgers
   2. Padres
   3. Giants
   4. Diamondbacks
   5. Rockies

Dodgers made some big changes over the winter and I like the moves.  They should be better defensively with Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick.  The Giants have a lot of questions with starting rotation and I don't see a repeat.  Padres are improving.  Going with more offense after years of trying to win with just pitching.  Rockies are just bad.

NL CENTRAL
   1. Pirates
   2. Cardinals *
   3. Cubs *
   4. Brewers
   5. Reds

I think this may be the Pirates year.They have some good young players who I think are going to get better.  I think the Cards have weaknesses, but I think getting Heyward will pay off big for them.  Cubs will make the playoffs, but that's all.  They're a few years or less from being ready.  Joe Maddon will lead them there.  Reds lost too much of their rotation.

NL EAST
   1. Nationals
   2. Mets
   3. Marlins 
   4. Braves
   5. Phillies

There's no reason for the Nats not to win the division.  First, there's no one to challenge them.  At all.  Mets are improving and are loading up with good young pitching.  Yes they lost Wheeler, but there's arms in the minors just waiting.  They don't have enough bats to carry them to more than a .500 record this year.  The Marlins have improved, but don't get Jose Fernandez back till mid-season, that will put them at third place.  Braves are rebuilding and traded away a lot of offense.  But no team will be as bad as the Phillies this year, I see 100 losses for them.

AL WEST
   1. Mariners
   2. Angels *
   3. A'S
   4. Astros
   5. Rangers

Mariners look ready to take this division.  Adding Nelson Cruz should help Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.  Justin Ruggiano and Seth Smith should also help put runs on the board.  I think the experiment by the Angels of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton has burned out.  A's traded away too much to repeat with a winning record.  Astros are improving and wouldn't be surprised if they do finish 3rd.  Rangers have too many injuries to rebound from and Yu Darvish could be out for awhile.

AL CENTRAL
   1. Indians
   2. White Sox *
   3. Tigers
   4. Royals
   5. Twins

I think if the Indians can carry the momentum they had the end of last year into this year, they will be strong.  The starting rotation had an ERA of 2.95 after the all-star break last year.  I like the moves the White Sox made, which is why I picked them 2nd.  With Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn gone, they should strikeout a lot less.  I don't see the Royals repeating what they did last year - that bullpen will come back to earth.  I've been picking the Tigers here the last few years and they have disappointed.  Justin Verlander looks like he might be losing a little and losing Max Sherzer will hurt.

AL EAST
   1. Blue Jays
   2. Red Sox
   3. Yankees
   4. Orioles
   5. Rays

Eveyone is picking the Red Sox this year and I don't see why.  I think they have too many people who should be DH's.  Their defense will be bad.  With the addition of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, the Jays look ready.  If Dickey and Buehrle hold up, they can do it.  Yanks are getting younger, but still have too many players that are done.  Orioles didn't do anything to improve and Showalter can't work magic every year.  The Rays will miss Maddon.

AL Champ-Mariners
NL Champ-Pirates

WS Champ-Pirates



OCP

AL East
     1.      Yankees
     2.      *Blue Jays
     3.      Orioles
     4.      Red Sox
     5.      Rays

Tough to pick a front runner in this one.  The Orioles won it last year but this is the AL East where teams other than the Yankees rarely seem to win twice in a row… the Yankees finished second last year despite losing Tanaka and I really think they’re a much better team heading into the season this year than they were last year IF their pitchers can stay healthy.  The Red Sox offense looks really scary but their pitching doesn’t wow me at all.  The Blue Jays are a popular pick and I guess I’m buying into it by putting them second and making them a wild card selection… losing Marcus Stroman hurts and not having Melky Cabrera certainly doesn’t help but they have really good depth across the diamond and some young arms who could surprise some people.

AL Central
     1.      White Sox
     2.      *Royals
     3.      Tigers
     4.      Indians
     5.      Twins

This is going to be a fun division to watch.  The White Sox look like a team destined for the postseason – solid pitching, young studs at multiple positions (Jose Abreu could hit 40 HR) and some veteran leadership to keep the clubhouse in order.  The Tigers have a sneaky good lineup and a very formidable top 3 in their rotation.  Of course, the Royals surprised a lot of people last year… they won’t sneak up on anyone and I could very easily see them missing the playoffs (the World Series hangover is real).  The Indians are a fun team to watch – in this division, it’s all about chemistry and momentum.  Who can maintain momentum and keep things moving in the right direction…

AL West
     1.      Mariners
     2.      Angels
     3.      Astros
     4.      Rangers
     5.      Athletics

The Mariners appear to be destined for the playoffs… The 'Stros appear to be a year or so away but I think they’ll be competitive this year.  They have one of the deeper rotations in this division and upside at every position – certainly enough to land them in the top three.  Where the Mariners set themselves apart is their star quality (namely Robinson Cano, King Felix Hernandez, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager) and the depth they have in their rotation and their bullpen.  It’s easy to say that the Angels should be in the playoffs given the fact that they won it last year and they have the best player on the planet in Mike Trout and perhaps the greatest first baseman of all-time in Albert Pujols but I think they’re going to miss Howie Kendrick and Josh Hamilton (who combined for 7 WAR last year).  The Rangers and Athletics have both been nearly decimated by injuries in the early going… not a good omen for their upcoming seasons.

NL East
     1.      Nationals
     2.      Braves
     3.      Mets
     4.      Phillies
     5.      Marlins

Horrid division… Nationals run away with it, boasting the best lineup and rotation in this division (perhaps in the all of baseball – Gio Gonzalez is their fifth starter).  Mets losing Wheeler hurts, otherwise I’d say they supplant the Braves here but the Braves pitching should hold up.  Phillies and Fish duke it out for last.

NL Central
     1.       Cardinals
     2.       *Pirates
     3.       Cubs
     4.       Brewers
     5.       Reds

Competitive division… the Cubs could have enough to sneak into the playoffs as a wild card in this division (either passing the Pirates who I have in second or earning the second wild card in this division) but the Cardinals seem to be the cream of the crop.  They just always seem to do the right things.  They re-tooled their lineup without selling the farm… it’s a shame we will never get to see Oscar Taveres patrolling the outfield at Busch Stadium and a loss like that will hurt in many ways but the Cardinals traded one of their young arms (Shelby Miller) for Jason Heyward which opened up a spot in their rotation for Carlos Martinez, who arguably deserved the spot in the rotation, last year. 

NL West
     1.       Dodgers
     2.       *Padres
     3.       Giants
     4.       Rockies
     5.       Diamondbacks

Another competitive division… the Padres might have a better lineup on paper but the Dodgers still have the best rotation and better star quality.  Some of those battles out west will be fun to watch – I expect a lot of fireworks.  I’m not sure it’s ever smart to bet against the Giants but there’s just not enough there for me to bet on.  One of these years we’ll see a full season of Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowistzki… or maybe we won’t.  Love that Rockies lineup but can’t get excited about the rotation… Kyle Kendrick would be their opening day starter (with the amount of work that bullpen will be getting, I expect Latroy Hawkins arm to fall off).  Diamondbacks don’t enamor me.  Traded away a bunch of young arms and left themselves with not a whole lot…

AL Champ – Mariners
NL Champ – Nationals
WS Champ – Mariners

This is a wild pick but I think that the Mariners and Nationals both appear to be in a position to make the playoffs and if either of those teams are in the playoffs, they have the quality at the top of their rotation to win it all.  I think that the Nationals can out-muscle the Dodgers in a long playoff series… until the Dodgers prove otherwise, they’re not gritty enough to grind out big playoff wins.  I think that there are a lot of up-start teams who will just be happy to be there which bodes well for hungry teams.  I’m excited to see what King Felix and Stephen Strasburg can do against each other on the big stage… all that being said, it will probably be a Yankees/Cardinals World Series.
The Hot Corner is one of those positions that requires a great glove and a hefty, middle of the order, bat in today's game.  Remembering our two basic rules, we did not select anyone pre 1920 and we went with players that played a predominance of games at third.  Cal Ripken and Alex Rodriguez missed due to time at SS.  There are a few players that also didn't make the list but are worth a mention when it comes to the topic of best 3B of all time.  Pie Traynor (great name) was a career .320 hitter with 6 top 10 MVP seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  He is also a member of the Hall of Fame.  Paul Molitor would have made the list, but he spent much of his career as a DH and playing other positions.  Although he entered the Hall as a 3B, he wasn't quite right for this list.  Hall of Famer George Kell got some consideration as did Yankee/Padre great Graig Nettles.  Here's the list we came up with for third.

