We are only a few days away from the start of the 2016 baseball season and that means it’s time to make our yearly predictions. Now that much of the dust has settled from Spring Training we’re able to get a better grasp on how each team is shaping up to start the year.
* = Wild Card Winner; y = Best Record
- Blue Jays
- Red Sox*
The AL East should once again be competitive. The Red Sox look better than last year and have added David Price to lead their rotation. The Blue Jays were on the other end of the David Price signing and will look to replace him in their rotation with a full season of Marcus Stroman. The biggest question for me with the Red Sox is if they’ll score enough runs to compete with the Jays and Yankees. It appears the sun may be setting in Baltimore as the Orioles had a rough off-season having to over pay for Chris Davis and not signing any significant starting pitching.
- White Sox
In what could be the most competitive division in baseball, it’s hard to bet against the defending World Series Champions and two time American League Pennant winner. The standings above could be flipped upside down and there still may not be an under .500 team. The White Sox acquired Todd Frazier from the Reds and Brett Lawrie from the A’s to help protect Jose Abreu in the middle of the lineup. The Twins are stocked with many young and talented players who will be entering their first full season in the big leauges, it’ll just a matter of pitching for them. The Tigers are projected to finish in last for the second season in a row – with the weakest pitching staff in the division (crazy to say that about a team with Justin Verlander on it), they won’t have enough in the tank to carry them into October.
- Astros -y
The Astros are the Cubs of the American League. A team stock piled with young talent that is only getting better each year. In what will be a surprisingly lop-sided division, it should be a two team race between the Astros and the Rangers. The Rangers will look much better this season with a pitching staff featuring Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, and a new look outfield featuring converted shortstop Ian Desmond in left field. The Angels may play spoiler, but their pitching won’t stack up against that of the Rangers and Astros to make them serious contenders for very long. They have an aging lineup and not much depth in the minor leagues to come to the rescue when one of their stars inevitably hits the DL.
It’s hard to argue against the Mets and what could possibly be a historically good starting rotation. Syndergaard, Matz, Harvey, deGrom, Colon, and Wheeler (recovering from Tommy John surgery) will be a formidable force. They may have trouble scoring runs, but their pitching staff will carry them deep into games. The Nationals, now lead by Dusty Baker, should have a better season than last year and the Marlins are finally healthy and will feature Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton for a full season together for the first time since 2013. The Braves and the Phillies will be the two worst teams in all of baseball, so it should benefit the Marlins, Nationals, and Mets when it comes to the win column.
- Cubs -y
In both the AL and NL the Centrals divisions may be the most competitive in the league. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates all finished with at least 97 wins last season and should be just as good this year. The Reds will challenge the Phillies and Braves for the 1st pick in next years draft and the Brewers will sell off their remaining veterans by the trade deadline. This division is a 3 team race.
It’s an even year. You know what that means. The Giants should win the NL West. Not only because of their new found tradition of being good every other year, but they also have the best pitching rotation in the division with Bumgarner, Cueto, Samardzija, Peavy, and Cain. If Matt Cain is healthy, they could have the comeback player of the year in the 5th slot of their rotation. The Dodgers and their $300MM payroll will be good again this year, but they still have a lot of questions. Rookie Manager Dave Roberts takes the helm and will try to manager the vast amount of personalities in the club house. Aside from Kershaw, there really are no sure-things in the Dodger’s rotation. Kenta Maeda has looked sharp all spring, but let’s see how he does against a full season worth of MLB hitting. The Diamondbacks made the biggest splash of the off-season signing Zach Greinke, but you have to wonder if they have gotten themselves in a Rangers’/A-Rod type of situation with that contract. Could they have hampered themselves for the foreseeable future? In a tough division, they won’t have enough to make it into the playoffs.
NL Division Round:
Cubs over Pirates
Mets over Giants
AL Division Round:
Astros over Red Sox
Blue Jays over Royals
League Champtionship Round:
Cubs over Mets
Astros over Blue Jays
Cubs over Astros