It’s been nearly a month since the All-Star break, so now seems as good a time as any to check in on the MLB with our 2015 World Series predictions. The 2015 World Series is currently scheduled to begin in late October, with a possible Game 7 date of November 4. Due to the results of the 2015 All-Star Game, we already know that whoever takes the ALCS pennant will have home field advantage for the first two games, as well as Games 6 and 7 if the series should take so long.
Below, we’ll look at which teams are set to win each division, as well as who our possible wild cards may be. We’ll then make a few predictions for who might win the league pennants before finally taking a look at our frontrunners for the 2015 World Series.
American League – East
As of right now, the New York Yankees and the Toronto Blue Jays are far enough ahead in the race to become division champions that there really isn’t much point in looking at other teams. Not only will either New York or Toronto be participating in the playoffs leading to the 2015 World Series, but there’s a pretty good chance that whoever places second between the two of them will be in line to become one of the AL’s wild cards.
While the Pinstripers are a bit ahead of Toronto right now, it’s looking like a safe bet that the Blue Jays will become division championships. They’re in the midst of an eight-game winning streak (including a three-game series against the Yanks), which has helped them close a previously large gap between the two teams. Was Toronto’s three-game sweep and 2-0 victory over New York a harbinger of things to come? Either way, we’re betting that you can look for both of these teams in the ALCS pennant race.
American League – Central
The current standings in the AL Central division denote a pretty clear winner. There’s no way anyone’s catching up to the Kansas City Royals, who currently have the best record in the American League at large. They have a .600 winning percentage, despite the fact that the Detroit Tigers (who are third in AL Central with a .486 winning percentage) have just beat them in a series and are ranked much higher in literally every offensive category. But offense isn’t where the Royals excel. It’s defense.
A lot of that defense comes from new acquisition, starting pitcher Johnny Cueto, who has failed against the Tigers but who ultimately brings a lot to Kansas City’s rotation. According to GM Dayton Moore, there’s only one source of motivation in Kansas City right now: “We’re in this thing to win a World Series. That’s why we come to work.” That’s why they jumped to acquire Cueto at the trade deadline, and why they’re doing their best to uphold their strong defense right now. So far, it seems to be working. Whether or not they’ll get a shot at the 2015 World Series remains to be seen, but they’ll definitely be vying for the pennant. There’s no way they don’t stay division champs.
American League – West
The Houston Astros are currently leading the AL West, although the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are trailing them by only two games. The Texas Rangers are a bit further behind, although not so far that they couldn’t conceivably close the gap if they step up their game a bit. This makes the AL West division a little more interesting, since out of three possible frontrunners for division champs, there are two of them (the Rangers and the Astros) who have never won a World Series before. Will the 2015 World Series be their first?
It’s hard to say. The Astros have been performing rather poorly on the road recently, and things aren’t looking much better as time marches on. Couple that with the fact that they’ve got the hardest schedule in the AL West (while the Rangers have the easiest), and it isn’t looking like Houston will be going to the 2015 World Series. They might not even make the playoffs, although that remains to be seen. The International Business Times believes that the Angels are the least likely of the three teams to advance, despite the presence of star players Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. We aren’t inclined to agree. If anything, they might have the best shot out of everyone. Pujols has been struggling lately, but we’re confident that he’ll either turn things around or that the Angels will manage to overcome his performance. Although if Houston or Texas proves us wrong, they’ll have a shot at making history and lowering the number of teams without a World Series win from eight to seven.
National League – East
The NL East also has the chance to produce a division champion that has never previously won the World Series. The Washington Nationals are currently second in the running, trailing the New York Mets by just a few games. The biggest problem facing the Nationals in terms of their run for the 2015 World Series playoffs is player injuries. Jayson Werth has had an especially unlucky season, to the extent that some are wondering whether the Nats aren’t wasting their time by waiting for him to settle in. He’s been the least efficient player to return from the disabled list, and putting too much faith in him might be holding the team back.
The Nats were previously ahead of the Mets, but New York has been stepping up to the plate in much greater fashion. And that’s not just a pun, either. As of last week, they had the most runs in the entire league, with the third-highest batting average as a team. They’ve achieved this heightened run scoring without any detriment to their pitching. It would be cool to see a team like the Nats get their first championship trophy at the 2015 World Series, but it doesn’t seem incredibly likely. Not with New York continuing to dominate both the division and the league.
National League – Central
The Mets might be dominating the league in terms of runs, but the St. Louis Cardinals currently have the best win record with 71 wins and a .640 winning percentage. There are some who’d like to see them wind up playing the 2015 World Series against the Royals. This would actually work out well for them, since they wouldn’t have far to travel. This would lessen the blow of not having home field advantage just a little bit. The Cardinals still haven’t been punished for this year’s hacking scandal, so there’s no telling if a decision by the league will affect their game. Either way, it shouldn’t hurt their standing as division champs.
There are some who were hoping that the Chicago Cubs would win the 2015 World Series, as predicted in Back to the Future: Part II. Now, however, it is not looking too likely. They’re third in the division, and the only way they’ll even have a shot at participating in the 2015 World Series is if they’re selected as a wild card and manage to beat out the other NL teams for the pennant. Although to be fair, there’s a chance of that happening. Along with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team ahead of them in the running to become the champs of the NL Central, they’re among the top three winning percentages in the National League. This is definitely one of the strongest divisions this year.
National League – West
One of the teams generating the most buzz in the NL West is the San Francisco Giants, winners of last year’s World Series. It’s not outlandish to wonder if they’d have a shot at the 2015 World Series, since they’ve won 3 Commissioner’s Trophies in five years. Unfortunately, they’ve had an extremely bad time on the road recently, and it seems fair to question whether or not they’re capable of overcoming the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to become division champions. As of now, they aren’t likely candidates to become one of the NL wild cards, especially with Nori Aoki potentially out of the game due to a possible head injury.
