San Francisco Giants +850
The Giants finished 2015 with a solid record of 84-78 and could be poised to make a serious run at the post season this year. They resigned Brandon Belt, who will supply ample power (18 home runs, .280 batting average and .834 OPS in 2015). A key acquisition was the signing of outfielder Denard Span, who gives the Giants much needed speed and batting average at the top of the lineup. With All-Stars Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and a hopefully helathy return of outfielder Hunter Pence, the Giants should have enough offensive firepower.
Lead by Madison Bumgarner and closer Santiago Casilla, the Giants are well equipped on the mound should they make it to the post season. Although Chris Heston struggled at the end of the season, he won 12 and posted an ERA of 3.95 in his first Major League season. He should be solid in the rotation and the return of a healthy Tim Lincecum could be just what the Giants needs to take them over the top in 2016.
Detroit Tigers +2500
The Tigers, who struggled with a 74-87 record last season, have made significant moves that could propel them into contention this season. They signed outfielder Justin Upton, pitchers Justin Wilson, Bobby Parnell, Jodran Zimmerman and Casey McGehee. Wilson was 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 70 games last season with the Yankees. Upton hit 26 home runs and stolen 19 bases last sesaon with the Padres and will add significant pop to the middle of the Tigers order. Parnell pitched poorly in 30 games last season and appeared in only one game in 2014, but he was dominant in 2012 and 2013. He would be a tremendous asset to the bullpen if he can return to form. Jordan Zimmerman, who won 13 games and posted a 3.66 ERA, could be the key to success, as he brings a much-needed proven arm to the staff. McGehee could add solid veteran leadership should be make the roster.
For the Tigers to contend, they’ll need better results from the pitching staff that struggled to a 4.64 ERA last season. Justin Verlander, who made only 20 appearance last season due to a triceps injury, but pitched well to close out the season. No longer the dominant force he was from 2009-2012, Verlander is intelligent and will make adjustments necessary to be back as one of the elite starters in the league. An improved Anibal Sanchez will give the Tigers a very solid rotation, good enough to win with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, JD Martinez and Ian Kinsler providing significant run support.
Cleveland Indians +1650
The Cleveland Indians finished with a game above .500 at 81-80 and have made numerous changes in the off season in attempts to launch them to the next level. Mike Napoli, Juan Uribe, Wil Venable, Tommy Hunter, Craig Stammen were just some of many the Indians signed. Competition for roster spots will be intense all spring. Napoli hasn’t hit over 20 home runs since 2013 but belted 18 and will provide much-needed power to a team that didn’t have a single player reach 20 home runs last season. Uribe and Venable will fight for a roster spot and would add veteran depth. Hunter pitched to a 4.18 ERA last season, but will be an excellent addition to the bullpen should he return to 2013 and 2014 form when he posted ERA’s under 3.00. Stammen is coming off flexor tendon surgery on his right wrist which caused him to miss most of last season. He’s had plenty of success in the past and would be an excellent addition to the bullpen should he recover. Stammen was signed to a Minor League contract, so the signing is low-risk, high reward for the Indians.
These additions will supplement an already talented Indians roster which includes .300-plus hitters in Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Michael Brantley. The starting rotation is quite solid with Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco combining for 37 wins, 590 2/3 innings, 655 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.42.
The already present talent plus the additions made in the offseason make the Giants, Tigers and Indians prime candidates to advance to the next level. They could all make a serious push for the postseason. A deep run into the playoffs is possible for one or more of these darkhorses.