Despite my complete failure to predict anything correctly last year, I’ve decided to roll out another set of predictions this year, apparently because I am a depraved masochist. While I referred to my 2014 predictions as “bold”, I make no assertion about the boldness of this year’s predictions. I no longer care about my perceived boldness. I just want to get one right.
1. Each National League division winner from 2014 (Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers) will repeat.
While the 2015 American League looks like a complete crapshoot, with various upstarts on the rise and traditional powers on the decline, I don’t expect much to change at the top of the NL. The Nationals started with three excellent starters in Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez, and then over the past year have added 40% of what used to be the best rotation in baseball (Max Scherzer and Doug Fister from Detroit). The Dodgers are still the best team in the West on paper and have the means to add whatever they need over the course of the season. The Cardinals, on the other hand, do seem to be vulnerable in the Central after a rather underwhelming 2014, but I’m not sure their division rivals have made quite enough strides to overtake them this year. Which leads me to my next prediction…
2. The Cubs will be a massive disappointment.
Everyone seems to love what the Cubs have done over the offseason, from signing Jon Lester to poaching Joe Maddon. Add that to the best group of prospects in baseball, and many are picking the Cubs to experience a huge turnaround. In fact, fans and bettors are so excited that the Cubs are leading World Series odds in Vegas, now at 6 to 1. I’m sorry, this is just insane. This is still a team that finished in last place in 2014, and the success of the team is largely tied to the development of youngsters with little to no major league experience, such as Kris Bryant, Javier Baez and Jorge Soler. I have no doubt that the Cubs are headed in the right direction, but those counting on big things for 2015 are going to end up being very, very sad. I mean, we’re talking about the Cubs! Have we learned nothing from the past 100+ years?
3. Two of the three longest postseason droughts will come to an end.
Only three teams have failed to make the playoffs in the past ten years: the Blue Jays (21 year drought), the Mariners (13 years) and the Marlins (11 years). All three are improved for 2015 and have major sleeper potential, and I expect at least two of these teams to finally break through and return to the playoffs. Honestly, I hope it’s not the Marlins, because I despise this franchise and their scumbag ownership, but the bottom of the NL East (Atlanta and Philadelphia) looks terrible and the Fish should get fat playing those teams 19 times each.
4. Baltimore will win the AL East.
The Orioles look mediocre on paper and are generally not highly regarded by the advanced stats community. This has been true for the past three years, but the O’s have posted three straight winning seasons, averaging 91 wins a year. And while they have lost some key contributors from last year, like Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller, one must remember that they dominated the AL for significant portions of 2014 without Manny Machado, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Sure, the rotation is nothing special, but the same can be said for nearly all of their AL East rivals.
5. The Yankees will have a losing record for the first time since 1992.
The post-Jeter era in New York has begun, and it does not look pretty. Sure, Jeter’s statistics were in sharp decline over the past few years, and he was barely a shell of himself during his farewell tour in 2014. But people tend to forget that statistics can only measure so much…and that Derek Jeter is magic. Without magic, there is no life to the Frankenstein’s monster of the Yankees roster. All you’re left with is a bunch of inanimate rotting body parts sewn together.
6. The Giants will miss the playoffs.
Like clockwork. It’s an odd year. This will mean that this “dynasty” (I shudder at this word) will have made a total of three playoff appearances over a span of seven seasons. What a joke.
7. The Tigers will not win 90 games.
This is the same prediction I made as last year, but it’s significantly less bold this year, as many see the Tigers as on the verge of falling off a cliff. I wanted to go out on a limb and say that the Tigers wouldn’t make the playoffs at all, but I can’t do it. Or rather, I don’t want to. With all the parity in the AL and two wild-cards, who knows. Plus, unlike their emerging division rivals, the Tigers are clearly in all-in mode, and can go for broke at the trade deadline if they are anywhere close to contending. But, even with some good breaks, I think 90 wins is the ceiling.
8. The Nationals will be the best team in 2015…and it won’t matter.
I’ve lost all faith in the playoffs. They are a complete crapshoot, and the more the playoffs are expanded, the more crappyshooty they will be. I think the Nationals are the best team in the majors, but since when does the best team win the World Series? Or even a good team? Whatever. I think I’ll just root for a Beltway Series, that will be fun. May the best team win? Not likely.
NL East: Nationals
NL Central: Cardinals
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wild Cards: Pirates, Marlins
AL East: Orioles
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Mariners
AL Wild Cards: Angels, Tigers
NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers
ALCS: Orioles over Indians
World Series: Orioles over Nationals