I say it often, but Opening Day should be a National Holiday. The taste of hot dogs, brats, or Nonuple Burgers (if that’s your thing) is better than any other day. The screams of (my) children, as hope springs like the ball off of Alex Rios’ bat, are more pleasing to the ears. I love Opening Day. Of course, when I realized Opening Day came and went without my annual predictions, I knew that both of my regular readers would be exceedingly disappointed, so I sprang into action. So here are the greatest predictions regarding this baseball season that you will see made (by me)!
Final Standings (Bold denotes Division winner; Italics denote Wild Card winners)
Yes, I am buying that the see-saw that is the Boston Red Sox will be on the upswing this season. I also still believe that the Orioles are a legitimate challenger to the throne. And truthfully, the division should be very close. This is a balanced race that could see every team still in the mix on September 1st.
Am I a homer? Maybe. But everyone else is assuming that there will be a regression this season from the Royals, whereas I see a few key things moving their way. The young guys are moving toward their prime, not away from it. The bullpen is somehow even deeper than last season. It’s true that they are unlikely to make a postseason run with the power numbers from last year, but I see the power numbers going up. Most importantly, the key components are back from last year and now they believe from day one. As for the rest of the division, it’s all good. Truly you can make a case for each of the top four teams winning the division and any of those outcomes are possible. However, the losses in the Tigers’ rotation and the gaps still in their bullpen mark them to slide to me. As for Chicago and Cleveland, well, everyone has to finish somewhere.
The most important thing is that the Astros are finally climbing out of the cellar! I’ve rolled with the Angels for a couple of seasons now, and they simply continue to underperform and I’m not seeing that change this year. The Mariners appear ready to ascend to the top of their division for the first time in over a decade. They have all of the pieces provided their health holds up. The A’s continue to be in the mix each year and I don’t see that changing this time around.
The Braves picked a good time to focus on 2017. The Nationals and Marlins should be the dominant forces in the East for the next couple of years. I can honestly see either of these teams landing on top, but the Nats have been on the cusp for so long, I think they finally break through. At least to a point. And at least Braves fans can take solace in the fact that when they are rebuilding they go all in. Poor Phillies fans.
Back to the Future II has the Cubs breaking their curse this year, but I believe they are still a year or two away. They very easily could make it to the playoffs with a couple of breaks, but at this point I’m betting on the Pirates and Cardinals holding them at bay. As for the top two teams? Just watch the past couple of seasons and you’ll have all the analysis you need.
Like the Angels, I’ve picked the Dodgers frequently of late and have been disappointed repeatedly. I love the top of their rotation, but their formula just doesn’t seem to work. The Giants could easily flip places with the Dodgers, but it’s an odd numbered year, so I won’t bet on it. That leaves us with the completely overhauled Padres. The Pads didn’t just get upgrades at the plate, they also got quality guys in the clubhouse, and that can be the difference between 2nd and 1st. Look for their fans to be rewarded.
So that is the regular season. So what will happen in the postseason? Anything can happen, so we’ll just take a stab at it:
NL Wild Card – Marlins over Pirates
AL Wild Card – Indians over Athletics
NLDS – Nationals over Marlins & Padres over Cardinals
ALDS – Indians over Mariners & Royals over Red Sox
NLCS – Nationals over Padres
ALCS – Royals over Indians
World Series – Nationals over Royals
Additionally, who will be your 2015 Award Winners? I have your answers right here:
AL MVP – Mike Trout
NL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton
AL ROY – Francisco Lindor
NL ROY – Kris Bryant
AL Cy Young – Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young – Matt Harvey
So now you know what will happen this year. These are 100% Guaranteed to be my predictions! You can take that to the bank. Now, let’s Play Ball!!