The hunt for October begins in April for all 30 Major League Baseball clubs. For this one short window all 30 teams sit tied for first place with one major goal at mind. That goal is a trip to the 2015 World Series and a chance to deliver a title to their home town.
This year the list of clubs that have a shot are deep in both the American and National League with as many as 20 teams having a chance to make the playoffs. While the talent level is high across the board we also have a few teams around the league that will need a lot of work if they want to content in 2016.
In the American League the tops teams include the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s. While clubs like the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays all have a chance of making it to the postseason.
All of these clubs are built around different elements and types of teams. The one club that really stands out from these clubs is the Mariners with a very deep rotation anchored by one of the best pitchers in baseball Felix Hernandez. The team also added another big bat this off-season with the addition of Nelson Cruz.
Cruz finished with the Major League lead in home runs last season and should provide protection for Robinson Cano in the Mariners lineup. While the Mariners are one of our favorites the other team we really like in the American League is the Baltimore Orioles despite many of the experts and Vegas having them under 80 wins after three straight winning seasons.
The Orioles have shown us over the past few seasons they don’t need anyone to buy into them including Vegas. Last season the team was predicted at 80 or below in the over/under of wins and the club finished with the best record in the American League East.
That being said many experts feel the team didn’t do enough this off-season after losing Andrew Miller, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz to free agency. The one thing they are forgetting is the fact they will have a healthy Matt Wieters, a healthy Manny Machado and Chris Davis back on his medication to help him concentrate.
As far as the weaker teams in the American League the Tampa Bay Rays stand out as possible the worst team. The Rays lost manager Joe Maddon, Ben Zobrist and Will Meyers this off-season. Add in the fact that team’s rotation has struggled to stay healthy has them at the bottom of the American League East.
The other team that concerns us is the New York Yankees and how well the club’s rotation can stay healthy. While they are clearly not one of the weaker teams they could finish in the bottom of the division if starters like Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia can’t stay healthy.
Over in the National League the one team that stands out as the best is the Washington Nationals. The Nationals enter 2015 with the top rotation on paper to build on a pitching staff that finished with the best earned run average in baseball. This includes a rotation that includes two of the games top starters in Max Scherzer and Stephen Stasburg.
On the field we are also expecting a bounce back season from outfielders Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. While the Nationals are the top team in the National League a team like the San Diego Padres and Chicago Cubs could both take big steps forward in 2015.
The Padres have been one of the more aggressive teams this off-season adding an entirely new outfield build around Matt Kemp. The team also added one of the top free agent starters in James Shield to anchor a team that finished with the fourth best earned run average in baseball.
The Cubs have been very active this off-season as well adding Jon Lester and resigning Jason Hammel to anchor the rotation. The team could also get a big lift from rookie third baseman Kris Bryant who many expect to start on the big league roster in April.
While all of those teams are some of the top teams in the National League a team like the Atlanta Braves might be one of the worst teams. The Braves have traded away their entire outfield including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis landing a bunch of draft picks as well as Shelby Miller.
In the end the Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Angels and Detroit Tigers take home their divisions while the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians take home wild card spots. Over in the National League, the Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers all take home their divisions while the Padres and Pirates take home the two wild card spots.
When the calendar month flips to October the Baltimore Orioles will be taking on the Washington Nationals in a belt way World Series.