Another baseball season is upon us and again I will try to navigate the mine field of the MLB and present my predictions. The parity which has set into major league baseball in recent years has made this an even more difficult challenge, but it is still as fun as ever. Here are my predictions with a comment, of sorts, for each team and then some other thoughts about 2016.
*= first wild card **= second wild card
1. Boston - Boston Baseball Begins Betts-Bogaerts Era
2. Toronto- Price Exchange Rate Unfavorable to Canada
3. New York- We Used to be Winning, We Don't Win Anymore
4. Tampa Bay- It's Okay to Have Dreams as Long as You Do Not Believe in Them Too Much
5. Baltimore- Duke has Recreated '77 Red Sox
1. Cleveland- Total of Tito's Tribe Titles Ties Lou Brown
2. **Kansas City- Window is Still Open in KC
3. Minnesota- St. Paul's Kids are on Target- for 2017
4. Detroit- Even with Another Upton for Verlander
5. Chicago- Hey Kid, Get Off My Lawn
1. Houston- Astros Used to Have Cable, Now They Have Direct TV
2. *Texas- Second Best Team in Texas Gets Last Laugh
3. Seattle- Seattle Settles for Third- They're Settlers....It's What They Do
4. Los Angeles- Big Ol' Fish
5. Oakland- Get 'em Outta Here, Get 'em Outta Here
AL Wild Card Game: Texas over Kansas City behind Yu Darvish
ALDS: Texas over Houston 3 games to 2.
Cleveland over Boston 3-2
ALCS Texas in Six Games
ALCS MVP Rougned Odor
AL MVP Mookie Betts
Cy Young: David Price ( by a hair of fellow lefties, Cole Hamels and Chris Sale)
Rookie of Year: Nomar Mazara, Texas
Manager of Year: Terry Francona
AL HR Champ: Miguel Sano
Comeback Player of Year: Hanley Ramirez
1. Washington- GOP Senators Refuse to Consider Nats Nomination as Champs
2. **Miami- Second Place Finish Gives Fish Big Heads
3. New York- It's Not How Fast You Throw, It's How Well You Throw Fast
4. Atlanta- At Least They're Better Than the Phillies
5. Philadelphia- At Least They're Better Than the Sixers
1. Pittsburgh- Buccos Finally Clear Wild Card Hurdle
2. * Chicago- Theo's Hall of Fame Induction Waits Another Year
3. St. Louis- Cards Domination of NL Central is as Eternal as American Idol
4. Milwaukee- So You're Saying There's a Chance
5. Cincinnati- Little Red Wagon
1. San Francisco- Odds On Favorite in Even Years
2. Los Angeles- Dave Roberts Steals Second
3. Arizona- Snake Bit D-Backs Miss Playoffs in Last Week of Season
4. Colorado- Features a Truly Rockie Pitching Staff
5. San Diego- Bless Us Father for We Have Sinned
NL Wild Card Game- Cubs over Marlins- despite HR's by Ichiro and pinch hitter Barry Bonds.
NLDS: Pirates over Cubs 3-2
Giants over Nats 3-2
NLCS Giants in seven games...."the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant"
Buster Posey wins NLCS MVP
NL MVP Bryce Harper
Cy Young Stephen Strasburg
Manager Don Mattingly
Rookie Corey Seager, LA
HR Bryce Harper
Comeback Jose Fernandez
In a rematch of 2010, and the first of three recent World Championships for San Francisco, the Giants meet the Texas Rangers. This time rather than a 4-1 Series win by the NL squad, it goes the full seven games. However, the Giants continue their 2010's streak of winning every other year. The state of Texas, despite both the Rangers and Astros pounding on the door, still has not won a World Series. In 2010 the MVP was Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria, this time it is Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. But another key cog for the fourth time for San Fran is third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who had returned to the Bay from Boston in a trade after Giants third baseman Matt Duffy had been injured.
Other Random Predictions
The All Star Game, played in San Diego, is won by the AL paced by Carlos Correa's three run double. But the highlight of the game is the pinch hit home run in his last All Star at bat by David Ortiz off Mark Melancon.
With a weak free agent class upcoming (Stephen Strasburg, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnarcion, Matt Wieters, Adrian Beltre, Jay Bruce, and maybe Yoenis Cespedes are about it for name players) there are few if any rental trades at the deadline (August 1, this year).
First manager fired in NL in Walt Weiss in Colorado.
Both Jon Lester and newcomer John Lackey will have disappointing campaigns in Chicago.
Johnny Cueto will win twenty games for his new team the Giants. He will be joined as twenty game winners in the NL by Stephen Strasburg and Clayton Kershaw.
The AL, after having only five twenty game winners from 2011-2015 total, will have five this year: David Price, Cole Hamels, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, and Corey Kluber. The last time the AL had five in one season was in 1980. One of those five pitchers was Tommy John, hopefully not an omen.
Peter Angelos, Orioles owner, fires Dan Duquette and replaces him as VP-GM with manager Buck Showalter. Showalter is replaced with Cal Ripken, Jr.
The Yankees get an infusion of youth by strong seasons from Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks. But neither Alex Rodriguez nor Mark Teixeira are able to duplicate their surprising 2015's and injuries to Jacob Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran further diminish their offense.
