Predicting awards and winners of the 2015 MLB season
Break out the peanuts and ice the beers, MLB's Opening Day is just around the corner! Sure, spring training is just now ending and the regular season has yet to commence, but it's never too early to attempt some bold predictions for the 2015 season.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
National League MVP: Giancarlo Stanton
Stanton, owner of the current largest deal in sports history after agreeing to a 13-year, $325 million extension with the Marlins in the offseason, is entering his fifth year in the majors and has taken the step to become one of the brightest stars in the league. An All-Star in 2012 and 2014, Stanton just needs an MVP to complete his resume, something that should be within his reach in 2015.
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsSteve Mitchell
American League MVP: Mike Trout
Despite arguably being the best player in the American League -- if not in all of baseball -- two years in a row prior, Trout finally took home the MVP award in 2014 in a unanimous decision. While it might be difficult to keep up the high level of play, Trout has shown year after year he is a superstar, and is a favorite to win the prestigious award in back-to-back seasons.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY SporJayne Kamin-Oncea
National League Cy Young: Max Scherzer
While Clayton Kershaw might be the easy choice to pick at the start of the season to win his third-straight and fourth-overall NL Cy Young Award in 2015, this season could see another winner in Scherzer, who won the award on the AL side in 2013. Signing a seven-year, $210 million contract in the offseason with the Washington Nationals, Scherzer has pitched exceptionally well in spring training for his new team, even getting the nod to start Opening Day over Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY SportsScott Rovak
American League Cy Young: David Price
Price's 2014 season started off rocky while still a member of the Tampa Bay Rays as the pitcher sat with a 4.00-plus ERA until June, and his win-loss total for the entire season wasn't up to his usual standards either (15-12 between the Rays and Detroit Tigers). Signing a massive $19.75 million, one-year deal with the Tigers in the offseason, Price enters the season without the talks of a looming trade, with all focus going toward the mound, unlike one year prior. Price won the award already in 2012, and signs point to the pitcher having a great year on the mound with a full season in Detroit.
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY SportsAndrew Weber
National League Rookie of the Year: Kris Bryant
Bryant should be starting on Opening Day for the Chicago Cubs after leading both spring training leagues by hitting .425 with 15 RBI. Instead, GM Theo Epstein will have the top prospect make his debut after the start of the season. Despite the controversy, the Cubs can't and won't leave Bryant off the major-league roster long if he continues to play like he did in spring training, and he will likely be the runaway favorite to win Rookie of the Year in the National League.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
American League Rookie of the Year: Rusney Castillo
While the outfield in Boston is currently crowded entering the 2015 season, Castillo has shown he has the capability to be a play-maker for the Red Sox. After signing him to a seven-year, $72.5 million deal in August, the richest contract to ever go to a Cuban signee, the Red Sox are envisioning Castillo to be an immediate star in the majors. There's no reason why he shouldn't be after playing well down the stretch in his short time with the Red Sox last September -- going 12-for-36 with two home runs.
Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY SportsBob DeChiara
National League Manger of the Year: Joe Maddon
Maddon's new club, the Chicago Cubs, may miss out on the playoffs playing in the tough NL Central, but this season's lovable losers should see improvement thanks to several roster moves and the addition of the new manager. Maddon always had the Tampa Bay Rays in contention despite a lack of big-name talent. Who knows what the ceiling is with Cubs willing to spend a bit of cash.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
American League Manager of the Year: Lloyd McClendon
In his first season with the Seattle Mariners, McClendon had his team knocking on the door of the team's first playoff appearance in 13 seasons despite what looked like a grim outlook to start 2014 with the rotation decimated with injuries. In 2015, McClendon has a roster full of weapons, and will like use the firepower to make the Mariners a legitimate threat in the American League.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY SportsJoe Camporeale
National League Wild Card: Pirates over Padres
The Padres' roster overhaul added some much-needed bats to the lineup, backing up what was an already good pitching staff. While San Diego has the ability to make it back to the playoffs in 2015, the often underestimated Pirates, with a solid lineup and a good pitching rotation, should be able to get past a tough NL Central en route to one of the two wild-card positions and is our pick to win the Wild Card Game. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
American League Wild Card: Mariners over Orioles
The Mariners have an excellent pitching staff and showed in 2014 that they have the potential to be a good team in a tough AL West. While it can be considered a longshot, Seattle could make at least a decent showing in its first playoff appearance since 2001. The Orioles will be good enough to reach the playoffs once again as a wild-card team, but we predict this team will exit the postseason early at the hands of Seattle. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
NLDS: Dodgers over Cardinals, Nationals over Pirates
Yes, we predict the World Series-champion Giants to miss the playoffs entirely in 2015, with the high-spending Dodgers expected to take the NL West. The Cardinals' NL Central pennant will be no cake walk with all teams in the division having the potential to be over .500. Washington won the most games in the NL (96) in 2014, but fell short once again in the playoffs;. However, 2015 should bring the Nationals even better odds after improving the roster even further in the offseason. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
ALDS: Angels over Mariners, Red Sox over Tigers
In 2014, the Angels took the AL West in dramatic fashion from the Oakland A's. Expect this season's Angels team to gel early and roll all the way to the playoffs. The Red Sox had a down season in 2014 one year removed from their improbable World Series win in 2013 due to relying too heavily on young hitters. Boston in 2015 will have a re-tooled lineup that should produce more runs on a consistent basis. The Tigers have the potential to win it all, but the pitching rotation has potential flaws after Max Scherzer's departure and Justin Verlander looking as if he has lost a step from his previous dominance. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers
Both are favorites to win the NL, but the Nationals should have the edge after winning home-field advantage with a superior regular-season record. Sure, we've been down this road before predicting Washington to come out of the NL, but this squad has more overall experience to make it farther in the playoffs. Our guess? Seven-games of high-powered baseball will decide this NLCS. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
ALCS: Angels over Red Sox
Led by the potential-MVP Mike Trout, signs point to the the Angels being the AL's representative in the World Series, taking out the Red Sox quickly in a five-game series. Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports
World Series: Nationals over Angels
With three-straight seasons ending in crushing disappointment for Nationals fans, 2015 is Washington's year to bring home the Commissioner's Trophy and the franchise's first World Series title. Expect the Nats to win it all in five games over the Angels in the Fall Classic.