In looking back at last year’s predictions (A.L. here, N.L. here), it turned out that I was half correct when it came to predicting the teams (St. Louis) that reached the World Series. And I managed to accurately guess seven of the teams eventual placement in the standings, which of course means that I was wrong with 77% of the other teams.
So in continuing this futile, yet fun exercise, here’s a quick look at what I’m predicting this year.
American League East
Rays – I love their starting pitching and their bullpen will still be solid. David Price and the whole entire team are on a mission to have one last good run before Price is likely traded. This is too much of a feel good story to not pick them as division champs.
Red Sox – Still very solid, I really like the youth they’re inserting in place of Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew and they’ve got more coming in the way of pitching and positional prospects. I really hate how good an organization Boston is.
Yankees – They’ve reasserted themselves as a force to reckon with, which I completely detest. Still, there are many questions that surround this team, too many, in fact, that it’s hard to pick them as division favourites especially when there are more solid teams they’re competing against like the Rays and Red Sox.
Orioles – Baltimore has really strengthened themselves with the Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez signings. I think they’ll have a chance this year to compete for the playoffs.
Blue Jays – What can I say, their offseason has been non-existent, and while nearly the same team returns that we all picked to win a year ago, it’s hard to be more optimistic than fifth place given all the question marks that surround this team. I’d love to see them prove me wrong of course!
Royals – I’m taking a flyer on the Royals here because they’re a solid team that should get better in the offensive department. Of course, I could be totally wrong, but they could be another feel good story.
Tigers – I know Detroit had to re-make their team by infusing more speed and better defense into their roster, but to me, they just got worse over the offseason and don’t seem as impressive. Furthermore, many large decisions loom, the first of which is what to do with Max Scherzer long term.
Indians – Are they going to match last year’s results without the success of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir? My answer is no.
Twins – More pitching depth is good for the team thanks to the signings of Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes and Mike Pelfrey, it’s just that I feel it’s mostly meh. An infusion of youth with the likes of Josmil Pinto and Oswaldo Arcia will help, but it’s still not a very good team, YET.
White Sox – I like the moves they made in the offseason by acquiring Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson to go along with Jose Abreu. They have a good 1-2 punch in the starting rotation with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana. They’ve definitely reshaped themselves, however it doesn’t mean the team will gel right away either. I’m still guessing fifth place.
Athletics – The A’s deserve some credit for finishing first the past two seasons and 2014 is no different. Their GM Billy Beane has accrued 25 guys that compliment each other, and besides, they easily have the best pitching staff in the division.
Rangers – They’re much improved with the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo, and yet they’re faced with some holes in the rotation right now due to injuries. They’ve signed guys like Tommy Hanson and Joe Saunders to help fill the void, and while their pitching seems thin right now, if they get Colby Lewis and Matt Harrison healthy, they’ll be able to compete for the division title.
Angels – Many people are still high on the Angels here, and while they shouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been the last two years with an resurgent Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, their pitching depth still remains ultra thin.
Mariners – Ah yes, I loved their big signing of Robinson Cano, however their lineup is very lacking from the right side and Cano has no protection. Their pitching depth is razor thin right now with Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker out at the moment, so yeah, this may end up being a long season for them.
Astros – The Astros are young and building up their team with an infusion of youth and promise, which I like. By the end of the season with players like George Springer, Jonathan Singleton, Mark Appel et al., they should be much improved and maybe even challenge for fourth place.
National League East
Nationals – Washington has strengthened themselves in the Doug Fister trade and by the signing of Nate McLouth. All they have to do is perform, which is what the Jays were saying a year ago.
Braves – I don’t like how they lost Brian McCann or Tim Hudson. Those are two big veteran guys that are now gone, which I feel leaves a leadership gap. To reach the post-season again, they’ll need, like always, to rely on their young pitching and improved production from the likes of B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla. It’s really disappointing how Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy are injured again for the year. The Ervin Santana signing sure helped them, but now will it be enough?
Mets – The Metropolitans will be better in 2014 thanks to the additions of Chris Young and Curtis Granderson and hopefully further growth from the likes of Zach Wheeler, Juan Legares and Travis D’Arnaud. Their pitching staff is decent and I like what they’re building for 2015 and beyond.
Phillies – Already it seems the injuries are piling up with Cole Hamels and Jonathan Pettibone and Ethan Martin already out for a while. For me, I believe it’s too much to ask of an aging core to step up and compete like they’re three years younger. If they fail to compete this year, it really might mean the end of Ruban Amaro’s tenure as GM and the start of a rebuilding process which could take quite awhile.
Marlins – This team is just so young and inexperienced to do much of anything. I like their core of starting pitching, but still this team is too young to prevent the expected growing pains of youth.
Cardinals – St. Louis has strengthened their already strong roster with Peter Bourjos and Jhonny Peralta. A model organization, it’s hard to expect anyone else in the division challenging them for the division lead.
Brewers – Initially I wasn’t high on the Brew Crew, but now with the Matt Garza signing, their rotation appears to be pretty decent. The main questions for me here pertain to their youthful yet promising offense in addition to their bullpen which lacks any proven commodity now that K-Rod is injured for the time being.
Reds – Still very solid in the rotation and bullpen, the question here remains on offense and whether Billy Hamilton can be that on-base spark plug. It’s too bad they’re a smaller market team that has to rely on infusions of cheap, youthful prospects to augment their core as opposed to resigning stars like Shin-Soo Choo. Still, I like the look of Tony Cingrani in the rotation and top pitching prospect Robert Stephenson who should help the team real soon.
Pirates – I expect a fall from grace of sorts from a team that over-achieved last year. Don’t get me wrong, I loved seeing them in the post-season, but I think their chances have worsened with the loss of A.J. Burnett. Everything has to go right again for them to have a chance.
Cubs – It’s so hard for me to be nice to a team that appears content letting Luis Valbuena be it’s starting third baseman along with the general acceptance of utter mediocrity. They also don’t appear to have a plan given how they freely admitted signing Edwin Jackson maybe was a year too early. This organization needs to shape up and get their act together.
Dodgers – The class of the division, the Dodgers will remain champs as they feature the best pitching and, if healthy, a good lineup that will put up oodles of runs.
Diamondbacks – Another mystery organization here where they traded Justin Upton last offseason only to acquire another power hitter in Mark Trumbo this offseason. Still, they’re going to be a good team since they have significant talent, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to win the division.
Padres - Many people are high on the Padres this year, and while they could surprise due to improved depth and upside in the rotation, a lot of players need good healthy seasons for San Diego to compete. In that ballpark, they are going to be decent in preventing runs, the big question is whether they can score them.
Giants – GM Brian Sebean has brought back mainly the same group (plus a few minor additions), which under performed last year. Now they could rebound and win it all in 2014 since it’s an even numbered year, or they could flutter again around the .500 level. I’ll pick the latter.
Rockies – I have to tip my cap to the Rockies who are certainly trying to be more competitive as they’ve brought in Brett Anderson and Franklin Morales to help fill out their rotation. Will it work necessarily, that still remains to be seen.
Wildcards: A.L.) Red Sox over Rangers; N.L.) Braves over Diamondbacks
Division Series: A.L.) Rays over Royals; A’s over Red Sox. N.L.) Nationals over Braves; Dodgers over Cardinals
League Championship Series: A.L.) Rays over A’s; N.L.) Nationals over Dodgers
World Series: Rays over Nationals