SantoSports Full MLB Season Preview and Predictions
By Mitch Canzano
The Nationals (6/1), Dodgers (8/1), and Red Sox (12/1) round out the top 3 in Vegas’ odds to win the 2015 World Series. The defending champion San Francisco Giants lost some key pieces like Pablo Sandoval who went East to Boston. It will be interesting to see if teams like Seattle and San Diego can live up to the hype their young teams are receiving. The MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards have some clear contenders, but I think there are some guys like Gerrit Cole (Cy Young), Taijuan Walker (Cy Young), Robinson Cano (MVP), Yasiel Puig (MVP), Joc Pederson (ROY), Brandon Finnegan (ROY) could all make an out-of-nowhere type of run to win those awards. It’s going to be a good, fun, and competitive season, and with so much young talent currently ingrained within the league, it’s going to be interesting to see which guys step up, and what team comes out victorious.
New York (85-77)
Tampa Bay (71-91)
After a down year, the Red Sox appear to have the most potent offense since they lead the AL in runs in 2013, and with arguably the best farming system in the big leagues, Boston should compete, as long as their pitching staff remains intact. There’s no ace, but it remains to be seen if this group of average Joe’s can pull together for a successful year.
Toronto, even after losing pitcher Marcus Stroman to a torn ACL, should be in the running for 2nd or 3rd in the division with new catcher Russell Martin calling games for a young pitching staff.
The Yankees’ have a revamped lineup, but like their arch rivals, their pitching needs improvement. With the Red Sox having a far superior lineup this season the Yankees will have their hands full.
The Orioles once again have one of the best bullpens in the league, and with a healthy Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, they look for another successful campaign. But it remains to be seen how the Orioles will replace the losses of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis.
The Rays will finish in the gutters of the AL East, with former manager Joe Maddon now in Chicago and former ace David Price now residing in Detroit, their rotation is a shadow of what it once was.
Kansas City (90-72)
This division is really up for grabs. With defending AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber anchoring a young rotation, the Indians will look to make a deep run in 2015.
Detroit will be good as usual, they just have to stay healthy, especially Iglesias and V-Mart. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare without Max Scherzer.
Kansas City will be in the run to win this division but I don’t see their lineup being good enough to carry them. Yordano Ventura could have a really big year, and with their solid bullpen, they always have a chance.
The Chi Sox are led offensively by Jose Abreu, the reigning AL rookie of the year. Chris Sale is a beast, and he’ll be in the running for the Cy Young again. The South Siders are much improved in 2015, but I think they are one more big bat and solid bullpen arm from being true contenders.
As for the Twins, they signed Ervin Santana in the offseason to the largest contract in franchise history, but he was promptly suspended for the first half of the season. Their biggest hope still resides in Triple A with top prospect Byron Buxton.
Seattle’s strength is it’s pitching and with breakout candidate Taijuan Walker alongside King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma. Robinson Cano got a nice addition to his offense with the likes of slugger Nelson Cruz. With the underrated Kyle Seager in that lineup too, Seattle is easily one of the most balanced teams in all of baseball.
With recent news of Josh Hamilton’s not being suspended, the Angels are going to be even better. Led by Mike Trout, the Angels offense will be quite good. Their young pitching, especially Andrew Heaney, who’s starting the year in triple A, and Matt Shoemaker, the Angels have the potential to be a really good team, but it’ll be interesting if guys like Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar can step up.
The A’s lost a huge piece in Josh Donaldson, and even though they got Brett Lawrie in return, Donaldson’s a hard player to replace. Sonny Gray figures to be the #1 guy in Oakland, and with a solid rotation like theirs, the A’s could very well be a competitive team in the AL West.
Houston is my Cinderella team. They’ve got young prospects all over the field, and if Altuve can produce the numbers he did last year, this team has a good opportunity.
The Rangers simply aren’t as good as they used to be. After they lost Ian Kinsler, all went downhill in Texas. This will be a tight division for sure.
New York (81-81)
This division will be the Nationals’ to lose. The Nationals have the best rotation in the big leagues, and I don’t think that’s even debatable. Bryce Harper really needs to produce, and if this offense clicks the Nationals will win this division by a landslide.
Miami is a good, young team, and when Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John, their rotation will get even better. Giancarlo Stanton will have a monstrous year, and I think he has a chance at NL MVP.
New York just lost Zach Wheeler for the year, and although they don’t lack depth at starting position, I don’t see their current rotation (even with the return of Matt Harvey) being enough, in addition to their lackluster offense.
The Braves offense won’t be good enough, and same goes for the Phillies. The Braves have some good, young pitchers in Julio Teheran and Mike Minor, but those 2 pitchers can’t carry them enough. The Phillies pitching and lineup is pretty awful, to say the least, and they don’t have a chance to finish out of the bottom of this division.
