Daniel’s Decisions: MLB Predictions–Expectations High For O’s, Nats

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After a historically eventful winter, there has not been a more anticipated baseball season in recent years than the 2015 season. Opening week in baseball is upon us, and there are some shifts in teams’ expectations–not just locally.

 

With many big players, such as Justin Upton, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester leaving town for new opportunities, the disparity between every club has narrowed greatly.

 

Teams we have come accustomed to winning (Philadelphia, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, etc) are currently in an organizational lull, where they either lack skilled farm players, or their farm system hasn’t grown to their potential yet. Conversely, annual cellar dwellers like San Diego, Miami, and the New York Mets are on the rise.

 

The trend in today’s game is to hit more home-runs than your opponent, and to have a flame throwing, strikeout bullpen. Teams such as Kansas City, San Francisco and Baltimore epitomize these recent trends, as they were all able to go far in last year’s postseason.

 

Looking forward to this season, there are many interesting story-lines that need to be discussed.

 

Firstly, the revamped Padres offense is one that has the potential to be deadly, but with offensive question marks in the infield, there is room for concern. However, San Diego did address a key bullpen issue by trading for former Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.

 

The decline of the defending champion Giants will be a slow and painful one. They did not improve their already weak starting rotation and lineup, and the injury to Hunter Pence will hurt them immensely. What’s more, it’s debatable whether Cain will ever return to Cy Young form.

 

The AL Central appears to have become the best division in the Majors. One could make a valid argument any four of the five teams in the division could pull ahead and take the crown, so it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.

Here are my predictions for the 2015 MLB season:

 

AL East-                AL Central-                AL West-

Baltimore 89-73            Detroit 86-76                Seattle 93-69

Boston 87-75                Chicago 85-77                Los Angeles 90-72

Toronto 85-77                Cleveland 85-77            Oakland 78-84

New York 83-79            Kansas City 80-82            Texas 74-88

Tampa Bay 74-88            Minnesota 71-91            Houston 73-89

 

NL East-                NL Central-                NL West-

Washington 94-68            St. Louis 91-71            Los Angeles 90-72

Miami 85-77                Pittsburgh 86-76            San Diego 88-74

New York 82-80            Chicago 82-80                San Francisco 84-78

Atlanta 74-88                Milwaukee 79-83            Colorado 73-89

Philadelphia 68-94            Cincinnati 75-87            Arizona 69-93

 

To summarize the playoffs, the Orioles will take on the Mariners in the AL Championship Series, falling in five games.

 

In the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals will battle the Nationals, eventually losing in six games.

 

The 2015 World Series will feature two first timers to the Fall Classic–Washington DC and Seattle.

 

The Mariners were close last season. They needed more hitting and power in their lineup, and addressed both in one swoop with the surprising recruitment of home-run hitter, Nelson Cruz.

 

Conversely, Washington was a key example of the rich getting richer in an important facet of the sport–pitching. Already possessing one of the game’s strongest starting rotations, the Nationals strengthened that rotation’s depth. Hitting may still be an issue for the Nationals, pending injury, but the Mariners will prove to combine for one of the greatest pitching dual series in recent memory.

 

While one team addressed their needs while the other prioritized a monopoly of the pitching market, the ladder will prove to be path to a championship banner. The Nationals have the stronger, deeper staff of the two stellar rotations, which will prove key to winning their first World Series title since 1924, when they were the Senators.