2016 MLB Predictions

With Spring Training in bloom it’s time to look at both team and player projections for the upcoming MLB season and what a season it should be!

American League Predictions: 

AL EAST Preview:

The Blue Jays will look to defend their division title (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

The Blue Jays will look to defend their division title (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

@Yankees Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

The Yankees will look to make their second straight October Trip @Yankees Twitter/Facebook/Instagram

Projected AL East Standings: Blue Jays 93-69, Yankees 90-72, Red Sox 85-77, Rays 80-82, Orioles 77-85

AL East Offense Power Ranks: 1.Blue Jays, 2.Red Sox 3.Yankees, 4.Orioles, 5.Rays

AL East Starting Pitching Power Ranks: 1.Rays, 2.Yankees, 3.Red Sox, 4.Blue Jays, 5.Orioles

AL East Bullpen Power Ranks: 1.Yankees, 2.Red Sox, 3.Orioles, 4.Rays, 5.Blue Jays

 

 The American League East is a very strong division. Four out of the five teams in the division finished in the top 10 in the majors a year ago in runs scored with Baltimore (9th), Boston (4th), New York (2nd) and Toronto 1st). This upcoming season even the Rays have an improved offense with the additions of Corey Dickerson, and Brad Miller so their will be a lot of thump in each team’s lineup. Yet the Rays lineup doesn’t compare to those of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays. New York is loaded with mostly veteran Power, Boston has a ton of young studs, and Toronto has a lineup where everyone can knock the ball out of the park. The Orioles lineup isn’t too shabby either with bats like Adam Jones, Chirs Davis, and Manny Machado but the team has some holes in the corner outfield that may hurt the offense success. As for starting pitching their isn’t much to like in the AL East. The Rays probably have the best rotation loaded with young talent with pitchers like Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, and a returning Alex Cobb. After that the other four teams have question marks in their rotation. The Yankees have five solid starters yet all but one have injury concerns, and that other one Luis Severino is entering his first full big league season. The Red Sox went out and got an ace in David Price. After Price however  the Red Sox don’t have any other starter that will fear opposing offenses. As for Toronto, and Baltimore neither team has a legitimate ace and will hope that their rotations full of 3-5 starters will be enough to hold ship. As for the battle of the bullpens all five teams have very good bullpens. Yet it’s the Yankees bullpen that is simply ridiculous. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman as a back three will really shorten games. Yet other bullpens in the division are very talented as well. Boston has a back three of hard throwing Carson Smith, Koji Uehara, and Craig Kimbrel, the Orioles have two 2015 All Stars in Darren O’Day, and Zach Britton, Tampa Bay as an all star closer in Brad Boxberger, and the Jays have a very hard throwing talented young closer in Roberto Ozuna so all the AL East teams have strong bullpens. All in all I believe that two AL East teams will make it to October the same two as a season ago. The Yankees as a wild card, and Blue Jays as division champs.The Yanks have too strong of  a bullpen, and a very good offense which should get them to October. The Blue Jays have a stacked offense with a pretty solid bullpen and a rotation that seems to be just good enough. Though all five teams should have a chance to win the division and make the playoffs the Yankees, and Blue Jays seem to be the strongest two teams and two teams to beat in the division.

AL East MVP 3B Manny Machado Orioles

Look for a big year out of Mannny Machado (Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)

Look for a big year out of Manny Machado (Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports)

AL East CY Young: Nathan Eovaldi SP Yankees

Nathan Eovaldi was on the rise until his season was cut short by injury look for a full year of success for "Nasty Nate" (April 9, 2015 - Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)

Nathan Eovaldi was on the rise until his season was cut short by injury look for a full year of success for “Nasty Nate”
(April 9, 2015 – Source: Elsa/Getty Images North America)

All AL East Team: C Brian Mccann Yankees, 1B Chri Davis Baltimore Orioles, 2B Starlin Castro Yankees, 3B Josh Donaldson Blue Jays, SS Xander Bogaerts Red Sox, LF Brett Gardner Yankees, CF Adam Jones Orioles, RF Jose Bautista Blue Jays, DH Edwin Encarnacion Blue Jays, SP David Price Red Sox, CL Aroldis Chapman Yankees

 

AL Central Preview:

The Royals will look to defend their AL Central Title before going back after the World Series Crown https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Kansas_City_Royals_season

