By: Kyle McGrath
With around two months of regular season left, Kyle predicts the teams that will end up fighting for the World Series come October.
East: Toronto Blue Jays
With their great acquisitions at the trade deadline (Tulowitzki and Price), I like the Blue Jays to win the AL East. Before these deals, I had them missing the playoffs, but they were clearly the biggest winner at the deadline, grabbing the ace in Price and a great shortstop in Tulo. I feel like these additions will propel this team past the O’s and Yanks into the playoffs.
Central: KC Royals
This is pretty clear cut. After last year’s disappointing end to an otherwise satisfying season, the Kansas City Royals are coming out on top of this division. They have a great team, and their record (second-best in the league) accounts for it. Their battery of starting and relief pitchers as well as talented position players (not to mention a loving fanbase) mixes together to spell good things for this KC group.
West: Houston Astros
The new acquisition of Scott Kazmir from the A’s, I feel, is a big addition. He's great arm with a veteran presence that will add a lot to the Astros club. Their move solidifies their rotation and with continued strong offense, I think they make it to the playoffs and make a legitimate push for the franchise’s first World Series championship.
Wild Cards: LA Angels and Baltimore Orioles
My prediction of the Astros coming out of the AL West leaves one of the two Wild Card spots to the LA Angels. With the offensive firepower led by Pujols and Trout and a well-seasoned rotation, they still have a good shot of finishing the year with a World Series victory.
My other prediction comes from the AL East. The O’s recently picked up Gerardo Parra, a .328/.369/.517 hitter, who adds a great bat and a killer defensive presence to their outfield battery. His bat, along with Jones, Machado, and Davis, and a good veteran rotation spells good things for birds.
East: Washington Nationals
I’m a little biased on this because I’ve always really liked Bryce Harper, so I want to see the Nationals do well. But they’ve also got a great offense, headlined by Harper, and possibly the strongest rotation in the MLB with Scherzer leading the charge in that regard. Though the Mets are stacked with young arms (and Bartolo), I believe their lack of offense won’t allow them to overtake the Nats this year.
Central: St. Louis Cardinals
Easy choice here. 29 more wins than loses, with best record in the Major League, the St. Louis Cardinals are my pick to win the NL Central. They have a run differential of +108, are above .500 both on the road and at home, and are sitting 5.5 games ahead in their division. This is not due to a weak division, but speaks to the Cards strength as team.
West: LA Dodgers
I’m predicting the Dodgers to edge out the Giants to win this division. With a rotation containing two of the top tier arms in the league and the positional talent of Puig, Pederson, and Gonzalez, they’re definitely a playoff-bound team with a chance for the franchise’s first championship since ‘88.
Wild Cards: Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants
My first Wild Card spot goes to the Pittsburgh Pirates, who could win any NL division...except this one. They’re currently 59-42, 5.5 behind the Cardinals and six games ahead of the Cubs for a Wild Card spot. The Bucs are a team with an above-average rotation, great chemistry, and with the recent addition of Aramis Ramirez, a solid lineup both offensively and defensively. They’re definitely a contender, and their fans could use a World Series championship for the first time since 1979.
I’m predicting the San Francisco Giants secure this second Wild Card spot. This is a team with a winning pedigree, and they’ve shown it by winning three of the last five World Series. Plus they have most of their core still in tact. Another team with a strong rotation, the Giants are led by Iron Man Madison Bumgarner, who anchors a rotation seasoned with veteran competitors like Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy. They also have a great lineup lead by Posey, Belt, and Pence. It’s hard to bet against this veteran team, so thats why I elected to stay away from the younger Cubs for this spot.