T.J. the Sports Geek’s 2016 MLB Season Preview

MLBPreview2016

Hey Everyone,

Baseball is almost here and it’s time to reveal my annual MLB Season Preview, a summary of how I think all 30 teams will fare this year and my prediction for the World Series. Here we go!

AmericanLeague

American League
East

BlueJaysToronto Blue Jays 92-70

The Blue Jays made their first playoff appearance since 1993 last season and were a couple wins away from going to the World Series. Now they have an opportunity to try and get back to the playoffs and win the pennant. Led by AL MVP Josh Donaldson,Jose Bautista,and Troy Tulowitzki,the Jays have an incredible offense and an up and coming pitching staff. I think the moves Toronto made at the trade deadline are going to benefit them more this year than they did last year and I think fans north of the border may have more to cheer about this season.

RedSoxBoston Red Sox 85-77

The Red Sox were very bad last year. Acquiring guys like Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez weren’t paying off and the pitching staff was not very good. So Boston went out and signed David Price and traded for Craig Kimbrel from the Padres to be their closer. Longtime veterans David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are still there and it looks like this is Ortiz’s final season. It’s hard to tell what kind of year the Red Sox are going to have,but I have a feeling that’s they’ll be much better than last year just by bringing in Price alone. They may contend for a playoff spot.

YankeesNew York Yankees 84-78

Yes,the Yankees made the postseason last year,but honestly they didn’t do anything to make themselves any better to make me believe they’re contending for a division title or a deep run into the playoffs. Sure,they did acquire Starlin Castro via trade as well as Aroldis Chapman who will spend the first 30 games under suspension for violation of the league’s domestic abuse policy. While Champan will be lost for a while,the Yankees still have Masahiro Tanaka who returns from a shorter than expected 2015. Let’s be clear,this team is rich in talent,but the big question is whether or not they can stay healthy long enough to get New York a division title. That’s to be determined.

OriolesBaltimore Orioles 83-79

The Orioles fell down quite a bit from their 2014 season where they won 96 games and a division title. I have to say that they’re one of the more confusing teams to project because they can be good one year and not so good the next. They do hit the ball out of the yard with guys like Chris Davis, Adam Jones,Mark Trumbo,and J.J Hardy in the line-up. Pitching is going to be a question mark for them with a rotation boasting only Yovani Gallardo and the hopeful improvement of the rotation may be the key for Baltimore to have a better 2016.

 

RaysTampa Bay Rays 76-86

The Rays have missed the playoffs the last two seasons and although they have an up-and-coming line-up of young talent, it may not be enough to get back. Even Longoria’s production the last few years has dipped a bit and he’s probably the player anyone really knows on the team outside of St. Petersburg. They do have a bright young ace in Chris Archer that will lead the Rays’ rotation to where they need to go. Unfortunately,they don’t have all the pieces to lead them to contention as of right now,but if they start out strong and maybe,just maybe,make a splash move at the trade deadline like the Blue Jays did last year,they may be looking a lot different and better in the eyes of their critics.

Central
RoyalsKansas City Royals 91-71

The Royals proved that they’re for real last season when they won their first World Series in 30 years. A lot of people feel that there’s no reason they won’t do it again and you can’t blame them for feeling as such. Though they did lose pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeremy Guthrie to free agency, they still boast a great deal of talent on this roster and they only seem to be getting better. Mike Moustaskas was able to hit the ball in the opposite field last season,he’s only 27 and showing he’s just getting started. They re-signed Alex Gordon to keep the outfield together with Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson. The pitching staff is a little decimated with the aforementioned losses to free agency,but they are still a solid group. I don’t think they’ll have the AL’s best record like they did last season,but they will be in the hunt to reach their third straight World Series and trying to repeat as champions.

IndiansCleveland Indians 87-75

The Indians had a slow start to last season and finished with only 81 wins. Can a slow start be avoided by the Tribe this year? It may be hard with the status of Michael Brantley unknown as he is recovering from shoulder surgery. While they do have a great one-two punch with Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor at the top of their line-up,the bottom of it has more to be desired. A healthy Yan Gomes is key to Cleveland having a better season as the team was 29-38 last year with him not in the line-up. Jason Kluber also needs to have a better 2016 as he followed his 2014 Cy Young season with a 9-16 record in 2015. Carlos Carrasco also looks to have a better year this season. Overall,their pitching staff looks like the bright spot for the team and should be able to help them reach the postseason. Also,Terry Francona is still their skipper and he’s a smart baseball dude.

