Sunday, March 27, 2016

2016 Major League Baseball Predictions

The 2016 season starts in just one week and I like usual I am looking forward to another exciting season. This year, the start of the regular season on  Sunday, April 3rd, features three games instead of the normal one game like in the past. The rest of the teams begin action on Monday, April 4th. If you're an avid baseball fan like me and are looking for a new cell phone provider then you may want to join T-Mobile. This year, T-Mobile is offering anyone who joins their network between April 3rd and April 10th, MLB.TV Premium for the full season for free. (If you are already a T-Mobile member, you also get this deal). More info here

My predictions for the 2016 baseball season are as follows...(* denotes Wild Card team)

Yu Darvish
American League West
Houston Astros  (89-73)
Texas Rangers (85-77)
Seattle Mariners (81-81)
Los Angeles Angels (79-83)
Oakland Athletics (70-92)

After years of being in the cellar and obtaining top draft picks, the Houston Astros showed what doing well in the draft and developing talent can do last season. Reigning Rookie of Year, Carlos Correa, could very well be an MVP candidate in his first full season for Houston. While Cole Hamels is now the ace for the Texas Rangers, if they want to take down Houston, they will need Yu Darvish to be able to return healthy from a Tommy John surgery operation last season. His return is expected in May 2016. The Seattle Mariners lucked out when Hisashi Iwakuma failed his physical when the Los Angeles Dodgers were going to sign him as a free agent. The Dodgers then backed out of the deal and the Mariners then brought Iwakuma back. The Los Angeles Angels have arguably the best baseball player in the game in Mike Trout and the addition of Andrelton Simmons in a trade with the Atlanta Braves should help their defense. The Angels main concern has to be their starting pitching. CJ Wilson and Jered Weaver both need to find ways to be consistently good if they want to succeed. The Oakland Athletics, my favorite team in any sport, will likely finish in last. After Sonny Gray, the A's don't have much in terms of starting pitching. They spent 6 Million for Rich Hill after he played in just 4 games in 2015 with hopes he'd be a starter. He has struggled for most of the Spring. Josh Reddick should find himself on the All-Star team this season but then likely get traded soon afterwards. I hope they prove me wrong though.

Byron Buxton
American League Central
Kansas City Royals (91-71)
Detroit Tigers (88-74)*
Cleveland Indians (82-80)
Minnesota Twins (81-81)
Chicago White Sox (76-86)

The Kansas City Royals will continue to bolster an amazing bullpen as they make their run to defend their World Series Championship. Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis return to anchor the bullpen. Joakim Soria also returns to the team after originally starting his career with Kansas City. The Detroit Tigers should rebound after finishing last in the division in 2015. It seems that Justin Verlander may be looking once again like the Verlander everyone knows him to be. The addition of Jordan Zimmermann to the pitching rotation won't hurt either. Justin Upton provides extra protection in the lineup for Miguel Cabrera so now they just have to hope Cabrera can stay healthy. The Cleveland Indians didn't make many moves during the offseason and I don't expect them to make much of a move in the standings. Last year they finished in third place with an 81-80 record. The Minnesota Twins are relying a lot on a star from Korea in Byung-ho Park and a highly touted prospect, Byron Buxton. Buxton has been a highly touted prospect even though he hasn't played a full season in a while due to freak injuries. It won't surprise me to see him injured again this season.  The Chicago White Sox made a lot of moves in the offseason acquiring guys like Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie. Their biggest move though may have been involving this kid which turns out to send the morale of the team in a downward spiral. Robin Ventura's days as a manager may also be numbered. 

David Price
American League East
Toronto Blue Jays (92-70)
Boston Red Sox (86-76)*
New York Yankees (82-80)
Tampa Bay Rays (79-83)
Baltimore Orioles (75-87)

The Blue Jays lineup is ridiculously good. I don't see any reason for it to be worse in 2016. The question is whether or not the young Marcus Stroman can anchor the staff for a full season. I also think Jesse Chavez will be an unsung hero for this team, both out of the bullpen and as a spot starter. The Boston Red Sox acquired an All-Star starter in David Price and an All-Star closer in Craig Kimbrel. These two additions should help Boston get back into the playoffs as long as Pablo Sandoval doesn't eat them! The New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees. They are still considered an old team yet somehow keep winning. Aroldis Chapman was acquired to be their new closer but will be suspended for 30 games due to domestic violence claims against him. The suspension could prove quite costly for the Yankees. The Tampa Bay Rays have the worst stadium in all of baseball but won't end up with the worst record. Corey Dickerson was a nice addition which should provide some more pop and the Rays are hoping Evan Longoria can get back on track too. The Rays starting pitchers will do well but the bullpen will not fare as well. The Baltimore Orioles paid a lot of money to keep DH/1B Chris Davis in an Orioles uniform and even though he did pitch in relief in a game in 2012 and got the win, the Orioles are going to wish they spent that money toward more pitching instead. 

