AL East – Baltimore, Boston, Toronto, NY Yankees, Tampa Bay
I like the combination of arms and bats on the roster for the defending division champs from Baltimore. I expect both Boston and Toronto to be in the thick of the race all season long while the Yankees and Rays bring up the rear.
AL Central – Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota
This will easily be the most difficult race to call and I can see any of the top four teams winning the division. The Twins will be in rebuilding mode and should improve as the season wears on. In the Motor City, I have concerns about the health of both Miguel Cabrera and Jason Verlander. If either of those two miss significant time that could spell trouble. The defending AL Champion Royals have some pitching holes to fill and that concerns me while the White Sox need to stay the course throughout the season and could find themselves in the playoffs if things break right.
AL West – Seattle, Anaheim, Oakland, Houston, Texas
I believe this to finally be the Mariners’ time to shine. The hitting now matches the pitching and I think they’ll take advantage of that. The Angels should be very good but they can’t rely on Mike Trout to carry them by himself. Oakland is Oakland… The A’s always seem to be there despite the lower payroll and this season appears to be no different yet I think they take a step back. I do see improvement from the Astros while the Rangers will sink with injuries to both Profar and Darvish.
Prediction: Joining the four division winners will be wild-cards Detroit and Boston. I like the Mariners and Indians to advance to the ALCS where Seattle wins the pennant.
NL East – Washington, Florida, NY Mets, Atlanta, Philadelphia
Is there any title easier to call than the one the Nationals will win? Substantial injuries will have to occur in order for this not to happen. I see only the Marlins giving the Nats any type of challenge but wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mets shake things up a bit either. Both Atlanta and Philadelphia are playing to get better for the future. It’s going to be a long year in those two cities.
NL Central – St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Milwaukee, Cincinnati
It was a fitting opening night win for the Cards over the Cubs as they won with timely hitting and good pitching. This is exactly what will carry them to another title. I like the Pirates and Cubs to battle for second place while the Brewers and Reds will see who can stay out of the basement.
NL West – LA Dodgers, San Diego, San Francisco, Arizona, Colorado
Despite the Giants being the defending World Champions, I think they take a step back this season. Conversely, the Padres are clearly “all-in” as they have made one move after another to get better. Both teams will battle for second because the Dodgers just have too much talent not to win the division again. This race could be a solid three-team race throughout the season. Both Arizona and Colorado will be battling for basement duty.
Prediction: I like Pittsburgh and San Diego to earn wild-card berths but don’t be surprised to see Florida and the Cubs push hard for those spots. In the end, I like the Pirates and Nationals in the NLCS and I see Washington winning the NL Pennant.
World Series: Mariners in six games over the Nationals.