TwinsMinnesota Twins 86-76

Last season the Twins got off to a hot start in which fans in the Twin Cities and beyond were hoping it would be a different year than in past years and that a playoff appearance was in play. However,the Twins fizzled down the stretch and finished with 83 wins and miles from the AL Central crown. They are a very young team with guys like Miguel Sano,who made a big impact on this team when he arrived late last season,and center fielder Byron Buxton,a big-time prospect should have an impact as well. Sure,the pitching staff is average at best,but with the young position players doing their thing and having a smart baseball guy like Paul Molitor as their manager,I think the Twins are up and coming and are capable of making the postseason and with a lot of teams that are as or even more talented still finding their way,the Twins get in!

TigersDetroit Tigers 83-79

The Tigers were one of the most disappointing teams in baseball last season,especially for me since I chose them to represent the AL in the World Series last year. Injuries to key players and their former GM Dave Dombrowski turning the team into sellers with David Price being shipped to Toronto gave Detroit the recipe for a bad season. So the Tigers went out and signed Jordan Zimmermann to shore up their rotation which is getting older. They added Justin Upton to solidify their outfield and be the big-time slugger that he is. Francisco Rodriguez and Mark Lowe came aboard to add fire to the bullpen. Can guys like Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander return to their previous form? Unlikely,but they can still be serviceable pitchers. I think the Tigers have it in them to get back to the playoffs,or at least be in the hunt,but it will be hard with other teams in the division having improved already.

whitesoxChicago White Sox 79-83

The White Sox made some moves in the offseason acquiring the likes of Todd Frazier, Alex Avila,and Brett Lawrie to bolster their infield. They did,however,lose their designated hitter Adam LaRoche to retirement in spring training,leaving Avisail Garcia to potentially fill that role. Chris Sale and John Danks continue to be the main guys in the starting rotation. It’s nice that Chicago went out and got better players to fill their roster,but I don’t know if it will all gel together mainly because it’s a tough division right now.

West

AstrosHouston Astros 94-68

Last season,the Astros were a surprise team that made the playoffs for the first time since joining the American League. They won their Wild Card game against the Yankees and gotm to the ALDS and fell short to the Royals. But there are bigger expectations now in Houston and the core guys on the team are back and they’ve added Doug Fister to help upgrade the starting rotation. Jose Altuve, George Springer,Colby Rasmus,and Carlos Correa look to lead their offense to a division title while Fister, Dallas Keuchel,and Collin McHugh will top the rotation. I saw a lot of great things from this Astros team last season and there’s little reason to believe they can’t continue to improve this season. I think they’re good enough to win the division and maybe make a deep run in the postseason.

AngelsAnaheim Angels 84-78

The Angels have a lot of talent on paper,but didn’t add much to that in the offseason save for Andrelton Simmons via trade from the Atlanta Braves. They do have one of the best players in all of baseball in Mike Trout,but they also have a player in Albert Pujols who is nearing the sunset of his career. The pitching staff still has Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson,but will they be enough to help get back to the postseason? My guess is that it’s not likely. But honestly,I’ve been wrong before and it wouldn’t all the way surprise me if they did,but I think other teams who added more than the Halos did in the offseason will see more of a payoff.

RangersTexas Rangers 81-81

The Rangers won the AL West last season and had an entertaining series with the Blue Jays in the ALDS, but in the offseason not much was done to make me believe they’re a viable playoff team this year. Sure,they still have great pitchers in Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, but their biggest acquisition this offseason was Ian Desmond on a paltry one-year deal. Now,the Rangers may very well be competitive in both the Wild Card and divisional races,but they seem to me like they’re going to fizzle once September comes.

MarinersSeattle Mariners 78-84

The Mariners did improve this offseason,giving the rotation the addition of Wade Miley to fill the back end of it. Also signed were veteran outfielders Nori Aoki and Leonys Martin to bolster what was a dismal outfield that left more to be desired. Robinson Cano is returning from having a sports hernia most of last season and needs to be productive in order for Seattle to break their long postseason drought. One thing that I think hold them back from doing so is Felix Hernandez, he has been used quite a bit in the last five seasons and is on the wrong side of 30. They need much more than him and Miley in that rotation. I think the M’s need to make moves at the deadline if they’re anywhere near contending for at least a Wild Card berth.

A's alternateOakland Athletics 67-95

And we arrive at the place where Moneyball never works,Choakland. The A’s only won 68 games last season after making the postseason the last three years prior to 2015. When you ship out future AL MVPs, that’s the result you’re going to get. The A’s,per usual,didn’t make any big splash offseason moves to give fans any reason that things are going to change anytime soon. If anything,expect things to possibly get worse before they improve. Will guys like Josh Reddick,Jesse Chavez,and Sonny Gray be trade bait for teams when the deadline goes around? It’s tough to say,but with Billy Beane and this group of owners who won’t spend any money to get their shit together and give fans names to place to faces when they watch their team play, anything is possible and anyone is tradeable. Expect the A’s to finish in last place in the division and in attendance.

