For those that have been following Sports Unbiased for the last year, you know how much we love our predictions. As a site, we will get all the writers together, have them vote on who they think will win the different divisions, make the playoffs, win the awards, and win the championship in every sport.
This article is no different. This time around, the nine baseball writers all voted on who they thought would win each division; which teams would get each Wild Card berth, make each League Championship Series, make the World Series, and would win the World Series; and which players would win each league’s MVP and Cy Young awards.
The writers that took part are: Wesley Dotson, Kimani Gregoire, Brian Podoll, Jen Rainwater, Brian Reese, Mike Santangelo, Adam Solowiei, Rich Stowe, and John Yeomans.
What follows is a breakdown of each vote. You will see a graphic showing you how the vote for each topic went and then one of the writers was tasked with doing a brief analysis of the vote and the Sports Unbiased consensus winner of each. After each section is a poll that you can cast you vote for your choice for each as well. Please vote in each poll as well as leave as any comments you want.
We begin with the AL East division winner:
Adam Solowiei: Why Boston? Can the Red Sox repeat the success of 2013? It is not an absolute but anything close will likely be enough in a hotly contested American League East.The nod is automatic for many to back the previous year’s World Series Champion. Beyond that you have a team that will trot out the same quality arms that they did in 2013. The surprise of the season was how efficient Koji Uehara was as the teams closer with many expected the same result in 2014.
Jacoby Ellsbury signed with the arch rival Yankees but that made full-time room for youngster Jackie Bradley Jr. The loss of Stephen Drew only paves the way for the inevitable debut of uber talented short stop, Xander Bogaerts. The resigning of Lester and Napoli fortify a solid veteran presence for second year manager, John Farrell. It won’t be easy but Boston can repeat as AL East Champions.
MLB 2014: Who will win the AL East?
- Boston Red Sox (44%, 78 Votes)
- New York Yankees (21%, 38 Votes)
- Tampa Bay Rays (20%, 35 Votes)
- Baltimore Orioles (9%, 16 Votes)
- Toronto Blue Jays (7%, 12 Votes)
Total Voters: 179
Brian Reese: The Tigers have positioned themselves nicely this off-season to win a fourth straight American League Central Division title. Even with the departure of Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers, the Tigers made significant off-season moves to straighten their roster this season. In return for Fielder, the team brought in Ian Kinsler to fill their need at second base. The acquisition of the three-time All-Star freed up money for Detroit to re-sign Maz Scherzer and gives the team a defensively sound infield with Jose Iglesia filling in the gap at shortstop.
It is also safe to assume that the Tigers pitching staff will have another solid season and that Justin Verlander will bounce back from what many would have been considered a disappointing season for the right-hander. Along with Verlander, the Tigers have 2013 Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez at the top of the rotation with the young arms of Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly rounding out their pitching staff. In addition to a great starting rotation, the Tigers brought in former Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain to be used primarily in the setup position and six-time All Star Joe Nathan to serve as their closer.
Detroit completed their busy off-season by bringing in Rajai Davis, who is likely to serve as a utility outfielder behind Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, and Andy Dirks. The departure of Prince Fielder also means the team had to re-configure their corner infield and designated hitter positions. Miguel Cabrera will return to first base and this means that a spot at third base opens up for rookie Nick Castellanos. Victor Martinez will serve primarily as the designated hitter and Alex Avila will round out the roster behind the plate as the everyday catcher.
The biggest advantage the Tigers may have this season is that no other team in their division looks particularly strong. The Indians had a good 2013 season under new manager Terry Francona and are likely to position themselves for a wild-card bid in 2014, but their starting rotation is not on the same level as Detroit and history has shown that Cleveland falls out of contention shortly after the All-Star break.
The White Sox might be the biggest threat to Detroit this season, especially if Chris Sale continues his dominant form and gets the team a solid 20 wins. However, there are still too many unknowns with Chicago, especially when it comes to the play of Paul Konerko and rookie first baseman Jose Abreu, to call them the favorites in the central.
With a couple of Cy Young Winners leading their rotation and arguably the best hitter in the game at first base, the Tigers are by-far the strongest team in the American League Central.
MLB 2014: Who will win the AL Central?
- Detroit Tigers (70%, 101 Votes)
- Cleveland Indians (13%, 19 Votes)
- Kansas City Royals (13%, 19 Votes)
- Minnesota Twins (2%, 3 Votes)
- Chicago White Sox (1%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 144
Jen Rainwater: Texas certainly has a chance to win the American League Western Division in 2014, especially having made some offensive up-grades this off-season, with the additions of 1B/DH Prince Fielder and OF Shin-Soo Choo. Fielder, who was acquired in a trade from the Detroit Tigers for second baseman Ian Kinsler, will provide power in their number three spot in the line up especially with the protection of third baseman Adrian Beltre behind him in the lineup. Choo, who batted .285 last year, has an excellent ability to get on base and will make the perfect lead-off man for the Rangers. Although Kinsler is a stellar second baseman and hitter, the Rangers should benefit from having young Jurickson Profar, who has the capacity to hit over the .300 mark, getting a full-season of playing time in 2014. With team ace Yu Darvish, who was 13-9 with a 2.83 ERA finishing second in the Cy Young Award voting in 2013, leading their starting rotation along with Derek Holland and Martin Perez , who is coming off of a great rookie year performance, in the second and third spots in the rotation the Rangers seem poised to be able to pull off winning the AL West.
