Everybody does it, right?
Predicting the finishes and award winners from both the AL and NL are an annual tradition among baseball enthusiasts and the Dayton Baseball Examiner is no different from them. The season will pick back up, if you will, on Sunday night, so now is the time to make an educated guess on how 2014 will turn out. Last year's predictions didn't go too well, as you can see:
Division winners correct: 2/6
Wild card winners: 0/4
Postseason teams correct: 6/10
MVP, CY, and ROY winners: 0/6
Although some of the other candidates listed with those winners actually wound up winning the award, they will not count.
As for 2014, it's time to see what else will go wrong.
American League Divisional and Wild Card Predictions
So the Blue Jays and Angels didn't live up to the hype they built from their acquisitions last year. Nevertheless, the 2013 season taught fans not to evaluate teams solely on paper. Learn what works both on the field and what numbers (outside of team victories) to look at to determine how productive a team was or should have been. The Red Sox last year showed that you can truly win with a bunch of "average" players (average in terms of a number like wRC+), because, in reality, average is pretty good by MLB standards. With that, here are projected finishes for each team in the American League.
1) Boston Red Sox
2) Tampa Bay Rays - Wild Card
3) Toronto Blue Jays
4) New York Yankees
5) Baltimore Orioles
1) Detroit Tigers
2) Kansas City Royals - Wild Card
3) Cleveland Indians
4) Chicago White Sox
5) Minnesota Twins
1) Oakland Athletics
2) Texas Rangers
3) Los Angles Angels of Anaheim
4) Seattle Mariners
5) Houston Astros
American League Award Winners
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Finally. The numbers haven't lied, Trout is the best player in baseball. His Angels may win their division or completely bottom out like 2013. Either way, Trout will be just as good, if not better, than '12 and '13 and will lead to his first MVP trophy.
Others to consider: Adrian Beltre, TEX, Miguel Cabrera, DET, Evan Longoria, TB, and Salvador Perez, KC
AL Cy Young: James Shields, Kansas City Royals
Ignore his win-loss record last year, Shields was a legitimate ace last season. The Royals will finally make the playoffs this year and Shields will be the pitcher that leads them there.
Others to consider: Justin Verlander, DET, Felix Hernandez, SEA, Yu Darvish, TEX, and Chris Sale, CWS
AL Rookie of the Year: George Springer, Houston Astros
The outfielder entering his age 24 season did not make the Astros out of spring this year, but that means nothing right now. The team has a plan when they want to bring him up and his minor league numbers indicate he will make quite the impact once called up to Houston.
Others to consider: Xander Bogaerts, BOS, Jose Abreu, CWS, Nick Castellanos, DET, and Byron Buxton, MIN
National League Divisional and Wild Card Predictions
The Dodgers and Nationals were two very popular picks to meet in the NLCS before last season, but only the Dodgers were able to get into the postseason. In 2014, they are once again the early favorites to make a run at the National League pennant. Here are projected finishes for the remaining NL teams:
1) Washington Nationals
2) Atlanta Braves - Wild Card
3) Philadelphia Phillies
4) New York Mets
5) Miami Marlins
1) St. Louis Cardinals
2) Cincinnati Reds
3) Pittsburgh Pirates
4) Milwaukee Brewers
5) Chicago Cubs
1) Los Angeles Dodgers
2) San Diego Padres - Wild Card
3) San Francisco Giants
4) Arizona Diamondbacks
5) Colorado Rockies
National League Award Winners
NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
The numbers are there. The production has typically always been there. The ability to stay on the field last season may have been the only reason why Ramirez was not the NL MVP last season. Watch him get a full season of plate appearances this year and you're looking at the 2014 NL MVP.
Others to consider: Joey Votto, CIN, Yadier Molina, STL, Bryce Harper, WAS, and Paul Goldschmidt, ARZ
NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals
Ok, so he was last season's prediction to win the CY, too. But the signs of improvement were there. His curveball was rated as the nastiest in all of baseball last season, according to Beyond the Box Score (check it out here). Combine that with an overbearing fastball and Strasburg will shoot towards the top of the list of the best pitchers in MLB in 2014.
Others to consider: Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Madison Bumgarner, SFG, Jose Fernandez, MIA, and Jordan Zimmermann, WAS
NL Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, Cincinnati Reds
Speed is his game and Billy Hamilton will prove why he could be the most exciting player in baseball this year. He will hit enough. He will get on base enough. He will undoubtedly wreck enough havoc to win the NL RoY and help the Reds make a push back to the playoffs in 2014.
Others to consider: Archie Bradley, ARZ, Gregory Polanco, PIT, Christian Yelich, MIA, and Kris Bryant, CHC
How the Playoffs Will Turn Out
- Wild Card game: Kansas City over Tampa Bay
- Division Series: Detroit over Oakland, Boston over Kansas City
- Championship Series: Detroit over Boston
They may have lost Prince Fielder and may have made Miguel Cabrera one of the richest athletes on the planet, but this team is still built to win now. If they cannot capitalize on the talent and production from the players they have now, their window of opportunity may close before 2015 even begins.
- Wild Card game: Atlanta over San Diego
- Division Series: Washington over Atlanta, Los Angeles over St. Louis
- Championship Series: Los Angeles over Washington
Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp (hopefully healthy), Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Kenley Jansen. A bunch of stars, but can the magic be repeated in 2014? It can, but this will culminate in the Dodgers' first World Series appearance since 1988.
2014 World Series:
Los Angeles Dodgers over Detroit Tigers in 7 games