Final Win-Loss Predictions for Every MLB Team in 2014
With spring training almost over and the regular season about to begin, there's only one thing left to do: put on our prognostication hats one more time and issue an ultimate set of predictions for every team's final win-loss record in 2014.
It's an exercise that we undertook just as the exhibition season was getting underway, with much speculation and uncertainty as to how teams would finish comprising their rosters. Armed with more information than we had before and after getting to see teams in action this spring, we've got a better idea as to what we should expect during the regular season—in theory, at least.
We'll take a look at how we saw things shaking out just over a month ago, combine it with what we've learned during the spring and come up with every team's final win-loss record as well as their final standing within their respective division.
Let's get started.
All spring training stats and records courtesy of MLB.com.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 76-86, Fourth in NL West
Updated Prediction: 75-87, Fourth in NL West
Without Patrick Corbin—who underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery due to a UCL tear, per Zach Buchanan of USA Today—Arizona is left with a rotation full of mid- and back-of-the-rotation arms, which is not a good position to be in when you have to go up against the lineups of the Dodgers and Rockies 19 times each every season.
Where top prospect Archie Bradley fits into the equation remains to be seen, but expecting the 21-year-old to step in and be the next coming of former D-Backs pitchers Randy Johnson or Curt Schilling is incredibly unfair—and unrealistic, given the hurler's command issues, which continued to plague him this spring.
Bottom line: With Corbin, the Diamondbacks were a .500 team last year. Without him, they will drop even further back from the pack in the NL West than originally expected this season.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 88-74, Second in NL East, First NL Wild Card
Updated Prediction: 85-77, Second in NL East, First NL Wild Card
While signing Ervin Santana will help cushion the blow of losing Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen for the season, the Braves rotation—and its depth—took a major hit this spring. While talented, having pitchers like Gavin Floyd, Aaron Harang and David Hale take the mound in crucial games with playoff implications is anything but ideal.
Fortunately, Atlanta's offense should be better than it was a year ago thanks to signs of life from Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton in the spring, giving hope that they won't be automatic outs as they were a season ago.
The good news for the Braves is that after Washington, the NL East is pretty weak—and they'll be able to beat up on the rest of the division to keep pace with the other contenders on the Senior Circuit.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 81-81, Fourth in AL East
Updated Prediction: 81-81, Fourth in AL East
The news that Manny Machado will start the season on the disabled list, per Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun, while not unexpected, is nonetheless disappointing.
Ryan Flaherty, tabbed with replacing Machado in the lineup, offers nowhere near the same level of offense or defense. And with him starting, the team's bench is also weaker.
That could cost Baltimore some games early on in the season—as could the situation at second base, where top prospect Jonathan Schoop will start the year.
Boston Red Sox
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 90-72, First in AL East
Updated Prediction: 89-73, Second in AL East, First AL Wild Card
The good news in Boston is that the defending world champions will head into the season healthy—which is especially encouraging considering the injury problems that have plagued members of the starting rotation (Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Jake Peavy) in recent years.
The bad news is that Jackie Bradley Jr. was disappointing this spring and lost the Opening Day gig in center field to Grady Sizemore, who hasn't played a major league game since 2011 due to a plethora of injuries. Questions about his durability—and Bradley's overall ability—remain unanswered.
The other problem for the Red Sox is something that's completely out of their hands, and that's the fact that Tampa Bay looks better than anticipated—good enough to edge Boston in what will be a hotly contested battle for the AL East crown all season long.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 65-97, Fifth in NL Central
Updated Prediction: 67-95, Fifth in NL Central
Aside from a nagging hamstring injury to Starlin Castro, the Cubs emerge from the exhibition season relatively unscathed and with hope for the future—the latter thanks to strong performances from Anthony Rizzo and top prospect Javier Baez.
It's pretty clear that Baez is going to make an impact in Chicago at some point this season. With Rizzo potentially taking the next step in his development as well, the Cubs should be good for a few more wins than originally expected.
