Tuesday, April 01, 2014

2014 MLB predictions

 The Boston Red Sox begin their World Series title defense in Baltimore on Monday. They'll feature a familiar pitching staff, a new center fielder, and the start of a new era at shortstop. But will it be enough to repeat as champions?

Nobody has won back-to-back World Series titles since the New York Yankees won three-straight in 1998, 1999, and 2000. Before then, it hadn't been done since the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.

So, it has been accomplished. And perhaps, you could make the case that somebody is "due" to repeat. If anyone can do it, it's a Red Sox team that, again, returns much of its championship pitching staff from last season.

And while I have the Red Sox making the postseason once again, I don't actually have them winning it all in 2014.

On Monday's show, I gave my MLB season predictions. Here they are for you in print:


AL EAST: Tampa Bay Rays
--The Rays ended up holding onto their ace, David Price, and that's probably a good thing if they want to be contenders. Tampa Bay won 92 games last year and lost to the eventual World Series champs in the ALDS after beating Cleveland in the Wild Card game. Look for youngster Chris Archer to establish himself as a stud pitcher in a Rays rotation that's already pretty damn good with Price, Matt Moore, and Alex Cobb. And oh yeah, their offense will only get better as American League Rookie of the Year Wil Myers enters his second season. The Red Sox will win 91 games and get one of the wild card spots. A rock-solid Baltimore Orioles club will wish they were in a different division. And the final game of Derek Jeter's career will be at Fenway Park on September 28. First pitch is at 1:35.

AL CENTRAL: Detroit Tigers
--Assuming the Tigers are still in the playoff hunt by the All-Star break, reigning AL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer won't be getting traded in the last year of his contract. The Tigers and Scherzer could not agree to a new deal in the offseason, and with Scott Boras as his agent, it's likely he'll be hitting the free agent market at season's end. Expect Detroit to make one more run at it with Scherzer still in the mix. And Justin Verlander didn't have his best season in 2013. He'll be better than 13-12 with a 3.46 ERA in 2014. And new closer Joe Nathan will only solidify the Tigers' pitching staff. It's their division to lose.

AL WEST: Los Angeles Angels
--Had the Texas Rangers or Oakland Athletics been completely healthy to start the season, the Angels would be just another team in the West. But the Rangers' rotation is all banged up entering the year, with Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison all on the DL. As for Oakland, 24-year-old Sonny Gray had his coming-out party in Game 2 of last year's ALDS when he out-pitched Verlander, striking out nine Tigers in eight scoreless innings and a 1-0 Athletics win. Had young starter Jarrod Parker not just had Tommy John surgery, I would have been strongly predicting Oakland to be a World Series contender. But look for the Angels, behind ace Jered Weaver -- and a lineup that is stronger than Oakland's -- to win the West in a close three-way race.

AL WILD CARDS: Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers


NL EAST: Washington Nationals
--The Atlanta Braves won the East last year, and while they're still a very good ball club, they're also suffering from injuries in their rotation. Starters Kris Medlen and Mike Minor begin the season on the DL, allowing Nationals starters Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann to get a head start. I'll give Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies a shot to bounce back from a nightmarish 73-win season, but if they don't get off to a good start, expect Lee's name to come up in trade chatter once again. And if the Phillies can find someone wants to pay the 35-year-old (turns 36 in August) $25 million next season, then they'll be out of contention for sure.

NL CENTRAL: St. Louis Cardinals
--The Cardinals lost in the World Series, but it seems like they're only going to get better in 2014. Their rotation is stacked. I mean, does anybody on that entire pitching staff throw under 95 mph? Don't be surprised if 22-year-old Michael Wacha ends up winning the Cy Young in 2014. He's that good. Expect the Cardinals to also have the best closer in the game, in flame thrower Trevor Rosenthal. St. Louis could win 100 games.

NL WEST: San Francisco Giants
--The Giants didn't make the postseason after a 76-win regular season in 2013. But don't forget that they won the World Series the year before that, in 2012. Expect 24-year-old lefty Madison Bumgarner to battle Wacha for the Cy Young, and expect veteran starter Matt Cain to have a bounce-back year. Bumgarner is a 200-strikeout guy who posted a 2.77 ERA last year. If he's not already, he'll certainly be the team's go-to ace by the postseason.

NL WILD CARDS: Los Angeles Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates


--Boston Red Sox over Los Angeles Angels
--Tampa Bay Rays over Detroit Tigers

--Tampa Bay Rays over Boston Red Sox

--St. Louis Cardinals over Los Angeles Dodgers
--Washington Nationals over San Francisco Giants

--St. Louis Cardinals over Washington Nationals

--St. Louis Cardinals over Tampa Bay Rays


AL MVP: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles Dodgers)

AL CY YOUNG: Chris Sale (Chicago White Sox)
NL CY YOUNG: Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco Giants)


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