With the Astros and Rangers kicking off the season tonight, I’ll run through my division predictions, ending with a World Series winner.
The Nationals are the clear favorite to repeat as the division winners, as their tremendous rotation and deep lineup have 95-100 wins written all over it. The Braves have a deep lineup of their own, but a shallow, middling rotation keeps them in the low 90′s again this year. The Mets have a few good arms for their rotation, while their lineup should be solid in the middle, surprising teams with 80-82 wins. The Phillies have not reloaded at all, so another 80-82 win season is all I can see out of them. The Marlins have one star, a couple decent role players, and about 55-60 wins over the summer.
The Cardinals have all the bats and big young arms to win 90-92 games, as their farm system keeps replenishing the big league club with top prospects. The Reds are bound to see some regression from the rotation, and the offense had a few over-achievers last year, ending right around 90 wins. Milwaukee might have the best position player core in the National League, but their very thin rotation will hold them at 84-86 wins. Pittsburgh has one hitter and not much on the mound, leaving them still stuck around 75 wins. The Cubs are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, probably bound for another 70-win season.
A complete repeat of last season’s standings, the defending Champion Giants have the rotation and solid core to win 91-93 games. The Dodgers may have the highest payroll in the majors, but they still have holes in the rotation and lineup, just missing out on the division title. Arizona overhauled their roster, but their overall talent level is still at 83-85 wins. San Diego was a much improved team in the second half, but a lack of great pitchers in the rotation limits their potential, likely falling in the upper-70′s for wins. Colorado is completely starting over, as they have a couple stars, but no other supporting cast, likely finishing around 65 wins.
Atlanta def. Los Angeles in Wild Card Game
Atlanta def. Washington
Atlanta def. St. Louis in NLCS
Atlanta def. Detroit in WS
Atlanta takes the long road, but it can end in happy fashion. The Dodgers have to use Kershaw to make the playoffs, so the Braves are able to knock off the new Yankees in the dreaded Wild Card Game. Strasburg continues his struggles against the Braves in the Division Series, able to knock off the top seed. Injuries derail the Cardinals by the time they reach the NLCS, leaving the Braves with a path to the majors. In the World Series, Detroit’s righties have trouble shutting down the Braves left-handed lineup, leading Atlanta to their second title in Atlanta.