But the team is still in the midst of its rebuilding process, and 2014 will be another year dedicated to developing the organization's young talent with an eye toward future success.
Chicago White Sox
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 75-87, Fourth in AL Central
Updated Prediction: 70-92, Fourth in AL Central
Not much has changed when it comes to the White Sox, who, like their counterparts across town, continue their rebuilding process. Major questions remain behind the plate, where the underachieving Tyler Flowers and Rule-5 draft pick Adrian Nieto figure to see the bulk of the playing time.
Newcomers like Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton looked good this spring and provide upgrades in the lineup and in the field, but some of the team's veterans—Alejandro De Aza, Adam Dunn and Alexei Ramirez—could be moved for more pieces to build around, further weakening the 2014 squad.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 83-79, Second in NL Central, Second NL Wild Card
Updated Prediction: 81-81, Third in NL Central
Cincinnati's pitching staff has taken a beating this spring, with starter Mat Latos and relievers Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman all expected to start the season on the disabled list.
Not only are there questions regarding when the flame-throwing Chapman will be able to return to the mound, but after getting hit in the face by a line drive and having a titanium plate embedded in his head, it's fair to wonder if he'll be tentative and, as a result, less effective when he does return to action.
With both the rotation and bullpen in a state of flux, not even the Reds' potent offense—led by speedster Billy Hamilton, who appears more than capable of replacing Shin-Soo Choo atop the lineup—will be able to guide Cincinnati to a playoff berth in manager Bryan Price's inaugural season at the helm.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 81-81, Third in AL Central
Updated Prediction: 83-79, Third in AL Central
Josh Tomlin, who missed nearly all of the 2013 season recovering from elbow surgery, has looked sharp this spring. He has even outperformed Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, giving hope that the Indians have the arms needed to effectively replace Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, who both departed as free agents this offseason.
That said, after Justin Masterson, there are questions surrounding the rest of the rotation, and despite a strong lineup—one that will be bolstered by a rejuvenated Asdrubal Cabrera—the Tribe will still land behind Detroit and Kansas City in the division, falling short of their second consecutive playoff berth.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 71-91, Fifth in NL West
Updated Prediction: 72-90, Fifth in NL West
I'm bumping Colorado's win total up slightly due to the punch that the lineup can produce—even with an unsettled situation at the leadoff spot, where Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs figure to split time. Nolan Arenado, entering his first full MLB season, had a strong spring and looks poised for a breakout season.
But there are more questions than answers surrounding the rotation, namely whether the group can provide manager Walt Weiss with enough quality innings to keep the team in games and not burn out the bullpen.
Until Colorado acquires the front-of-the-rotation arms that it needs—which may come in the form of top prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Gray—it'll continue to come up short on the scoreboard more often than not.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 86-76, First in AL Central
Updated Prediction: 85-77, Second in AL Central
Injuries have hit Detroit hard, with Andy Dirks out until at least June after undergoing back surgery. Jose Iglesias is likely out for the season with fractures in both legs, and Bruce Rondon is headed for Tommy John surgery.
With Nick Castellanos taking over at third base, Iglesias' glove was more important than ever in solidifying the left side of the Tigers infield. While Eugenio Suarez has a solid glove, he pales in comparison to Iglesias, who was establishing himself as one of the premier defenders at the position.
Despite the injuries, the Tigers still boast a potent offense and impressive starting rotation. But after three consecutive playoff appearances, the Tigers will fall just short in 2014, missing out on the postseason by one game in a heated four-team battle with the Angels, Rangers and Yankees for the final wild-card berth.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 64-98, Fifth in AL West
Updated Prediction: 62-100, Fifth in AL West
Houston won't be as bad as it was a season ago, and the first wave of talent that the team has stockpiled as part of its rebuilding process—including Jonathan Singleton and George Springer—should arrive at Minute Maid Park this summer.
