So I couldn’t recapture my 2013 magic last season. But I’ll settle for perfectly predicting the three division winners and two wild cards from the National League, even if the world did not, in fact, get its eagerly-anticipated Dodgers-Giants NLCS showdown. Though I didn’t pick the Royal Blue to represent the junior circuit in the Fall Classic, I still did predict Kansas City would crack the postseason as a wild card, which they did, breaking their 29-year postseason drought. So what does this year have in store? For one thing, you won’t be getting a chic, Cleveland Indians World Series pick out of me. After watching SI’s Tom Verducci fail miserably the last time he tried to get cute with the Blue Jays in 2013, I decided there is, in fact, an SI jinx. Or at least a Tom Verducci jinx. I do think the Indians will have a solid season, but don’t expect a parade in Cleveland unless it involves LeBron James. Now, without further ado, here are DraftAmerica’s full, 2015 MLB predictions. Enjoy and enjoy the season!
*Denotes Wild Card team
1. Boston Red Sox, 94-68
Offense, offense, and more offense… and maybe some pitching. If anyone can pull the worst-to-first-to-worst-to-first, well, it’s the Red Sox.
2. New York Yankees, 88-74*
Really think the Bronx Bombers will miss the playoffs three straight years? Think again. All that’s needed is some health after an injury-ravaged 2014, and maybe a little from A-Rod. Girardi may be the best manager in baseball.
3. Baltimore Orioles, 83-79
What a story the 2014 O’s were, and you can never count Buck’s boys out, but personnel losses and the likely inability to recapture the wave of magic from last year means a descend back to the pack.
4. Toronto Blue Jays, 78-84
The Marcus Stroman injury is a bad omen for a team already struggling to find consistent pitching. The Jays will score plenty of runs, but they’ll give up more.
5. Tampa Bay Rays, 75-87
A myriad of changes means more mediocrity in Tampa, but the Rays will still scrap and claw because of their unheralded young rotation.
1. Chicago White Sox, 90-72
In the 10-year anniversary season of the dominant 2005 title club, the ChiSox finally appear locked and loaded to make a push, even in as deep an AL Central as we’ve seen in years.
2. Detroit Tigers, 87-75*
The Tigers can withstand the losses of Scherzer and Porcello, but can their bullpen hold up after last year’s playoff debacle? Adding Cespedes will be a huge boon to an offense that’s relied too heavily on Miggy and the Martinez boys last year.
3. Cleveland Indians, 85-77
Verducci’s chic pick will have a nice season, but can we really expect Corey Kluber to duplicate his Cy Young season? And is the rest of the rotation really that dependable? Health will be the key if the Indians hope to get over the hump, but a tough division is going to ultimately leave a deserving team on the outside looking in.
4. Kansas City Royals, 82-80
Speaking of on the outside looking in, the Royals certainly are no fluke, but they have to be somewhat deflated after the way the World Series ended. Plus, it seems that since their bullpen can’t get any better, they may have nowhere to go but down.
5. Minnesota Twins, 67-95
Poor Paul Molitor. He has his work cut out for him in a brutally tough division. The Twins are the one team that certainly won’t compete in the Central in 2015.
1. Seattle Mariners, 91-71
Are the Mariners worth the hype? After falling a game short last year in 2014, adding Nelson Cruz and some more seasoning for their young pitchers should propel the M’s into the playoffs for the first time since their other-worldly 2001 campaign.
2. Los Angeles Angels, 83-79
How quickly can Garrett Richards get back? How much will Josh Hamilton’s absence hurt (or help) the Halos? The Angels greatly overachieved in ’14 and probably will take a step back this season.
3. Oakland Athletics, 81-81
Never count the A’s out, but don’t count on them playing in October, either. Personnel changes and injuries will take their toll.
4. Houston Astros, 73-89
Boldest prediction of 2015: the Astros avoid losing 90 games (remember when not losing 100 was a milestone?). There is a bounty of young talent that is slowly starting to bring the Astros back around.
5. Texas Rangers, 65-97
What a mess for a team that won two straight pennants in 2010-11. Yu Darvish is done, and so is any hope of this team being relevant in 2015.
