Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 MLB Predictions

NL East
1) Nationals
2) Marlins(WC)
3) Mets
4) Braves
5) Phillies

The Nationals finished with the NL's best record two out of the past three years, and added Max Scherzer in the offseason. They have one of the most talented rosters in the league, and have the best starting rotation in baseball. This is a big year for the Nats, with Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmerman, Denard Span, and Doug Fister all entering the final years of their contract. Bryce Harper is confident enough to ask where his ring is at, but they have been unable to advance past the first round with this group.

There are never any certainties in baseball, but it is very unlikely that the Nats won't win the East. They will make a push for the majors best record this year. However, the Marlins and Mets have reason for optimism in the two team wild card climate. The Mets will be without Zack Wheeler for the season, but will have a healthy Matt Harvey, and 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob DeGrom in what should be a strong pitching staff. The Marlins signed Giancarlo Stanton to a long term extension, and added Dee Gordon, Martin Prado, Michael Morse, Ichiro Suzuki, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos during the offseason. With a core of Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Ozuna, Henderson Alvarez, and Jose Fernandez(returning from TJ surgery), this is a team that should be in contention this year.

At the back end of the NL East is the Braves and Phillies. The Braves unloaded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, and Evan Gattis in trades that replenished the farm system. They were a poor offensive club last year, and it's hard to imagine them being any better this year. While the Braves went into rebuild mode looking into the future, the Phillies still seem stuck in the past. They did trade away longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but return many aging veterans from their glory years of the past.

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

The NL Central looks to be one of the strongest divisions in baseball. The Cubs made the most noise this offseason, adding manager Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero, Jon Lester, and Dexter Fowler. Slugger Kris Bryant should make an impact this season, although he could find himself starting the year in Triple A. Even with these improvements, the Cubs still have some question marks. Some of the prognostications of the Cubbies have been overly optimistic. This team only won 73 games in 2014. I still think it's premature to put this team in the playoffs right now.

The Cardinals have dominated this division over the years, and look to be the class of the division again this year. Their offense slumped last year, and the team hopes that the addition of Jason Heyward and improvement from their other regulars will lead to a rebound. A healthy Yadier Molina is also key. There have been some concerns about Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, and the health of the rotation, but there is still plenty of pitching depth.

I see the Pirates being the Cardinals closest competitor this season. The loss of Russell Martin hurts, but this is still a solid team. The Reds are a hard team to gauge. Their season was wrecked last year after injuries to Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and other key players. There is a sense of urgency with the Reds considering that Johnny Cueto is approaching free agency. The Reds lack depth, but could contend with rebound season from Votto and Co. The Brewers actually led the division for five months last year, until they faded in September. They still have a solid lineup, but questionable pitching.

NL West
1) Dodgers
2) Padres(WC)
3) Giants
4) Rockies
5) Diamondbacks

The Dodgers finished six games ahead of the Giants last year, but October wasn't so kind to them. NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw lost two games in the NLDS to his nemesis in St. Louis. The Giants went on to win their third World Series in the last five years. Thanks in much to Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner won five games in October, and closed out Game 7 of the World Series.

Despite what happened in October, the Dodgers look to have the best team on paper this year. They traded away Matt Kemp to the Padres, which clears room in their crowded outfield. They also parted ways with Hanley Ramirez, and added Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, and Brandon McCarthy. The Giants had a quiet offseason, but lost a lot of offense with the departures of Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse. Hunter Pence will also be out the first month because of injury. A lot falls on the shoulders of Buster Posey, but a healthy Angel Pagan, and a breakout season from Brandon Belt could soften the blow for the Giants. I would never count out the Giants, but it looks like the odd year jinx will hit them again this year.