The Royals will look to defend their AL Central Title before going back after the World Series Crown (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Kansas_City_Royals_season)

The Indians are poised to play October baseball in 2016. (AP)

The Indians are poised to play October baseball in 2016. (AP)

 

Projected AL Central Standings: Royals 94-68,Indians 87-75, Tigers 86-76, Twins 83-79, White Sox 79-83

AL Central Offense Power Ranks: 1.Royals, 2.Tigers, 3.Twins, 4.White Sox, 5.Indians

AL Central Starting Pitching Power Ranks: 1.Indians, 2.Tigers, 3.Royals, 4.White Sox, 5.Twins

AL Central Bullpen Power Ranks: 1.Royals, 2.Tigers, 3.Indians, 4.Twins, 5.White Sox

 What a race the AL Central should be. There really is not any team not to like in this division. Every team has a chance of competing for a playoff berth in both the division race and Wild Card Race.The talent of the AL Central starts with the offenses. Starting with the World Champion Kansas City Royals who just refuse to strikeout the team combined struck out less than 1,000 times last year an incredible stat, the Tigers offense that already has perhaps the best hitter on the planet in Miguel Cabrera and emerging superstar JD Martinez added Justin Upton making for what should be a very dangerous offense in Motown. The Twins have a talented offense stacked with young talent led by youngster and rookie of the year runner up Miguel Sano, the White Sox added All Star two time all star Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie to improve their offense, and then there is the Indians who are the outcast. Besides from Michael Brantley who may not be ready for opening day they truly lack a big bat. Yet the Tribe make up for that with their stacked starting staff. The staff is anchored by ace and 2014 Cy Young Corey Kluber, who is followed by hard throwers Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar along with Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin who when on there games can be dominate as well. The rest of the division have their questions with starting pitching. The TIgers hope with the addition of Jordan Zimmerman they have an improved rotation with Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez also in town, the defending World Champion Royals will be without Johnny Cueto and hope the addition of Ian Kennedy will help fill the void left by Cueto. The White Sox probably have the best pitcher in the division in Chris Sale, and some nices places to go along with Sale like Jose Quintana, and youngster Carlos Rodon. Than there’s the Twins who will be banking off big seasons from free agent signing bust’s Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, and Ricky Nolasco to be forces in their bullpen.As far as the AL Central goes in the bullpens no question the defending champion Royals are the best. They shorten the game like no other team in the sport with Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera, and Wade Davis, the Tigers however have much improved bullpen with the additions of Mark Lowe, Justin Wilson, and K-Rod Francisco Rodriguez to close games out. The Indians have a number of flamethrowers in their pen like closer Cody Allen making for a strong unit. Minnesota also has a great back two in Kevin Jepson and Glenn Perkins a three time all star, lastly there is the White Sox who really don’t have anyone to be afraid of as closer David Robertson was not great in his first year on the South Side as the Sox pen struggled. The AL Central will be a great battle but in the end I see two playoff teams. The Division Champion I see being the Kansas City Royals as they will go pursue their second straight World Series title and third straight AL Pennant. Than as a wild card the Cleveland Indians because of their outstanding pitching. I think both the Tigers and Twins will also stay in contention but fall just short with the White Sox finishing in the cellar.

AL Central MVP: 1B Eric Hosmer Royals

Eric Hosmer seems to improve each year and will look to have a big 2016 (MLBCUT4)

Eric Hosmer seems to improve each year and will look to have a big 2016 (MLBCUT4)

AL Central CY Young: Carlos Carrasco SP Indians

Carlos Carrasco is a very underrated pitcher and will look to prove to the world how elite he is in 2016. (.sportingnews.com)

Carlos Carrasco is a very underrated pitcher and will look to prove to the world how elite he is in 2016. (.sportingnews.com)

All AL Central Team: C Salvador Perez Royals, 1B Miguel Cabrera Tigers, 2B Jason Kipnis Indians, 3B Todd Frazier White Sox, SS Alcides Escobar Royals, LF Justin Upton Tigers, CF Lorenzo Cain Royals, RF JD Martinez Tigers, DH Kendrys Morales Royals, SP Chris Sale White Sox, CL Wade Davis Royals

AL West Preview:

 

The Astros will hope to return to the playoffs as AL West Champs rather than an AL WIld Card (Getty IMG)

