Final Win-Loss Predictions for Every MLB Team in 2015
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The 2015 MLB season is set to begin on Sunday, April 5 when the St. Louis Cardinals meet the Chicago Cubs on Sunday Night Baseball. The rest of the league gets things started the next day.
In the meantime, teams are wrapping up their spring schedules and putting the finishing touches on their Opening Day rosters. For the most part, however, we know how all 30 clubs will stack up heading into the year.
With that said, now is as good a time as any to make one last round of win-loss predictions for each team before the regular season gets underway.
The following provides a division-by-division look at my take on how each race will shake out and an in-depth rundown of each division.
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Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
The Baltimore Orioles ran away with the AL East title last season, winning the division by 12 games, but things figure to be significantly tighter at the top this time around.
Despite a 71-91 record last season and a starting rotation that is clearly lacking a true ace, the Boston Red Soxstill look more than capable of winning the division.
The additions of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, as well as a full season from Mookie Betts, could give them the highest-scoring offense in the league.
What they lack in front-line pitching they should be able to make up for in overall pitching depth, as there are a number of young arms ready to make an impact. They're a risky pick, but if they can even put up league-average production on the mound, they should have the offense to carry them.
Had it not been for the season-ending injury to Marcus Stroman, the Toronto Blue Jayswould have been neck-and-neck with the Red Sox. That was a huge blow to their rotation and the team as a whole.
With that said, if rookies Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris can pitch up to their potential, the rotation could still be solid. It's the bullpen that's a bigger concern, as the Jays did virtually nothing to address what was a huge weakness last year.
The offense is stacked, with offseason additions Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin joining the incumbent trio of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. That alone should keep them in contention.
The Baltimore Oriolesdid very little this offseason, with their big additions to counter the losses of Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis and Andrew Miller being the likes of Travis Snider and Everth Cabrera.
They still have depth in the starting rotation, and the returns of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters will certainly help, but it's hard to justify standing pat when others in the division were so busy.
If this were a video game and we could simply turn off injuries, the New York Yankeesmight have a real chance at winning the division.
However, it's hard to see them getting through an entire season without losing at least a few key position players to injury. Then there's the starting rotation, where Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are all significant injury question marks, and there is little in the way of depth behind them.
Rounding out the division, we have the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that could surprise some people on the strength of its starting pitching alone.
If Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly can get healthy and the team can stay afloat until Matt Moore returns (Tommy John surgery), they could have the best rotation in the American League when the season's second half rolls around.
The problem is the team's offense—or complete lack thereof. Steven Souza and Kevin Kiermaier have some upside, but who in that lineup is really a legitimate threat outside of Evan Longoria? The Rays will have to win a lot of 2-1 games.
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Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
The Detroit Tigers won their fourth consecutive AL Central title last year, but it took them until the final day of the season to clinch it, and it should be a tight race once again in 2015.
Losing Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello will hurt the Tigers from a pitching standpoint, but the trio of David Price, Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander still has a chance to be formidable. The bullpen will also benefit from a full season of Joakim Soria and can't possibly be worse than last year, right?
Add in an improved defense thanks to the return of shortstop Jose Iglesias and the addition of center fielder Anthony Gose, and they again look like the favorites.
With that said, expect the Cleveland Indians to put up one heck of a fight. They clawed their way back into the wild-card hunt last season with an 18-9 month of August, and their pitching staff has a chance to be one of the best in baseball.
Any sort of contribution from the likes of Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher would be an upgrade over last season, and that coupled with the addition of Brandon Moss and the arrival of Francisco Lindor should mean an improved offense as well.
No team in the American League added more talent this offseason than the Chicago White Sox, but they still have some things to sort out if they are going to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Jeff Samardzija gives the team a rock-solid trio alongside Chris Sale and Jose Quintana at the top of the rotation, while Melky Cabrera and Adam LaRoche will help take some pressure off Jose Abreu.
The back of the rotation is the big question mark, but that could be partially solved by the eventual arrival of Carlos Rodon.
Then we have the reigning AL champion Kansas City Royals, who caught lightning in a bottle last season on the strength of defense, base-stealing and a dominant bullpen.
Those three areas will again be a strength in 2015, but the offense is still lacking in punch and the rotation will undoubtedly feel the loss of James Shields. There is plenty of talent on the roster, but other teams around them seem to have passed them by.
The Minnesota Twins figure to bring up the rear once again, though help is on the way in the form of prospects Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer.
