This year there is a mixed bag in the American League. You have 2 of arguably the best divisions in baseball with the AL Central and the AL West, and then you have the AL East that has a lot of questions to be answered. The Wild Card race could also be a race that goes until game 162 like it did last year because there are a lot of teams with the potential to get there.
Here are my predictions for the American League in 2015:
West: Seattle Mariners
The Mariners were one game away from making the playoffs a season ago with 87 wins and you know they are starving to actually get there this year. They have mostly the same nucleus of players, but got an upgrade over Kendrys Morales at the DH spot by signing home run champion, Nelson Cruz. This offense is obviously led by Robinson Cano, but this offense is so much more than Cruz and Cano. They will be looking to break out the bats this season and show that they can hit at Safeco Field.
The pitching is what is going to carry this ball club. They have one of the best pitchers in baseball in Felix Hernandez and a closer in Fernando Rodney that saved over 40 games. That isn’t all though, the rest of the rotation with Iwakuma, Paxton, Walker/Elias, and Happ is a rotation to be reckoning with. Manager Lloyd McClendon has the pieces in place to make this a special season in Seattle and that is why I believe they will win the AL West for the first time since 2001.
Central: Cleveland Indians:
The Cleveland Indians this season will be facing a tough division and may even be considered a sleeper pick for a postseason berth. With Michael Brantley coming off of an All Star breakout season, I expect him to lead the charge for the Tribe in 2015. The Indians have a good mix of players and after an 85-win season in 2014, they are poised to break out in 2015. Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes are also players that haven’t reached their full potential and they could also be poised to have big years. One player to keep an eye on is shortstop Jose Ramirez who is probably going to break camp as the starter at short.
The pitching rotation isn’t something to be very worried about if you are an Indians fan. Corey Kluber is coming off a breakout season in which he was the AL Cy Young so I would expect him to keep that up this season. The rest of the rotation of Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer are all young guns that haven’t reached their full potential yet. There are some questions in the 5 spot however because Gavin Floyd re-aggravated his injury from last season. This is an Indians team with a lot of potential and I expect them to break out this season and win the AL Central.
East: Boston Red Sox:
After making a plethora of moves this offseason to try to get back on track from a below-.500 2014, the Red Sox are looking good heading into the 2015 season. With new additions in the rotation and in the field, Boston is considered the favorites to win the below-average AL East by many people around the league. The pitching staff got a much-needed boost after last season as GM Ben Cherrington brought in Wade Miley, Justin Masterson, and Rick Porcello to go along with Buchholz and Kelly who will be returning. The bullpen also looks legit with not very much turn over this season. Expect a much better season on the mound by this Red Sox team.
At the plate, Boston should be their usual selves again in 2015. Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Rusney Castillo are all going to be big additions to a lineup that was fairly impressive to begin with. The only thing that might hold them back on offense is if David Ortiz doesn’t want to comply with the new pace of play rules, which he has already spoken out about. Look for this Red Sox team to be back above 90 wins this season and don’t be surprised if they start to run away with the AL East in 2015.
- Wild Card:
Tigers (home team) beat Angels
- Playoff seeding:
- Red Sox
- Wild Card
- Divisional Round:
- Red Sox beat Tigers in 4 games
- Mariners beat Indians in 5 games
- American League Championship Series
I’m going to make you wait until I make my World Series prediction in a couple of weeks before Opening Day.
- MVP: Mike Trout (LAA)– This guy is everything you love about baseball and he will continue to be a force for the Angels winning his second straight AL MVP.
- Cy Young: Felix Hernandez (SEA)– After being robbed of one in 2014, Felix will be more determined than ever to capture his second AL Cy Young award.
- Rookie of the year: Rusney Castillo (BOS): Another outfielder from Cuba will be making his home in Boston as Rusney Castillo is poised for a big rookie campaign in Beantown.
This is going to be a fun year in a competitive American League. Opening day is right around the corner!