1.  Mike Schmidt
2.  George Brett
3.  Eddie Mathews
4.  Brooks Robinson
5.  Chipper Jones
5.  Wade Boggs
7.  Ron Santo
8.  Adrian Beltre
9.  Ken Boyer
10. Scott Rolen

It's pretty much Schmidt and then everyone else.  With 548 HR and 3 MVPs along with 10 gold gloves and 12 All Star appearances, he's far and away the best 3B to play the game.  Offense and defense were both prevalent in his great career.  Brett was another who could flat out hit.  He's one of the very few players to flirt with .400 in the past 74 years since Ted Williams did it.  Eddie Mathews played on some great Brave teams and is another member of the 500 homer club.  Boggs and Chipper tied in our rankings, and much as I hate Chipper as a Mets fan, I will concede he was a phenomenal player deserving of induction to Cooperstown.  We were all happy to see the underrated Santo make the Hall within the past few years as he was one of the best during his run.  Let us know who you think should have made the cut, we love your feedback!
Similar to their second base counterparts, for quite some time, shortstops were known as defensive stoppers with little offensive prowess.  They were usually outstanding with the glove and provided a speed burst on the base paths, but typically were not called upon to be heavy bats in the middle of the lineup.  For some teams, that still holds true and a solid defensive shortstop is still extremely important.  However the position has morphed to a degree of hybrid players that have fielding skills and run-producing bats.  Players like Troy Tulowitzki, Jimmy Rollins, and Alex Rodriguez all play outstanding defensive and have brought in a lot of runs.  These players didn't quite crack our list, but their indicative of how the game has changed.  A-Rod failed to make our list not because of PED use, but simply because he played only 49% of his career games at SS.  Other players to miss our list for similar reasons include Ernie Banks and Robin Yount.  We have softened on our eligibility guidelines, but all three played 50% or less at the position.  The Shortstops to top our list are...

1.  Derek Jeter
2.  Honus Wagner
3.  Cal Ripken
4.  Arky Vaughan
5.  Luke Appling
6.  Joe Cronin
7.  Ozzie Smith
8.  Lou Boudreau
9.  Barry Larkin
10. Luis Aparicio

This was a hard list especially at the top with 3 dynamic game changing players to pick from.  You could put any combination of the 3 up there and have a solid argument.  Jeter has the most hits and runs of anyone on the list, and he possessed intangibles of winning, clutch, and excellence in both the regular season and post season.  He always came up big at the plate and in the field and served as the lynch pin for the Yankees 5 titles during his run.  We made an exception to the pre-1920 rule to put Wagner on the list.  With the most RBI and highest batting average of any SS, it was hard to leave him off.  Yes it was a different time than today, but 8 batting titles is impressive in any era.  Ripken was the Iron Man as most know with a record of games played that will certainly never be beaten.  He was one of the pioneers to change the position to one of great defense and prowess at the plate.  The rest of the list is comprised of MVP winners, remarkable defensive players, speedsters, and guys with high lifetime batting averages.  We'd love to hear your arguments for guys not on the list or how you'd rearrange this one.   

Next on our list of counting down the top players by position are the second basemen.  This is our 3rd position to date, and it was the first to cause some real debate among the three of us as to which players made the cut.  A note to anyone that has been following our lists: We are softening just a little on our rule that a player had to have 75% or more of their games at the position to qualify.  Although longevity at the position will carry substantial weight, we will also be looking at each player's prime.  We also did make two exceptions to the pre-1920 rule as you'll see below, as this was one of those few extraordinary cases.  Here's the list...

1.  Rogers Hornsby
2.  Joe Morgan
3.  Charlie Gehringer
4.  Roberto Alomar
5.  Nellie Fox
6.  Ryne Sandberg
7.  Eddie Collins
8.  Craig Biggio
9.  Frankie Frisch
10. Bobby Doerr

Hon Mention - Jeff Kent and Chase Utley 

Second base is one of the weakest in terms of fielding an all-time team.  There have been great players to man the position, but not nearly the wealth we had to choose from at first base.  Even so, we were still able to get 10 HOF players on the list.  The two pre-1920 players are #1 Hornsby and #7 Collins.  Hornsby ranks among the greatest hitters of all time and could do it all, putting up numbers that the players of today would covet.  In his career, he led the league in hits and doubles 4 times, triples and homers 2 times, and won 7 batting titles.  Collins was the second exception, and frankly, it's hard to turn away someone with 3300 hits.  Joe Morgan was considered by many the engine that propelled The Big Red Machine in Cincinnati.  He took back to back MVP and led them to several pennants and 2 World Series wins.  Sandberg and Fox both had MVP seasons and were great hitters in their day.  Biggio played a few positions in his career amassing over 3000 hits and 668 doubles.  He did play nearly 70% of his games at second which was good enough for us. 

The debate came into play more toward the end of our list and somewhat in the particular order of the middle of the list.  There was a debate on the floor as to the legitimacy of Kent making the list over Doerr and Utley.  We'd love to hear comments from our readers as to who they would have put in at the #10 spot among Doerr, Kent, Utley, or even another player.  Let us know what you think!
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