But the rest of the AL West has improved, meaning it will be another long season for the Astros and their fans.
Kansas City Royals
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 84-78, Second in AL Central
Updated Prediction: 87-75, First in AL Central
Mike Moustakas looked like a completely different player this spring, having spent the winter working with Royals hitting coach Pedro Grifol, and 2014 will be the year that the 25-year-old finally begins to live up to the considerable hype that surrounded him when he made his major league debut in 2011.
The first of Kansas City's high-ceiling pitching prospects, Yordano Ventura, has pitched his way onto the starting rotation and, with his electric stuff, will be in the thick of the race for AL Rookie of the Year honors at the end of the season.
An improved lineup, a solid rotation and excellent defense makes Kansas City a dangerous team, and it'll end a nearly 30-year playoff drought by squeaking by Detroit in a hard-fought race for the division crown.
Los Angeles Angels
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 85-77, Third in AL West
Updated Prediction: 85-77, Second in AL West
Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are relatively healthy and motivated to prove that 2013 was an aberration, not a sign of things to come for the talented but aging superstars. Furthermore, Mike Trout remains baseball's best all-around player, one who is still years away from hitting the prime years of his career.
Garrett Richards and Hector Santiago put together strong springs, giving the Angels four quality starters in a rotation that will be vastly improved from a year ago. However, the Angels will fall just short of the playoffs, finishing one game behind the New York Yankees for the second and final AL wild-card berth.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 90-72, First in NL West
Updated Prediction: 93-69, First in NL West
While second base remains a position in flux—with utility man Justin Turner and converted shortstop Dee Gordon splitting time at the position as Cuban defector Alex Guerrero hones his game at Triple-A Albuquerque—Los Angeles boasts a stacked roster that is light years ahead of the competition in the NL West.
With the best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw leading a deep and talented pitching staff—after he returns from a DL stint—the Dodgers will have little trouble taking home their second straight NL West crown.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 71-91, Fifth in NL East
Updated Prediction: 74-88, Fourth in NL East
Miami remains in rebuilding mode, but the pitching staff, especially the starting rotation, looks stronger than anyone anticipated, with five starters under the age of 28—including Jose Fernandez, the reigning NL Rookie of the Year.
Top prospect Andrew Heaney flashed front-of-the-rotation stuff this spring and will be a midseason addition to the group, setting the Marlins up not only for some second-half success, but for the long term with him and Fernandez leading the way atop the rotation.
Too many questions surround the lineup for Miami to finish with a winning record, but a full season from Christian Yelich and a healthy Giancarlo Stanton will provide enough oomph for the Marlins to play the role of spoiler down the stretch with an eye toward 2015 and beyond.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 75-87, Fourth in NL Central
Updated Prediction: 79-83, Fourth in NL Central
I expected Ryan Braun to play far worse than he did this spring, but the shamed slugger looks a whole lot like the perennial MVP candidate that he was during his PED-tainted years—and that's worth a few more wins on its own.
Coupled with an improved starting rotation and a return to form from Rickie Weeks, and Milwaukee is a lot closer to a .500 season than originally anticipated. A lack of immediate help in the upper levels of the team's minor league system is a concern if injury or ineffectiveness dictates a roster change during the season.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 73-89, Fifth in AL Central
Updated Prediction: 68-94, Fifth in AL Central
While he wasn't expected to arrive until late in the season, losing Miguel Sano for the year to Tommy John surgery puts a damper on what was supposed to be the beginning of a new era in Minnesota this season, with top prospects Sano, Byron Buxton and Alex Meyer all making their MLB debuts in 2014.
Even with an improved rotation, questions remain about Minnesota's ability to put runs on the board, with no clear second "big bat" after catcher-turned-first-baseman Joe Mauer to be found. It's going to be a long season in Minnesota until Buxton injects some excitement toward the end of the season.
