If I had remembered to post my MLB 2014 predictions, I can assure you they included the KC Royals winning the central division… I didn’t see them making it all the way to the series but I did see them in the post season. The Royals have had a ton of prospects for years and it was finally time for it to pay some dividends.
The Royals long, slow progress toward competitive baseball brings me to 2015… the few friends and co-workers I talked up the Royals to last year laughed at them making the post season after years of slow rebuild. Yet many of those same (and quite a few “experts”) are all hopped up on the Cubbies in 2015. It’s too much too soon… yes, the Cubs have a ton of prospects and a few blue chip established pros too. But Kris Bryant can look like Babe Ruth in the preseason all he wants, but ala the Royals it’s going to take a few years for them to make it all the way back to competitive.
Now, having gotten patting my own back and throwing cold water on the Cubs out of the way, here’s what’s going to happen in 2015:
Seems like only yesterday the Sux or Yankees were odds on favorites to win the AL every year. This division should be very competitive once again but I highly doubt the Yankees will be part of that competition – too old and too little pitching.
- Orioles – they quietly won 96 games last year and had an ever quieter off season. But they should have healthy Machado and Wieters and (while he’ll never hit 50 HR again) Chris Davis almost HAS to be better than last year.
- Blue Jays – if their bats stay healthy and their young pitchers step up, they are a serious contender for the AL pennant.
- Red Sux – questionable pitching and (on a smaller scale) similar to the Cubs too much prospect hype for guys like Rusney and Betts. I wouldn’t be shocked if they won the division but it would likely be because they have the resources to acquire a bunch of guys down the strech.
- Yankees – hard to believe but I’d say it’s 50/50 the Mets win more games than them… and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in last place.
- Rays – decent young pitching but not much else
I picked the Royals as wild card last year and they delivered despite what was a down year for many of theirs guys. This year Hosmer and others rebound and they win the division outright as aging Tigers break down a bit.
- Royals – the most surprising thing about the Royals last year for me was their disappointing bats. Hosmer, Moustakas and others disappointed and they still ended up in the series.
- Indians – good young team that will finally get over the hump and make the playoffs. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them win division.
- Tigers – clearly they still have a ton of talent and arguably the favorite in the central but I think their collective age is going to catch up to them this year.
- White Sox – LaRoche and Samardzija are nice additions, dark horse wild card contender
- Twin – where have you gone Kirby Puckett? Help is on the way but going to take several years of prospect development
Mariners offense should be better and they could challenge but Halos still seem a notch or two above the field here.
- Angels – hard to see anyone else winning the division but how serious of a series contender they are will depend on pitching
- Mariners – They could surprise me but Nelson Cruz was due for a big regression even before moving to Safeco
- Astros – They added a bunch of bats to a good young core and could be a dark horse wild card contender in my book
- A’s – I like some of the moves on offense but very skeptical on Kazmir and Pomeranz being key cogs in the rotation…. magic finally wears off this year I think
- Rangers – they’re the AL west version of the yankees… lots of big names but too old and seriously lacking in the starting pitcher department
If the Nats don’t win this division by double digits, I’ll be surprised… heck, they might win it by 20.
- Nationals – something tells me the Nats are going to be your classic 105 win, dominant regular season team that proceeds to flop in the playoffs.
- Mets – they’ve been pathetic so long I think they are overdue to surprise a bit… and by that I mean they win 83 games
- Marlins – it’s them or the Mets competing for the right to finish a distant 2nd place
- Braves – they seem like they’ve been good for a long time but this year’s edition looks pretty bad… much worse than the team that won only 77 last year
- Phillies – it’s going to get worse before it gets better for the Phils
This might be the best division in baseball. All of the teams have playoff potential in my book. But the Cards have the best pitching and are most well balanced.
- Cardinals – they added some nice pieces to an already solid squad and the young pitchers will take another step forward
- Pirates – not enough pitching to be a true series contender but another wild card berth is doable
- Reds – several key guys (Votto, Bruce, etc) had very down years but don’t write them off… those guys will bounce back and they have good young pitching
- Cubs – I see a bit of playoff hype for them but to me eclipsing .500 would be a good goal for a very young team
- Brewers – Other than the beer and brats, not much to get excited about in Milwaukee
After a charmed run to the championship last year, Giants slip. Dodgers added some pieces are clearly the class here.
- Dodgers – the window is closing for this team to win a series… not sure about winning but I could definitely see them at least making it there this year
- Padres – nice off season moves and a more hitter friendly park configuration could make this team a wild card contender.
- Giants – I think they’ll drop off significantly after last year’s magical run but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them sneak into 2nd and a wild card again
- D’backs – better than last year but that’s not saying much
- Rockies – not better than last year and that’s not good
- AL Wild Card: Indians beat Blue Jays
- NL Wild Card: Pirates beat Padres
- AL Divisional: Orioles beat Indians, Angels beat Royals
- NL Divisional: Nationals beat Pirates, Cardinals beat Dodgers
- AL Championship: Orioles beat Angels
- NL Championship: Cardinals beat Nationals
Underrated pitching staff and solid bounce back seasons from guys like Machado and Wieters power the O’s to the AL pennant for first time since 1983. The vanilla Cards are back again… they may not be super exciting but all they do is win. Red Birds win in 6 games.