The Padres are a much more interesting club than they were last year. New GM AJ Preller added Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris, James Shields, and several other players during a very busy offseason for San Diego. There are some concerns about team defense, but the offense should be much better. Bud Black was able to squeeze 77 wins out of a anemic offense last year, and should get the most out of a much more talented roster this year. The Diamondbacks and Rockies are two of the worst teams in the majors. Arizona added Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas, and made several trades for pitchers. The Rockies did very little this offseason, and there hopes again depend on the health of Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

AL East
1) Blue Jays
2) Red Sox(WC)
3) Orioles
4) Yankees
5) Rays

The AL West isn't as strong as it once was. The Yankees aren't what they once where, and the Rays seem to be rebuilding. The Red Sox made some big moves picking up Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, but have concerns about their starting pitching. The Orioles won the division last year, but loss Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, and Andrew Miller in the offseason. The Blue Jays enter this season with the majors longest playoff drought, not making the postseason since 1993. They hope to change that with the additions of Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson.

I'm picking the Blue Jays to win this division, but I see it being a close three way race involving the Red Sox and Orioles. Toronto was the division favorite two seasons ago after a busy 2012/13 offseason, but they ended up in last place. That makes me somewhat unconfident of this pick. The loss of Marcus Stroman for the year is a tough loss. However, Toronto has a emerging Drew Hutchison, along with top pitching prospects Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez. They also have one of the leagues best lineups with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Martin, and Donaldson.

The Red Sox still have some kinks to work out, but should be improved this year after a disappointing last place finish in 2014. I don't see them reaching their championship heights of 2013, but they can't be counted out. They have the prospects and financial resources to go after a Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels that could put them over the top. The Orioles were perceived to have a poor offseason, but could ease the sting of that by healthy seasons from Manny Machado and Matt Weiters, and a bounceback year from Chris Davis. The Rays stripped down this offseason, and will likely scratch out runs this year. They do have a good, young pitching staff, though. This might be the worst Yankees team in a couple of decades. They are still reliant on too many aging veterans.

AL Central
1) Indians
2) White Sox(WC)
3) Royals
4) Tigers
5) Twins

I see the AL Central being a very competitive division this season. The Tigers have won the division the past four years, but the gap has closed. The Royals gave the Tigers a run for the division crown last year, and rallied in the second half to claim a wild card spot. It nearly resulted in a World Series title. The White Sox made a big splash this offseason, acquiring Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Zack Duke, Melky Cabrera, and Adam LaRoche. This team already has some high end players like Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, and top pitching prospect Carlos Rodon.

While all three of those teams could win this division, I'm picking Cleveland. The only major addition was trading for Brandon Moss, but Terry Francona has an up and coming team. The Indians were a playoff team in 2013, and won 85 games last year. Several players took big steps up. Lonnie Chisenhall solidified himself as a solid regular. Carlos Santana went on a second half tear. Michael Brantley finished third in MVP voting. Corey Kluber became an unlikely Cy Young Award winner. The Indians have several young up and coming pitchers. Top shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor should arrive in the big leagues sometime this year.

The Tigers are at a crossroads. They still have a good lineup led by Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but there are question marks at shortstop and center field. Max Scherzer left as a free agent, and David Price is in the final year of his contract. Anibal Sanchez had a injury shortened 2014, and Justin Verlander wasn't himself last year. They could still win the division, but it will be a much tougher task in 2015. The Twins have made some improvements, but will likely finish at the bottom again this year. New manager Paul Molitor does have some reason for optimism with top prospects Brian Buxton and Miguel Sano potentially coming up sometime later this year.

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

I see the AL West as a two team race between the Angels and the Mariners. The Angels won a MLB best 98 games last year, but were swept by the Royals in the Division Series. They return most of the same team, with Garret Richards returning from injury. The status of Josh Hamilton is uncertain, but he didn't have the best year last year, anyway. Matthew Joyce was acquired as a backup plan. Other than that, the only major move was trading away Howie Kendrick for left handed rookie pitcher Andrew Heaney. The offense will again rely on MVP Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, and Erick Aybar. Still a lot of talent on this team, but they will likely see some regression from last year.

The Mariners haven't made the postseason since 2001, when they won a MLB record 116 games. Mariners fans have a reason to be optimistic with one of the league's best pitching staffs led by Felix Hernandez. They signed slugger Nelson Cruz to beef up a lineup that includes Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. This team was one win away from tying Oakland for a playoff spot last year, and I think this should be their year to get in.

