As the first pitch of the 2011 season approaches, MLB.com solicited predictions from a panel of baseball insiders, consisting of reporters, broadcasters and former players. A consensus of their prognostications is below. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts and make some predictions of your own in the comments section below.
AL Wild Card
NL Wild Card
World Series champion
Miguel Cabrera, DET: If Cabrera's off-the-field troubles are behind him, an MVP-type season would be truly amazing, and, without a doubt, one of the best storylines of 2011.
Albert Pujols, STL: Are you surprised? Not only is Pujols the game's greatest hitter, he's in a contract year. He will make pitchers pay, and he will be paid.
AL Surprise Player
Kila Ka'aihue, KC: It turns out seven home runs in the Cactus League isn't enough to win regular-season hardware. But if the first baseman keeps on the pace, he'll net some easily.
NL Surprise Player
Pedro Alvarez, PIT: Generally, it's not a surprise if you have an excellent season after being drafted second overall years earlier. It can be a surprise to most of the world, though, if you have an excellent season on the Pirates.
AL Rookie of Year
Jeremy Hellickson, TB: He turns just 24 on April 8. His size isn't too intimidating -- 6-foot-1, 185-pounds -- but he's got the goods, at least when healthy: He battled hamstring and blister woes this spring.
NL Rookie of Year
Freddie Freeman, ATL: First it was Jason Heyward, now it's Freeman. "This opportunity doesn't happen that often, and it's something you want to enjoy and not take for granted," said Heyward, Freeman's Draft classmate. "We just want to come in doing more of the same, working hard and playing the game we love."
AL Cy Young
Jon Lester, BOS:Perhaps counter-intuitive to say a World Series-winner who won 19 games last year is in a leap year, but he is. At 27, he hasn't peaked. "In my book, he might be the best pitcher in the game," teammate John Lackey said. "He works his butt off."
NL Cy Young
Roy Halladay, PHI: He really can't get better. He just can't. A perfect game in the regular season, a no-hitter in the playoffs, last year's NL Cy Young. Still, Halladay says there's more to come. "You're comfortable with your teammates," Halladay said. "You're comfortable in the clubhouse. I know [the reporters] now. All those things make it easier."
Carlos Santana, CLE: Another young catching star to complement Buster Posey and Matt Wieters, Santana has a much better chance at a standout season than he does going a year without someone cracking a joke about the musician by the same name.
AL Manager of Year
John Farrell, TOR: Who will have stronger feelings? The Jays, for being glad Farrell's on their side now, or the Red Sox, for losing their revered pitching coach?
NL Manager of Year
Fredi Gonzalez, ATL: He has a lot of youth to look after, and the dauntingly large shoes left by his predecessor to fill. Still, there's no one more fit to make noise in the NL East than someone who managed there the previous three years.
Executive of Year
Doug Melvin, MIL: The Brewers are all-in with Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum on board and Prince Fielder in his walk year. He should get as much credit if the Brewers play into October as he would get blame if they don't.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.