With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day just over two weeks away, the countdown to the official start of baseball season is getting lower every day. Spring Training is in full swing. With it, future stars are emerging, veterans are fighting for roster spots, and every team is trying to find optimism for the upcoming season. Spring Training also hosts a variety of baseball previews and projections for 2015. Here are my predictions for the upcoming season.
The American League East may be the weakest division in baseball, but the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t listening. They added slugger Josh Donaldson to a potent lineup that will be near the top of the league in runs. The rest of the division is behind Toronto. The Boston Red Sox did add several hitters to revamp their lineup, and may secure a Wild Card. However, Baltimore lost most of its offensive production, and New York has too many injury-prone players on the wrong side of 30 years old. Tampa Bay has a lot of young talent, but I believe the team is a year away from serious contention.
The American League Central is the hardest division to predict. Each of the top four teams have a legitimate opportunity to win the division. The Chicago White Sox will win the division on the backs of pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale and first baseman José Abreu. The Detroit Tigers and the Kansas City Royals are both very good teams, but with the significant players they lost this season, they will struggle to return to the postseason. Because of the division’s parity, the second place team may not earn enough wins to secure a Wild Card berth.
Led by superstars Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, the Los Angeles Angels are my pick to win the American League West division. Close behind them with the potential to secure a Wild Card berth are the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners continue to develop their young talent, while adding Robinson Canó a year ago to lead their lineup. The Oakland Athletics made several interesting trades over the winter. While they have a bright future, they sacrifice their current talents, preventing them from contending for another postseason berth.
Not only do the Washington Nationals lead the National League East, they may lead all of baseball. Washington boasts one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, as well as a strong lineup. The Miami Marlins are also a very good team with a young pitching staff and a strong lineup. The New York Mets are young and talented, but remain a year away from serious contention.
The National League Central, like the AL Central, is hard to predict. St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago and even Milwaukee all seem capable of reaching the postseason. St. Louis, in my mind, is the best team in the division. But after that, it will largely be based on who can stay healthy over the course of a 162-game season.
Finally, the Los Angeles Dodgers will win the National League West. They possess the best pitcher in the game – Clayton Kershaw – as well as deep talent up and down the roster. The Padres made the most trades out of anyone over the winter, but will have to fight for a Wild Card spot. The defending World Series Champion Giants will be left on the outside looking in, as will the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Spring is here, as is the beginning of another Major League Baseball season. Will another team make a playoff run like Kansas City last year? Will Mike Trout finally take the Angels deep into the postseason? Only time can tell.