Nick Markakis hit all of 10 home runs last year over 700 plate appearances and people are starting to think he's on the decline. They're probably right. I'm not sold though. His groundball to flyball rate last season was a 1.52 and his career rate is a 1.31. This is because of the ridiculous fact that almost 15% of his batted balls went up straight over the infield. In addition, his home run to flyball rate was an unusually low 5.7%. I'm saying he bounces back and hits .285, 80 R, 18 HR, 65 RBI, 65 BB, 80 K.
BOS: Sizemore has highest WAR on the team
Grady Sizemore returns from injury and sparks Boston in their quest to repeat World Series championships. So far this spring, Sizemore has positioned himself to at least start off with the opening day center fielder job and may even hold onto it until the very end. It'll be difficult to amass a higher WAR than players like Pedroia and Lester, but Sizemore has the potential.
NYY: Yankees really regret not having A-Rod once playoff race gets tight
See: "Yankees Will Miss A-Rod"
TBR: Zobrist, Longoria, and Myers combine for 100 home runs, 300 RBI
Evan Longoria is likely to hit 30+ home runs barring a major injury. Wil Myers hit 27 home runs between the minors and majors last year and was just settling into the game in Tampa Bay. Zobrist is the wildcard. He's shown the ability to hit 27 homers but only managed to hit 12 last year. If all three of them can reach their ceilings, 100 home runs is not out of the question.
TOR: Blue Jays will have most potent lineup in the AL
Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Melky Cabrera possess all the skills to form the most formidable foursome in the American League. Melky's season was weakened last year, apparently because of a back tumor he was playing with. And while I doubt they are all healthy all the time, this seems like the year it finally comes together.
CLE: Corey Kluber leads AL in wins
Kluber has the arsenal and the Indians have the offense needed to supply Kluber with a glorious 20 wins. It's just a matter of scoring those runs when he is on the mound.
CWS: Erik Johnson becomes the staff ace
Erik Johnson takes over for Chris Sale as the ace when he arrives in big league camp. Johnson has quietly become a top 100 prospect with a nice repertoire of pitches. He is said to have the potential for four above average pitches that can silence batters. While most predict him to be a middle of the order pitcher, I think he has the stuff to be shutdown.
DET: Tigers left field platoon combines for 65 stolen bases.
Rajai Davis is known for reaching the upper echelon of stolen bases in the past several seasons and there is no reason he can't do it again if given more playing time. On the other hand, Andy Dirks is not known for stealing much but still possesses enough speed to swipe 12 bags or so. They'll both be switching off against pitchers so that should only improve their specific OBP%.
KCR: Mike Moustakas is replaced at trade deadline
Moustakas, for all he is doing in spring training, has never been a force in the major leagues. Everyone has been waiting for him to break out but it seems like those days are far behind him. After only batting .233 last year, the Royals should be on the lookout early for a replacement so that they may be able to cash in on his spring numbers and excitement.
MIN: Twins stay in playoff hunt until late September
The Twins may still have a terrible rotation with Nolasco and Hughes in the fold, but their offense has the chance to be top notch if it all comes together. Aaron Hicks will be looking for a return to major leagues and Josmil Pinto, Miguel Sano, and Alex Meyer could be up at any time throughout the season to keep their hopes alive.
HOU: Young talent keeps Astros at .500
George Springer alone won't be enough to save this team. Like the Twins, the Astros have the potential to keep pace with the rest of the MLB. All that is stopping them is the word to call up their top prospects. Jon Singleton, Springer, Mike Foltynewicz, and Domingo Santana will most likely be the prime producers for a team that is dreading another 100 loss season. Hopefully, the front office doesn't allow that to happen.
LAA: Frieri leads MLB in saves
Frieri seems to go unmentioned in most closer circles because he doesn't have that "wow" factor. He wasn't even supposes to be the closer the past two seasons but nobody has been stopping him because the Angels haven't brought in anyone better (Joe Smith might be). The Angels offense will warm up with the core trio all together and the pitching looks bright with Skaggs and Santiago in the fold. The right combination of runs and runs allowed will allow Frieri to rack up as many saves as he can before the season ends.
OAK: Donaldson is 2014's "Chase Headley" candidate
Just like how Chase Headley disappeared from being a top 5 third baseman in 2012 to just an average one in 2013, Jose Donaldson will fall back to his pre-2013 form with the A's. While there is a possibility he was just a really late bloomer, those are rare and his game seems to have been fueled by a .333 BABIP.
SEA: Seattle's status doesn't budge because of miserable outfield
Bringing in Robinson Cano is one way to boost a franchise. Unfortunately, the Mariners did not even address their biggest needs - the outfield. Second base was presumably going to a promising, young prospect (Nick Franklin). Now, the outfield looks a mess with Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, Franklin Guiterrez, and Michael Saunders all competeting for spots. None of them are very good though.
TEX: Darvish has a 20 K game
The last pitcher to achieve this remarkable feat was Randy Johnson in 2001. Yu Darvish has all the talent in the world when it comes to striking out batters and it wouldn't surprise some people if he were to strike out 20 batters in a game. Just look what he did on August 12th, 2013.
Ever since 2011, Dan Uggla has been struggling to maintain a batting average worthy of the major leagues. He hasn't topped .233 and his strikeout rate is growing increasingly. On the other hand, his line drive rate was down to an unusual 13.2%. Therefore, his batting average suffered. He needs to manifest the Dan Uggla of pre-2o11 so that he can take the Comeback Player of the Year award. Stranger things have happened.