1. Miami Marlins, 90-72
I won’t say I’m anti-Nationals, but with Washington looking more than ever like paper champions, the Marlins could grab their first division title in franchise history (amazing considering they’ve won two World Series, isn’t it?). If they do, all will be forgiven for ownership making Giancarlo Stanton a trillionaire.
2. Washington Nationals, 88-74*
Paper champions, indeed. For a team that needed a ton of offensive help, they decided to allocate an entire mint into more starting pitching. Max Scherzer is under a lot of pressure, but he won’t score runs, just prevent them. The bullpen is still shaky, and the overwhelming expectations could handicap a team that still hasn’t won a playoff series. Talent will prevail enough, but this is not a World Series team.
3. New York Mets, 80-82
Matt Harvey looks great this spring, but where will the offense come from? And losing Zach Wheeler hurts.
4. Atlanta Braves, 71-91
The Braves had their window, but in true Braves fashion, let it close without even an NLCS appearance. Now, they’ve taken a major step backward.
5. Philadelphia Phillies, 66-96
Did we say taking a major step back? Enter the Phillies, whose five-year run of dominance in the NL East feels like ancient history. Finally, Philadelphia fans’ constant bitterness will be just.
1. St. Louis Cardinals, 95-67
The hype surrounding the Cubs may be justified, but all the Cardinals do is win. Four straight NLCS appearances could very well be five in a year dedicated to the late Oscar Taveras.
2. Chicago Cubs, 82-80
A winning season? You’d have to think Cubs fans would take it. Prospects galore and a true ace at last means Chicago will hang around for a while, but ultimately they are a year or two off.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates, 82-80
Two straight Wild Card game losses have Pittsburgh fans feeling salty, but since the Cardinals are the same old Cardinals and now the Cubs are on the up-and-up, it could be back to non-playoff business for the Buccos.
4. Milwaukee Brewers, 76-86
What a nice start turned sour for the 2014 Brewers. 2015 should be the reverse, or, at least, the part where they collapse late. Ron Roenicke was lucky to survive into this year; he likely won’t make it to 2016.
5. Cincinnati Reds, 72-90
Like the Braves, the Reds’ window is closed without any playoff series wins to show for it. Johnny Cueto is worth the price of admission and the return of Joey Votto helps, but Cincy just doesn’t have enough talent or depth to compete with the Cardinals.
1. San Diego Padres, 91-71
Sure, the Padres are simply a chic pick right now, but this was baseball’s best bullpen in 2014, and now with the addition of James Shields to the rotation, there should be no worry of that unit being overworked. The offense might take time to gel, but once it does, the Friars will be very well-rounded.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers, 87-75*
The Dodgers are slightly less paper-champion-like than the Nats, but constant playoff letdowns may take their toll at some point. The bullpen will have to tread water in the absence of Kenley Jansen, and for as great a 1-2 punch as Kershaw and Greinke are, can both be as brilliant as they were last year? Like Washington, talent will at least grant L.A. a ticket to October, but a deep run might be out of reach once again.
3. San Francisco Giants, 84-78
I’m not one for this even-year, odd-year stuff, but it appears the Giants just might be. Unless Madison Bumgarner dominates the summer like he does October, it will be a tough uphill climb for the Giants in a division they didn’t even win last season.
4. Arizona Diamondbacks, 74-88
The Snakes should make a slight improvement from last year’s disaster, but the pitching is just too far off. Paul Goldschmidt and Mark Trumbo will be fun to watch though.
5. Colorado Rockies, 70-92
The only redeeming thing about the Rockies is that their long-suffering fans will always be treated to at least 20-or-so barnburners at Coors Field. But that’s about the only excitement Rockies fans should expect in 2015.
Wild Card Game
TIGERS over Yankees
TIGERS over Red Sox
WHITE SOX over Mariners
TIGERS over White Sox
Wild Card Game
DODGERS over Nationals
CARDINALS over Dodgers
PADRES over Marlins
CARDINALS over Padres
TIGERS over Cardinals (MVP: Miguel Cabrera)
2015 MLB Season Awards
AL MVP – Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox
NL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins
AL CY – Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
NL CY – Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals
AL ROY – Aaron Sanchez, Toronto Blue Jays
NL ROY – Joc Pederson, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL MGR – Lloyd McClendon, Seattle Mariners
NL MGR – Bud Black, San Diego Padres