Oakland made some major changes, and even their most diehard fan will need a scorecard to identify their team. They parted ways with Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Derek Norris, Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester, and added Billy Butler, Ben Zobrist, and a bunch of prospects. They will likely take a step back this season. Texas is the hardest team in the league to predict. They suffered through some major injuries last year, and are hoping for a return to form from Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. Yu Darvish going down with Tommy John surgery is a bad sign for a club hoping for better health in 2015. The Astros actually finished in fourth place and avoided a fourth consecutive 100 loss season in 2014. They are an improving club, although still in developmental stage. They have some key pieces for the future with Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Dallas Keuchel. They made some additions, picking up Pat Neshek, Luke Gregerson, Evan Gattis, Jed Lowrie, and Colby Rasmus. They also have one of the league's best farm systems, and the #3 prospect Carlos Correa. Should be a really good team in another year or two.


Wild Card Game
Marlins over Padres
White Sox over Red Sox

Division Series
Nationals over Marlins
Cardinals over Dodgers
Mariners over White Sox
Indians over Blue Jays

Championship Series
Cardinals over Nationals
Indians over Mariners

World Series
Cardinals over Indians

1) Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
2) Andrew McCutchen, PIT
3) Anthony Rendon, WASH
4) Yasiel Puig, LAD
5) Yadier Molina, STL
6) Clayton Kershaw, LAD
7) Buster Posey, SF
8) Justin Upton, SD
9) Anthony Rizzo, CHIC
10) Jason Heyward, STL

1) Robinson Cano, SEA
2) Jose Bautista, TOR
3) Jose Abreu, CHIWS
4) Mike Trout, LAA
5) Carlos Santana, CLE
6) Miguel Cabrera, DET
7) Josh Donaldson, TOR
8) Dustin Pedroia, BOS
9) Felix Hernandez, SEA
10) Alex Gordon, KC

1) Clayton Kershaw, LAD
2) Max Scherzer, WASH
3) Madison Bumgarner, SF
4) Jordan Zimmermann, WASH
5) Michael Wacha, STL

1) Felix Hernandez, SEA
2) Chris Sale, CHIWS
3) David Price, DET
4) Corey Kluber, CLE
5) Alex Cobb, TB

1) Kris Bryant, CHIC
2) Jorge Soler, CHIC
3) Joc Pederson, LAD
4) Yasmany Tomas, ARZ
5) Jon Gray, COL

1) Carlos Rodon, CHIWS
2) Andrew Heaney, LAA
3) Francisco Lindor, CLE
4) Daniel Norris, TOR
5) Dalton Pompey, TOR

NL Manager of the Year
1) Mike Redmond, MIA
2) Bud Black, SD
3) Brian Price, CIN

AL Manager of the Year
1) Terry Francona, CLE
2) Lloyd McClendon, SEA
3) John Gibbons, TOR

NL Gold Gloes
C-Yadier Molina, STL
1B-Joey Votto, CIN
2B-Kolten Wong, STL
SS-Andrelton Simmons, ATL
3B-Anthony Rendon, WASH
LF-Christian Yelich, MIA
CF-Andrew McCutchen, PIT
RF-Jason Heyward, STL
P-Madison Bumgarner, SF

AL Gold Gloves
C-Salvador Perez, KC
1B-Eric Hosmer, KC
2B-Dustin Pedroia, BOS
SS-Elvis Andrus, TEX
3B-Manny Machado, BAL
LF-Alex Gordon, KC
CF-Lorenzo Cain, KC
RF-Josh Reddick, OAK
P-Chris Sale, CHIWS

NL Silver Sluggers
C- Buster Posey, SF
1B-Anthony Rizzo, CHIC
2B-Kolten Wong, SF
SS-Troy Tulowitzki, COL
3B- Anthony Rendon, WASH
LF-Justin Upton, ATL
CF-Andrew McCutchen,PIT
RF-Giancarlo Stanton, MIA
P-Zack Greinke, LAD

AL Silver Slugger
C-Russell Martin, TOR
1B-Jose Abreu, CHIWS
2B-Robinson Cano, SEA
SS-JJ Hardy, BAL
3B-Josh Donaldson, TOR
LF-Michael Brantley, CLE
CF-Mike Trout, LAA
RF-Jose Bautista, TOR
DH-Edwin Encarnacion, TOR

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