The Astros will hope to return to the playoffs as AL West Champs rather than an AL Wild Card (Getty IMG)

Projected AL West Standings: Astros 95-67, Rangers 86-76, A’s 82-80, Angles 79-83, Mariners 75-88 

AL West Offense Power Ranks: 1.Astros, 2.Rangers, 3.Angles, 4.A’s, 5.Mariners

AL West Starting Pitching Power Ranks: 1.Astros, 2.Mariners, 3.A’s, 4.Rangers, 5.Angles

AL West Bullpen Power Ranks: 1.Astros, 2.A’s, 3.Rangers, 4.Angles, 5.Mariners

The AL West came down to the week’s final season a year ago a three team race between the LA Angels (Missed the Playoffs), the team that led the division most of the year but had to settle for a Wild Card spot the Houston Astros, and the division champion Texas Rangers. Looking ahead to 2016 the AL West seems like it may just be a two horse race as the Angels failed to fix major holes on their roster this offseason. The Seattle Mariners made a lot of moves but still don’t quite look like a playoff team. The Oakland Athletics also made great moves and have made it to October three out of the past four years but still have plenty of question marks heading into the 2016 season. That leaves us with the two playoff teams from a year ago the Rangers and Astros who really are the teams to beat out west. Offensively both Houston and Texas have very strong lineups 1-9. The Astros lineup however is filled with young sluggers such as 2015 rookie of the year Carlos Correa, 25 year old three time all star Jose Altuve, sluggers George Springer, and veterans to go along with the youngsters the team has veterans like power hitting Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus, and Carlos Gomez making their lineup so deep. As for Texas their lineup is extremely talented as well. With a veteran core made out of Sin Soo Choo, Mitch Moreland  Adrian Beltre, and Prince Fielder, and than young speedsters Delino Deshields and Rougned Odor. The Rangers offense will be tough to navigate in 2016. As for the other clubs the Angels lineup poses is home to the best player in the sport Mike Trout but besides Trout and maybe a healthy Albert Pujols LA has a pretty weak lineup. Oakland has a few nice bats like all star Stephen Vogt, Center Fielder Billy Burns, and newly acquired Kris Davis yet still lack much pop. Seattle’s offense has great potential with Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Kyle Seager but last year the team still struggled to score runs despite these three great bats. As for starting pitching out West the Astros rotation is by far the one to beat. With Cy Young Dallas Keuchel , Collin Mchugh,  and Mike Fires, and Doug Fister the Astros rotation is very solid. Seattle also has a very good rotation with King Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, and youngsters James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. The A’s rotation is also much improved with the addition of veteran Rich Hill joining ace Sonny Gray, and Jesse Hahn. As for the Rangers they will be heavily relying on Cole Hamels until Yu Darvish comes back as Yovani Gallardo left the club via free agency. The Angels may have their rotation struggles with an ageing Jered Weaver, and CJ Wilson putting a ton of pressure on Garrett Richards, and second year pitcher Andrew Heaney. As for the bullpen again it’s the Astros who have the strongest group with the addition of Ken Giles to go along with Luke Gregerson, Will Harris, and Pat Neshek the Astros pen will be very good. The A’s also built a great bullpen with the additions of Liam Hendricks, Ryan Madson, and John Axford to go along with Closer Sean Doolittle the A’s bullpen should be in for a good year. The Rangers bullpen is coming off a surprisingly strong year led by closer Shawn Tolleson, Keone Kela, and Sam Dyson. The Angels bullpen will be relying heavily on closer Huston Street, and Seattle’s bullpen will be relying solely on new additions Joaquin Benoit,  and Steve  Cishek to be successful. All in all I see the Astros emerging as division champions and the lone playoff team from the AL West. Though I do think both Texas and Oakland can fight for a wild card berth.

