For every baseball fan, it’s that time of the year to make the season's way too early MLB predictions. This off-season has already provided many blockbuster trades that have the ball rolling on the talk of the big winners and losers for next season. We have already seen the Cy Young award runner-up, Zach Greinke, move homes from the Dodgers to NL West rival, the Arizona Diamondbacks (D-Backs). The young and talented Cubs have received some more boosts to their lineup acquiring Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist. The Cubs' crosstown rival has also been stirring the MLB pot and has made some moves of their own by picking up last year's Home Run Derby champ Todd Frazier, in a three-team deal with the Dodgers, White Sox, and Reds. The Giants have not been shy either, picking up two right-handed hurlers in Jeff Samardzjia and Johnny Cueto. This season will sure be a good one to watch.
The NL West will be a very tight race this year with the Giants and D-Backs picking up strength on the mound to back up their heavy hitting lineups. The D-Backs will have a strong pitching rotation with Zach Greinke, Shelby Miller, Rubby De La Rosa, and Jeremy Hellickson.
The San Francisco Giants have the best rotation in the NL West with Madison Bumgarner, Chris Heston and the recently acquired Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzjia. The Dodgers still have Clayton Kershaw, one of the best pitchers in league, but the loss of Greinke left a hole in the rotation that someone like Brett Anderson or Brandon McCarthy will have to fill. The Dodgers have the best bats in the NL West, with guys like Adrian Gonzales and Joc Pederson who can hit for power and homeruns. Also the Dodgers have players who can knock in RBI’s in clutch situations like young star Corey Seager and Yasiel Puig.
The Rockies and Padres will be sitting in the basement of the league again. Even though the Rockies have some huge bats in their lineup with Nolan Arenado, Carlos Gonzales, and DJ LeMahieu, their pitching is so poor that even with the strong lineup, they will still lose over 90 games. The Padres need to have a rebuilding year and have a lot to figure out with both their pitching and hitting if they want to be a contender in the next five years. In the closing end of the regular season, the San Francisco Giants will clinch the NL West behind some great pitching and the big bats of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, and rising star Matt Duffy. However the NL West will provide another playoff team in the Arizona Diamondbacks who will secure one of the two NL Wild Card spots.
NL West Winner: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Card: Arizona Diamondbacks
Last year, the NL Central was the most exciting division to watch and I think it will once again be one of the strongest divisions in baseball.
The Cubs are coming off one of their best seasons since 2008. They have a young team filled with rising superstars like the Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta and the Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant. They will have another strong season filled with a lot of strikeouts and homeruns. Another team that will be surging this year will be the Pittsburg Pirates behind the heavy starting pitching they have in Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano and one of the best closers in the game, Mark Melancon, who had 51 saves last season.
The Saint Louis Cardinals are usually at the top of the NL Central but this year I see their bats being a problem for them. Losing Jon Jay and Jason Heyward will put holes in their lineup that young guys like Kolton Wong or Brandon Moss will have to replace. Their pitchers will have to stay healthy if they want to win; the injury to Adam Wainwright last year put a dent in their rotation. If the Cardinals have another key injury like Wainwright, I don’t see another pitcher being able to pick up the slack.
The Brewers and Reds will round out the bottom of the league for the second year in a row. The Reds lost Todd Frazier and will possibly be losing Aroldis Chapman; this will put some huge holes in their team. The Milwaukee Brewers need to look towards the baseball gods and ask for mercy because this season does not look like it’s going to be a happy one for the Brew-Crew. For the end of the season, the Chicago Cubs will win the division behind the colossal bats of Bryant and Anthony Rizzo and be lead by the pitching of Arrieta.
NL Central Winner: Chicago Cubs
The NL East provided a team in the World Series last year. It was a shocker that the New York Mets had such a great season. They had some of the finest pitching in the league with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, and Noah Syndergaard. If the pitching keeps up then they will have another successful season, but if they want to make the World Series again they are going to need to add another big bat to their lineup. They cannot expect Daniel Murphy to do what he did in the playoffs last year again this season.
The Washington Nationals have another solid team this year behind superstar Bryce Harper and his breath taking swing as well as pitchers Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzales. The Nationals have started out strong the last two years, but have collapsed toward the end of the season. The rest of the NL East is in their rebuilding years.
The Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, and Philadelphia Phillies will be in a bitter fight for last place and maybe even the first pick in the 2017 draft. The Washington Nationals will avoid the end of the year collapse behind new manager Dusty Baker, who will give them the edge they need to clinch a playoff spot. The Nationals will take the NL East crown, but the New York Mets will secure the last NL Wild Card with a tight race between them and Pittsburg Pirates.
NL East Winner: Washington Nationals
NL Wild Card Winner: New York Mets
The AL West had an exciting year last year with the young and upcoming Houston Astros having a battle with the more seasoned Los Angles Angels. This year the two will battle again at the end of the year. The Angles acquired Anderlton Simmons and Daniel Nava, which helped add the depth they needed since it was missing the playoffs.
The Astros are coming off a huge year with players like Carlos Correra, Jose Altuve, Carlos Gomez and pitcher Dallas Keuchel. The Astros gained a 100-mile an hour plus closer in Ken Giles, which will add depth in their bullpen.
Don’t sleep on the Texas Rangers though; they have a batting line up full of power and season veterans. Prince Fielder came off a huge season leading the team in all hitting categories while Adrian Beltre and Sin-Soo Choo had tremendous years as well. Rounding out the bottom of the AL West will be the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics. Both teams need to have big years out of players like Robinson Cano for the Mariners and Josh Reddick for the Athletics. It will be a dogfight all year for the division title, but the Astros will come out on top. Their lineup and pitching are too strong for the other teams to take the title away from them. The AL West is the Astros to lose. However the Rangers will clinch a Wild Card spot and make it to the playoffs for the second year in a row.
