At the beginning of the year, it is always fun to try and make predictions. There are going to be some teams that overachieve and there are going to be some teams that don't live up to expectations. This is what happens in the wild world of baseball.
NL East Winner: Atlanta Braves
The Nationals looked loaded at the beginning of the year but things didn't fall into place for them in 2013. Washington looked better in the second half of the year but it was a little too late to make a serious run. The Braves jumped out to an early lead in the division and stayed at the top all year. In my preseason post, I said the Braves would challenge the Nationals so this prediction wasn't too far off.
NL Central Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
In what turned out to be the toughest division in baseball, the Cardinals ended up ahead of the Reds and the Pirates in the final weeks. St. Louis has the right combination of pitching and offense to make a run in the NL playoffs. For the Cards, it was the first time winning the division since 2009 and they could be one of the favorites to win it all this October.
NL West Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
Things didn't look so good in Los Angeles at the beginning of the year and it seemed like the team was close to parting ways with manager Don Mattingly. The team stayed the course and got outstanding performances from players throughout their line-up. Clayton Kershaw might be the best pitcher in baseball and the emergence of Yasiel Puig helped to power the team to the top of the division.
NL Wild Card Winners: Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds
The Giants tanked in their attempt to defend their World Series crown. Pittsburgh became the darlings of the baseball world with their first winning season and playoff berth since 1992. The Reds were the last team to be left off of my preseason picks but they had enough in the tank to fight their way into a do-or-die Wild Card game.
AL East Winner: Boston Red Sox
After a terrible 2012, there were few who picked the Red Sox to be as dominate as they were during the 2013 regular season. Boston could be the favorites to win the American League with their dominant line-up and strong pitching options. Moving players from Miami to Toronto was supposed to help the Blue Jays but things didn't go well. Injuries and poor play cost the team a chance to finish near the top.
AL Central Winner: Detroit Tigers
Detroit was in the World Series a season ago and they added some veteran pieces to set their course back for the Fall Classic. Their romp through the AL Central turned out to be a little more difficult with surprise performances by Kansas City and Cleveland. The Tigers were still strong and they will try and claw their way through the playoffs for a second straight year.
AL West Winner: Oakland Athletics
The Angels monster line-up was suppose to be enough to get past some of the other pesky teams in their division. Mike Trout had another MVP worthy season but the rest of his team forgot to follow in his path. The Rangers and the Athletics made things interesting at the top of the division and Oakland won the West for the second straight year.
AL Wild Card Winners: Cleveland Indians, Tampa Bay Rays*, Texas Rangers*
Things got a little crazy in the AL Wild Card race as three teams fought to the finish. Tampa Bay and Texas are headed to a one-game playoff to get into the playoffs and play a one-game playoff. Are you confused yet? Major League Baseball wanted some late season drama and they definitely will get it over the next couple of days.