The team's starting rotation has been the worst in baseball in the past two seasons, and while the addition of Ervin Santana will help, it again looks like a weakness. With the division expected to be a dogfight at the top, the Twins could play the role of spoiler.
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Los Angeles Angels
The Seattle Marinershave not made the postseason since 2001, but after coming one game short last year, they finally look poised to get over the hump.
Adding Nelson Cruz gives the team the right-handed power bat it's desperately needed, while Justin Ruggiano, Seth Smith and Rickie Weeks should help improve the corner outfield production.
However, pitching remains the strength of this team. James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are both potential breakout candidates behind ace Felix Hernandez, while what was the game's best bullpen returns essentially intact.
"This team has the baseline of talent to succeed and the upside to soar," wrote Scott Weber of SB Nation. "It's been a long time coming. Always the underdog, underachieving and under-delivering, the Mariners are poised to finally regain their status as AL West contenders."
The Los Angeles Angelsled all of baseball with 98 wins last season, thanks in large part to the highest-scoring offense in baseball.
Even with Josh Hamilton on the sidelines and Howie Kendrick traded, they should have plenty of firepower with Mike Trout again leading the way.
The pitching staff is still average at best, though, and the Angels will be anxiously awaiting the return of Garrett Richards (knee injury). Their depth in that area is better than it was last season, but their pitching simply does not stack up to that of the Mariners.
Oakland Athleticsgeneral manager Billy Beane has captained some massive roster overhauls in the past, but none were bigger than what he's done this offseason.
Only 12 players remain from last year's Opening Day roster.
Guys like Ike Davis, Brett Lawrie and Billy Butler will need to play to their potential if the offense is going to bounce back, while the pitching staff will also be counting on some unproven arms. With that said, the returns of Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin could give them a big boost.
After being decimated by injuries last season, the Texas Rangershave already been dealt a huge blow this preseason, losing ace Yu Darvish for the season to Tommy John surgery.
This begs the question of whether they'll have enough pitching behind the duo of Derek Holland and Yovani Gallardo to legitimately contend. The offense should improve with the return of Prince Fielder and a potential bounce-back season from Shin-Soo Choo, but the pitching just doesn't seem to be there.
The Houston Astrosimproved their win total by 19 last season, and for the first time in years, they were active in the offseason. An improved bullpen and the additions of Jed Lowrie, Luis Valbuena and Colby Rasmus should make for an improved team.
Last year's breakout starters, Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh, will once again anchor the staff, but the rotation still looks to be one of the weakest in the league.
Continued progression from the likes of George Springer, Jon Singleton and Mark Appel has the future looking bright, but the Astros are still a few years away.
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New York Mets
The Washington Nationalswon the NL East title by a whopping 17 games last season, the largest margin of any division winner, and they enter 2015 as heavy favorites to repeat.
The addition of Max Scherzer to what was already one of the best rotations in baseball makes them legitimate title contenders, and while they have been unable to get over the hump during their last two trips to the postseason, they look dangerous nonetheless.
Offensively, a healthy season from Ryan Zimmerman would provide a shot in the arm, and it still seems like only a matter of time before Bryce Harper turns in a monster year. They're an easy pick to win the division here.
Behind them is a Miami Marlinsteam that went from 100 losses in 2013 to legitimately contending in the second half last season, and they've improved significantly this offseason.
Michael Morse, Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and Ichiro Suzuki were added to the mix offensively, while Mat Latos was acquired to shore up the rotation while they await the return of Jose Fernandez (Tommy John surgery).
How quickly Fernandez returns to form could eventually determine just how legitimate their chances of reaching the postseason are, but the pieces are there.
The return of Matt Harvey was unfortunately accompanied by the loss of Zack Wheeler for the New York Mets, but they have the pitching depth to still be formidable on the mound.
It's their offense that has a number of question marks. Will David Wright return to form? Can Michael Cuddyer stay healthy? Is Wilmer Flores the answer at shortstop? They still look to be a year away at this point, but they could surprise.
The Atlanta Braveshad the second-worst offense in baseball last season, and after trading off the likes of Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis, things figure to get worse before they get better.
The trio of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood and Shelby Miller should anchor the rotation for years to come, and their wheelings and dealings this winter brought in a ton of young talent, but 2015 could be a long year.
Not as long as it figures to be for the Philadelphia Phillies, as the front office has finally realized it's time to rebuild but predictably had a tough time finding any takers for their aging, high-priced pieces.
