When the dust clears in the 2015 Major League Baseball season, it won’t be your father’s World Series you will be watching.
You know, the usual teams that are always seem to be in the mix for the Fall Classic. But this time around, there seems to be a lot more teams with an honest chance to win it all.
The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals aren’t going anywhere as other teams finally have just as good a shot – if not better – than the old guard, those franchises that are expected to win year after year.
You should expect two teams that have never made it to the World Series to get there in 2015. In fact, the only two MLB franchises that have never been to a World Series in their history.
Yeah, it sounds like a stretch; but not this year. (And don’t forget, this is coming from the same columnist who picked the Kansas City Royals to advance to the World Series for the first time in 29 years last season).
AL EAST – Once the toughest division in MLB, the AL East is not so tough anymore. The O’s – who finished first in 2014 – still look pretty good. But the loss of Nelson Cruz is a big blow.
The Red Sox are better with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramierz, but still don’t possess pitching good enough to win the division. The Yankees have a lot of question marks, starting with CC Sabathia and ending with Alex Rodriguez.
So look for the Blue Jays to take the division with the additions of Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Justin Smoak.
AL CENTRAL – This is now the toughest division in AL for sure. The Tigers won’t win it for the fifth straight season. Their pitching – both rotation and bullpen – is a mess, and now Justin Verlander starts the season on DL.
The Royals are still good and should grab a Wild Card spot. Pitching and defense- they have both. The Indians only have pitching, and that’s a problem.
The White Sox are the team to beat with Chris Sale and Jeff Samardzija leading the rotation. They also got a stud closer in former Yankee David Robertson.
AL WEST – The Angels, of course, will be in the mix. They have a lot of talent and news that Josh Hamilton won’t be suspended and could possibly help later is good for them.
Most of the other teams are just in the middle of the road with too many question marks to seriously contend.
But the team to beat is the Mariners. Yes, Seattle. Yes, Nelson Cruz makes that much of a difference. The pitching is great, starting with King Felix. The team had some power with Robinson Cano but now enter Cruz and some turns into a whole lot.
NL EAST – There’s a lot of pitching in this division. The Mets are even loaded, especially with the return of Matt Harvey.
The Marlins will make the playoffs with moves they made and Giancarlo Stanton’s bat.
Yet no one has pitching like the Nationals. The addition of free-agent stud Max Scherzer gives DC six great starters. All the Nats have to do is add some timely hitting. Not a tall order at all.
NL CENTRAL – It’s hard to look at the Central and not think of the Cardinals winning it. The only thing lacking is power.
The Pirates will be right there in the mix with Andrew McCutchen and their pitching staff.
But there’s a new team in the Central, the young Cubbies. They got something going on there. It doesn’t hurt to have Jon Lester at the top of their rotation either. They will make some noise, but it will be louder in 2016.
In a tossup, the Cards edge the Pirates for division, but both teams make the playoffs.
NL WEST – The Dodgers have so much talent, starting with Clayton Kershaw. The regular season is never an issue for the stud lefty. They should have gotten to the World Series already. But they win the division again.
The Padres have the potential to be really good, too. Love the moves to get James Shields and Matt Kemp. Watch out NL.
AL: Blue Jays, White Sox and Mariners. Wild card: Royals and Angels.
NL: Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers. Wild Card: Marlins and Pirates.
Nationals over the Mariners in six games. It will definitely be a different look, but a good one at that.