After the season the Steinbrenner family announces the Yankees are up for sale with a price tag of three billion dollars.
With 40% of the NL outright rebuilding(tanking) or should be( Phillies, Braves, Brewers, Reds, Padres, Rockies) all of the other nine teams, three in each division battle down to the last two weeks of the season in contention.
Explaining my AL East Prediction
I did not go into spring training or this exercise with the intent of picking Boston to win the AL East. As a matter of fact for at least three reasons I had no intention of doing so. First as Cousin Jason alluded to in his picks for superstition reasons I was going to pick some one else and put Boston third. They seem to finish last lately when I pick them. Hell, the seem to finish last lately period. Secondly, although a number of national reporters are picking Boston, I did not want to make what seemed like a homer pick. And thirdly, and most importantly, after two last place finishes I wanted the damned team to prove something to me before I picked them to win again.
So I set out to find that team or two that could finish ahead of the Sox. I could not find one I was comfortable picking. Now that being said the division is going to be balanced, and I gave thought to picking all of the other teams for first ( except the Orioles, they have an explosive offense but no pitching at all ....OK maybe closer Zach Britton). Let me explain what I found wrong about the other three.
Toronto: Especially since spring training came and went they seem to be the consensus pick. I get the powerful offense, but Troy Tulowitzki makes Jacoby Ellsbury look like Cal Ripken, Jr, and both of Bautista and Encarnarcion are entering free agent campaigns and some players do not handle that well. I like Marcus Stromann, but for all the carping about the Sox rotation, what would Sox nation be saying if our rotation was Stromann, RA Dickey, JA Happ, Marco Estrada, and Aaron Sanchez. Yeah, I thought so. Add in a 21 year old closer, and I just do not see the powerhouse others are seeing.
New York: IF Tanaka's right elbow stays glued together, IF Pineda and Eovaldi take a step or two forward, IF Luis Severino comes through as a rookie, and IF CC has any fumes left in the tank, their rotation could be good enough to get to their vaunted bullpen. Their offense even after adding Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks (no sure things themselves) is still depending on aged stars not a pair of 23 year old aces like Boston's. If you put a gun to my head and told me to pick an AL East team other than Boston I would pick this one.
Tampa Bay. Or maybe this one. On paper they have a good young rotation headed by Chris Archer, but other than Archer the others (Moore, Odirizzi, Smyly, Ramirez ) still have to prove themselves. Getting Alex Cobb back from TJ surgery in July or August will help. They have brought in guys like Corey Dickerson to try to help their offense, but unless Dickerson turns out to be AL MVP it is unlikely they have enough.
So that left me back at picking Boston for first. Do they have questions? Damned right they do, all over the field except for ace starting pitcher (Price), closer (Kimbrel) and a pair of 23 year old budding superstars (Betts and Bogaerts). These are very major answers to help offset any other questions. As far as the pitching staff, in a recent article by Fangraphs, they ranked all 30 MLB staffs and had the Sox tenth just a shade behind New York, and the Yankee staff was called a lottery ticket in the opening line of their write up. The only other AL staffs ranked ahead of Boston were Cleveland and Chicago (fifth and sixth in MLB).
So that is how I ended up with Boston as my AL East pick, and dammit I will stick with it. I will finish up with a few random Red Sox thoughts for 2016
*The most unexpectedly strong performances by an offensive player and a pitcher are:
Jackie Bradley Jr. and Joe Kelly
The most disappointing seasons from a offensive player and pitcher are:
Dustin Pedroia and Koji Uehara
As a matter of fact by June, JBJ will be hitting second between Betts and Bogaerts and Pedroia will be hitting in the lower third of the lineup. JBJ finishes the year with a slash line of 14/77/.290/.340 while scoring over 80 runs. Koji's struggles will be offset by an outstanding season in the bullpen by Matt Barnes and Carson Smith's return by May 1.
* In 1987 Darrell Evans of the Tigers became the only 40 year old in MLB history to hit 30 home runs. Only six have hit 25 or more. David Ortiz will challenge 30, but end with ten fewer than 2015 and hit 27. He will retire with a total of 530.
* In late May after the left field platoon shows not to be working the Red Sox will trade inconsequential prospects to the Reds for Jay Bruce. At the trade deadline the will trade Roenis Elias and Ty Buttrey and another lower level prospect.to Colorado for lefty power reliever Jake McGee.
* The Red Sox will not trade for another starting pitcher due to performance of the existing rotation plus Henry Owens and Brian Johnson.
* Sam Travis plays at least 30 games at first base for Boston and hits .325 with a half a dozen home runs.
*Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benentendi are recalled to Portland in May and lead the Seas Dogs, along with August call ups Rafael Devers and Trey Ball to the Eastern League crown.
* I saved this prediction for last, although Barry stole my thunder in his predictions. The Red Sox get off to a so-so start due to a difficult April schedule which includes other divisional predicted winners of Cleveland and Houston along with seven games with the Jays. Despite being around .500 on April 30, Dave Dombrowski fires manager John Farrell replacing him with last year's interim skipper, Torey Lovullo. As in the end of 2015 the young Sox respond to Lovullo and race on to the AL East crown.
There you have my predictions for another upcoming season. Hope you enjoy them and be sure to check out the predictions of all the Maineiacs here on the site.