Can you smell it? Can you feel it? baseball is almost here. Like most of you, I can tell without looking at a calendar that baseball season is around the corner. The thermometer starts pushing 50 degrees, the birds start digging in the yard looking for worms, my daughter says things like: “Daddy, can I wear a skirt to school today?” I can also tell by the reading material that becomes available. Every writer has a prediction and a forecast for what they expect to have happen this season (Mike Trout, 11 WAR, mark it down), and that’s what we are doing here. I’ve poured over the stats, other predictions and enlisted a shaman to help me see into the future (I also got him to make a Miguel Cabrera voodoo doll. Cue evil laugh track). These predictions are mine, all rights reserved, so let’s see what the magic eight ball has to say.
1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Boston Red Sox*
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. New York Yankees
5. Toronto Blue Jays
Every team suffers a World Series hangover, and Boston will be no different. The Orioles will start slow and then pick it up later in the year, but it won’t be enough to get them into the postseason dance. The Yankees will get a ton of free press with Derek Jeter retiring, but free press doesn’t equal wins.
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins
For the foreseeable future, the Tigers own this division. Not because of otherworldly talent, but because this division is incredibly weak. The White Sox could surprise everyone and finish second in the division, but it’s a race for first loser among the bottom four teams in the AL Central.
1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Oakland Athletics*
3. Texas Rangers
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston AstroLOLs
This division is going to be an absolute dogfight. Every prediction model has the Angels, A’s and Rangers within four games of each other, and Fangraphs as all three within a one game spread. But with the Rangers uninspiring staff and Oakland being bitten by the Tommy John bug, my money is on the Halos returning to the top of the division.
1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Miami Marlins
5. New York Mets
How sad is it that, even after both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy both go down with torn UCL’s, I still would have the Braves finishing ahead of the Phillies? The Marlins will creep out of the cellar, but that is more because the Mets won’t have Matt Harvey than it is because the Marlins are so talented.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Reds*
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs
Almost identical to last year, except the Reds will jump over the Pirates late in the season and secure a Wild Card spot. Also, the Cubs will be officially eliminated in the first week of August.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. Arizona Diamonbacks*
3. San Francisco Giants
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres
It is the Dodgers division to lose, but with D-Backs still being a young-ish team, and the Giants being a smidge old, this is how my medicine man says it is going to shake out. Beware the Rockies, though. Good young arms and a healthy Tulo and CarGo could make this team very very dangerous.
* – Denotes teams fortunate enough to play in the play-in game
Wild Card Games
Arizona over Cincinnati
Boston over Oakland
Tampa Bay over Boston
Detroit over Los Angeles
St. Louis over Washington
Los Angeles over Arizona
Tampa Bay over Detroit
Los Angeles over St. Louis
Tampa Bay over Los Angeles
It is a fool’s game to count out the Rays, and even though it isn’t an easy path for them to get to the brass ring, this is the year that they do it.
AL MVP – Mike Trout
The BBWAA finally gets off his back for not making it into the playoffs and rewards him with the hardware that he should’ve taken home the last two years. Not that I am, you know, biased or anything.
NL MVP – Yadier Molina
You could make the argument that Yadi should have won the MVP award last year. This year, he leaves nothing to chance and puts up a monster year that dwarfs all of his competitors.
AL Cy Young – Yu Darvish
Along with Darvish’s first CYA, he gets tapped for a “Yu Knows” endorsement campaign co-starring Bo Jackson.
NL Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw
Best. Pitcher. On. The. Planet. Period. Jose Fernandez will give him a run for his money, but Kershaw’s curveball impregnates too many women for award voters to not notice.
AL Rookie of the Year – Taijuan Walker
He’ll be behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but with the big parks in the AL West, and his crazy-good cutter that gets mistaken for a slider, Walker is going to push his way passed the Xander Bogaerts’ and the Masahiro Tanaka’s of the world.
NL Rookie of the Year – Javier Baez
He won’t get called up until June (bold prediction), but when he does, he is going to turn the National League on it’s ear.
AL Comeback Player of the Year – Derek Jeter
I really want to put Albert Pujols’ name here, but, let’s be honest, if Jeter has even an OK season, after playing only 17 games last year, he may even walk away with a top-five finish in the MVP voting.
NL Comeback Player of the Year – Dan Uggla
You can file this one under bold predictions as well. But after dropping to a .179/.309/.362 slash line in 2013, no one in the National League has more to prove than Dan Uggla.
AL Bold Predictions
Houston Astros “only” lose 102 games thanks to their starting rotation being one of two in the AL West that doesn’t get hit by the injury bug.
Miguel Cabrera’s power numbers suffer without having Prince Fielder in the lineup behind him.
Derek Jeter is called in to pitch in the Yankees final home game of 2014. He lasts two-thirds of inning and gives up four runs and is pulled from the game by Mariano Rivera.
Mike Napoli is asked to shave his beard once its length reaches the top of his stomach. He donates the cut hair to locks of love.
NL Bold Predictions
Billy Hamilton steals 100 bases. And, to be honest, I would be comfortable taking the over on that prediction.
Javier Baez and Kris Bryant hit third and fourth in the same game.
Jose Fernandez hits his second career home run. This time, without incident.
In the same game, Yasiel Puig hits a home run, gets thrown out at second trying to leg out an infield double, throws a runner out at third and at home (in the same inning) and hits a peanut vendor in the second deck when a throw gets away from him.