We are still about 2 months away from the star of the MLB season and with big names like Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Jake Arrieta still on the market there is a lot of change that could be coming still. The Astros are coming off a world series win and why they may be the favorite to win at all the Cubs proved last year how hard it can be to repeat even with a talented roster coming back.
Houston is in a similar position as Chicago a year ago, a young team that was built from the ground up for a franchise that had not had post season success for a long time (maybe not quite as long as the Cubs but still). I think it will be hard for Houston to repeat this year due to the fact that it is just so hard to repeat and because they will have a lot of competition in the division and the American League.
At this point in the season there are really only 8 teams that are title contenders at least to me. Houston obviously, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Cleveland Indians from the American League. Yes I know they were the 4 teams to make the playoffs past the wild card game but they are still all very good. In the National league it is also pretty similar, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, the Washington Nationals (maybe) and I would also throw the Arizona Diamondbacks in there as well.
In the AL I think the Yankees and Astros are the team to beat. I think Boston could be very good again or they could be an 85 win team if they don't make another move or two and if some of their older players start to age. The Indians are an interesting team for me. They were the favorites going into the playoffs by many but blew a 2-0 lead in the divisional round and were eliminated early. It will be interesting to see how good they can be this year and if that will have any affect. They are still one of the most talented teams in baseball and could be very good again.
In the National League. I think the Dodgers take a step back this year, I still think they will be very good and make the playoffs but it will be hard to be as good as they were last year especially in the regular season. It will come down to how well some of their younger players like Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager adjust. They have the ability to compete with Rizzo/Bryant in Chicago and Judge/Stanton in New York as the best duo in a lineup but they could also hit slumps as many players do in their 2nd and 3rd years. Washington will be interesting because a lot of people think Harper may leave after this year and their playoff success or lack there of raises some concerns. They do have the foundation if they can add another couple of pieces they could be very good and maybe this will be their year to break through.
Arizona will be interesting because they probably wont resign J.D. Martinez and while they still have in my opinion one of the top 3 players in the league in Paul Goldschmidt they are still missing a few pieces to get over to the next level. That could come and the Diamondbacks could beat the Dodgers for the NL West crown this year. Chicago will be interesting because they still need in my opinion one more starting pitcher and another piece in the bullpen. They have the potential to be the best offensive team in the league but some of their younger players have struggled at times. If they can show offensive consistency with solid pitching they could be better than the year they won the World Series, and I'm not talking about 1908.
Inevitably there will be another team or two that will surprise people and make a playoff run. I wont get into specifics for these teams but if you see them in October don't be surprised. In the AL I think a few teams could make a run at it, all of these teams are questionable as they need a few more pieces, weather that be players they have breaking out or adding more they just aren't good enough yet to make a run at it. Those teams are the Angels, Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays, and Twins. Some of those teams have more of a shot than others but all teams that could realistically make the playoffs with a few good moves and a few players playing above what they normally do.
In the NL I think its a little more top heavy with a bigger gap between good and bad. Realistically I only think two other teams will be competitors but there are a few others that could surprise people, I wont say who is who but here is my list of other NL teams you could see surprise some people. The Brewers, Rockies, Giants, and Phillies.
With that being said I think I am far off from the most qualified person to be making this list and I am bound to embarrass myself somewhere but here are my predictions of how each division will finish out. I am not going to make predictions on playoffs but I will list wild card teams and the team I think will have the best record in each League.
3) Kansas City
2) Los Angeles*
3) New York
4) St. Louis
1) Los Angeles^
3) San Francisco
5) San Diego
*= Wild Card Team
^= Best Record in League