It is never too early to start forecasting the 2014 MLB season. Awards season is complete and it is now full steam toward the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Numerous free agent signings and potential trades will be key parts in shaping all 30 rosters between now and the start of spring training. How quickly will the dominoes start to fall? One thing that is likely certain is that all 30 rosters are nowhere close to being finalized.
Subject to change, an early glance at the 2014 Divisional Winners:
American League East
The defending champion Boston Red Sox appear to be the favorite in the AL East. The offense figures to be near the top of the league again, similar to 2013, and the pitching staff has depth and experience. Much of the key pieces that led to the World Series championship will be returning.
American League Central
A potential surprise and sleeper pick is the Kansas City Royals. The Detroit Tigers surely have the most stars and award winners, and the Cleveland Indians overachieved on their way to a 2013 Wild Card spot, but the Royals could be poised for a break out. With a crop of young talent and “Big Game” James Shields leading the staff, the Royals could find the post season for the first time in years.
American League West
One of the big disappointments of the 2013 season was the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels were Series contenders a year ago, only to underachieve time and time again. The offense has to rebound collectively, and they have the big names to do it. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are all big time players who may be long overdue to break out. The key question marks will be among the pitching staff that must improve behind CJ Wilson.
National League East
The Atlanta Braves were in first place for the majority of 2013. They look to still be the class of the East again. With balance both offensively and on the mound, they are anchored by now arguably the best closer in the big leagues in Craig Kimbrel.
National League Central
The Pittsburgh Pirates finally completed a 20 year turnaround last year. They made the post season and now have the reigning MVP in Andrew McCutchen. Might they continue onward and upward in 2014?
National League West
The Los Angeles Dodgers, by far, have the biggest payroll in the NL West, and arguably have the most talent in the division. Over the long season, the Dodgers should rise to the top much like last season.