MLB 2015 Predictions
Forget the injury questions on offense, because the Nationals certainly have enough to win the division given their pitching staff. On the next two teams, my head says Miami has the more reliable and balanced offense, but I have a feeling about the Mets this year, and think they will compete for a wild card. Philadelphia's best players will be gone by August, putting them well behind a Braves team whose starters will be the reason to watch them this year.
Pittsburgh (Wild Card)
St. Louis and Pittsburgh are clearly a cut above everyone else here, and I'm picking the Cardinals because I think they can beat the Pirates at the trade deadline. Chicago will be improved, but the back of their rotation still has problems. That is also the problem with Milwaukee and Cincinnati. The latter's window has closed, and will probably sink into last after being a seller at the trade deadline.
San Diego (Wild Card)
Everyone knows the reasons Los Angeles is the best here. I've wondered if San Diego might actually be the Marlins of a few years ago, when a big off-season turned into a fire sale which led to their current strengths. However, I do like the Padres more than the rest of the division, and in fact find the division as a whole so weak that I'm picking said Padres to rack up the wins to earn the second wild card. The Giants can get quality from Matt Cain, but apart from that have too many weaknesses compared to last year's second wild card team to get back this year.Colorado and Arizona both have good offenses, but the pitching is to terrible they will rank among the bottom teams in the league.
New York (Wild Card)
This was my toughest call, but people forget the Blue Jays were first for much of last summer, and I see their offseason as providing necessary fortification. If Tanaka and Pineda can combine for 350 innings and someone else in the rotation steps up to replace Hiroki Kuroda, then the Yankees will be better, but that's a lot of ifs. Still, there's at least wild card talent there. Baltimore's success has depended in part on winning one-run games, which will be much harder with a weaker bullpen. Boston's problem isn't just the lack of an ace, but the fact that the starters they did pick up shouldn't be better than #4's on an elite team, and several will have to perform above expectations. Tampa Bay's offense will be depressing.
I'm picking a changing of the guard in this division. Cleveland needs another starter, but has enough on the field to contend. Detroit's pitching staff could easily implode, but should hold together well enough given their offense. Chicago seems very hit-and-miss to me, sporting some very good additions but with deep question marks, as well. Everyone worries about Bumgarner's innings from last year, but not those of the Kansas City bullpen that was a key to their success. Minnesota still has lots of rebuilding in progress.
Los Angeles (Wild Card)
Although Nelson Cruz will have to conquer Safeco Field, Seattle is a solid team, with such veteran additions complementing what I predict will be breakout years by young players like James Paxton and Mike Zunino. I'm less sold on Los Angeles, which last year ran away from the division when the rest of the teams simple collapsed. People forget how good Texas can be, and even though Houston will be a better team than a year ago, they may not win more games given others' improvements, and so finish behind Oakland.