New York Mets
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 78-84, Third in NL East
Updated Prediction: 80-82, Third in NL East
Questions remain about what, if any, offensive production the Mets will get from behind the plate, first base and shortstop, but the team's pitching staff looks to be better than expected—even without ace Matt Harvey, who is out for most of the season with Tommy John surgery, and Jon Niese, who is dealing with a sore elbow.
Zack Wheeler is poised to become the front-of-the-rotation arm that he's been billed as coming through the team's farm system, while top prospect Noah Syndergaard is closer to making his debut than originally thought.
If the team had addressed the shortstop position via free agency (Stephen Drew) or trade (Didi Gregorius or Nick Franklin), I'd have the Mets finishing the season on the right side of .500. Until that happens, it's going to be another disappointing season for a long-suffering fanbase.
New York Yankees
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 85-77, Third in AL East
Updated Prediction: 86-76, Third in AL East, Second AL Wild Card
Even with questions remaining about CC Sabathia's long-term prospects for the season—the workhorse of the rotation rarely cracked 90 mph on the radar gun this spring with his fastball—the Yankees starting rotation looks to be in far better shape than anyone thought.
Masahiro Tanaka was better than advertised, while Michael Pineda not only appears ready to contribute after two injury-filled seasons but looks set to join Tanaka as a legitimate building block for the future.
It's going to be close, but the Yankees will return to the playoffs after a one-year absence, barely edging out the Angels, Rangers and Tigers for the second and final wild-card spot in the American League.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 91-71, First in AL West
Updated Prediction: 90-72, First in AL West
Oakland will win its third consecutive division crown with its third straight 90-win season, but an improved division and injuries to Jarrod Parker (Tommy John surgery) and A.J. Griffin (elbow tendinitis) will cost the team a few games.
The A's don't have as much rotation depth as they've had in past seasons, with the team's best arms on the farm—Raul Alcantara, Bobby Wahl and Michael Ynoa—still being at least a year away from offering any assistance to the major league roster.
But Oakland still has a deep, talented, well-balanced lineup and one of baseball's premier bullpens—and that's enough to keep it atop the division.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 75-87, Fourth in NL East
Updated Prediction: 70-92, Fifth in NL East
After Cliff Lee and the currently injured Cole Hamels, there are major questions surrounding Philadelphia's rotation, with A.J. Burnett looking nothing like a front-of-the-rotation arm this spring.
Those same questions plague the team's lineup, where the core of the roster—Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley—has not aged well. Expecting big offensive seasons from the trio—or for them to stay healthy enough to be contributors all season long—is almost as crazy as general manager Ruben Amaro's belief that this group can make another deep playoff run like it did in 2008.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 81-81, Third in NL Central
Updated Prediction: 83-79, Second in NL Central
Wandy Rodriguez looks to be more than up to the challenge of replacing A.J. Burnett in the rotation, and the Pirates have minor league depth in Phil Irwin, Jeff Locke and the team's top pitching prospect Jameson Taillon—if his injured elbow turns out to be nothing more than a minor setback—to fill holes at the back of the rotation should they arise.
First base and left field remain areas of concern, though outfield prospect Gregory Polanco is expected to arrive on the scene before too long, providing a major upgrade over the incumbent Jose Tabata.
While catching St. Louis in the NL Central remains nearly impossible, the Pirates have enough talent to stay ahead of Cincinnati.
San Diego Padres
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 82-80, Third in NL West
Updated Prediction: 82-80, Third in NL West
In what has become an annual rite of passage, Cameron Maybin and Josh Johnson are dealing with injuries, but the Padres have the depth needed to replace them in the lineup and rotation, respectively, if necessary.
Boasting a deep roster with talent at every position, and with youngsters like Tommy Medica and Matt Wisler waiting in the wings to step up and contribute if needed, the Padres will continue their rise to the land of contenders in 2014, falling just short of the playoffs.
