This is always a fun time of year to be a baseball fan. Spring Training is upon us and unlike in other sports, you always feel like your team has a shot at the Postseason before the season starts.
This time of year is also a time for people to exaggerate on their predictions for the season. Baseball fans are all making their predictions for their World Series pick, division winners, MVP, etc.
I made a few predictions of my own that might be a bit outlandish, but not totally out of the question. Here are some of my bold predictions that you just might want to keep in the back of your head this season.
The Padres Win the NL West;
After all of the moves that AJ Preller made this offseason, it isn’t too far out of the question for this to happen. However, they could still be the third best team in the NL West behind the World Champion Giants, and the defending NL West champion Dodgers. That’s some royalty to compete with right there and it is going to be tough, but not out of the question.
The Padres have the pieces in place to compete, but it can take some time to mesh and get things going in the right direction. With James Shields joining the staff and with the much-improved outfield, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about baseball in San Diego in 2015.
The Cardinals won’t make the playoffs:
This seems kind of hard to believe because the Cardinals have been such a main stay in the postseason for so long. This season however, they are playing in a much-improved division with no team lagging way behind in terms of talent. Every team in the NL Central has the capability to be successful this year and the one thing that might catch up with St. Louis is their age. The average age for the Cards is 27.5, which is 23rd in the majors and the oldest in their division.
The Cardinals have a lineup with a lot of pop in it, don’t get me wrong, but this is the year that I think the Pirates and Reds especially can take that next step and win a division instead of just the Wild Card. Injuries have been a problem for this ball club and with Adam Wainwright already having a minor injury this early, it will be interesting to see if he can stay healthy because he has an injury history. The Cardinals will still be a quality ball club, but will they be good enough to make it back to October?
The Astros will earn a Wild Card spot in 2015:
The AL West this season is wide open. With it being so wide open, it gives a young team like Houston a shot to compete. After another losing season in 2014, a new manager, and a good nucleus of young talent, this team could turn some heads this year. If you haven’t seen youngster George Springer hit a baseball, I highly recommend that you do. He is an impressive power hitter to plug into the middle of the Astros lineup. One of the few bright spots for the Astros the past couple of years has been Jose Altuve. He is about as tall as a 6th grader, but he sure doesn’t play like one. In 2014 he won the Silver Slugger award for AL second basemen and he is fantastic on the base paths as well.
The Astros also have some power as well. Chris Carter mashes home runs and sometimes it seems like they don’t land. After the trade for Evan Gattis, the Astros have some pop in their lineup. Maybe we can call these two the “Mash Brothers.” The only concern I have with this team is their pitching. They do have a few quality starters with Keuchel, McHugh, and Feldman, but after that it falls off a bit. If this team is to succeed, it will have to be led by their offense. If they can consistently score around 4-5 runs a game, I see them earning a Wild Card spot.
The Indians will win the AL Central:
This season’s edition of the Cleveland Indians is a team that is flying way under the radar. They have a great young pitching staff that even includes the reigning AL Cy Young award winner. In addition, the middle of the Indians order could create some problems for some ball clubs. With Brandon Moss coming over from Oakland in the offseason, he adds another power bat that helps protect hitters like Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis. Another player on this team that is flying under the radar is catcher Yan Gomes. Last season you could see he was starting to break out a little bit, but this year is the season that he is capable of really making a mark.
The Al Central is definitely going to be a reach for this team with the Tigers adding another bat in Yoenis Cespedes. Also, the back half of the Tigers rotation is weak and the bullpen is never good. The Indians have a solid rotation 1-5 and their bullpen is probably above average. They have a good mix of young guys and veterans that should compliment each other very well. The over/under for the Indians in Vegas is 81 wins, and I definitely seeing them exceeding that. Expect the unexpected this year in Cleveland.
Now don’t necessarily quote me on these predictions (unless I’m right, of course), but don’t totally throw these out the window. If you are all about chalk, then this article may not have been for you. But if you like surprise and parity in baseball, this is probably what you want to see as well.
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Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub