Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Looking into my crystal baseball, I see both of Chicago’s major league teams in the playoffs come October. That’s not to say the Cubs and White Sox will top their divisions, but the National League and American League Chicago clubs should earn wild card spots this year.

The Cubs will only get better over the course of the season. They’re loaded with some of baseball’s top prospects, and the only question is how soon those prospects will turn into star players. Besides the rebuilding of the club, Cubs fans can watch the final touches on the outfield stands, message board, and two new light towers in the outfield.


New York’s baseball prognosis isn’t as positive as Chicago’s. The Yankees went 84-78 last season, finishing in second place in the American League East. I’m sorry to have to say this to all my friends who are Yankee fans, but don’t expect the team to be any better this year.

The Mets at least have hope for the future with some good young pitchers. But not enough hitting in the lineup will keep them from improving much on their 79-83 record of last season which, surprisingly, was good enough to tie for second place in the NL East.

I expect the Mets to reach .500 at 81-81 this year. The Washington Nationals are the team to beat in their division.

In the National League Central, the St. Louis Cardinals will lead the pack with the improving Cubs hot on their trail.

San Diego made several interesting moves, picking up some name players including Matt Kemp (.287, 25 home runs) from the Dodgers and should improve on its 77-85 third place finish in 2014. However, I can’t see anybody but the Dodgers unseating last year’s World Series champs, the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants, who’ve won three World Series titles in the last five years, have baseball’s best battery in Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey. Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA in the regular season) put on a show in the postseason as he breezed through the Pittsburgh Pirates in the wild card game and overall posted an amazing 1.03 ERA over 52.2 postseason innings.

Pitching will keep the Giants in contention, but I’m going with the Dodgers to top the West this year.

So my National League picks for postseason play are the Nationals, Cardinals, and Dodgers, with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cubs as the wild card clubs.

In the American League, the Boston Red Sox look like the most improved team after having added pitching and position players of note. Last year’s top club in the division, the Baltimore Orioles, lost some good players to free agency, so Boston is my choice to top the AL East.

The Detroit Tigers, who lost pitcher Max Scherzer to Washington via a multi-year multi-buck free agent offer, still have enough pitching and hitting to fend off Chicago and Cleveland and remain atop the AL Central.

In the much weaker Western Division, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, or whatever they call themselves this year, should finish on top.

Wild Card American League teams will come from the tough Central Division – the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians.

My World Series picks are the Tigers and Dodgers, with the latter winning in seven games. Those were my picks last year, too, and I was wrong as San Francisco defeated Kansas City. So your guess is as good as mine.

It should be an interesting season as there are a couple of new sluggers to watch. They’re all Mike Trout-kind of players who can hit for average and power.

Dodgers rookie center fielder Joc Pederson, like Trout, is a great defensive player and can steal a lot of bases. Joc has a Jewish mother and his father is Stu Pederson, a former Dodgers outfielder. The other two to watch are George Springer (Houston Astros) and Kris Bryant (Chicago Cubs). All are white.

I mention this because the percentage of black players in the major leagues has spiraled downward from a high of 18.7 percent in 1981 to only 8.3 percent last year, and baseball’s bigwigs are trying to figure out ways to interest more young blacks in the game.


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Author, columnist, Irwin Cohen headed a national baseball publication for five years and interviewed many legends of the game before accepting a front office position with the Detroit Tigers where he became the first orthodox Jew to earn a World Series ring (1984).