2015 MLB Predictions

 The 2015 Major League Baseball season gets underway Sunday with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals and the rest of the league opens up the schedule Monday.

Over at The OFP Report, Alex, Steve and I made our predictions for the year, but I thought I’d add some division predictions top to bottom just for the sake of conversation.

Note: The win-loss records below are a best-guess projection for that team and that team only, without regard to anything else. If two teams unexpectedly win 110 games each, for example, there are going to be far fewer total wins for the other 13 clubs in the league. I did not do the math here to make sure each of these win projections are plausible as a package.

American League West
NO. TEAM W-L GB
1 Seattle 90-72
2 Los Angeles 87-75 3
3 Oakland 81-81 9
4 Houston 78-84 12
5 Texas 75-87 15

I may be a tad high on Seattle but if they remain healthy I do think they area few games better than the L.A. Angels. The Astros remain in rebuilding mode but I do think they have enough pitching to again hold of the Rangers, who get Prince Fielder back after neck surgery and Derek Holland is healthy to start the season, but Texas will be without Yu Darvish all season.

The A’s are the tough one; they could win 90 games and I would not be surprised. Sonny Gray is very good, the supporting cast in the rotation is decent and Jarrod Parker is on his way back. The bullpen should be fine as long as Doolittle isn’t out a huge chunk of the season and while Coco Crisp is out for six weeks and Josh Donaldson is in Toronto, the additions of Brett Lawrie and especially Ben Zobrist and Billy Butler may make up for both losses, and then some.

Don’t sleep on Marcus Semien, either. The kid can play.

American League Central
NO. TEAM W-L GB
1 Cleveland 88-74
2 Detroit 85-77 3
3 Chicago 84-78 4
4 Kansas City 79-83 9
5 Minnesota 69-93 19

I like Cleveland here but they’re also one key pitching injury away from sub-.500; they don’t have the kind of rotation depth some of the other clubs have, including those in their own division. Although the Tigers, without Justin Verlander to start the season, aren’t in a markedly better position after losing Max Scherzer to free agency and Rick Porcello in trade. Detroit will score runs, though, and may be even better than they were a year ago with the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and a healthy Miguel Cabrera.

The White Sox have enough to win 90 games and may be the team I’m worried most about underestimating. Not only did they add Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche to the lineup but centerfielder Adam Eaton is healthy, the No. 2 catcher is proven veteran Geovany Soto and John Danks is another year removed from his shoulder surgery. Jose Quintana is the best No. 3 starter in the American League, too. So much so that such a statement may be a lie. It may be Jeff Samardzija, instead.

American League East
NO. TEAM W-L GB
1 Boston 88-74
2 Baltimore 85-77 3
3 Toronto 82-80 6
4 New York 77-85 11
5 Tampa Bay 74-88 14

This division could be the worst in baseball unless a few key trades are made for pitching (Red Sox, Blue Jays) and the clubs stay healthier than they have in the past (Blue Jays, Yankees). The Red Sox are the most talented team and the Orioles are the most established group, largely because Buck Showalter is one of the game’s best managers.

I’m betting on Boston being trade aggressive, perhaps even before the break, but clearly they will score runs in droves. If Toronto and New York have some bad luck with injury, Tampa could sneak ahead of both with some luck of their own.

National League West
NO. TEAM W-L GB
1 Los Angeles 91-71
2 San Diego 85-77 6
3 San Francisco 81-81 10
4 Colorado 74-88 17
5 Arizona 72-90 19

I’m not entirely buying the San Diego Padres, despite the move made Sunday to add closer Craig Kimbrel. They did get Melvin Upton, Jr., whose brother Justin will be a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Friars, allowing some flexibility defensively since Wil Myers is penciled into center field. The Padres’ infield is below average and I’m not as big a fan of Myers as some, though I do buy his power.

The Dodgers have the best mix of talent, in my opinion, and have the ammo to keep adding to it. The Giants will miss Pablo Sandoval a lot, but they will get Matt Cain back. The joke is it’s an odd year so the Giants are out, but I actually see depth problems developing enough to keep them out of October. The Rockies and Diamondbacks are planning for 2016 or 2025, or something.

National League Central
NO. TEAM W-L GB
1 St. Louis 92-70
2 Pittsburgh 86-76 4
3 Chicago 84-78 8
4 Cincinnati 76-86 16
5 Milwaukee 75-87 17

For my money, the National League Central is the most fascinating and talented division in the game, led by the veteran-laden Cardinals and born-again Cubs. Chicago is probably a pitcher or two short, and that may be the same for the Pirates, but both clubs will score behind young talent. Pittsburgh may have the best outfield in baseball if Gregory Polanco has a solid year after debuting in 2014.

I do not like what Milwaukee and Cincinnati bring to the table right now; Injuries and lack of starting pitching concern with both teams, and neither has a juggernaut lineup in my view. Good, yes, not 800 runs good, however.

National League East
NO. TEAM W-L GB
1 Washington 93-69
2 New York 86-76 7
3 Miami 82-80 11
4 Atlanta 70-92 23
5 Philadelphia 68-94 25

I have a much different opinion on the National League East than most, it seems. Washington is so good on paper that it’s difficult to imagine they don’t win 90-plus and win the division. Their April injury issues are concerning, but until they appear to be long-term situations I cannot ignore the starting rotation which boasts a No. 5 starter as good as Gio Gonzalez and three legitimate No. 1 starters in Scherzer, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg.

Most seem to like Miami taking a leap, and they may very well do so, but they won’t get Jose Fernandez back until at least July and the New York Mets are being overlooked here. Not only do the Mets have elite pitching with Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, there’s more on the way, too, and the lineup has a shot to be around average with the addition of Michael Cuddyer and having names such as Travis d’Arnaud and Kirk Niewenhuis back with more experience. The Mets plated 629 runs a year ago and won 79 games. Sure, they’re just swapping out Harvey for Zack Wheeler in the rotation, but deGrom is ready for 30 or more starts after just 22 in the bigs a year ago and the bullpen is likely to be even a tick better.

The Braves clearly have punted on 2015 and the Phillies appear to have punted on trying. Ever.

Awards
I made my MVP and Cy Young prediction on the podcast and I don’t believe it’s worth picking the rookie or manager awards.

I also made my World Series picks on the podcast, as did Alex Carson and Steve Silver. Check it out.

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Jason A. Churchill

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