To many it may seem as though baseball season just ended, but to devout fans, the 2015 MLB season could not come soon enough. Kansas City Royals fans are probably still downtrodden about their team’s loss in last year’s World Series to the San Francisco Giants. With the taste of last season still on many team’s tongues, spring training is now in full swing for all 30 teams in the American and National Leagues. Spring Training allows new players to start to learn the ropes of their new teams and allows young prospects the chance to make it to a higher league. Most importantly, Spring Training allows the players a chance to start preparing for the 162-game season.
The American League East division, which many claim to be the toughest division in the MLB, is stacked with offensive powerhouse teams. However, it has become clear from last season that the once-dominant Yankees are far from the top spot of the league. The majority of predictions have favored the Boston Red Sox to claim the top spot of the division in the 2015 season. The Red Sox’ major strength will likely be their offense. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia remain on the roster and the franchise acquired Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, two major power players. The Yankees, however, are suffering from the loss of their captain Derek Jeter. Didi Gregorious is set to take Jeter’s place at shortstop. Pitching will likely be a weakness, as Ivan Nova is still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Alex Rodriguez is coming off a year-long drug suspension and fans are counting on him to bring some life into this rather old Yankee team.
The Washington Nationals are heavily favored to clinch the top spot in the National League East division. After a disappointing post-season loss to the Giants last season, the Nationals carry high hopes of a successful playoff campaign. The already talented team picked up starting pitcher Max Scherzer in the winter transfer window. Veteran players, like outfielder Bryce Harper, seem eager and confident about their chances of winning the World Series.
The American League Central division is also filled with competitive teams. However, polls have the Detroit Tigers filling the top position on the table. The Chicago White Sox are predicted to follow the Tigers and contend for a Wild Card draw in the post-season. The White Sox have also spent $128 million in the transfer window. Although the Minnesota Twins are expected to finish last, the franchise finally fired manager Ron Gardenhire. Under his reign, the Twins’ last four years have been the worst in franchise history. The team is counting on veterans like Joe Mauer and youngsters like Miguel Sano to gain a few more wins than last season.
The St. Louis Cardinals are predicted to top the National League Central division. In the off-season they have added Jason Heyward, Jordan Walden and Matt Belisle. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who have been making a comeback the past few years after terrible performances about a decade ago, are thought to end up right behind the Cardinals. The Pirates resigned pitcher Francisco Liriano but were unable to keep catcher Russell Martin. The Chicago Cubs will likely find themselves in the middle of the standings but it may take the team a few years to reach their full potential. The Cincinnati Reds are relying on 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto to carry the team, which will probably not be enough. The Milwaukee Brewers are not expected to contend.
The American League West division will likely be dominated by the Los Angeles Angels. Their roster contains Mike Trout, last year’s American League MVP. The Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics will likely battle it out for the second slot in standings. The Mariners hold Felix Hernandez, arguably one of the best pitchers in the league. The Texas Rangers were plagued with a season filled with scandal and injuries and are looking for a return to normalcy and a stellar year from talented third baseman Adrian Beltre. The Houston Astros, who were the worst team in baseball over the last three years, are looking to make a
comeback with some younger players.
The Los Angeles Dodgers hope to clinch the National League West division. The Giants, last year’s ultimate victors, will probably be near the top of the standings although predictions have them falling from where they stood last year. An interesting case in this division is the San Diego Padres, who have revamped their offense and hope to redeem themselves after a decade of disappointing performances. It will be interesting to see how the season plays out and which teams will make it to this year’s World Series.