AL West MVP: OF Mike Trout Angels

Mike Trout the best player in the sport will look to put together another MVP type season. (CBS Sports

Mike Trout the best player in the sport will look to put together another MVP type season. (CBS Sports

AL West CY Young: Sonny Gray SP A’s

Sonny Gray will look to be in the AL Cy Young Race in 2016. (http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2015/04/06/sonny-gray)

Sonny Gray will look to be in the AL Cy Young Race in 2016. (http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2015/04/06/sonny-gray)

All AL West Team: C Stephen Vogt A’s , 1B Albert Pujols Angels , 2B Jose Altuve Astros, 3B Kyle Seager Mariners, SS Carlos Correa Astros, LF Colby Rasmus Astros, CF Mike Trout Angels, RF George Springer Astros, DH Nelson Cruz Mariners, SP Felix Hernandez Mariners, CL Ken Giles Astros

American League Player/Manager Award Predictions

Mariano Rivera Award: Aroldis Chapman New York Yankees:547973   

 Last year the Mariano Rivera award went to a Yankee in closer Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances also had a great chance to take home this award as well. Now the Yankees will have three candidates that can be considered favorites to take home this award. All three pitchers of the Relief Pitchers with 100 Strike Out now reside in the Bronx with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and now a third dominate number and new Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman will bring his 103 MPH+ fastball to the Bronx along with his nasty offspeed stuff making him the favorite to take home this award that very likely can be given to a Yankee reliever for a second straight season.

AL Comeback Player Of The Year: Justin Verlander Detroit Tigers: 6341.png&w=350&h=254

Already named the Tigers opening day starter Justin Verlander is already a Detroit Tiger great. A six time all star, Cy Young Award, and League MVP award winner. However since 2012 Verlander has not been the same pitcher he once was when he posted ERAs in the mid to low two’s and won 17+ games. In 2014 Verlander had a very high ERA of 4.54, and in 2015 Verlander only made 20 starts. The Tigers in order to be successful need Verlander to return to his ace status.  If he returns to the ace he once was he is a shoe in for AL Comeback player of the year.

AL Rookie Of The Year: Blake Snell Tampa Bay Rays:

Blake Snell is the Rays top prospect and may not start the year in Tampa Bay due to the fact he is on a club with a pitching staff that is very talented, However it is also injury prone which may lead to Blake Snell getting a shot in the Big’s if he gets there he may never leave. Snell excelled in 2015 in High A, Double A, and Triple A  pitching to an ERA below 2 at each stop. Snell would be a great rotation piece for the Rays if anything were to happen to any of their other starters whether it’s injury or struggles.

 

 

Bob Melvin Oakland Athletics:  Wikipedia

   Bob Melvin’s Oakland Athletics missed the postseason for the first time since 2011 in 2015 finishing with the worst record in the AL. GM Billy Beane however decided to give his skipper a retooled roster rather than a rebuild with a roster full of prospects. Bob Melvin is the perfect guy to mesh this new and improved looked A’s team together Melvin won the 2012 AL Manager of the year award and if he can prove all the A’s doubters wrong and lead the team to a solid season he should get this award.

AL Cy Young: Sonny Gray Oakland Athletics:

2015 All Star Sonny Gray has been dominate in his first three big league seasons in 2015 he put together an almost CY Young worthy season pitching to an ERA of 2.73 and finishing with a record of 14-7 on a team that lost 94 games meaning the A’s seemed to always win with Gray on the mound. Gray has nasty stuff and pitches in a very pitcher friendly ballpark which should continue to help him as 2016 could be the year he emerges as a CY Young.

AL MVP: Manny Machado Baltimore Orioles:

Just 23 years old Manny Machado is a two time all star, and two time gold glover. He plays way above average and isn’t to bad with the bat either. Machado has a career average of .281. Last season he had a career year batting .286 with 35 homers, and 86 RBI’s Machado is a superstar and an MVP is in his future and this could be the year he gets it.

 

American League  Playoff Predictions

AL Wild Card Game

Indians @ Yankees 

Winner: Yankees

The Indians dominated the Yankees in seven match-ups in 2015 taking 5/7 from the Yanks. They will probably send out the stronger starting pitcher in a one game playoff than the Yanks as they could throw out Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, or Danny Salazar. However New York just needs to build a small lead and then their three headed bullpen monster of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman can take over. If they do that they will win this one game playoff.

ALDS

Yankees VS Astros

Winner: Astros in 5

A rematch of last year’s AL Wild Card Game this time a best of five which should benefit the Yanks as they won’t only have to face the dominate Dallas Keuchel who in three starts including the AL Wild Card Game shut out the Yanks in 22 innings pitched against them. He would definitely get the ball in game one probably giving Houston a one game lead. The rest of the series however should be very even but with Keuchel  lined up for game five he may just defeat the Yanks on his own. Houston in five.

