Major League Baseball's US Opening Day has finally arrived, with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres kicking things off tonight at Petco Park.
As part of way of bringing in the new baseball season, the Yanks Beat Blog staff -- Gavin Ewbank, Lead Writer; Josh Sabo, Minor League writer; Adam Israel, Staff Writer -- compiled a list of predictions for the season, ranging from division winners to award recipients. Everybody loves feeling like an expert, even if they end up completely wrong. Here's are -- hopefully -- dead-on predictions for this season.
American League East:
- GE -- Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays have a lot of young talent, and one of the best, young starting rotations in the game that can go up against pretty much anybody. Baltimore added some pieces at the very end of the offseason, and we all know what the Yankees did, but I still have the Rays taking the crown of baseball's toughest division.
- JS -- Tampa Bay Rays: Pitching will be a deciding factor for a lot of teams, and the Rays certainly have it.
- AI -- New York Yankees: Their starting pitching depth will hold them throughout the year to keep them on top of the division.
American League Central:
- GE -- Detroit Tigers: I think you have to go with the Tigers in this one. They're one of the best teams in bases, regardless of the losses of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander at the top of the rotation are a better 1-2 combo than almost any other team, and the offense can beat teams to death.
- JS -- Detroit Tigers: Their starting rotation is in good shape, and the offense will continue to score runs.
- AI -- Detroit Tigers: With the addition of Kinsler, their offense will continue to own the Central.
American League West:
- GE -- Los Angeles Angels: The word coming out of Angels camp is that Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols look good, and if those two can have good seasons behind Mike Trout, the Angels will be tough to beat. Not to mention, injuries have really hurt the Athletics and Rangers, and the season has yet to begin.
- JS -- Los Angeles Angels: Might seem strange because I picked the Angels, but I consider the injuries to the A's and Rangers pitching staff to be pretty serious. This isn't to say the Angels have a better staff, but they do have a nice 1-2 punch.
- AI -- Oakland Athletics: Their young roster will prove to have more energy and hold off the Angels and Rangers for a third straight season.
American League Wild Cards:
- GE -- New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox: As usually is the case with the AL East, the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all have the potential to win the division. I think the Rays will win it by a game over the Yankees, two game over the Sox, leaving both as Wild Card teams. But watch out for the Royals, they can be really good this season, too.
- JS -- New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox: I think the Red Sox rotation is pretty average, but they have enough offense to make the postseason.
- AI -- Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels: The Red Sox will continue their success over the past few seasons and put up a good fight during the dog days of August and September. The Angels will figure out how to win this season as they return healthy and eager to prove themselves.
National League East:
- GE -- Washington Nationals: I picked the Nats to win it all last season, and that clearly didn't work out. Assuming they can stay healthy, their starting rotation could be the best in the game. Injuries have also hurt the Braves' rotation pretty badly this spring.
- JS -- Washington Nationals: Their pitching staff, one of the best in the league, is good enough to get them there.
- AI -- Washington Nationals: The Nationals will return in the 2014 season healed and improved from last year. The addition of Fister will help their rotation and give them even more of an edge with their above average starting rotation.
National League Central:
- GE -- St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, as we all know, with a plethora of young arms. I like their lineup, which drove in a ton of runs last season, and should this year, too.
- JS -- Pittsburgh Pirates: They were able to pull off a Wild Card run last year, and a year more of experience makes them better this season.
- AI -- St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards have one of the better farm systems in baseball and have a nice crop of of MLB ready talent that will play roles in the upcoming season.
National League West:
- GE -- Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have a billion dollar payroll with a lot of talent. As long as Matt Kemp can stay healthy, and Clayton Kershaw's injury isn't serious, it'll be a good year in Dodger Town.
- JS -- Los Angeles Dodgers: A very good baseball team that can easily win it all this season.
- AI -- Los Angeles Dodgers: The NL West will be one of the weaker divisions this season and the young, talented Dodger roster should not have too many issues running away with the division.
National League Wild Cards:
- GE -- Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves: I don't think that last season was a fluke. The Pirates are a very good ball club that can easily replicate their performance last season. As for the Braves, injuries to their starting rotation won't stop them from completely making the playoffs, because their lineup has star power, even with the loss of Brian McCann.
- JS -- St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves: The Braves injuries make them a risky pick, but if Minor can come back they should be fine. The Cardinals are still a good team, and should be able to slide into the postseason once again.
- AI -- Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants: The Reds are a very scary team. They have a good rotation and a very powerful lineup. They can easily win the division, however injuries have affected previous runs and that will hurt them this season. The Giants will sneak into the postseason this year because of their pitching talent and ability come through in clutch situations.
Cy Young award:
- GE -- David Price and Stephen Strasburg
- JS -- Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw
- AI -- Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw
Most Valuable Players:
- GE -- Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmit
- JS -- Mike Trout and Jayson Heyward
- AI -- Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmit
Rookies of the Year:
- GE -- Masahiro Tanaka and Oscar Tavares
- JS -- Masahiro Tanaka and Oscar Tavares
- AI -- Byron Buxon and Carlos Martinez
For now, theses might sound like sure locks, but when you think about it, I had the Toronto Blue Jays and Nationals in the World Series last season.