San Francisco Giants
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 83-79, Second in NL West
Updated Prediction: 86-76, Second in NL West, Second NL Wild Card
It's never been a question of pitching, but rather how much run support that pitching would get when it comes to the Giants in 2014. This spring, Buster Posey and the rest of the lineup answered that question with a fairly loud "enough to win" response.
Since 2010, the Giants have alternated seasons in which they have made the playoffs, winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012. While they'll return to the postseason again this season after missing out on the fun in 2013, dreams of a winning a third World Series title in five years will go unfulfilled.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 79-83, Fourth in AL West
Updated Prediction: 77-85, Fourth in AL West
Left fielder Dustin Ackley and shortstop Brad Miller looked like All-Stars at their respective positions this spring, but producing in exhibition games and doing it consistently over the course of the regular season are two very different things.
Injuries to Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker, while not believed to be serious, are a concern for what was supposed to be the team's strength: the starting rotation. While the Mariners will be improved from a year ago, the team simply didn't do enough to build a lineup around Robinson Cano to crack the .500 mark.
St. Louis Cardinals
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 95-67, First in NL Central
Updated Prediction: 98-64, First in NL Central
Remember when folks used to scream that something needed to be done to stop the Yankees from buying all the high-end talent? Well, it's time to start screaming about the depth St. Louis has, which is, for lack of a better term, nauseating.
Not only do the Cardinals head into the regular season relatively healthy, but they have the high-end minor league depth that can either be inserted into their lineup when a need arises or used to go out and obtain whatever they want.
I said it before spring training began, and I'll say it again now: The best team in baseball calls Busch Stadium home.
Tampa Bay Rays
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 88-74, Second in AL East, First AL Wild Card
Updated Prediction: 92-70, First in AL East
Tampa Bay will clinch its fifth consecutive 90-win season—and fifth playoff appearance in the last seven years—thanks to a talented lineup and incredible pitching depth.
Amazingly enough, the Rays rotation might actually be better without Jeremy Hellickson, who will start the season on the disabled list after undergoing elbow surgery in January. His absence opens the door for youngsters Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome and Enny Romero to make an impact in the big leagues this year.
The Rays improved behind the plate with the addition of the grossly underrated Ryan Hanigan, and with a full season from reigning AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers, the team's offense will be better than it was a year ago.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 88-74, Second in AL West, Second AL Wild Card
Updated Prediction: 85-77, Second in AL West
There are major questions about the team's rotation after Yu Darvish and Martin Perez, and while Matt Harrison and Derek Holland are expected to return to action at some point and bolster the group, the damage may have already been done to the team's playoff hopes.
While the Rangers are going to score a ton of runs, counting on the likes of the oft-injured Tommy Hanson, Tanner Scheppers, who has been a reliever in recent years, and the underwhelming Joe Saunders to provide quality innings and keep the team in games early on is a dangerous proposition that will ultimately cost the team a spot in the playoffs.
Toronto Blue Jays
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 78-84, Fifth in AL East
Updated Prediction: 75-87, Fifth in AL East
Nothing changed in Toronto—and therein lies the problem.
The Blue Jays failed to land either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, leaving the rotation, after R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle, with much to be desired.
Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will put up their typically gaudy numbers, but the Blue Jays simply don't have the pieces needed to contend in what is, once again, the toughest division in baseball.
Pre-Spring Training Prediction: 92-70, First in NL East
Updated Prediction: 92-70, First in NL East
Washington emerges from the spring with a healthy roster, something that its biggest competition in the NL East, the Atlanta Braves, cannot boast about.
With a deep lineup, a ridiculously talented rotation and a solid bullpen, Washington will reclaim its place atop the division in Matt Williams' first season at the helm.
Washington bolstered an already stacked starting rotation featuring Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez—all capable of contending for a Cy Young Award—with the addition of Doug Fister, giving new skipper Matt Williams perhaps the best rotation in the game.
A strong bullpen and deep lineup, including a healthy Bryce Harper, sets the Nationals up to return to their 2012 NL East glory.