NL East Division Winners: Washington Nationals
For the second straight season the Washington Nationals will coast to a first place finish in the NL East. According to ESPN’s fantasy rankings, Washington has five starting pitchers in the top 32. No other team has more than two and twelve teams don’t even have one. Their offense finished 3rd in the NL last season and should place similarly in 2015, assuming the injury bug doesn’t continue to hamper some of their keys players.
NL Central Division Winners: Pittsburgh Pirates
Despite not adding much impact talent in the off season, the Pirates look poised to claim their first Division Title since 1992. The offense has no obvious weak spots and with so many young players in their prime, career years could result for a number of line up regulars. Pedro Alvarez in particular can finally focus his attention on hitting now that he’s moved across the diamond to first base. Pirates pitching could be spectacular with Fransisco Cervelli stealing strikes behind the plate and top prospects Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow primed to make contributions at the big league level.
NL West Division Winners: Los Angeles Dodgers
Nothing controversial here. The Dodgers have the best pitcher, the most money, and according to Baseball Prospectus the third best farm system in baseball. The rotation lacks depth, especially in light of Hyun-Jin Ryu’s shoulder issues, but Clayton Kershaw was worth more in WAR last season than James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy combined so I don’t think there’s cause for concern. The lineup is also solid and could be incredible if Joc Pederson and Yasmani Grandal have breakout seasons.
AL East Division Winners: Toronto Blue Jays
Most projections expect a robust offense in Toronto this season, which isn’t surprising given the presence of Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, and Jose Bautista. Professional prognosticators are not so complimentary about their pitching but I’m upbeat. Opening Day starter Drew Hutchison may not be a household name yet but after posting 184 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings last season he seems primed for a breakout season. Top prospect Aaron Sanchez looks like he’s made some improvements on his command this spring and Daniel Norris looks ready to carve up AL line ups after posting a 11.8 K/9 in the minor leagues last season. Buerhle and Dickey lack upside but you can always count on them to be solid contributors.
AL Central Division Winners: Chicago White Sox
Four teams have a legitimate chance at the AL Central crown this season, but I think the Pale Hose have this one on the strength of their rotation. Sale, Samardzija, and Quintana are reliably terrific and I think we can expect top prospect Carlos Rodon to join the rotation some time in May or June. The bullpen remains a little shaky but the White Sox made a number of off season acquisitions to close the gap with their divisional foes. The offense should also be solid assuming none of the new White Sox hitters pull an Adam Dunn.
AL West Winners: Seattle Mariners
The Mariners are currently the vogue pick to win the AL West and I can’t say I disagree. King Felix and Iwakuma make a great one two punch and James Paxton and Taijan Walker look ready to take the bigs by storm. The offense was already a lot better last season and now they’ve added Nelson Cruz and all those homers.
NL Wild Card Winner: Cubs over Marlins
Theo Epstein may be aiming for 2016 but it always seems like these rebuilding efforts pay off sooner than you think. The Cubs have the payroll flexibility and enough promising prospects so even if only half of them work out they should be in pretty good shape. They’ll need another starter but with so much infield depth it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a trading partner.
AL Wild Card Winner: Indians over Red Sox
Clevelands got a good bullpen, a solid offense, and a massive amount of upside in its rotation (oh yeah and Corey Kluber).
World Series: Nationals over Indians
How often does the “best” team win the World Series? If we are going off of wins only 3 times in the last 10 years. Even still I think their rotation is next to unbeatable and though they’re hampered by injury now I think they’ll be blasting on all cylinders come October.
NL ROY: Joc Pederson
Kris Bryant is getting all of the love but Pederson has speed as well as power and he plays a premier defensive position (CF).
AL ROY: Daniel Norris
His aforementioned strikeout rate is insane and he should play for a team that scores him a ton of runs.
NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
Stantons prodigious power would be impressive in any era but with the permanent power outage we are having in MLB, I expect Stanton will be rewarded for his incredibly rare skill set.
AL MVP: Mike Trout
This pick should really put me on the map.