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In today's Triple Play, our analysts discuss the odds of the Yankees missing the playoffs, whether Tim Lincecum will spend a day on the disabled list and where Albert Pujols will finish in the AL MVP race.
(Note: Catch Lincecum's first start of the season on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET as the Giants take on the defending NL West champion Diamondbacks.)
Jorge Arangure (@jorgearangure
), ESPN The Magazine
2 percent. The Yankees have made the playoffs 16 of the past 17 seasons. Now with the extra playoff spot that was added, the Yankees' odds are even better. New York doesn't even need to be the second-best team in its division anymore. There's a better chance that a Red Sox manager gets a radio spot in New York than there is of the Yankees missing the playoffs oh, wait.
Katie Sharp (@ESPNStatsInfo
), ESPN Stats & Info
15 percent. Baseball Prospectus gives the Yankees an 89.5 percent chance of making the postseason, and ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski has the team at 78.9 percent, so let's split the difference. The entire lineup is back from a team that ranked second in the AL in runs. The addition of Hiroki Kuroda and return to form of Phil Hughes should provide a strong 2-3 punch behind ace CC Sabathia in the rotation.
Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand
), ESPN New York
20 percent. I picked the Yankees to win the AL East, but even with the extra wild card making the playoffs is not guaranteed. The biggest obstacle could be the Blue Jays. With the Rays and Red Sox in the division, a really good Toronto team could cost the Yanks a spot. With the weighted schedule, the AL East may not get two playoff teams, let alone three. They are going to be beating each other up and, if the Yanks stumble a bit, they may not get up.
Arangure: None. I'm starting to get the feeling these are trick questions. Lincecum has pitched more than 200 innings each of the past four years. He even pitched more than 140 innings in his rookie year. There's nothing that says to me that he's going to get hurt. Do you guys know something that I don't know?
Sharp: Zero days. Lincecum hasn't spent a day on the DL in his career and has never pitched fewer than 212 innings or made fewer than 32 starts since his first full season in 2008. He understands pitching mechanics and the need to pace himself, telling reporters he won't use his slider early to save his arm for the long season.
Marchand: Zero. He is the Freak. The Freak is not getting hurt. Lincecum is just one of those guys who defies nature so I don't really see any reason to believe he won't be the same Lincecum that we have witnessed his entire career.
Arangure: Second. Normally, I'm one of those people who dislikes taking chances when making preseason predictions. But this year for some reason I decided to pick Prince Fielder as the AL MVP. So even though I think Pujols will be pretty darn good for the Angels, I have to stay consistent and still say Fielder will win. Unless Pujols wins. Then I'll say that I really thought he would win but was just trying to be different.
Sharp: First. Pujols has finished out of the top five in the MVP voting just once (2007). He is motivated to bounce back from a "bad" 2011 in which he failed to hit .300 and drive in 100 runs for the first time in his career. And the only other time he had fewer than 6.0 bWAR (2002), he then produced best season of his career with 10.9 bWAR in 2003.
Marchand: Second. Listen, if you pick Pujols to win the MVP, you can't go wrong. The guy is probably the most talented player in baseball. I have Robinson Cano copping his first MVP, but if Pujols were to take it, who would be surprised?