It takes a lot of people to help make InsideTheHalos.com. From the affiliate correspondents, to supporting Publishers of other Scout MLB sites, to all of the scouts that help us in our every day work. Sadly, we couldn't get all of them together for this. With that said, our Senior Publisher, Taylor Blake Ward, took on the challenge of giving you his predictions for the 2015 Major League Baseball season. We'd like to thank every single member of the Scout family for putting in such hard work over the off-season, and we're more than ready to kick off Opening Day with all of you once again.
Prior to Spring Training, I had the Blue Jays as a lock here. However, some injuries have come up and I couldn't ignore the talent (money) that Boston attained over the off-season. With a healthy bunch, and stronger rotation, the Red Sox should be able to take over one of the toughest divisions to win, basically because it's one of the weaker divisions in my opinion.
There's been a lot of lost love for the Tigers in recent years, and I'm not really falling away from how good they actually are. That rotation, lead by David Price, is scary good. You add Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Yoenis Cespedes to the bunch and you've got a winning team not just in the regular season, but also the playoffs. However, this might be the toughest division in baseball right now, minus the Twins. The Indians, White Sox and Royals should be able to give the Tigers a pretty nice run for their money.
I'm a firm believer in the Mariners right now, but not as much as I am of the Angels. They have a chance at being two of the best teams in all of baseball in 2015, and you could flip flop both teams for the AL West Division Title. I also believe the Astros will be good enough to stay away from the lurks of the deep part of the AL West, and finish third. Once again though, the Mariners and Angels are in a league of their own in the American League, and should both be playoff teams with ease.
Not a whole lot of surprise here. The Nationals have the best rotation in baseball. Some may argue that, but with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman... should I go on? The Nationals should be the best team in baseball, even over the Angels, Mariners, Tigers, and Dodgers. The Phillies are probably the worst team in the Majors coming into this season. The Marlins and Mets are both improving at a high rate and are going to be tough to face for just about everyone, but the Nats.
Year in and year out, the Cardinals are the biggest pest in baseball, because they're always good. 2015 isn't going to be any different. The Cardinals won't walk away with the division in any manner, as the Pirates will be right on their tail. The Cubs have a question mark, but man are they going to be fun to watch. The Cubs are right there, and don't be surprised when they make noise in the latter parts of the season. You can't really hold out on the Reds either, as they have enough talent and a now healthy team to make it challenging for the entire NL Central.
Another no brainer. The Dodgers are going to be great once again, all behind a great rotation (see: Kershaw, Clayton), and a loaded group of offensive guys. The Giants have gotten a little worse with some departures, and it's an odd numbered season, so you can count them out for a World Series victory (joke). The Padres aren't going to be as good as the Dodgers, but c'mon, it's San Diego, the greatest city on Earth. It's their time to bring playoff excitement to the Gaslamp District and Petco Park once again.
Baseball hasn't seen as high as competitive level as 2015 than in many years prior. The Mariners are going to be grossly good, and the Indians are going to be similar. There are 15 teams in the American League, and I feel that excluding the three Division winners, there will be five-six teams fighting for a wildcard spot in September. For me, the Indians and Mariners are just the ones that stick out above the rest.
San Diego Padres
As fun as the American League is going to be, the National League is that much closer competitively. Between the Marlins, Mets, Cubs, Giants, and Reds (yes, Cincinnati), the NL Wildcard is going to very hard to take away from anyone else. San Diego did the right things and have an entirely new look, which should help them make the leap into the playoffs finally. The Pirates are good enough to fight for the NL Central title, and since I don't have them winning the division, wildcard only makes sense.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:
Los Angeles Angels over Detroit Tigers
Yes, I run an Angels website and picked the Angels, big surprise. It has nothing to do with running this site though. The Angels are destined and built for the a World Series kind of run this year, as long as they stay healthy. I have the Tigers lined up to face the Red Sox, which should go Detroit's way. The series to watch will be the Angels and the Mariners (I have Seattle winning the Wild Card Game). Between the already fun to watch division rivalry, you add the playoffs, Felix Hernandez, and Mike Trout, and you have what may be one of the better ALDS series in the last decade.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:
Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals
This is finally the year that Dodgers beat the Cardinals in the playoffs. It's also the year that the Nationals show that having the best rotation in baseball will move you further and further into the playoffs. However, the Dodgers will be able to match up, and have a better all around team, which should lift them into their first World Series appearance in 27 years.
WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS:
Los Angeles Dodgers over Los Angeles Angels
Sorry Angels fans, but when I looked at the matchups, the rotation of the Dodgers was enough to give them a step in this. Nothing would be more entertaining for Southern California baseball than a World Series game seven of Clayton Kershaw vs. Jered Weaver, Adrian Gonzalez vs. Albert Pujols, Mike Trout vs. Yasiel Puig, and maybe the best part, Josh Hamilton back in the World Series. The Dodgers and Angels have a geographical rivalry, and what would make it better than 54,000 screaming at Dodger Stadium and 45,000 at Angel Stadium, in a sea of red and blue. It's a dream matchup for us in Southern California.
AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP:
Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
"Duh!" should be enough for this. However, it's not. Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, and very easily could be on the best team in baseball. He should see a decline in strikeout numbers and increase in every other statistic. It's pretty simple, Michael Nelson Trout will win the 2015 AL MVP, and it could be unanimous once again.
NATIONAL LEAGUE MVP:
Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
McCutchen, in my opinion, is the second best player in baseball. He'll be on a playoff team, and will most likely put up the best numbers in the National League once again, and quietly, everyone will forget per usual. Once again, it's simple. Best player in baseball (behind Mike Trout), playoff team, great numbers, MVP.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
I didn't understand how he wasn't named Cy Young last season. This year, he'll have an improvement in wins with a better team around him. He's arguably the second best pitcher in baseball to Clayton Kershaw. The confines of Safeco Field will only make his numbers more outstanding, and he'll be set to win his second Cy Young in his young, and astonishing career.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG:
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
C'mon, who else would you have winning this? Clayton Kershaw may have peaked last year, and could drop off slightly from his previous campaign, but once again... c'mon, who else would you have winning this? Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, on one of the best teams in the National League. He probably won't repeat as MVP, but he's just so good that it'd be impossible for me to fill this spot with any other name.
AMERICAN LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
Taijuan Walker, Seattle Mariners
If you didn't see him over Spring Training, you missed out. He put up Kris Bryant numbers (see below), but from the mound instead of the plate. Walker was the #1 prospect in baseball not that long ago, and it seems he's finally going to be in the spot light with national media attention going to Seattle. The kid is something special, and should be rewarded for it with some nice hardware at the end of the season.
NATIONAL LEAGUE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Though I disagree with him missing the first two weeks of the season for financial reasoning, Kris Bryant is going to be the biggest topic in baseball for 2015. He won't put up Mike Trout numbers, but he'll be just as entertaining on his way into baseball. Think about it real quick... he has yet to see Major League time, and he flipped the baseball world upside down when the Cubs announced he wouldn't be on the Opening Day roster. Kris Bryant is the future of the National League, even over Yasiel Puig and Bryce Harper, and will be more liked due to his attitude and the team he plays for.
For more updates on the Los Angeles Angels, their prospects, and our Top 100 Prospects Countdown, follow us on Twitter, @AngelsOnScout.
Taylor Blake Ward is a Senior Publisher for InsideTheHalos.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.