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April 4, 2015

MLB Season Preview 2015

by Samuel Popper, Sports Editor, Sasha Tidwell, Staff writer and Robert Pfefferle, Online Sports Editor
The Nationals are very good, and thereís no doubt about it. But there are plenty of other storylines to watch for this season. In the AL Central, the last-yearís miracle Royals will be looking to make it back to the postseason. However, the injury riddled Tigers and the new-look White Sox will be looking to stop that from happening. In the NL, prospects take the theme. Will the Cubs prospects make a big enough impact for them to grab a wild card spot? Will Cuban imports Hector Olivera and Yasmany Tomas make a splash comparable to that of Jose Abreu? The busy free-agent market left the Blue Jays and Red Sox with major facelifts, but the now healthy Orioles wonít be giving up the AL East crown without a fight. Meanwhile out west, the reigning World Series champion San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics may be looking at a big fallout this season. Whether the Nationals win 105 games or not, there will be plenty to look for around the league.

AL East:
Red Sox
Orioles
Blue Jays
Rays
Yankees

AL Central:
Tigers
Indians
White Sox
Royals
Twins

AL West:
Mariners
Angels
Athletics
Rangers
Astros

NL East:
Nationals
Marlins
Mets
Braves
Phillies

NL Central:
Cardinals
Pirates
Cubs
Reds
Brewers

NL West:
Dodgers
Padres
Giants
D-Backs
Rockies

AL Wild Card: Baltimore Orioles- The Baltimore Orioles are being disregarded by most experts, even after their unexpected AL East division title. This is in large part due to their two big losses this offseason in Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. However, manager Buck Showalter has his system in place to continue to be successful. In addition, young, strong hitters such as Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Steve Pearce are in line for big seasons and to become the teamís new offensive leaders. If healthy, the orioles are still a dangerous team.

Cleveland Indians- Sports illustrated went so far as to put this team as the 2015 world champion. Iím not sure if they can take down Detroit for the division but this team has a chance to do great things. With 2014 AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber leading the rotation and young phenom Michael Brantley leading a strong lineup they will easily take one of the AL wild card slots.

NL Wild Card: Pittsburgh Pirates- The Pirates may not have the firepower to take down the Cardinals for the division, but they certainly have enough to make it a close race. With mega star center fielder, Andrew McCutchen and young fireballer Garrett Cole leading the way, it seems that if they canít beat the Cardinals for the division, they will be able to snatch a wild card spot with ease.

Miami Marlins- Giancarlo Stanton is ready to win an MVP this season after his monster 2014 was cut short by a Mike Fiersí fastball to the face. Jose Fernandez will start the season on the DL rehabbing after his Tommy John surgery, but he is expected back in June. If young Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna can continue to improve, this Marlins team has the potential to get very hot in the second-half.

Here are our World Series Picks:

Bobby: Dodgers over Red Sox
When the marathon of a season is all said and done, it will be a battle of two of the most storied franchises in baseball. Clayton Kershaw win 20 games a season like itís nobodyís business, but heís yet to show up in October. This year however, things will change. The Dodgers pitching staff has serious depth, with former CY Young winner Zack Greinke behind Kershaw, as well as newly added Brandon McCarthy to round out the rotation. The Dodgers lineup got a makeover, but theyíre still very talented. Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick bring some much needed experience to the middle of the infield, and rookie Joc Pederson will be ready to make a name for himself in the outfield.

Sam: Pirates over Tigers
The two things any baseball team needs for postseason success are solid pitching, and a consistent offensive leader. In terms of the latter, The Tigerís Miguel Cabrera and the Pirateís Andrew McCutchen may be the two best in baseball.

Sasha: Nationals over Red Sox
The Red Sox have enough players with playoff experience, that it seems like they just have to make the playoffs to make it to the World Series and it seems like they have enough talent this season to win their division. The additions of sluggers Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez really strengthens their lineup that was already strong and their rotation, led by Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Clay Buchholz, looks to be extremely solid. However, even with their experience and newly acquired talent they will not be able to take the title, as they will be facing the greatest team in baseball, the Washington Nationals. It seems like the Nationals have been picked to win the World Series every year since their 98 win season in 2012 and they have yet to live up to expectations, but this is the year they end as world champions. With the addition of 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, they may have the greatest pitching staff since John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux made up the dominant Braves rotation of the 90s. Smoltz even Admitted that the Nationals current rotation is much more dominant than the Braves rotation of the 90s. Not only is the Nationals rotation dominant, but their bullpen is strong as well and has been boosted with the addition of Casey Janssen. Their lineup, led by young stars Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon, along with veterans like Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, is also still very solid and even though their bats went cold in the 2014 playoffs, that will not be the case in 2015. It seems like they have no real weaknesses are truly unstoppable in 2015.



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