5. The Orioles will be celebrating their second consecutive AL East crown come September.
If everything that I predicted goes accordingly this season, the Orioles will win the division title again in 2015. Despite the loss of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, if healthy, the Orioles may have the deepest lineup one through nine in the division. That is a big if given the fact that the Orioles spent most of last season without two of their All-Stars, Machado and Matt Wieters. Baseball is an unpredictable game, and injuries can strike at any moment, however, on paper this lineup looks like it could give the rest of the division fits.
The loss of Cruz and Markakis will easily be masked by a return to form by Davis and a full season from Machado and Wieters. JJ Hardy was not fully healthy all of last season. He will provide more run production this season. The outfield conglomerate of Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider, Steve Pearce and Delmon Young will equal the output of Cruz and Markakis. The pitching staff is wildly underrated, and will benefit from a full season of Kevin Gausman.
The Orioles have the most complete roster in the division. There are still massive questions to be answered surrounding the Red Sox rotation. Toronto looks good on paper, but has underachieved consistently and also has questions surrounding their rotation. The Yankees are caught in a downward, rapidly aging spiral, and Tampa Bay is reeling after the loss of Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon as well as an inability to develop position players.
Headlines do not win divisions, which should be a reassuring fact for Orioles fans. Complete rosters win divisions, and the Orioles have the best one in the division. You can bemoan the Orioles approach to roster construction and player acquisition, but the Orioles have the most wins in the division the past three years. They will keep that up this year and claim a second consecutive AL East crown.