ALDS

Blue Jays VS Royals 

Winner:Royals in 3

 A rematch of a six game ALCS where the Kansas City Royals emerged victorious to claim their second straight AL Pennant. What separates these two teams is that one offense is prone to striking out despite all their power and one just does not strike out. The Royals don’t strike out and have a lockdown bullpen, and rotation that proved they could handle the mighty Blue Jays a year ago this series could be super one sided. Royals in a clean sweep.

 

ALCS 

Royals VS Astros

Winner: Royals In 7

What an ALDS the Astros and Royals gave us in 2015. The Astros up four runs in the 8th inning where just six outs from ending the Royals world series hopes in game 4 with a 2-1 series lead. Yet the Royals proved they had the heart of a champion fighting back to beat the Astros in game four and then cruised to a game 5 victory. This season both teams are strong and have playoff experience yet Kanas City has been in this situation way more than Houston and still have a loaded roster making them the favorite and my AL Champion.

Look For the Royals to possibly win their third straight AL Title (Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports)

Look For the Royals to possibly win their third straight AL Title (Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports)

 

National League Predictions: 

NL East Preview:

The Nats hope to win their first NL East Title since 2014 to make it three NL titles in six years. (http://www.thepitch.pub/latest-generation-ball-players-umps-seem-like-snots/)

The Nats hope to win their first NL East Title since 2014 to make it three NL titles in six years. (http://www.thepitch.pub/latest-generation-ball-players-umps-seem-like-snots/)

Projected NL East Standings: Nationals 90-72. Mets 88-74. Marlins 83-79. Braves 64-98. Phillies 63-99

NL East Offense Power Ranks: 1.Marlins, 2.Nationals, 3.Mets, 4.Braves, 5.Phillies

NL East Starting Pitching Power Ranks: 1.Mets. 2.Nationals. 3.Marlins, 4.Braves, 5.Phillies

NL East Bullpen Power Ranks: 1.Marlins. 2.Nationals. 3.Mets. 4.Phillies. 5.Braves

The NL East may as well be renamed the NL least. This Is by far the weakest division in baseball as the division is wide open due to the fact there are two rebuilding clubs residing in it the Braves and Phillies. That makes things a three team race between the Marlins, Nationals, and last year division champion and National League champion Mets. Heading into 2016 the division is wide open as every team lacks offense and a strong bullpen it’s the starting pitching that will take center stage. The offense that is probably the strongest in the East is the Miami offense. With NL batting champ Dee Gordon, Giancarlo Stanton set to return, and talented young bats like Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna the Marlins offense is probably the deepest in the east. the Nationals probably have the second deepest with a bunch of players returning from injury and NL MVP Bryce Harper in their lineup. The Mets offense will certainly get a jolt with a returning Yoines Cespedes, and the addition of Second Basemen Neil Walker however their is still a lot of question marks for that offense. Than there’s the Braves and Phillies both rebuilding. The Braves however do have some nice bats like Ender Incarnate, and Freddie Freeman but as a whole will struggle in 2016, same goes for Philly with Maikel Franco but still not enough pop to compete . The starting pitching is where this division has power. The Mets have four young studs in Jacob DEgrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz making for maybe the best rotation in baseball. The Nationals have one of the best pitchers in the sport in Max Scherzer and talented starters Gio Gonzalez, and Stephen Strasburg to go along with him, Miami added Wei Yi Chen to join Jose Frendenzeez in their pitching staff, and then again you have Atlanta and Philly who don’t have much at all to offer. As for the bullpens again serious weakness the Marlins pen has Carter Capps, and AJ Ramos in the back probably making for the best 8-9 punch in the east. Washington signed an abundance of relievers to join lockdown closer Jonathan Papelbon. The Mets have a great closer in Jeurys Familia both their mid relief game is weak and then again there’s the Braves and Phillies with nothing to really offer. In a weak division filled with holes I see the Nationals taking home the crown thanks to a strong offense and just good enough pitching staff, and bullpen. However the Mets should compete to the final weak and the Marlins should also be in the race with the Phillies and Braves trying to avoid 100 loss seasons.

