2014 MLB Predictions

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Opening Day is just five days away, and I figure now is probably the perfect time to go ahead and make my preseason predictions for the 2014 MLB season. I’ll look at each division for the regular season, and include who I think will take the Wild Card spots, but I’m not going to make any postseason/World Series predictions here. I’ll reserve that for later.

So here we go. This is how I think the MLB will shake out in 2014. Postseason teams are in italics.

AL East

1. Tampa Bay Rays
2. Boston Red Sox
3. New York Yankees
4. Baltimore Orioles

5. Toronto Blue Jays

The Red Sox starting pitching is still dominant, but they lost major pieces from last year’s championship team. The Rays resigned David Price and added closer Grant Balfour to their pen. They are young, and are the safest bet of any of the teams from the East. Yankees, as usual, spent insane money (Tanaka, Beltran, Ellsbury), but money spent doesn’t guarantee wins. And as poetic as it would be for Jeter to go out on top, it’s just not going to happen. Distractions galore = missed playoffs. The Orioles offense can only take them so far, and Ubaldo Jimenez doesn’t really solve their poor pitching in my opinion. As usual, this division will be a fight to the end, but I think the Rays come out on top and the Sox take a Wild Card Spot.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox

The Tigers rotation is arguably the best in the majors with the 5 starters projected to combine for 19.5 WAR according to ZiPS. Miguel Cabrera is one of the top two players in baseball (along with Mike Trout). Assuming they don’t have any more serious injuries beyond Jose Iglesias, they should be able to take the AL Central again in 2014. The Royals, however, will run away with 2nd place, and I think this is the year they end their postseason draught by snatching up the other Wild Card spot (Eeeeeek!! I have such high hopes, I know.) The Indians won’t match their 30 wins in 1-run games from last year and are bound to regress. Twins will improve. White Sox are the worst.

AL West

1. Los Angeles Angels
2. Texas Rangers
3. Oakland A’s
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros

The Mariners were poised to make a move in this league at one point during the offseason. Signing Robinson Cano was huge, and King Felix will be as good as advertised, but losing starters Taijuan Walker and Hirashi Iwakuma for the first chunk of the season hurts badly. The Angels have a healthy Albert Pujols, tons of potential in Josh Hamilton, and the other best player in the game in Mike Trout. If their offense heats up, look out. The Rangers are overhyped in my opinion. This feels like the 2013 Blue Jays and 2012 Red Sox: awesome on paper, but can they make it click? Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder make this team better, but I’m not buying until next year. Also, after Yu Darvish, their starters are very average. (Although, this is probably just my inner Royals fan hoping the other WC comes out of the Central and not the West.)

NL East

1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves
3. New York Mets
4. Miami Marlins
5. Philadelphia Phillies

The Nationals, if healthy, are going to be nasty in 2014. What’s interesting is that I wouldn’t be picking them #1 if the Braves hadn’t just lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for the season. And even though they panicked and picked up Ervin Santana, he’s not enough to make up for the damages. The Braves locked up their entire young core of players to long term deals and they’ll be very good for a long time, but without their ace, Medlen, and Beachy, they’ll finish behind the bounce-back Nationals in 2014. Marlins, by the way, are going to be much improved this year I think.

NL Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Chicago Cubs

The Cardinals are the best overall team in baseball. They have no holes. They have the bench depth they lacked in the playoffs last year. The Wacha/Wainwright combo will be deadly and as long as Yadier Molina is behind the plate, they’re the favorites in this division. The Reds and Pirates are both playoff contenders, and it wouldn’t shock me if they both ended up with Wild Card spots like last year (but I think the Giants will take one of them away). I’m hoping Aroldis Chapman makes it back soon because the Reds need him closing very very badly. It’ll be another “maybe next year” season for the Cubbies, but they’ll start climbing the standings over the next couple seasons.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

Simply put, when Kershaw and Grienke start a third of your games, you’re going to win your division. Throw in a stacked lineup and a chip on their shoulder after missing out on the World Series last year, and I think they’re primed to win this division big. Plus they’re already 2-0 after that Australia fiasco. However, the Giants have been sleeping on basically the same roster as their 2012 championship team. With Buster Posey back, a 40 lb lighter Pablo Sandoval, and a short-haired Tim Lincecum, they’ll get back to winning in 2014. But this division is the Dodgers to lose.

So my projected 2014 playoff teams are:

AL: Rays, Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, Royals
NL: Nationals, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Reds

And, as always, I’ll be rooting hard for a 1985 rematch.

-apc.

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