The Dodgers are on a losing streak as well, but that doesn’t mean they can’t turn things around and defend their current standing as division champs. In fact, they have a few plans that might help them late in the season. They just completed a speed camp, and the idea is that they might bring a designated baserunner or two up from the minors in order to give the team an edge. It’s not the most uncommon strategy in the world, so it could work. If it doesn’t, however, and if both the Dodgers and the Giants continue their respective losing streaks, then the Arizona Diamondbacks might have a chance. The D-backs aren’t really on an upswing, and their recently contested walk-off win doesn’t really say anything for their future. The only probable shot they have is if the other leaders of the NL West keep losing.
We’ve already discussed the most likely wild card candidates a little bit, but let’s make some actual predictions regarding who might make it into the playoffs for the 2015 World Series. As discussed, either the Blue Jays or the Yankees are likely going to be the top wild care for the American League, so they’ll both be racing to the pennant either way. The Angels are the next candidate, although there’s a chance of being overtaken by the Baltimore Orioles. They only recently overtook them, after all. The Tampa Bay Rays are tied with the Orioles and have won their last couple of games, so that’s yet another team with a chance this year despite having never won a World Series before. Even if they make it, however, their chances of winning the pennant are not too high.
As far as the National League is concerned, the Pirates and the Cubs are most definitely in the leading positions. However, the Cubs stand a chance at being overtaken by the Giants. The Nationals and Diamondbacks also have a shot, but it isn’t the best shot in the world. As far as our actual predictions are concerned, we’d have to peg the Blue Jays and the Angels for the American League wild cards. If these teams manage to overcome the current champions in their division, then the wild cards should be the Yankees and the Astros. The National League wild cards will probably be the Pirates and the Giants. The Cubs could hold their position, but the Giants are a better team this year and could rebound from their losing streak. Those who want to see the Cubs win in honor of Marty McFly’s 1989 prediction are likely going to be disappointed, since there’s a very good chance that they will not even make the playoffs.
If our above predictions hold true, then the top five teams with a solid shot at the ALCS will be the Yankees, the Blue Jays, the Angels, the Astros, and the Royals. We’d love to see the Astros come through as an unlikely dark horse to win the pennant and get a shot at the 2015 World Series, but this won’t necessarily be the year they get their first World Series win. They probably won’t make history this year, especially with the Royals maintaining such a strong season. Unless the Royals really lose their way, then they’ll probably win the pennant.
It’s been an admittedly rough year for the Royals as far as their reputation is concerned. People are calling them the “bad boys of baseball,” a title which manager Ned Yost denies. And he’s got a point. They get beaned quite a bit, and they aren’t among the top teams throwing beanballs. We just recently referred to beanball wars as one of the lamer traditions in the sport of baseball, and we stand by that. But Kansas City isn’t perpetuating this tradition. Despite their current reputation, the Royals aren’t trading beanballs as often as people seem to think. Either way, reputations don’t win trophies. They could become the sport’s most hated team overnight, and they’d still have a solid shot at the pennant.
Our top five candidates for the NLCS are the Mets, the Cardinals, the Dodgers, the Pirates and the Giants. As far as the actual pennant is concerned, it seems to be a toss-up between the Mets and the Cardinals. The Mets have one of the strongest offensive teams this season, but the Cardinals have a better winning record. A lot of people would like to see the Cardinals win the pennant, just so they can have a shot at the Royals. The Cardinals lost to the Royals in the 1985 World Series, and a lot of people blame it on a missed call by umpire Don Denkinger in Game 6. The Royals haven’t won a World Series since then, while the Cardinals won in 2006 and 2011, so it really shouldn’t be bugging fans so much to this day. But it is, and a lot of people want to see a rematch.
They probably won’t get their wish if the Mets keep playing the way they have been. Unfortunately, just because New York has a shot at the pennant doesn’t mean that things will go much farther. The Mets can owe a lot of their defensive game to three key pitchers: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard. And all three of these pitchers are likely going to exceed their innings limits before the 2015 World Series. In fact, they’ll probably exceed their limits before the pennant race even begins. They’ve been playing supremely well, so it doesn’t make much sense to take them out of the game based solely on the off-chance that they can deliver in the postseason. The Mets might win the pennant. But without deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard, it’ll probably go to the Cards.
2015 World Series
Since we had a bit of trouble narrowing our prediction for the NLCS pennant, let’s look at two possibilities. The first is that the Mets win the pennant and go to bat against the Royals in the 2015 World Series. If this should happen, then one of the best offensive teams in the MLB right now will have to go up against another one of the best teams without the aid of three key defensive players. In other words, a pennant win by the Mets will likely hand the 2015 World Series to the Royals.
Now, let’s say that the Royals wind up opposite the Cardinals in a rematch of the 1985 World Series. The Cardinals currently have the highest winning percentage in the MLB, but their odds at winning the World Series are technically lower. Even so, we’re willing to hand it to them. Not only do they appear to be a slightly stronger team this year, but a chance at winning the 2015 World Series in a rematch against the team that beat them thirty years ago would be too epic for them not to give it their all. We suspect that the Cardinals will beat the Royals and, in the spirit of truly laying 1985 World Series to rest, we suspect that they’ll net their win by Game 6.
Depending on how the rest of the season unfolds, our predictions are subject to change. For up-to-date predictions on multiple games every week, it’s worth signing up for our handicapping consulting services. Until then, we look forward to seeing if the Cardinals can maintain their ranking as the 2015 World Series approaches.