I wrote yesterday of the beauty of the game of baseball in general, which you can read here, but today I want to focus on my predictions for this season, going division by division. This will also include my way-too-early playoff predictions. Remember there are two wildcard teams in each league starting this year, which I really like and should make things interesting. It puts more emphasis on winning the division by having the one game playoff that throws off the starting rotation of the winning team. I conceivably see 12 teams good enough to win the World Series this year, and the seven best teams in baseball are all in the American League.
National League East
This is a very interesting division, and should be one of the most fun to watch as the season rolls along. There are four teams that could make the playoffs here, and they could have both NL wildcards. The Phillies have questions in their lineup, as do the Braves and Nationals, but they all have really strong pitching staffs. On paper, the newly minted Miami Marlins could be the best team in the division, but they could also blow up and lose 90 games. The Mets… might be the third worst team in baseball.
1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-69)
2. Atlanta Braves (89-73)
3. Washington Nationals (88-74)
4. Miami Marlins (84-78)
5. New York Mets (67-95)
National League Central
As much as I would love to say the Cubs will put up a fight this season, I don’t think so. The Pirates could put up a fight, but they won’t either, making this their 20th consecutive losing season. Brutal. This is the Astros last chance to be successful before they run into the buzzsaw that is the AL West, but they might be the worst team in baseball by a large margin this year. They’re terrible. I think the Cardinals are just giggling to themselves that people have written them off with the loss of Pujols, and I don’t know that the Brewers are going to be as bad as some think they will be with their loss of Fielder. The Reds are in “go for it” mode, but I’m still not totally convinced they’re good enough. They have questionable pitching staff.
1. St. Louis Cardinals (92-70)
2. Cincinnati Reds (87-75)
3. Milwaukee Brewers (84-78)
4. Chicago Cubs (77-85)
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (76-86)
6. Houston Astros (58-104)
National League West
The only team here that doesn’t have a chance is the Padres. And I’m not a fan of the Rockies or Dodgers either, but I guess they have a chance because each of them has some studs. But the Giants, D-Backs are strong and I like each of their chances. The Giants pitching staff is filthy, but their offense is brutal. Will they score any runs at all this year? Maybe. And are the D-Backs the same team they were last year, or was that a aberration?
1. San Francisco Giants (88-74)
2. Arizona Diamondbacks (87-75)
3. Los Angeles Dodgers (82-80)
4. Colorado Rockies (80-82)
5. San Diego Padres (74-86)
American League East
This division has four possible postseason teams, which is just nuts. Too bad only three of them can make it. The Orioles suck. I don’t know that the Blue Jays are quite there to be a World Series contender, but I think they can make the playoffs, perhaps over a Red Sox team with some lingering questions. The Yankees are the Yankees and the Rays will be good again.
1. New York Yankees (95-67)
2. Tampa Bay Rays (92-70)
3. Toronto Blue Jays (90-72)
4. Boston Red Sox (88-74)
5. Baltimore Orioles (66-96)
American League Central
The Tigers should easily win this division and not feel bad about disciplining the rest of the division all season. I don’t think anyone else has a shot not just at the division, but making the playoffs in general.
1. Detroit Tigers (97-65)
2. Kansas City Royals (86-76)
3. Chicago White Sox (83-79)
4. Minnesota Twins (79-83)
5. Cleveland Indians (77-85)
American League West
Arguably the two best teams in baseball are the Angels and Rangers. This is the race I am most excited to watch throughout the season. Amazingly it could come to pass that only one of them makes the playoffs… but I don’t think so. Mariners and A’s, wait til next year.
1. Texas Rangers (97-65)
2. Los Angeles Angels (94-68)
3. Seattle Mariners (72-90)
4. Oakland A’s (70-92)
Atlanta Braves def. Washington Nationals
Los Angeles Angels def. Tampa Bay Rays
St. Louis Cardinals def. Atlanta Braves in 4
Philadelphia Phillies def. San Francisco Giants in 5
Detroit Tigers def. Los Angeles Angels in 5
Texas Rangers def. New York Yankees in 4
League Championship Series
St. Louis Cardinals def. Philadelphia Phillies in 7
Detroit Tigers def. Texas Rangers in 6
Detroit Tigers def. St. Louis Cardinals in 6
Enjoy the season everyone! Go Cubs!