As we sit here a 1/4 of the way through the 2016 season I wanted to write something of a prediction post based on the portion of the season that (even though it is hyper-analyzed by all) will soon be forgotten by many. I didn’t get my preseason predictions posted prior to the season, which should stand to conveniently save me some face here. (cough Houston) Here goes:
AL Central AL East AL West AL Wild Cards
Kansas City Boston Texas Baltimore / Chicago
NL Central NL East NL West NL Wild Cards
Chicago Washington Colorado San Francisco / Pittsburgh
AL MVP – Manny Machado (BAL)
AL Cy Young – Chris Sale (CWS)
AL Rookie of the Year – Nomar Mazara (TEX)
NL MVP – Anthony Rizzo (CHC)
NL Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
NL Rookie of the Year – Trevor Story (COL)
World Series : Texas over Chicago (NL) in 7.
Hear Me Out
AL Central “The Best”
I was going to attempt to keep my personal bias out of this prediction. But nah, screw that. And while I feel like the panic for the Royals is extremely early and unwarranted, I’ll admit there is something off with this team right now. Ultimately I like the team’s pedigree and I trust in the front office more than any of the other teams in the division though. That, couple with the fact that I feel like the early surge from the White Sox is a little bit of “smoke and mirrors” is the reason I believe Kansas City will outright win the division. Sale is great and Quintana is quite good, but Latos is awful. And I mean awful. I continue to be dumbfounded by how this guy isn’t getting lit (ayyy) up each night. He throws a straight 90mph fastball and doesn’t miss bats with any of his off-speed stuff. Watch for a major regression from him as the season continues. I just can’t pick a team throwing Mat Latos 20 more times this season. They’ll be real dangerous in the Wild Card game though.
Al Central “The Rest”
Detroit is currently a train-wreck. Ausmus is on the brink of being fired and nobody outside of the free agent acquisition Jordan Zimmerman is fooling anyone right now. I don’t know that they are in need of a complete overhaul of their roster, but when you have that many 100 million dollar players there is an expectation to win. Cleveland looks pretty Cleveland-like. Brantley just went back to the DL and their supposed Ace, Corey Kluber, hasn’t lived up to the billing so far. Minnesota is not good. But hey, at least they’re young!
AL East “The Best”
Boston has been unreal offensively this year. (Better than the ’27 Yankees) They are hitting .298 collectively this year! They currently sit tied for first place with Baltimore and haven’t received any production from their 217 million dollar man, David Price. He’s going to be (a lot) better than he has been as they go forward and when coupled with that offense it’s a scary notion to think about. Baltimore’s decent. Which should be enough in the AL this year.
AL East “The Rest”
Both Toronto and New York made the playoffs last year but look like they want no part of Octoberfest this fall. Tulowitzki has come “down to earth” since leaving Colorado and is striking out at a staggering 27% clip. Their young arms are talented but none have truly stepped forward to fill the void left by the aforementioned David Price. Oh and Jose Bautista just lost a fight to a 5’11” middle infielder. Speaking of punching women, Aroldis Chapman appears to be the only bright spot in New York. But if I had to guess, I’d say he’s be traded by the end of July. Tampa Bay? They mash lefties. That’s seriously all I know about them.
AL West “The Best”
The Texas Rangers are a dangerous club. That’s with a Prince Fielder that has yet really hit this year. They have successfully managed to blend a core of talented veterans while infusing a nice stockpile of athletic young players. Yu Darvish will return at the end of the month to provide much needed help to Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation. With a fully healthy Darvish the Rangers look to have a 1-2 dare I say, punch, that can compete with any duo in MLB. And remember that they had a 2-0 series lead on Toronto in the ALDS last year. All of that being said, are they better than the Cubs? Right now, no. In October? Maybe.
