MLB Season Predictions



Josh Ellis

With the MLB season well under way, the window to make predictions for the upcoming season is beginning to close. Fear not! Here is my season preview (albeit a little bit late).

A.L. EAST: In what looks to be one of the deepest and most well rounded divisions in baseball, for the first time in recent memory neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox enter the season as favorites to win the division. New York has been ravaged by injuries and will not be anywhere near full strength until well into the summer. This year’s Sox team is full of new names, none more exciting than the electric rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. The Blue Jays look like a potential juggernaut after their post-season shopping spree where they acquired Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and R.A. Dickey, but will the back end of their line up be strong enough to push them into the playoffs? Tampa Bay looks to be a contender again this year, especially once Wil Myers, one of the best prospects in years, has been called up from the minors. The Orioles, one of last year’s surprise playoff teams, bring back most of the core of their roster, but their lack of pitching depth could give them real problems as the season wears on. Prediction: Tampa Bay will barely eke out the divisional crown over both Boston and Toronto, who fall just short.

A.L. CENTRAL: This is one of the easiest divisions to pick in baseball. The Tigers, last year’s A.L. Champions, enter this year with a stronger, more experienced squad after the addition of Torii Hunter and the return of Victor Martinez. Combined with the wizardry of Justin Verlander, the Tigers will once again be one of the MLB’s elite. Their biggest divisional contender looks to be the Cleveland Indians, who boast a vastly improved outfield featuring the newly acquired and wildly underrated Michael Bourn. The Royals, White Sox and Twins all look to be headed towards mediocrity with their glaring lack of top-end talent. Prediction: Detroit will win the division by a mile and cruise to the best record in the American League.

A.L. WEST: This is a two-horse race between the Rangers and the Angels, far and away the best teams in the division. The Angels made the big offseason move by adding former Ranger Josh Hamilton to a lineup that already featured Albert Pujols and the outstanding Mike Trout. But Texas has super-prospects Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt waiting in the wings to ease the pain of losing Hamilton. It is pitching, however, that will decide this division and the Rangers have a clear leg up. The rest of the division, which includes the newest AL squad, the Houston Astros, will toil in irrelevancy with only an occasional sparkle from the incredible Felix Hernandez. Prediction: In a tight divisional race between two playoff bound teams, Texas will emerge victorious and relegate Los

Angeles to a wild card spot.

N.L. EAST: After years and years of building through the draft and smart signings, the Nationals’ reconstruction is finally complete. With two of the game’s rising superstars, Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg poised to realize their full potential and a supporting cast that has no real weaknesses, Washington will be a force to be reckoned with. The Braves, while clearly a tier below the Nats, are in position for a great season as well. The addition of the Upton brothers, Justin and BJ, will provide Atlanta with a level of speed and power that their previous outfield lacked. The Phillies will be better than most people think but the playoffs are not in the cards for this rebuilding unit. And given the hopelessness of the Marlins and the Mets, it is hardly worth mentioning them in this column. Prediction: Behind superhuman seasons from Harper and Strasburg, the Nationals repeat as NL East champions and race to the best record in baseball.

N.L. CENTRAL: This division is the Reds’ to lose. A strong argument could be made that Joey Votto is the best pure hitter in the MLB, and Aroldis Chapman is an absolute beast at the end of games. The Reds are a well-built and versatile squad that should count itself among the game’s best. The most obvious divisional challenger is the Cardinals, especially with the return of their ace, Adam Wainwright, from injury. However, it is the Cubs who will give the Reds a real run for their money. Chicago’s rotation, headed by Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija, could exceed all expectations and propel the Cubs back into relevance. The Brewers and Pirates are by no means terrible teams, but will struggle to break .500 on the year. Predictions: The Reds will win the division

comfortably over the surprising Chicago Cubs.

N.L. WEST: After the AL East, this may be the best division top to bottom in the major leagues, with three teams that have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs: the Dodgers, the Giants and the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers have made it clear that money is not an issue and spent the offseason doling out lavish contracts to players like Zach Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Big name players fill their lineup. The Giants operate in exactly the opposite way, looking for efficient, not necessarily splashy, ways to spend their money. With two World Series titles in the past three years, they are surely doing something right. The final NL West contender, Arizona, is a young, talented team with elite front of the rotation pitching. They are probably the biggest question mark of the three but they certainly have pieces to make a lot of noise. Prediction: Both the Dodgers and Giants make the playoffs, San Francisco as the division champ and LA as the wild card, narrowly edging out the Braves.

WORLD SERIES: Detroit and Washington will emerge from their respective leagues and set up showdowns of the two best pitchers (Verlander and Strasburg) and two of the best hitters in the game (Miguel Cabrera and Harper). In a battle of two teams with no glaring weaknesses, it will be Detroit’s playoff experience that pushes them past the outrageously talented Nationals in an epic seven game series.

A.L. MVP: Despite strong competition from both last year’s winner and runner-up, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout, respectively, this is Evan Longoria’s year. If he can stay healthy, Longoria has a legitimate shot at the Triple Crown and is the unquestioned leader of a very, very impressive Tampa Bay squad.

N.L. MVP: Consider the coronation complete. Bryce Harper will fulfill his potential and earn his rank as among the very best the game has to offer. There is nothing Harper cannot do on the diamond, and there is no reason to believe that this will not be the year he puts it all together. However, let there be no doubt that Joey Votto will not make it easy for Harper to run away with this award.

A.L. CY YOUNG: Justin Verlander, Justin Verlander and Justin Verlander. The most talented pitcher in the world will show everyone once again what it means to be the best. More than 20 wins, sub-3 ERA and 200+ strikeouts are the worst-case scenario for the most

dominant hurler we have seen in a long time.

N.L. CY YOUNG: This one will be a battle between Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw, two of the best young pitchers in the game. In the end, I give the edge to Strasburg simply because there is truly no limit to his potential. Three-hundred strikeouts are not at all out of the question for this phenom.