MIA: Stanton finally sees the field enough to hit 45 home runs
Giancarlo Stanton didn't see much of the field last year as his 116 plate appearances would tell you. But he has all the power in the world when it comes to hitting baseballs out of the park. Example 1. Example 2. Combine health and power and 45 home runs come off the end of his bat in 2014.
NYM: Granderson and Young combine for 65 home runs
Just like Stanton, Curtis Granderson looks to make up for lost time from last season. But unlike Stanton, Granderson has actually hit more than 40 home runs in a season before. Chris Young also has the power for 20 or more. It wouldn't be all that unlikely to see them hit 65 together.
PHI: Biddle wins NL ROY
Jesse Biddle spent all of 2013 in AA Reading and it's hard to deny his skill. Besides the all-too-often walk, Biddle struck out 154 batters in 138.1 innings. With that kind of command, Biddle should be able to overpower most batters with his sweeping curveball and angled fastball.
WAS: Starters amass 75 Wins
The Nationals have an excellent rotation coming into this season. They managed to steal Doug Fister from the Tigers to go along with Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmerman, and their 5th starter. The 5th starter is the big question mark because it is still undecided whether it will be Tanner Roark, Ross Detweiler, or Taylor Jordan. Either way, the first four should do most of the damage and accrue 75 wins by season's end.
CHC: Kris Bryant wins starting third base job by July
Kris Bryant is going to move quickly through the Cubs' system. Luis Valbuena and Mike Olt don't pose much of a threat to the slugger drafted out of college last year. In fact, Bryant fared so well in the minors the remainder of 2013 that he was bumped to the number 8 prospect overall. He won't secure the job out of spring training but Bryant can easily catch up to the team by the time July rolls around if the incumbent isn't cutting it.
CIN: Billy Hamilton proves everyone wrong with OBP
Billy Hamilton will make everyone look bad once he comes storming out of the minor league gates. He's one of the fastest players scouts have seen in the past 20 years and he makes turning a man on first base to a man on second base easy. However, most are worried about his powerless swing. Pitchers are going to be much more on edge when he is on the diamond, which should boost his walk rate to a meaningful amount.
MIL: Brewers are actually contenders
The Brewers are being vastly underrated. And the next prediction goes hand in hand with this one so I'll compare them side by side to prove how the Brewers are playoff contenders and the Pirates are not given their opening day starters. Jonathan Lucroy, Jean Segura, and Khris Davis crush their counterparts on the Pirates: Russel Martin, Jordy Mercer, and Jose Tabata, respectively. Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, and Aramis Ramirez slightly edge Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, and Pedro Alvarez. The positional ties go to Scooter Gennett and Mark Reynolds, who are on par with Neil Walker and Gaby Sanchez. The Pirates get the slight edge in the bullpen but the Brewers did do a nice job upgrading this offseason. The rotation comes to a tie as well; Gallardo, Garza, Estrada, Peralta, and Lohse matching with Cole, Liriano, Volquez, Morton, and Rodriguez.
PIT: Pirates sink back into mediocrity
Unless the Pirates bring in some top prospects, they look like an average team with large voids at first base, shortstop, and right field. See the Brewers' prediction.
STL: Top prospects look inexperienced
Oscar Taveras is almost ready to be called up and Kolten Wong, Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez are set in their own roles. That being said, introducing too much inexperience to a team at once can be harmful. There will be growing pains and at least one of them will be sent down at one point during the season for re-adjustment.
ARI: Randall Delgado breaks out
Randall Delgado has been waiting since his trade to Arizona to finally surprise everyone. He used to be a top prospect and should get his chance in the rotation at some point in the season. His numbers have been fluctuating at an extremely odd rate and figure to settle down somewhat - his walk rate has varied from 1.78 to 4.08 and his strikeout rate has gone from 4.63 to 7.38. If he can reach that low walk rate and that high K rate, he could be in for a good season.
COL: Morneau hits 35+ HRs, makes strides towards MVP form
It wasn't too long ago that Justin Morneau was hitting 30 home runs in a season. But all that changed when he began suffering from a chronic concussion issue that has been limiting his skills at the plate. There is no proof to back this up but the Colorado air might do him some good so he can clear his mind (Coors Field won't hurt either).
LAD: 5 outfielders produce at least 2.5 WAR each
Having a positional logjam is not exactly a bad thing, but it does make sure more players get equal chances to bat. Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Carl Crawford will be sharing the outfield with Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson. Pederson is the only one that has not gotten above 2.5 WAR because he is still a prospect. An interesting one too because he reminds many scouts of a younger and more powerful Shin-Soo Choo. If the Dodgers decide they need that extra boost, expect Pederson to be the first one to get the call.
SDP: Padres will have a top 5 rotation
The Padres are known for their park factor. One that often softens the blow of a hard-hit fly ball. Because of that, the Padres should be able to maintain a stacked rotation with Josh Johnson, Ian Kennedy, Robbie Erlin, Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross. If that's not enough, San Diego has a plethora of promising, young starters vying for a major league job.
SFG: Gary Brown replaces Morse by midseason, leads Giants to postseason
Micael Morse was brought in this offseason to replace Gregor Blanco in the outfield, but Morse was not that much better last season. He batted a measly .215 with 13 home runs. Similarly, Gary Brown, the Giants first round pick in 2010, performed terribly in AAA Fresno. However, Brown is still learning the game and was advance very quickly in the minor leagues. He possesses excellent speed and moderate power and his plate discipline is the only barrier between him and the majors. Expect Brown to be in San Francisco once he fixes his problems at the plate.