Fit and healthy: Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera. *AFP photo
Fit and healthy: Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera. *AFP photo

The first pitch has been thrown to start the 2014 Major League Baseball season.

How teams fared in the Cactus and Grapefruit pre-season leagues is no longer relevant. Speaking of pre-season, rumour has it the Yankees entertained the idea of coming to Bermuda for spring training.

It would definitely be a sure way to increase the number of Major League Baseball fans in Bermuda.

But there are still plenty of fans on this beautiful island and this one’s for them!

The race to the 2014 World Series is in full swing and many MLB statisticians and experts have been diligently crunching numbers to predict which teams will be a home run or huge strikeout this season.  

While some believe the Boston Red Sox are constructing a repeat, others feel a National League team will be hoisting the shiny hardware come fall. To get you prepped for the season, we’ve provided the top teams in each league by division. We’ve also listed teams that could potentially be sleeper cells and give the favourites a reality check.

American League (AL)

East

Tampa Bay Rays are impressive in pitching and defence. They have also re-signed James Loney, which should keep their infield solid.

Boston Red Sox, the reigning World Series Champs, have a strong chance of going back-to-back. Their strength is in their offensive and defensive depth. A sure combo for success.

Central

Detroit Tigers have good news in that two-time defending AL MVP Miguel Cabrera is healthy and ready to play. 

They also added Ian Kinsler and will join ranks with fellow heavy hitters Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter.

Kansas City Royals already have league best pitching and defence and with the signings of  Norichika Aokio and Omar Infante to their offensive, we could see a team bound for post season.

West

Texas Rangers have bolstered their offence with the additions of Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. These two heavy hitters can be the cure to their inconsistent 2013.

Oakland A’s already have a productive roster. They just need to get over the ALDS hump. Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes will once again be key to their success.

National League (NL)

East

Washington Nationals are loaded with talent on all sides of the field. If they can play the entire season the way they ended 2013, they are true contenders to take this all the way.

Atlanta Braves already stacked bullpen and can once again become top in their division. 

The main focus will be on the consistency of their lineup, including Dan Uggla and BJ Upton.

Central

St. Louis Cardinals, the  NL champs, have a huge opportunity to repeat with their pitching crew. Their chance will only increase with a much improved defensive.

Pittsburgh Pirates are planning to prove their 2013 success was not a fluke. If their roster can stay healthy, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

West

L.A. Dodgers — many baseball gurus believe the Dodgers are the team to beat this season. The reigning NL West champs could indeed be hoisting more hardware, thanks to their insane bullpen.

San Diego Padres finished third in the NL West last year. With the return of prominent base stealer Everth Cabrera, coupled with an improved bullpen, the Padres could be in line for a huge season.

Un-swung Heroes

American League

New York Yankees — despite missing the playoffs and plagued with losing key players, the Yankees still stand a chance to rise from the ashes. Especially with the addition of Japanese pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka. 

Toronto Blue Jays have the propensity to be an elite baseball club. There is no question they have an all-star roster, they just need to start displaying their talent off-paper. 

Despite losing Jose Reyes in the season opener, if the rest of the dugout can remain healthy and productive along with a solid performance from the bullpen, the Jays could very well be in a position to be the spoiler everyone will be talking about.

National League

San Francisco Giants could be a sure wildcard contender if — and it’s a big if — their pitchers stay healthy and they have a consistent arm.

Cincinnati Reds already have a solid rotation and bullpen, but when you add the excitement of Billy Hamilton and a shuffle in their batting order, the Reds could be the dark horse amongst the mix.

If you’re looking for bold predictions, here it is…one of the teams highlighted in this article will be the 2014 World Series Champions. But with 162 games in a season and a new experimental rule, this forecast, like most, can change on a whim. 

Hang on baseball fans, it’s going to be a fun ride.

Follow Bobbi Singh on  Twitter @sportschickca.