NL East MVP OF Bryce Harper Nationals:

Bryce Harper last year's MVP will look for another big season. (http://www.thepitch.pub/latest-generation-ball-players-umps-seem-like-snots/)

Bryce Harper last year’s MVP will look for another big season. (http://www.thepitch.pub/latest-generation-ball-players-umps-seem-like-snots/)

 

NL East CY Young Max Scherzer SP Nationals:

Max Scherzer will look to build upon a great first year in DC. (http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb-news/4642648-max-scherzer-injury-update-nationals-tuesday-start)

Max Scherzer will look to build upon a great first year in DC. (http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb-news/4642648-max-scherzer-injury-update-nationals-tuesday-start)

All NL East Team: C Travis D’Arnaud Mets.1B Freddie Freeman Braves, 2B Dee Gordon Marlins, 3B David Wright Mets, SS Adeiny Hechavarria Marlins, LF Christian Yelich Marlins, CF Yoines Cespedes Mets, RF Bryce Harper Nationals, SP Max Scherzer Nationals, CL Jeurys Familia Mets

 

NL Central Preview

 

The Cubs will look upon their 2015 NLCS Trip by winning their first NL Central Title since 2016. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Cubs will look upon their 2015 NLCS Trip by winning their first NL Central Title since 2008. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Cardinals goal will be to reach the postseason for the fifth straight season. (redbirdrants.com850 × 557Search by image)

The Cardinals goal will be to reach the postseason for the sixth straight season. (redbirdrants.com850 × 557Search by image)

The Pirates will try to make it four straight Buctobers (Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Pirates will try to make it four straight Buctobers (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Projected NL Central Standings: Cubs 101-61, Cardinals 97-65, Pirates 95-67, Brewers 67-95, Reds 64-98

NL Central Power Offense Ranks: 1.Cubs, 2.Pirates, 3.Cardinals, 4.Reds, 5.Brewers

NL Central Starting Pitching Power Ranks: 1.Cardinals, 2.Pirates, 3.Cubs, 4.Brewers, 5.Reds

NL Central Bullpen Power Ranks: 1.Pirates, 2.Cardinals, 3.Cubs, 4.Reds, 5.Brewers

What a three team fight the NL Central will be. The Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals finished with the three best records in baseball a season ago all three making it to October with the Cubs knocked out both the Pirates, and Cardinals before falling to the Mets in the NLCS. This year the race has potential to be even better. The offense is the NL Central is loaded with talent. The Cubs added Jayson Heyward, and Ben Zobrist to a lineup that already has Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber simply unfair is what the Cubs lineup will be in 2016. As for Pittsburgh the team has what may be the best outfield in the sport in Gregory Polanco, Starling Marte, and of course superstar Andrew Mccutchen. It doesn’t stop there for the Buccos however they also have bats like Jo Ho Kang, and  Josh Harrison making their lineup very feared. The Cardinals lineup always finds a way to score just enough with bats like Matt Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta, Mike Adams, and Matt Holliday leading the charge. Than there’s the Brewers and Reds both in total rebuilds though the Reds do have some big bats in Joey Votto and Jay Bruce they are still not an offense worth any credit of being close to elite. As for starting pitching the Cardinals rotation will be dominant the team finished with a starting ERA of .299 and with ace Adam Wainwright returning from injurythe team has the potential to be even stronger. The Pirates and Cubs also have great rotations. In Pittsburgh with Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, and newly acquired Jon Niese, and on the Northside of Chicago with NL Cy Young Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and talented  veteran John Lackey. Following up with the Brewers, and Reds both teams in rebuild lacking any sort of ace or even any intimidating pitcher. Moving onto the bullpens the Pirates and Cardinals have dominate pens. The Pirates backend of Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon is probably the best in the National League. The Cardinals bullpen isn’t too shabby either with lockdown closer Trevor Rosenthal, Kevin Siegrist, and Jordan Walden the Cards pen will be very strong. As for the Cubs the Cubs also have some bullpen talent in long man Adam Warren and late inning guys Pedro Strop, and closer Hector Rondon but the mid relief could be an area for concern for the Cubbies. The Reds and Brewers lack any type of relief talent as the Reds traded away flamethrower Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees this offseason. I see all three NL Central playoff teams from a year ago returning to October with the Cubs taking home the division title and Pirates traveling to St. Louis for the NL Wild Card Game, while the Reds and Brewers battle it out for fourth place.