St. Louis (89-73)
The Cards’ have a really, really good rotation, but their offense is a bit below par for them to be a really good team. I still think they win this division by a slim margin over the Bucs’.
The Pirates, led by star CF Andrew McCutchen have a couple of good, young players in Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco who should help lead this offense to a successful year. Gerrit Cole should have a good year as the #1 guy in their rotation.
Chicago has an incredible farm system, and young guys like Kris Bryant and Javier Baez, both of whom are starting in triple A, should be a force to be reckoned with soon enough. However, I don’t see the Cubs pulling it together this year, but look out for them in the near future.
Cincinnati and Milwaukee both don’t have a good enough all around team to be successful in the NL Central this year, so it’ll be no surprise to see them round out the bottom two in this division. It’ll be a tight race for St. Louis and Pittsburgh, but St. Louis’ veteran savvy group will help them pull out the division championship.
Los Angeles (94-68)
San Diego (87-75)
San Francisco (78-84)
The Dodgers have a lot of depth, and their pitching and lineup have the balance for a deep run. If Hyun Jin-Ryu can stay healthy, they’re in good shape in terms of their starting pitching. They have a great lineup, despite the departure of Dee Gordon. I think Joc Pederson is an NL ROY candidate, and he easily beat out Andre Eithier for the starting CF spot.
San Diego has some studs in Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross, and adding James Shields will help bolster that already fantastic rotation. Their infield is a little bit shaky in terms of offense, but their outfield looks great. Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp make up one of the best outfields in baseball, so it’ll be interesting to see what comes of this season for the Padres.
The defending champs are going to be a very disappointing team this year. Hunter Pence is going to be shut down for a while, and their rotation isn’t good enough to win this division. Mad Bum will have a great year nevertheless, and will be in the running for NL Cy Young.
Arizona is an interesting team. Despite me picking them to finish 4th in the NL West, I think they could be a Cinderella team, too. Paul Goldschmidt is an absolute beast, but that team is really young and their rotation is below par. However, they’re an interesting team so keep an eye on them.
The Rockies can barely stay healthy, so it’ll be a surprise to see them finish out of the cellar of the NL West.
AL Wild Card:
NL Wild Card:
ALCS: Boston over Seattle
The Mariners’ great pitching will be a handful for the Sox’ stacked lineup, but I see Boston overcoming that challenge in a tough, gritty series. I don’t see the Mariners’ bats being enough to push them over the edge in this series. Boston survives and advances, 4-3.
NLCS: Washington over Los Angeles
Plain and simple; the Nationals 5 man rotation, which I assume will be reduced to 4 come playoff time, will be too much for the Dodgers’ solid lineup to control and Washington takes this series handily. Kershaw will win whichever game he pitches in, but I think that’s it for the Dodgers. Washington moves on, 4-1.
World Series: Washington over Boston
Boston’s bats won’t be able to handle the Washington pitchers, and unless Boston makes a mid-season trade for an ace, their pitching won’t be good enough against a Bryce Harper lead lineup. However, the Sox will put up a fight, as they always seem to do, but won’t come out on top. Washington takes it all. 4-2.
- Mike Trout LAA (.321, 32 HR, 105 RBI)
- Jose Abreu CHW (.287, 41 HR, 108 RBI)
- Josh Donaldson TOR (.271, 36 HR, 105 RBI)
- Giancarlo Stanton MIA (.310, 40 HR, 112 RBI)
- Clayton Kershaw LAD (22-4, 1.76 ERA, 240 K)
- Paul Goldschmidt AZ (.324, 36 HR, 101 RBI)
AL Cy Young:
- Chris Sale CHW (20-4, 1.89 ERA, 210 K)
- Felix Hernandez SEA (20-3, 2.17 ERA, 250 K)
- Corey Kluber CLE (18-3, 2.20 ERA, 265 K)
NL Cy Young:
- Clayton Kershaw LAD (22-4, 1.76 ERA, 240 K)
- Johnny Cueto CIN (18-5, 1.98 ERA, 248 K)
- Matt Harvey NYM (16-3 1.88 ERA, 225 K)
AL Rookie of the Year:
- Carlos Rodon CHW (16-5, 2.47 ERA, 243K)
- Rusney Castillo, BOS (.275, 9 HR, 40 RBI)
- Francisco Lindor CLE (.242, 4 HR, 22 RBI)
NL Rookie of the Year:
- Kris Bryant CHC (.260, 30 HR, 75 RBI)
- Joc Pederson LAD (.251, 20 HR, 60 RBI)
- Jorge Soler CHC (.262, 19 HR, 80 RBI)
Peter Santo also contributed to this report