36 predictions for a parity-filled 2015 MLB season

Written By kom nampuldu on Kamis, 02 April 2015 | 18.18

In 2004, 10 teams won 90 or more games and two exceeded 100 and, conversely, 10 teams lost 90 or more games, including two that lost 100 or more.

In 2014, six teams won 90 games and none won more than 98 and six lost 90 and none lost more than 98.

There has not been a 100-win team since the 2011 Phillies and there has not been one in the AL since the 2009 Yankees. Since both leagues went to the 162-game schedule in 1962, there has been only one other three-year span — 1981-83 — without a 100-win team, and that is distorted because the 1981 season was wrecked by labor problems and played in two halves.

What is going on now is part of the great middling of the game. The super teams essentially have been lost to a confluence of factors such as stricter drug testing that has kept many expensive players from aging well, a greater spread of wealth to allow even the smallest of markets to retain stars, a second wild card in each league that has convinced more teams to go for the playoffs and a flock of innovative front offices that have found ways to wage guerilla war in baseball.

The Nationals at 93 ¹/₂ have the highest over-under win total at Bovada.lv and the Dodgers (92 ¹/₂) are the only other team over 90 wins. The top five AL East teams are clumped between 78 ¹/₂ wins and 86 ¹/₂ wins.

This all suggests if you shook up a baseball season now and played it 100 times, you would have widely different outcomes. It speaks to the difficulties of predicting the one that actually will be played, but what the heck, here we go:

Seattle Mariners right-handed pitcher Felix Hernandez.Photo: AP

American League

MVP: Mike Trout, Angels. He has had one of the greatest three-year runs ever to open a career and two scouts in Arizona essentially told me this: They have never seen him better than this spring. Scary. Robinson Cano will have his sixth straight top-six MVP finish. Jose Abreu, Eric Hosmer and Jose Bautista will round out the top five.

Cy Young: Felix Hernandez, Mariners. He gets overshadowed by Clayton Kershaw in discussions of best starter of this era, but he is a great pitcher coming off his best season and now with arguably his best team yet around him. Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Yordano Ventura and Corey Kluber challenge Hernandez.

Rookie of the year: Daniel Norris, Blue Jays. Toronto just might have the most intriguing rookie class with Norris and Aaron Sanchez in the rotation, fireballer Miguel Castro in the pen, defensive standout Dalton Pompey in center and the hitting potential of Devon Travis at second.

Mark Teixeira (L) and prospect Greg Bird (R).Photo: Kathy Willens/Charles Wenzelberg

Don't be surprised if … (Yankees Edition)

  • Alex Rodriguez hits 18 homers with a .750 OPS and actually helps the team as the DH.
  •  Didi Gregorius unseats Baltimore's J.J. Hardy, who has won the last three AL shortstop Gold Gloves.
  •  Pressure builds to just eat Mark Teixeira's contract and promote Greg Bird to play first base.
  • The Yankees get all proactive and just go ahead and do what they do best these days: retire Aaron Judge's number.
  •  Michael Pineda starts the All-Star Game, but appears just twice in the second half.
  • Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew and Garrett Jones are released by July 1.
  •  Andrew Bailey is closing games in June.
  • With Carlos Beltran lost for the season, the Yankees outbid the Orioles by trading Ian Clarkin, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Wade to Cincinnati for Jay Bruce.

Don't be surprised if … (American League edition)

  • Unable to get Craig Kimbrel from the Braves, the Red Sox trade Garin Cecchini and Henry Owens to the Royals for Wade Davis.
  •  The Angels trade Nick Tropeano, C.J. Kron and Chris Ellis to the Phillies to bring home Chase Utley (born in Pasadena, school at UCLA).
  •  Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts, White Sox right fielder Avisail Garcia and Orioles starter Kevin Gausman make their first All-Star teams.
  • The Rangers, sinking toward last place, go into rebuild mode and trade Elvis Andrus to the Padres for Casey Kelly and Corey Luebke (taking a chance on two Tommy John surgery alums with talent), and Derek Holland to the Cubs for Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Duane Underwood.
  •  The Mariners discover Logan Morrison cannot handle the first-base role, dabble in trying to obtain Joe Mauer from Minnesota and ultimately land Colorado's Justin Morneau.
  • For the second straight year, Joe Nathan struggles, but this time the Tigers release him and decide to close with Bruce Rondon.
  • Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano make it to the bigs by September, giving optimism for the Twins' near future.

Will Chicago Cubs uber-prospect Kris Bryant dominate in the majors?Photo: AP

National League

MVP: Yasiel Puig, Dodgers. He is a flammable player so this could be a dangerous pick. But he also is supremely talented and has enough seasoning now to reach his peaks. Andrew McCutchen, Anthony Rizzo, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton make it a race.M

Cy Young: Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals. Max Scherzer gets the most money and Stephen Strasburg gets the most publicity, but here is a nod to Zimmermann to be the best starter in the majors' best rotation. Scherzer, Matt Harvey, Clayton Kershaw and Michael Wacha are also in contention.

Rookie of the year: Kris Bryant, Cubs. It is hard to ignore the power bat that dominated the minors last year and spring training this season. But Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson makes it a fight for the award.

Don't be surprised if … (Mets edition)

Matt Harvey (L) and reigning NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom (R).Photo: Charles Wenzelberg

  •  Juan Lagares makes his first All-Star Game as his offense starts to catch up with this defense.
  •  Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom become the first Mets teammates to top 200 strikeouts in the same season since David Cone and Dwight Gooden in 1990.
  • The bullpen is not as strong as the Mets anticipate and this is the area they have to fixate on at the trade deadline, obtaining Neftali Feliz from Texas for Gabriel Ynoa and Marcos Molina and Jonathan Broxton from Milwaukee for Michael Fulmer and Jack Leathersich.
  • Wilmer Flores honors the best of the Mets' hopes by making all of the routine plays and hitting 15 homers.
  • Curtis Granderson and David Wright rebound from poor 2014 seasons to combine for 50 homers.
  • Steven Matz outpitches Noah Syndergaard at Las Vegas and gets a July call, making 10 major league starts and pitches to an encouraging 3.40 ERA.
  • Michael Cuddyer has difficulty handling left field at Citi Field.
  • Travis d'Arnaud's strong second half does not translate and Kevin Plawecki becomes the catcher of both the present and future.

Don't be surprised if … (National League edition)

  • The Nationals don't risk another Drew Storen postseason implosion and trade prospects Reynaldo Lopez and Wilmer Difo to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman.
  • The Dodgers' fragile rotation pieces such as Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Hyun-jin Ryu and Zack Greinke crumble enough that they send Alex Verdugo, Grant Holmes and Scott Schebler to the Reds for Johnny Cueto.
  •  Rockies owner Charlie Monfort finally relents to Troy Tulowitzki's private imploring to be traded to a contender and — shocking the industry — Pittsburgh obtains the shortstop for Jameson Taillon, Nick Kingham and Josh Bell.
  • Pittsburgh's Starling Marte, Colorado's Nolan Arenado, San Francisco's Brandon Belt and Atlanta's Andrelton Simmons make their first All-Star Game.
  • Heading into free agency, St. Louis' Jason Heyward has his best season while San Francisco's Tim Lincecum again is bounced from the rotation.
  • Miami's Giancarlo Stanton shows no ill effects from being hit in the face late last season or receiving the largest contract ever as he reaches 40 homers for the first time.
  • Despite playing their home games in huge Petco Park, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton team for 70 homers and significantly upgrade the Padre offense.

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