AL West “The Rest”
Houston is showing why the game isn’t played on a computer. And while I use sabermetrics to help determine my opinions, I will never use them as the foundation of my understanding. This is where Houston fails as an organization. That’s being exposed in the early going of this season. Seattle is a nice story early in the season but Felix Hernandez is down 3-4 mph on his fastball and while he has re-invented himself as a pitcher, he is no longer the elite starter he once was. I also feel like the travel schedule takes more of a toll on them over the course of a season than any other team because of their relative location to the rest of the league. Oakland is garbage. LA is garbage, but less garbage because they have Trout.
NL Central “The Best”
Chicago has been everything they were expected to be coming into the season, and maybe even then some? Both Arrieta and Zobrist haven’t slowed a bit from their torrid second half’s last year. Rizzo is loving life batting between Bryant and Zobrist, meanwhile Fowler just keeps getting on base. Before you know it, MLB The Show is going to have to implement an “Ask Maddon” button. But no World Series? Titles aren’t won in May. Meanwhile, I really like the Pirates. I currently start all three of their outfielders on my fantasy roster. But I won’t make a whole lot of Pittsburgh fans happy with a prediction of their 4th straight Wild Card game (0-3 in the previous). But hey, what could really go wrong in a one game playoff against The Giants in an even year?
NL Central “The Rest”
This is actually one of my favorite Cardinals’ teams to watch in the most recent history. Their expecting W-L says they should actually be 8 games above .500 instead of just their current 2 games up. The pieces of Carpenter, Piscotty, and Molina play the traditional (gag) Cardinals’ Way but I just don’t feel they have the arms to contend in a division as top heavy as the NL Central. It’s a shame they don’t play out west. Cincinnati is bad but will at least be active at the trade deadline with pieces like Bruce and Phillips. Milwaukee doesn’t suck as much as I thought they would.
NL East “The Best”
The East has been a surprisingly good (and deep) division to begin the season with 4 teams currently above .500. I don’t buy it though. Washington is the class of the division. Not that I particularly love their team, but I will side with Strasburgh/Harper/Baker over any other pitcher/hitter/manager combination in the division. Their bullpen has been really good and Tanner Roark has given them a surplus of of depth in the rotation. And while I don’t believe in rotation depth in the playoffs, I do believe in it over the long-haul of the regular season.
NL East “The Rest”
But The Mets have a deeper rotation.. Not this year. Something is wrong with Matt Harvey. I’m not going to speculate what it is, but I’d lean towards some sort of lingering arm issue. Also, DeGrom hasn’t been striking guys out at nearly the same clip from the passed two seasons. And I just don’t trust Terry Collins to navigate any sort of speed bumps correctly. He’s great, well as long as everything else around him is great, otherwise he’s terrible. Philadelphia has been a great story this year, but one-run wins without any sustainable offense sounds a whole lot like the recipe of the 2013 Royals. A 76-win season would be a successful season for the young Philly team to build off going into 2017. Miami has Bonds and Stanton so that’s cool. And the Braves are tied for 5th in Home Runs (11)… If they were an individual player. They’ve also won 2 of their 19 home games. That makes them one of 8 teams that have won at 2 games at least Turner Field this year.
NL West “The Best”
The Rockies? Sure. There’s always a surprise (or 5) team in the playoffs each year. This year will serve no differently. The West division is real strange this year. So why not them? They mash the baseball. They field the ball. And they can actually kind of pitch the ball. Jake McGee has been nails in save opportunities, which is a premium when over/under’s are in the double digits each game.
NL West “The Rest”
Something isn’t right with the Dodgers. With Greinke now in Arizona it’s just Kershaw. They don’t have anything else in that rotation. Kenta Maeda looked like the guy to fill that spot but he hasn’t been good since the first two weeks of the season. It’s not really like Greinke has done much either though. He still hasn’t mastered pitching at home which looms ominously for a team that had high playoffs aspirations prior to AJ Pollock’s season ending injury just a few days before Opening Day. The Padres aren’t good, but at least Dodgers are still helping to pay their best player, Matt Kemp.