NL Central MVP 3B Kris Bryant Cubs:

Kris Bryant will look to continue upon his amazing 2015 NL Rookie Of The Year Season. (MLB.COM)

Kris Bryant will look to continue upon his amazing 2015 NL Rookie Of The Year Season. (MLB.COM)

NL Central Cy Young Jon Lester SP Cubs:

Jon Lester will look to emerge as an NL Cy Young worthy pitcher in 2016. (https://espngrantland.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/jon-lester-cubs_tri.jpg)

Jon Lester will look to emerge as an NL Cy Young worthy pitcher in 2016. (https://espngrantland.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/jon-lester-cubs_tri.jpg)

All NL Central Team: C Yadier Molina Cardinals, 1B Anthony Rizzo Cubs, 2B Ben Zobrist Cubs, 3B Kris Bryant Cubs, SS Jhonny Peralta Cardinals, LF Starling Marte Pirates, CF Andrew Mccutchen Pirates, RF Ryan Braun Brewers, SP Jake Arrieta Cubs, CL Mark Melancon Pirates

NL West Preview

The Diamondbacks are poised to win their first (NL West Title in 2011. http://www.azsnakepit.com/2012/9/25/3405696/series-preview-50-arizona-diamondbacks-vs-san-francisco-giants)

The Diamondbacks are poised to win their first (NL West Title in 2011. http://www.azsnakepit.com/2012/9/25/3405696/series-preview-50-arizona-diamondbacks-vs-san-francisco-giants)

Projected NL West Standings:Diamondbacks 93-69, Giants 89-73, Dodgers 85-77, Rockies 77-85, Padres 70-92

NL West Offense Power Ranks: 1.Diamondbacks, 2.Rockies, 3.Giants, 4.Dodgers, 5.Padres

NL West Starting Pitching Power Ranks: 1.Diamondbacks, 2.Giants, 3.Padres, 4.Dodgers, 5.Rockies

NL West Bullpen Power Ranks: 1.Giants, 2.Diamondbacks, 3.Dodgers, 4.Padres, 5.Rockies

The NL West is going to be a fun division to watch in 2016. The Giants retooled, Diamondbacks added a ton of talent, Rockies improved, and than you still have the three time defending division champion Dodgers.Starting with looking at offense it’s the Diamondbacks with the strongest offense. The team finished 8th in runs scored a season ago led by superstars Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollack and a ton of other young bats. The Rockies offense always is dangerous with their very friendly home ballpark and big bats like Nolan Arenado, DJ LemAhieu, and Carlos Gonzalez. The Giants and Dodgers offenses will look to score enough runs as both teams have questions along with talent in there offense. The Giants talent includes Hunter Pence, newly inked Denard Span, Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, and of course Catcher Buster Posey. and for the Dodgers young stud Corey Seager, and veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Turner. San Diego on the other hand really lacks power and in order to have a competitive offense need big seasons from Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp. Starting pitching is a very strong suit of the NL West starting in Arizona with Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, and Patrick Corbin ready to anchor the Arizona rotation, then there’s the Giants who gave ace Madison Bumgarner some follow up acts with Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija. Than there’s the Padres with hard throwing Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and big game Shields. The Dodgers have the best pitcher on the planet in Clayton Kershaw and added Scott Kazmir and Japanese ace Kenta Maeda to try to replace Zack Greinke. Than there’s Colorado who just never seem to find anyone able to pitch in Coors Field. Bullpens however are not the NL West’s strong suit the only team with a lockdown closer is the Dodgers with Kenley Jansen though the Giants and Diamondbacks have solid back ends. The Padres no longer have Shawn Kelly, Joaquin Benoit, or Craig Kimbrel, and the Rockies have to pitch in Coors Field making it hard for those two pens to be very good. In the end I believe the NL West will be a three team affair between Arizona, San Francisco, and LA. In the end I have the Diamondbacks due to their great lineup, and now strong starting pitching to take home the division title, with the Giants and Dodgers missing out on October.  

