AL East Prediction: Boston Red Sox
Why: With their improved pitching staff of Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, and Joe Kelly, the Red Sox look hungry for a division title, although they lack a true ace. While it may not be flashy, these proven pitchers will do their job to keep the opposing bats at bay, while their powerful offense scores plenty of runs. Free agent signees LF Hanley Ramirez and 3B Pablo Sandoval will ensure that there will be no shortage of dingers or Green Monster doubles. New re-signees CL Koji Uehara and RP Craig Breslow will be lurking in the wall beyond right field, strengthening up the bullpen and shortening the game. With Cuban phenom CF Rusney Castillo possibly entering the lineup around May if he doesn't make the big league roster because the guys upstairs think that he needs more seasoning in the minors. However, once Rusney Castillo steps into the lineup full time this year, he will provide a big bat in the heart of the order and an even bigger glove patrolling center field. New additions RP Anthony Varvaro, RP Tom Layne, and C Ryan Hanigan are sure to help this ballclub, but not in a drastic way.The Boston Red Sox, along with sluggers DH David Ortiz and 1B Mike Napoli, will provide a big offensive boom that will catch opposing teams by surprise, partly because of their last place finish last year.
AL Central Prediction: Chicago White Sox
Why: Anytime you have Cuban slugger Jose Abreu on your team, your team will surely compete for first place. New signee Adam LaRoche will provide plenty of home run power and a veteran presence in a young clubhouse, and Melky Cabrera will be a dynamic hitter, getting on base and scoring runs, as well as hitting the occasional round-tripper. Spark plug Adam Eaton and a healthy Avasail Garcia will roam the outfield, but the White Sox real strength will be on the bump. Potential Cy Young Award-Winner Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija, and lefty Jose Quintana provide an impressive big three in the rotation. With the Tigers loss of Max Scherzer to the Nationals, the White Sox will take full advantage of this golden opportunity and win the dogfight of a division. The Indians are one or two seasons away from challenging the throne, for their youth is still developing on the shoulders of LF Michael Brantley and SP Corey Kluber. In the bullpen are the new faces: CL Daniel Robertson, RP Dan Jennings, and RP Zach Duke will improve the bullpen just through their presence. Imagine how much better they will be on the mound at the end of ballgames. CL David Robertson is an elite closer, capable of slamming the door shut on the opponent. This White Sox team is going all in to compete, has the talent to get to the World Series, and has the youth to remain at the top for years to come.
AL West Prediction: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Why: Again the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will add another division championship pennant to their collection because of one player: CF Mike Trout. We all know what he is capable of, and he will provide a lethal bat that will put fear into opposing pitchers eyes. The loss of 2B Howie Kendrick will hurt the Angels offense, but ex-Rockies 2B Josh Rutledge is fully capable of handling the position. After all, he is a career .309 hitter against lefties. New addition DH Matt Joyce will provide some pop while hitting in the DH slot, replacing up-and-coming DH/1B CJ Cron. This will be the year LF Josh Hamilton will finally earn his money, or at least most of it. He has adjusted to the marine layer hovering over the nighttime Anaheim area, and Batting Coach Don Baylor will continue to aid his offensive production. Hamilton was in the midst of a hitting explosion last year before he forced himself onto the disabled list by diving headfirst into first base. RF Kole Calhoun will yet again be a productive leadoff hitter in front of perennial MVP Mike Trout. CL Houston Street will have a full year of dominance in an Angels uniform, and SP Garrett Richards will mow down hitters at lightning speed. Behind him are SP Matt Shoemaker and lefty SP CJ Wilson, one breakout star and a fading one. New addition SP Andrew Heaney will finally start the season in the bigs and will show everybody why he is one of baseball’s top prospects. Overall, barring a free agent splurge this year, the 2015 Anaheim Angels will continue their dominance in the AL West while competing against talented but young Seattle, Texas, Oakland, and Houston teams respectively.
NL East Prediction: Washington Nationals
Why: With recent signee SP Max Scherzer locked in for seven years, and the young studs Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister, this rotation looks unbeatable. The Washington Nationals starting rotation will give their team a chance to win every single day, going deep into ballgames, and muting the opposing team’s bats while giving their boomsticks a chance to come alive. A healthy season for 1B Ryan Zimmerman is foreseeable because of his move to first base, and new face SS/2B Yunel Escobar is set to man second. He will not impress you with eye-popping numbers, but consistently puts up good numbers year after year. SS Ian Desmond is a lock to hit twenty dingers and provide stellar defense at short, and 3B Anthony Rendon will solidify the hot corner. LF Bryce Harper, if healthy, will spark this offense and is on his way to becoming one of the most dangerous bats in the National League. CF Denard Span and RF Jayson Werth round out the rest of the outfield that without a doubt has one of the top five best defenses. The loss of CL Tyler Clippard hurts, but as long as their starters go deep into games, RP Drew Storen will succeed in the closers role. Aces run wild in D.C. as they prepare for another chance for the postseason.
NL Central Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals
Why: These redbirds just keep on winning. New acquisition RF Jason Heyward will provide all-star caliber defense in right, and powerful slugger LF Matt Holliday will provide mammoth moonshots to drive in Jay, Heyward, Carpenter, or Wong, whoever is at the top of the lineup. 2014 breakout star Matt Carpenter will once again be one of the league leaders in hits, setting the table for mashers C Yadier Molina and 1B Matt Adams. No longer blocked by 1B/RF Allen Craig, Matt Adams will play the role of Big City Bomber for the upcoming years. Trade Deadline aquisition John Lackey will continue to be the stellar pitcher he has been (while playing nearly for free), with potential Cy Young Award-Winner Adam Wainwright, with his dancing curveball, heading the five-headed beast of a rotation. Flamethrower CL Trevor Rosenthal will continue to develop and thrive in the closing role, with supporting acts by starter-turned-reliever SP/RP Carlos Martinez, free agent signee RP Matt Belisle, and new trade acquisition RP Jordan Walden. Battling tough division rivals in the Pirates and CF Andrew McCutchen and Cubs 1B Anthony Rizzo and SP Jon Lester, this Cardinals team is going to have to outscore and outpitch their opponent enough to reach the postseason again.
NL West Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
Why: While you should never doubt the might of the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Dodgers once again will oust the mighty black and orange World Series champs. New acquisitions 2B Howie Kendrick and SS Jimmy Rollins will provide a fabulous dynamic duo of both exceptional offense and defense. Young rookie CF Joc Pederson will look to fill in the gaping hole in center field left by now-Padre Matt Kemp. In Triple A last year, Pederson joined the 30-30 club with 33 home runs and 30 stolen bases. If he can learn how to translate his superstar potential to the Bigs, he will make Hollywood headlines. In right field, RF Yasiel Puig will compete for the NL MVP, Silver Slugger, and Golden Glove Awards all at the same time. Puig lights up the highlight reel with amazing laser throws and jaw-dropping bat flips. His competitor for NL MVP, SP Clayton Kershaw will steal SP Madison Bumgarner’s postseason thunder with his unbelievable season in which he wins NL Cy Young. Again. New GM Andrew Freidman’s pitching staff is stacked with talent: the usual Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu, plus new free agent signee SP Brandon McCarthy and bounce-back candidate SP Brett Anderson. This star-studded rotation will carry the Dodgers back to the post season, hoping to get farther than the NLCS. Los Angeles is hungry for more, and with a revamped roster, Andrew Friedman will stop at nothing to bring a World Series Trophy to Chavez Ravine.
NOTE: These are my opinions, and do not represent Jake Wesley's or any other member of MLB_NL_AL