Zack Greinke
National League West
San Francisco Giants  (90-72)
Los Angeles Dodgers (87-75)
Arizona Diamondbacks (84-78)
San Diego Padres (78-84)
Colorado Rockies (66-96)

A lot has been said about the San Francisco Giants and their offseason. They acquired starting pitchers  Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija as well as outfielder Denard Span. A lot of their success will depend on how well Cueto and Samardzija do too as they had sub-par 2015 seasons. The Giants would also like to have a healthy Matt Cain in 2016. The Los Angeles Dodgers lost one of their All-Star starting pitchers, Zack Greinke, when he signed with division rival, Arizona Diamonbacks. The loss of Greinke will keep the Dodgers from reaching from first place. The addition of Greinke is a nice move for Arizona but it will be interesting to see if he can pitch well at home as Arizona is known as a hitters ballpark. The San Diego Padres were the talk of baseball after the offseason they had after the 2014 season. They failed to provide results after so many expectations. This year they won't have any expectations and still fail to provide results. The Colorado Rockies have Nolan Arenado so they got that going for them. Carlos Gonzalez's days with the club are numbered and manager Walt Weiss may be out of a job soon too. 

Dexter Fowler
National League Central 
Chicago Cubs (95-67)
St. Louis Cardinals (92-70)*
Pittsburgh Pirates (90-72)
Milwaukee Brewers (70-92)
Cincinnati Reds (62-100)

The National League Central race was close last season between the top three teams and should be close again this year too. The Cubs won 97 games last season and finished in 3rd place! The Cubs obtained two players who were Cardinals before in Jason Heyward and John Lackey. Those additions, plus the return of Dexter Fowler (who turned down more money elsewhere to return) should help the Cubs take first place. The St. Louis Cardinals season will depend a lot on the health of two players, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Mike Leake should thrive pitching for St. Louis. The Pittsburgh Pirates will go as far as Andrew McCutchen carries them. Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco will also continue to blossom. The Milwaukee Brewers signed Chris Carter and he could tire out Bernie Brewer as Bernie will slide down the slide in left field when Carter hits a moon shot home run. Bernie may then also pass out from drinking when Carter strikes out more than 100 times. The Cincinnati Reds may very well be the worst team in majors. They got rid of talent but did not add anybody Major League ready. Brandon Phillips, who always seems to have a smile, may find it hard to smile this year. 

Clockwise - Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard,
Jacob DeGrom,
Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler
National League West
Washington Nationals (93-69)
New York Mets (91-71)*
Atlanta Braves (71-91)
Philadelphia Phillies (69-93)
Miami Marlins (66-96)

Dusty Baker makes his return to managing a Major League team and takes the Washington Nationals to a Division Championship but no further.  The New York Mets welcome the return of a healthy Zack Wheeler and it only makes their rotation better. Yoenis Cespedes will excite the fans again as long as he isn't too lazy to pick up the baseball. The rest of the National League East will stink. The Atlanta Braves are clearly in a rebuilding mode. Ender Inciarte may bring some excitement with his speed to the Braves. The Philadelphia Phillies won't feel much brotherly love from their fanbase. Ryan Howard may very well ask to get traded to a contender. Don Mattingly, now manager of the Miami Marlins, proves that he cannot in fact, manage.  But hey, Ichiro Suzuki should get his 3,000th career major league hit for the Marlins this season. 

Wild Card Games
Boston Red Sox defeat Detroit Tigers
New York Mets defeat St. Louis Cardinals

Division Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat the Boston Red Sox (3-1)
Houston Astros defeat Kansas City Royals (3-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat New York Mets (3-2)
San Francisco Giants defeat Washington Nationals (3-1)

Championship Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat Houston Astros (4-2)
Chicago Cubs defeat San Francisco Giants (4-3)

World Series
Toronto Blue Jays defeat Chicago Cubs (4-1) - Sorry Cubs fans...  

AL MVP: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
AL CY YOUNG: David Price, Boston Red Sox
NL CY YOUNG: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: AJ Reed, Houston Astros
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR:  Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:  Brad Ausmus, Detroit Tigers
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Bruce Bochy, San Francisco Giants