NationalLeague

 

National League

East

NYMetsNew York Mets 94-68

The Mets surprised the major league world when they made the playoffs and went all the way to the World Series where they came up short against the Royals. Their pitching staff is phenomenal with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard,and Steven Matz. Let’s not forget Zack Wheeler who is returning from Tommy John surgery. Yoenis Cespedes returns after giving the Mets a boost by coming there via trade at the deadline. Curtis Granderson and David Wright should provide a lot of punch in New York’s line-up at the plate. I expect this team to make it a second straight division title.

Nationals2Washington Nationals 85-77

A team that many thought would win the World Series last year (myself included) didn’t even make the playoffs and as a result their manager Matt Williams was fired and two teammates got into a fight in the dugout in September. That’s not championship material at all and I don’t expect much different from this Washington team this season. Sure,they have Bryce Harper who is one of the best players in the league and they have a decent pitching rotation with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg,but they lack a lot of chemistry and that’s something that Dusty Baker will have to improve on as their new manager. That,to me,is a tall order for this team. If they can put aside any bad feelings from last season and move forward,this team will go places,but that’s something that needs to be seen. Also,get rid of Jonathan Papelbon,he’s a fucking cancer to that clubhouse.

MarlinsMiami Marlins 80-82

The Marlins have a young roster with Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez as the core foundation players for this team to build on. It seems like every year Miami seems to improve,but they get next no nowhere with the changes they’ve made. The team’s biggest acquisition may very well be Barry Bonds as the team’s new hitting coach on new manager Don Mattingly’s staff. A winning record is absolutely within reason,but it’s going to take a lot of improvement on everyone’s end to make it happen as well as a healthy Stanton.

PhilliesPhiladelphia Phillies 66-96

The Phillies have been in the cellar for quite a few seasons. Gone are the perennial playoff teams and in place is a young team finding their way. They’ll continue to do that even with aging veterans Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz on the roster. Phillies fans will be seeing prospects like J.P. Crawford throughout the season, but overall,it’s going to be another rebuilding year. However, it looks like their future will be a lot brighter if they keep their current prospects.

BravesAtlanta Braves 62-100

The last season at Turner Field will probably not be their best one. The Braves have finished with a losing record the last two seasons. They did,however,acquire two top prospects from Arizona in exchange for Shelby Miller. Those guys are shortstop Dansby Swanson and pitcher Aaron Blair. Honestly it can be a good thing for Atlanta to finish near the bottom this year as their top pick next year is top 10 protected. If they finish any better than that,they lose the pick. This is a team who might try to attract free agents once they move into SunTrust Park next season. This year is kind of a wash for the Braves.

Central

CubsChicago Cubs 99-63

The Cubs had a surprisingly stellar season in 2015,winning 97 games and getting to the NLCS and giving long suffering fans hope that a championship is coming to a team who hasn’t won one in 108 years. They went out and made their robust roster even better by signing Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist as well as pitcher John Lackey who joins Cy Young award winner Jake Arrieta in the rotation. The Cubs,led by their manager Joe Maddon, are Vegas’ odds-on favorites to win it all and end their long championship drought. It won’t be easy and they aren’t being crowned just yet, but they’re definitely in the mix.

Cardinals2St. Louis Cardinals 91-71

The Cardinals won 100 games last season and had the best record in baseball,but sadly lost in the NLDS to the Cubs. They did end the season with a lot of guys banged up and they’ll start the season the same way with Jhonny Peralta out until the All-Star break with a torn thumb ligament,same case with Yadier Molina. They did sign Mike Leake in the offseason to help improve the pitching rotation,but their offense will look thin due to the injuries and the loss of guys like Jason Heyward in free agency. I do expect the Cardinals to still be competitive as always because the system they have in place is and has been an excellent one. They’re always playing to win and I expect nothing less from them.

PiratesPittsburgh Pirates 89-73

The Pirates have been one of baseball’s best and most consistent winning teams the last few seasons and boast one of the best line-ups with Andrew McCutchen,Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco. They also have a great ace in Garret Cole anchoring the top of the rotation. They’re also very savvy at finding talent where no one else has and that has been key for them to keep their continued winning ways going. What may hurt them is losing Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker to free agency, those two guys averaged a combined 43 home runs last season,so production is going to have to come from somewhere else. The best thing for Pittsburgh would be to win the whole division and avoid a play-in game against an ace pitcher in a playoff game,but this division is tough enough already,but I do expect the Pirates to be in the mix regardless.

brewersMilwaukee Brewers 72-90

The Brewers haven’t been the same since July 2014 when they were leading the NL Central and looking like a team headed for a deep run in the playoffs. The list is long of players who were there and no longer are. The guys who are still there are looking to get back to being successful. They do have Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy,as well as former Astro Chris Carter,but they also have other players just waiting to break out and help this team get back to prominence. I don’t see them doing so this season because of how stacked the division is and the amount of times Milwaukee has to play teams like the Cubs,Pirates,and Cardinals. That’s a lot to overcome.

