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Monday, September 25, 2017

Column: Going Yahl: MLB predictions

It’s great to have baseball finally back after a long winter.

April 9, 2014

With the MLB season in full swing, here’s an early look at who might represent each division come October:

Starting in the American League West, the big moves made by the Seattle Mariners in the offseason have moved them up the ladder, and they are my favorite to pull out of this division.

The acquisition of Robinson Cano was huge for this club, and having a big bat in the lineup — something they haven’t had since Ken Griffey Jr. — will be crucial moving forward. With Cano and fireball pitcher Felix Hernandez, this sleeper team of the past few years is my pick to take the division.

In the American League Central the Detroit Tigers don’t seem to have much competition unless the Cleveland Indians are able to make a run similar to last year. With a new face in Ian Kinsler and more importantly, a new manager in Brad Ausmus, we’ll see if the Tigers can get over the dreaded hump they’ve faced the past few seasons and bring a title back to the Motor City.

One division that does know about competition is the American League East. The Yankees, Orioles, Red Sox, and Rays all have a fairly equal chance of making it out of the east on top.

I like the Rays to come out as top dog due to the surplus of young talent on their team. The combination of power in Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria along with the speed of Desmond Jennings and Will Myers add a threat not many teams can match. Though Boston, New York, and even Baltimore will prove hard to beat especially come stretch time.

In the National League West, the Dodgers appear to be the favorite. Many even have them as their World Series victors, and rightfully so. The Dodgers surpassed the Yankees this past season for the highest payroll in the major leagues. I thought I’d never say that, but with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-jin Ryu as arguably the best 1-2-3 punch in the majors, it’s a bit more understandable.

Los Angeles also possesses a brutally terrifying lineup, highlighted by the one-of-a-kind Yasiel Puig, along with Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez. Much like the Rays, the Dodgers combination of power arms and power hitting create a tough matchup for any team they share the diamond with.

In the National League Central, I’m going with the reigning National League champion St. Louis Cardinals as my pick to come out on top. The Cardinals obtain the best farm system in all of baseball and their major league squad is a product of just that.

Last year the Redbirds used 27 players brought up from the minor leagues and currently five of their everyday field players are home grown along with all five of their current starters.

The Reds and the Pirates will challenge St. Louis as they have done in recent years, but I don’t see how the youth and more importantly the depth can be matched by any other team in the central division.

Finally in the National League East, which I believe to be the weakest division, I see it as the Washington Nationals for the taking. Now that Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg have the sophomore and rookie jitters out of their system, it’s time for them to really go out and dominate.

Behind these two superstars along with veterans Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, it seems as though the Nationals rebuilding process is complete and they’re ready to make a real run at the pennant. They have the squad to do so, and I don’t think they we’ll have much of a problem unless the injury bug were to bite them yet again.

The expectations are set high for many teams with dreams of October in mind, but the important thing is baseball is back.

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