The inevitable Cole Hamels blockbuster is something to look forward to, as it should bring some terrific young talent, but it will be a legitimate surprise if this team manages to avoid 100 losses this season.
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St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinalsdid not lead the NL Central standings for the first time until Sept. 1 last season, but when the dust settled, they had yet another division title and their 11th postseason appearance in the past 15 years.
They had enough talent to stand pat and still contend for another division title, but instead they pulled off a big trade to acquire right fielder Jason Heyward from the Atlanta Braves.
There are some questions about the health of Adam Wainwright and the stability of Carlos Martinez as the No. 5 starter, but this again looks like the most talented team in the division from top to bottom.
After a 20-year drought, the Pittsburgh Pirateshave now made the postseason in consecutive seasons, and they appear to be built for long-term success.
The continued emergence of young players like Gerrit Cole, Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco should help offset the loss of Russell Martin, and re-signing Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett gives them plenty of pitching depth.
The hype is rapidly building on the North Side, as the Chicago Cubsappear poised to take a huge step forward after rebuilding over the past several seasons. However, it will be important to temper expectations.
Their young core of position players, led by the likes of Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Javier Baez, has all the talent in the world, but there will be some growing pains. Meanwhile, the Cubs' pitching should be improved with the addition of Jon Lester and the decision to bring back Jason Hammel.
It was a tough 2014 season for the Cincinnati Reds, as their offense was hit hard by injuries and overall ineffectiveness from star players like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips.
The trades of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon weakened the pitching staff, but they have plenty of depth in that area. The question will be whether their high-priced veteran talent can bounce back.
Finally, we have the Milwaukee Brewers, a team that sat atop the NL Central for the bulk of last season but collapsed with a 9-17 month of September to miss the playoffs entirely.
There is plenty of talent on the roster, but the club's pitching staff is average at best, and Ryan Braun is not the offensive force he once was. A 20-8 start last season masked the fact that they were essentially a .500 team the rest of the way. They could have a hard time maintaining even that level in deep division.
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Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
The Los Angeles Dodgershave won back-to-back NL West titles but were ousted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the postseason both years.
Andrew Friedman took over as president of baseball operations to begin the offseason and went to work overhauling what was already a talented roster. Gone are Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and a number of relievers.
It will be up to rookie Joc Pederson and the new double-play combination of Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins to make up for the lost offense, but it's the pitching staff that figures to be the X-factor.
Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson are both high-risk/reward guys, while the bullpen is a big unknown.
I promise you at the end of the year there are going to be a couple guys that have tremendous years that aren't necessarily on the radar right this second. Now it's incumbent upon us to figure it out, pick the right seven guys, maintain as much depth as we can to put ourselves in a position where we wake up in the middle of the year and our bullpen is a strength and we’re getting key contributions from people we might not be able to pinpoint right now.
The San Diego Padreswere fourth in the majors in team ERA (3.27) last season but were undermined by the league's worst offense. New GM A.J. Preller quickly set to rectify that situation this offseason, wheeling and dealing all winter.
Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks were all acquired via trade, and adding James Shields to the pitching staff was the cherry on top.
There are still some questions, namely with the defense they sacrificed to upgrade the offense, but the talent is there for them to legitimately contend.
It's tough to bet against the reigning champion San Francisco Giants—even in an odd year, as they have a way of outplaying what their talent may suggest on paper.
With that said, their pitching staff looks like a serious enough question to doubt them. Madison Bumgarner is a stud, but Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson are another year older, Matt Cain is a wild card coming back from a pair of surgeries, and Tim Lincecum is a shell of what he once was.
The offense has never been the driving force behind their success, and it's hard to see that changing in 2015. At this point, the Giants look like a .500 team, but they've proven the doubters wrong more than once before.
With Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart now calling the shots for the Arizona Diamondbacks, they appear to he headed in the right direction.
Their offense has a chance to be a plus, but they don't have the pitching to contend. While Josh Collmenter had a nice year last year, he's not an ace.
Speaking of pitchers who should be nowhere near Opening Day, The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com) reports the Colorado Rockieswill give the ball to newcomer Kyle Kendrick and his 4.24 career ERA to kick off the year.
Jorge De La Rosa actually profiles as their ace and will start the home opener, but the point still stands. Their offense is dangerous, but all-offense, no-pitching teams don't contend. It's as simple as that.