It is the most wonderful time of year yet again as the sound of the crack of the bat combined with the popping of the gloves fills the air in baseball stadiums across America.
Last year saw the San Francisco Giants win their third title in five years. What surprises will happen this year? Let’s take a look with my official 2015 MLB National League Predictions!
With Bryce Harper primed to have a MVP-type year combined with hitters like Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman, the Washington National lineup is potent.
Their starting rotation is also one of the best in baseball with Max Scherzer, Jordan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister. Expect the Braves to finally have that long-awaited falloff after several odd offseason moves. The Braves seem to be headed for a full rebuilding mode.
There is a lot of hype surrounding the Marlins given their youth and energy. However, their lineup may prove to be too top-heavy after guys like Christian Yelich, Martin Prado, and of course Giancarlo Stanton take their turn. I would keep my eyes posted on a breakout season from starting pitcher Henderson Alvarez.
Contrary to popular belief, the Mets seem stuck in the mud. They always seem to have good pitching, but outside of Curtis Granderson and David Wright, there isn’t much to fear about facing this team.
With names like Ryan Howard, Grady Sizemore, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, the Phillies would have the best team in baseball if this was five years ago when they won the World Series. However, they are far past their prime. Combined with the Cliff Lee season-ending injury in spring training, this team may be headed for a long season in front of the hostile Philly fans.
Prediction – Washington
This division can honestly be won by four different teams. It is that loaded. The lone exception being the Cubs who only have Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo to pace the offense, who unfortunately can’t fill a nine-man lineup. I also believe the addition of Jon Lester will be an epic fail.
Look for Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce to have bounce-back seasons after disappointing 2014s to carry the Reds’ lineup. Their main issues however, is outside of Johnny Cueto, the starting rotation is shaky.
Pittsburgh has perennial MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen along with a solid one two punch at the top of their rotation with AJ Burnett and Francisco Liriano.
This may be the year the Brewers take the next step with hitters such as Ryan Braun, Adam Lind and Aramis Ramirez in the heart of the order along with veterans Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse to bolster the starting rotation.
St. Louis remains the favorite each year because they continue to keep talent and add on. With the sole exception of losing Albert Pujols and David Freese, the Cardinals have done a great job of keep talent on the roster. Jason Heyward is a huge addition, he joins Matt Adams, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Matt Holiday in a stacked lineup. The top four in their rotation is also dominant with Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, John Lackey and Michael Wacha.
Prediction – Cardinals
It will be a dry season in the desert for the Diamondbacks. I like what I see out of Mark Trumbo and Jake Lamb, but I wouldn’t expect this team to contend for several more years.
There has been a lot of hype surrounding the Padres and for good reason with such additions as Matt Kemp and Justin Upton to bolster the lineup. The rotation is headlined by James Shields and Ian Kennedy, this could be the year the Padres make some noise out west.
With Justin Morneau, Troy Tulowitzki and Corey Dickerson it would be easy to get excited about the Colorado Rockies, until you look into their bullpen and see Rafael Betancourt and John Axford sitting there waiting to blow several games.
How can one bet against the defending World Series champion SF Giants? With a top three in their rotation of Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong they will have the arms to make a run at another title.
The cream of the division still remains the Los Angeles Dodgers, and expect the cream to rise to the top this season. Yasiel Puig is ready for a run at the MVP and Clayton Kershaw is looking at another Cy Young award. Combine that with experienced hitters such as Jimmy Rollins and Adrian Gonzalez and the Dodgers are a serious threat to win the whole thing. Zack Greinke pitching behind Kershaw in the rotation can’t hurt, too.
Prediction – LA Dodgers
NL Wildcards: Pittsburgh, San Diego
NLCS Prediction: Dodgers over Washington
NL Champion: Los Angeles Dodgers