STORY BY MICHAEL WENDLANDT
The Cardinals shut out the Cubs three to zero on Sunday. And what does this mean?
It means that, with Opening Night in the books, it’s finally official: Baseball is back.
With that being said, this will be one of the more competitive years in recent memory, as the parity amongst the teams in Major League Baseball has opened up the league for any team to come and take the World Series crown from the San Francisco Giants.
It is now time for 20 of my predictions for the season, from awards in the National and American Leagues to champions to big trades and to some odd instances.
1. The Dodgers will win the NL West by at least seven games over the Padres, while the Giants will finish under .500.
2. St. Louis will continue to hold onto the NL Central Crown, but Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Chicago will all be within five games.
3. The Nationals will clinch the NL East in early September, cruising to the crown.
4. The Wild Cards in the NL will be Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.
5. The the Baltimore Orioles will win AL East by with just a few games to spare.
6. The White Sox will win the AL Central as the Tigers come crashing to earth with injuries.
7. The Angels win the AL West over the Mariners in a one game playoff.
8. The Mariners will play the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card game.
9. Clayton Kershaw will win his third consecutive NL Cy Young Award.
10. The AL Cy Young Winner is Felix Hernandez of the Mariners.
11. Mike Trout repeats as AL MVP and cements his place as the best player alive.
12. Giancarlo Stanton wins the NL MVP behind a league leading 49 home runs for Miami.
13. The Rookies of the year will be the Cubs’ Kris Bryant and Tajuan Walker of the Mariners.
14. Cole Hamels will be traded from Philadelphia to the Cardinals mid-season for a bevy of prospects and second baseman Kolten Wong.
15. Six Brewers will hit 20 home runs, but none more than 35.
16. Jordan Zimmermann of the Nationals gets traded to the Orioles mid-season for a series of top prospects.
17. Boston will lose more games than they win and Pablo Sandoval won’t play 100 games.
18. At least one “Face of the Franchise” will be suspended for an on-field incident. My money is on Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez.
19. The Orioles will defeat the Nationals in six games to win the World Series.
20. Baseball will still be awesome and the summer will be marked with news from around the diamond.
So there you have it, my 20 predictions for the season, and with that comes the joy that marks the return of my favorite sport. As James Earl Jones said in Field of Dreams, “The one constant through all the years has been baseball.” Summer isn’t the same without it.