AL West Winner: Houston Astros
AL Wild Card Winner: Texas Rangers
The Kansas City Royals ran away with the AL Central last year leading them to a World Series title. With a stacked lineup and a phenomenal bullpen, the Royals were a clear choice going into the playoffs as the next World Series champion. This year, however, they lost a big bat in their lineup in Ben Zobrist and a force on the mound in Johnny Cueto. Both of these players were a big reason why the Royals won the World Series last year and they will need to fill these holes if they want to repeat as champions.
The Twins had a great year last year and had a push towards the playoffs, but fell short at the end of the year. They had young talent in the likes of Miguel Sano that thrived and a veteran outfielder, Tori Hunter, that helped the young players like Sano learn the ropes of the MLB. However, after last season Hunter retired which left a gapping hole in the Twins organization. The loss of Hunter will leave the Twins out of the playoff race towards the end of the year.
The Tigers have talent, but are missing that one piece that will make them an all-around team. With Miguel Cabrera, JD Martinez, and Jose Iglesias rounding out their order, the Tigers need to grab a star player in the off season to boost that lineup in order to become a serious playoff contender. The Tigers lineup is full of veterans, but I could see some injuries throughout the season that could pull them out of the playoff race.
The Cleveland Indians have some bright young talent coming up through there farm system, but it will take another couple of years for the Indians to make a run for the division title. The Chicago White Sox will have to join the Milwaukee Brewers and look to the baseball gods for mercy. The White Sox need to rebuild and look over their organization to become what they were back in the early 2000s.
The Kansas City Royals will run away with this division again and make a run towards a second World Series title in a row.
AL Central Winner: Kansas City Royals
The AL East is not the powerhouse division it used to be. The Yankees are trying to find a winning team out of veterans that are past their prime. They made a step in the right direction by picking up young shortstop Starlin Castro and calling up the young and powerful first baseman Greg Bird. The Yankees also added young talent to their pitching rotation with Luis Severino who added a much needed push at the end of the season.
The Blue Jays made it to the playoffs last year for the first time since they won the World Series in 1993 behind the strong pitching of David Price and Marcus Stroman, and the big bats of Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays lost David Price to the Red Sox in the off season which left a hole that they are going to need to fill if they want to be as successful as they were in 2015. With the Red Sox acquiring David Price, it added a star pitcher to their rotation in which they desperately needed. I don’t think David Price is the answer to all the Red Sox problems, but it is a start.
The Rays and Orioles need to add some veteran stars to their team to lead the young guys to success. The Orioles need to stay away from injury and keep their top players on the field if they want to be a playoff contender in 2015. The New York Yankees will take the AL East this year behind the strong pitching of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, and Michael Pineda and behind the bats of Greg Bird, Brian McCann, and newly added Starlin Castro. The Blue Jays will not be far behind swooping up the last AL Wild Card spot.
AL East Winner: New York Yankees
AL Wild Card Winner: Toronto Blue Jays
AL Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers
With the Wild Card game being only one game, the Rangers will more than likely be pitching Cole Hamels and the Blue Jays will be throwing Marcus Stroman. I believe the bats of the Rangers will do just enough to pull off the win against the Blue Jays, but the game will go down to the wire. The Rangers will win with a walk off homerun by Prince Fielder in the bottom of the ninth.
Winner: Texas Rangers
NL Wild Card: New York Mets vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
This game will be an interesting match up with some tremendous pitching. It has two of the top pitchers in the league with Zach Greinke and Matt Harvey duking it out throughout the whole game. The D-Backs bats will just edge out the Mets, giving them a one run lead late in the game that they will hold on to for the victory.
Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks
Round 1 AL Playoffs: Texas Rangers vs. Kansas City Royals
This will be a series of big bats and lots of power. The Texas Rangers bats will overpower the Kansas City Royals pitching and will give their bullpen no chance to pitch with a lead. The Rangers pitching staff will do just enough to win them the series. Rangers win in four games.
Winner: Texas Ranger
Round 2 AL Playoffs: Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees
This series will be a pitching duel that the Astros will win. The Yankees starting pitching will not do enough for the bullpen to be able to hold, and their hitters will not be able to claw back from it. The Astros will come together just like they did in last year's playoff run and make some high drama and special moments that will put them ahead. Astros win in five games.
Winner: Houston Astros
Round 1 NL Playoffs: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs
The Diamondbacks will run out of pitching toward the end of the series which the Cubs will take full advantage of. The Cubs will have strong pitching for all five games and will take total control. Cubs win in five.
Winner: Chicago Cubs
Round 2 NL Playoffs: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
The Giants star studded pitching cast will make the Nationals look like a Little League team. The Giants hitters will give their pitchers just enough runs to win three straight games and take the series. Giants win in three.
Winner: San Francisco Giants
AL Division Championship: Houston Astros vs. Texas Rangers
It will be a Texas shoot out for the chance to play in the World Series. The Rangers bats will give the Astros pitching some fits in the early games of the series, but in the tail end, the Astros young starters will come up clutch lifting the Astros to the World Series. Astros win in six games.
Winner: Houston Astros
NL Division Championship: San Francisco Giants vs. Chicago Cubs
The Giants pitching staff will be too much to handle for the Cubs, spoiling their hopes to break the curse for the second year in a row. The Giants bats will over power the Cubs and they will make a clean sweep. Giants win in 4 games.
Winner: San Francisco Giants
World Series: San Francisco Giants vs. Houston Astros
This will be a high intensity series with marvelous pitching and mammoth bats. The Astros will throw all their weapons at the Giants, but they will do just enough to pull out another World Series title. Giants win in seven games.Winner: San Francisco Giants