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Champs to chumps (cont.)

Posted: Friday April 1, 2005 1:33PM; Updated: Friday April 1, 2005 1:33PM
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AL: Gary Sheffield, Yankees; NL: Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Deep down, Sheffield probably feels like he was robbed of the award last season. To prove the point, he'll have another monster year. Pujols is simply the game's best hitter. With Bonds out, the MVP is his to lose.

Cy Young


AL: Randy Johnson, Yankees; NL: Tim Hudson, Braves

He gets to work with Leo Mazzone, pick John Smoltz's brain and face DH-less lineups -- Hudson will wish he spent his entire career in Atlanta. The Big Unit won 16 games with the woeful Diamondbacks behind him in 2004. His career high of 24 wins could be in danger this year.

Rookie of the Year

AL: Nick Swisher, A's; NL: J.J. Hardy, Brewers

Milwaukee handed the shortstop job to defensive whiz Hardy, the first in a wave of prospects the Brewers expect to call up over the next two years. Swisher (29 home runs at Triple A last year), who will start in right, gets a chance to be known for something other than his role in Moneyball.

Surprise Team

AL: Tigers; NL: Reds

If they get healthy years from Ken Griffey Jr. and Austin Kearns, the Reds will score enough to make up for a run-of-the-mill rotation -- enough to get to .500, anyway. Detroit made a 29-win jump last season, to 72. New closer Troy Percival will help them step up another 10.

Disappointing Team

AL: Rangers; NL: Mets

Texas was the surprise of the league in 2004, but made a mistake by not bringing in a rotation ace. Their spectacular bullpen will falter a bit, and the Rangers will slide back to mediocrity. Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran are nice additions for the Mets. Too bad they can't help a very shaky bullpen.