My personal choice for the winner of the AL West was (and still is) the Oakland Athletics. The Athletics may not have the offensive power of Fielder but their lineup is solid. With guys like Josh Donaldson, who finished fourth in the AL MVP voting, and Brandon Moss who blasted 30 bombs last season, the A’s have lineup stability. The A’s strength really lies in their pitching with Scott Kazmir, young phenom Sonny Gray and Dan Straily, who quietly finished fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, leading their starting rotation. They also have, what is considered by most, the AL’s best bullpen. Oakland has an excellent chance to surpass the Rangers for the third year in a row and win another AL West Championship. Let’s also not forget the Rangers’ propensity for struggling down the stretch, a time period in which the Athletics tend to excel.
MLB 2014: Who will win the AL West?
- Texas Rangers (39%, 57 Votes)
- Oakland Athletics (39%, 56 Votes)
- Los Angeles Angels (14%, 20 Votes)
- Seattle Mariners (6%, 8 Votes)
- Houston Astros (3%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 145
Mike Santangelo: Our consensus AL MVP is Mike Trout. At only 22 years old, and coming in to only his third full year in the league, Trout has taken MLB by storm. Known as one of the top defenders in the outfield, and one of the top young hitters as well, Mike Trout’s career is only going to get better and better. At this point Trout averages 133 hits, 20 home runs, 29 stolen bases, and a .314 average every season. Couple that with a top tier defense, and you have a perennial MVP candidate.
With that said, I personally did not vote for Mike Trout. I think Miguel Cabrera is still the absolute best hitter in the game. And while he can’t match the defensive acumen of Mike Trout, the offensive output more than makes up for the defensive deficiencies. While we can expect Cabrera to fall off from the otherworldly production he has recently shown, I don’t think it’s quite that time yet.
MLB 2014: Who will the AL MVP?
- Mike Trout (37%, 38 Votes)
- Miguel Cabrera (34%, 35 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (14%, 14 Votes)
- Josh Donaldson (8%, 8 Votes)
- Yoenis Cespedes (8%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 103
AL Cy Young
John Yeomans: In just two seasons playing in America, after coming over from Japan, Yu Darvish has staked his claim as the strikeout king of today’s generation, with his 498 career strikeouts. Because Darvish dealt with back issues at the end of the last season and his win-loss record was not very appealing at 13-9, he finished second for the CY Young award in 2013. However, If Darvish’s injuries are behind him, the sky is limit this season, as he has improved his ERA from 3.90 in 2012 to 2.83 in 2013, and could bring it down even more this year. Plain in simple, if Darvish brings in the same stats as last season and improves his win-loss record, he should win the CY Young by a landslide in 2014.
MLB 2014: Who will the AL Cy Young?
- Yu Darvish (30%, 31 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (17%, 17 Votes)
- Justin Verlander (16%, 16 Votes)
- Felix Hernandez (14%, 14 Votes)
- Sonny Gray (13%, 13 Votes)
- Max Scherzer (7%, 7 Votes)
- Chris Sale (5%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 103
AL Wild Cards
Rich Stowe: The Sports Unbiased Consensus for the AL Wild Card teams are the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees, even though they lost Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners, improved drastically at several positions with the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and especially Masahiro Tanaka. The Rays can never be counted out, especially with players such as David Price and Evan Longoria. Teams such as the Cleveland Indians (who made the playoffs last year), or whichever teams do not win the AL West between the Rangers, A’s, and Angels (and some might even include the Mariners based on their off-season). What I do think the voting here has shown is that the American League is wide open and it’s anybody’s ball game. I for one am looking forward to what should be a very interesting season in the AL!
MLB 2014: Which teams will win the AL Wild Cards (pick 2)?
- Tampa Bay Rays (38%, 35 Votes)
- New York Yankees (35%, 32 Votes)
- Oakland Athletics (27%, 25 Votes)
- Texas Rangers (21%, 19 Votes)
- Los Angeles Angels (17%, 16 Votes)
- Boston Red Sox (15%, 14 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (14%, 13 Votes)
- Seattle Mariners (9%, 8 Votes)
Total Voters: 92
ALCS and World Series
Rich Stowe: The two best teams in the American League are the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. They have some of the best pitchers and hitters in the league and they both made the ALCS last season. The writers of Sports Unbiased believe the Tigers and Red Sox will be the two teams remaining in a very tough AL this season and it’s hard to argue against those choices. We believe the Tigers will prevail and wind up as the AL representative in the World Series.
MLB 2014: Which teams will play in the ALCS (pick 2)?
- Tigers (50%, 51 Votes)
- Red Sox (46%, 46 Votes)
- Athletics (24%, 24 Votes)
- Yankees (18%, 18 Votes)
- Rangers (17%, 17 Votes)
- Rays (13%, 13 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (8%, 8 Votes)
- Angels (7%, 7 Votes)
Total Voters: 101
AL World Series Representative
MLB 2014: Which team will represent the AL in the World Series?
- Tigers (34%, 38 Votes)
- Red Sox (17%, 19 Votes)
- Athletics (17%, 19 Votes)
- Yankees (12%, 13 Votes)
- Rays (8%, 9 Votes)
- Rangers (7%, 8 Votes)
- Other (please comment) (5%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 111