Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season. If you have been here for the last 10 years, you'll find this prediction format familiar -- and yes, you'll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.
I started this format more than 20 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you're here I don't need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs' best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you'll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the thirty contenders for October glory.
I'm also not going to "predict" award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Andrew McCutchen is a top choice for NL MVP or that Clayton Kershaw will be among the top candidates for NL Cy Young? Just before the 2014 season started, would you have predicted that Corey Kluber would win the AL Cy Young Award? Anyone out there think, a year ago, that Edwin Jackson would be as bad as he was? (OK, sure, many of you probably did think that.)
And in any case, anyone using the search function here can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was. Further, looking back at the six years of predictions here from 2004-2009, I note that I picked the Cubs to make the playoffs every year and to win the World Series every one of those years except 2006. Obviously, that was the optimist in me, not the realist, and although they did make the postseason in two of those years, those predictions were... well, not so smart. I didn't make that choice the last five seasons, but the Cubs are now on the verge of being an excellent team, and so... well, read on.
I didn't do too well last year, although I managed to get three of the five playoff teams in each league right including picking the Royals as the first wild card (though I didn't have them going all the way to the World Series) and you're supposed to ignore the fact that I picked the Red Sox to make the playoffs again, as well as Joe Maddon's Rays. IThat didn't work out so well. So, take these seriously, but not too seriously. I sure don't.
Without further ado, here are my choices for 2015. You are all welcome to leave your own picks in the comments. Also, join everyone here later today for game threads for the much-anticipated Cubs/Cardinals ESPN national Opening Night game. The game preview will post at 5 p.m. CT.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
1) WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Pitching: Deep. Very, very deep.
Intangibles: Got to get over some crushing playoff defeats
2) NEW YORK METS
Pitching: Young and improving
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: This is a bad division. Second by default
3) MIAMI MARLINS
Hitting: Young and powerful
Intangibles: If everything goes right, could make a run at a playoff spot
4) ATLANTA BRAVES
Hitting: What are the Braves doing?
Pitching: Better than you might think
Intangibles: What are the Braves doing?
5) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Intangibles: Worst team in baseball
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
1) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Intangibles: They'll have to be good as this division is much tougher
2) CHICAGO CUBS (2nd wild card)
Defense: Needs work
Intangibles: Joe Maddon's managing
3) MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Defense: Okay, I guess
Intangibles: No real identity to this team
4) PITTSBURGH PIRATES
Hitting: Andrew McCutchen and what army?
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: They will miss Russell Martin
5) CINCINNATI REDS
Intangibles: Angry broadcasters and fanbase
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Hitting: Cheaper than before
Intangibles: If the Dodgers win and no one can see it on TV, does it count?
2) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (1st wild card)
Intangibles: Odd-numbered year. They can't win it all this year
3) SAN DIEGO PADRES
Defense: Uh... maybe improved
Intangibles: Spent lots of $. Will it work?
4) COLORADO ROCKIES
Hitting: Hoping for Tulo and CarGo
Pitching: In that park?
Defense: Out of breath
Intangibles: It might not be possible to put together a winner in Denver
5) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Defense: Okay, I guess
Intangibles: Don't have to go to Australia this year
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
1) BOSTON RED SOX
Pitching: Many new faces
Defense: Better than average
Intangibles: Built to win now
2) BALTIMORE ORIOLES (2nd wild card)
Hitting: What will Chris Davis do?
Intangibles: They'll miss Nelson Cruz
3) TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Intangibles: Russell Martin and his influence on the pitching staff
4) TAMPA BAY RAYS
Intangibles: They will miss Joe Maddon
5) NEW YORK YANKEES
Intangibles: Think Joe Girardi wants out?
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
1) DETROIT TIGERS
Intangibles: They will be sorry they didn't replace Joe Nathan as closer
2) CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Pitching: Shark attack!
Intangibles: Could sneak up on everyone
3) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Hitting: Same as it was last time you saw it
Pitching: Without James Shields, tougher to win
Intangibles: Ned Yost. (That's both good, and bad)
4) CLEVELAND INDIANS
Hitting: Not so good
Defense: Sort of good
5) MINNESOTA TWINS
Hitting: You probably have heard of one of these guys (Joe Mauer)
Pitching: You probably wish you had never heard of these guys
Defense: Does it matter?
Intangibles: It's going to be a while for this franchise
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
1) SEATTLE MARINERS
Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Intangibles: Enough to put them in the playoffs
2) LOS ANGELES ANGELS (1st wild card)
Intangibles: Had better start winning; not getting any younger
3) OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Hitting: All new!
Pitching: Not so new
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Billy Beane played mad scientist this offseason. Will it work?
4) HOUSTON ASTROS
Hitting: Young and improving
Pitching: Next question?
Intangibles: Spiffy new manager
5) TEXAS RANGERS
Hitting: Hey, maybe this Prince Fielder thing will work out
Intangibles: Don't seem to have any direction
NL: Cubs over Giants in wild-card game. Nationals over Cubs, Dodgers over Cardinals in division series. Nationals win NL title in a tough seven-game series.
AL: Angels over Orioles in wild-card game. Red Sox over Angels, Mariners over Tigers in division series. Mariners defeat Red Sox to go to their first World Series.
World Series: One of these years I'll pick the Nats to win and they will. Maybe this will be the year. Washington over Seattle in seven.