RedsCincinnati Reds 67-95

It’s really difficult to see a lot of positives from a team that traded away a guy like Todd Frazier in the offseason and lost 98 games in 2015. They still do have Joey Votto and the ever speedy Billy Hamilton,but most of the roster is up and coming. However, like the Brewers,the Reds have to face the likes of the NL Central and it won’t be easy to win many games unless the talent on this team has a breakout season and surprises everyone who,like me,isn’t expecting much from Cincinnati this year.

West

SFGiantsSan Francisco Giants 93-69

Giants fans,rejoice,it’s an even year! Sure,2015 didn’t go as planned,but they were pretty scrappy for an 84-win team. A lot of key injuries dashed chances at another postseason berth and a possible fourth world championship in the San Francisco era. But there is a lot of hope coming in the form of new Giants like Johnny Cueto,Jeff Samardzija,and Denard Span. Cueto and Samardzija are replacing guys like Ryan Vogelsong,Tim Lincecum and Tim Hudson and Samardzija is primed to have a bounce back season after playing in that bandbox in Chicago. The key for San Francisco is having everyone healthy. If that happens,this division is unquestionably theirs.

DodgersLos Angeles Dodgers 88-74

The last few seasons have seen the Dodgers on top of the division,but this year may be different. Why? Well,for one thing you have a new manager in Dave Roberts, a smart baseball guy but unproven as a manager. Also,Zack Greinke and his 1.66 ERA in 2015 left for more cash in Arizona,leaving Clayton Kershaw on the top of a rotation with a lot of question marks. Yes,they re-signed Brett Anderson and Scott Kazmir in the offseason,but you’ve got Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, Frankie Montas and Hyun-jin Ryu who may be out for much of the season. The offense is going to continue to produce with guys like Adrian Gonzalez,Joc Pederson,Yasmani Grandal and Justin Turner. All that aside,with an unhealthy rotation and a habit of breaking once October rolls around,I don’t expect the Dodgers to be as good as they were a year ago.

DBacksArizona Diamondbacks 85-77

The Diamondbacks shocked a lot of people in the offseason by coming out victorious in the Zack Greinke sweepstakes,signing him to a six-year $206 million contract. Greinke isn’t the only arm that was added,Shelby Miller came over via trade from Atlanta. Along with Patrick Corbin those three pitchers should be a top-tier rotation. Tyler Clippard was also signed to be the team’s closer. Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock will continue to be productive,but I think they will miss Ender Incarte,who went to Atlanta in the Miller trade, he was excellent at the plate and a great defender. Replacing him will be Yasmany Tomas who didn’t exactly wow everyone when he came to Arizona last season. Add to that the rest of the lackluster line-up and the quality of middle relievers and I don’t think the D-Backs are quite back in the playoff mix,at least not yet.

Padres2San Diego Padres 75-87

Last season the Padres were looking like they could be playoff contenders for the first time in a long time,but those dreams were only that as the team only won 74 games. This year may not be much different,but they do have a healthy Wil Myers coming back and an everyday shortstop in Alexei Ramirez. Matt Kemp also looks to have a better season after a slow start to last season. The rotation does have James Shields and Tyson Ross,but the back end is questionable at best. But hey,at least they brought back the old brown and yellow uniforms and are hosting the All-Star Game this season,so they’ve got that going for them.

RockiesColorado Rockies 71-91

The Rockies didn’t make any impact moves in the offseason and aren’t a threat to win the NL West by any means. They do,however,still somehow have Carlos Gonzalez who remains the best thing about this bad situation. Nolen Arenado is also a great player,the third baseman has won three Gold Glove awards. Sure there are great prospects in Colorado’s system,but no real savior of the franchise coming anytime soon. It’s going to be a long season there with a lot of home runs leaving Coors Field but not as many wins.

Wild Card
American League
Minnesota over Cleveland
National League
Pittsburgh over St. Louis
ALDS
Houston over Minnesota
Toronto over Kansas City

NLDS
Chicago over Pittsburgh
San Francisco over New York
ALCS
Toronto over Houston

NLCS
San Francisco over Chicago

World Series

WorldSeries16

San Francisco over Toronto

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