NL West MVP 1B Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks:

Paul Goldschmidt will look to put together yet another outstanding season. (MLB.COM)

Paul Goldschmidt will look to put together yet another outstanding season. (MLB.COM)

 

NL West CY Young Clayton Kershaw Dodgers:

Clayton Kershaw will be chasing his fourth CY Young Award in 2016. (AP)

Clayton Kershaw will be chasing his fourth CY Young Award in 2016. (AP)

All NL West Team:C Buster Posey Giants, 1B Paul Goldschmidt D-Backs, 2B DJ LeMahieu Rockies, 3B Nolan Arenado Rockies, SS Brandon Crawford Giants, LF David Peralta Diamondbacks, CF AJ Pollock Diamondbacks, RF Carlos Gonzalez Rockies,SP Clayton Kershaw Dodgers, CL Kenley Jansen Dodgers

National League Player/Manager Awards

Trevor Hoffman Award: Kenley Jansen Los Angeles Dodgers:

Kenley Jansen one of the best closers in the game almost lost his job when a trade for Aroldis Chapman seemed to be complete but  fell through in the end keeping Jansen’s closer Job.. In a free agent year Jansen is going to be poised for a big season which could put him in a position to win the Trevor Hoffman award.

NL Comeback Player Of The Year: Jayson Werth Washington Nationals:

Jayson Werth a $126 Million Dollar player coming off an injury plagued season will be a key factor to the Nationals success in 2016. If he has a big year and helps the team take home a division title he would be a perfect comeback player of the year candidate and possible winner.

NL Rookie Of The Year: Corey Seager Los Angeles Dodgers:

Corey Seager  is the MLB’s top prospect and he was able to help the Dodgers in September and October batting .337, with four homers, and 17 RBI’s in his first27 big league games. If Seager can play up to his potential he can be a huge impact player for the Dodger. Entering his first season as a full time pro Seager should be a leader for the Dodgers and be the favorite to win this award.

NL Manager Of The Year: Dusty Baker Washington Nationals:

Dusty Baker is the perfect skipper to take over a club who had clubhouse tension a year ago. Wherever he goes he finds a way to create a solid clubhouse environment and usually leads his team to the postseason. He has a very talented roster to work with in Washington and if he can build chemistry and lead the Nats back to October he will be NL Manager of the year.

NL CY Young: Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers:

Just 27 years of age and three Cy Young Awards and an MVP award Clayton Kershaw is on his way to a hall of fame career. Last season he struck out 300 batters and finished third in Cy Young Voting. If he puts up crazy strikeout numbers along with an ERA in the low two’s are below Kershaw will bring home a fourth Cy Young.

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt Arizona Diamondbacks:

It’s bound to finally happen Paul Goldschmidt is a .300 hitter, 30+ homer guy, and 100+ RBI guy year in and year out all while having one of the best  gloves in the sport and stealing bases and yet he does not have an MVP Award yet. 2016 outta be his year right.

National League  Playoff Predictions

NL Wild Card Game

Pirates @Cardinals 

Winner:Pirates

 PNC Park home of the Pirates has been the home to the last three NL Wild Card Games. This year I project the Bucos to be back in that pesky Wild Card Game where in three tries they are 1-2. This time however I see them on the road against division  rival St.Louis. You’ll probably be looking at a Gerrit Cole VS Adam Wainwright pitching match up which could make it a low scoring affair in the end I see the Pirates putting more runs on the board grabbing the victory.

 

NLDS

Pirates Vs Cubs

Winner: Cubs in 4

  In a rematch of last year’s NL Wild Card Game the Pirates and Cubs would be lined up to play in a best of five. These two teams both have great starting rotations that can match each other well in each game. The Pirates bullpen is probably stronger than Chicago’s yet the Cubs offense is stronger than the Pirates offense. In the end it’s going to come down to who will score runs in the early innings the Cubs crushed a similar pitching team in the Cardinals in the NLDS a year ago and the Pirates rotation isn’t nearly the Mets rotation that can halt any power lineup. Cubs with their loaded offense and solid pitching in four.

NLDS 

Winner: Diamondbacks in 4

 The Arizona Diamondbacks have not been to October since 2011. The Nationals have made it twice in the last four years yet have never reached the NLCS. Both teams have strong pitching staffs epically at the top but the Diamondbacks have the stronger one with Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, and Patrick Corbin and an offense that is stacked 1-8 (excluding pitcher) I see Arizona as the winner of this series in four.

NLCS  

Diamondbacks VS Cubs

Winner: Cubs in 6

  Two young teams with promising futures in a series that could become a playoff rivalry in years to come. This potential NLCS between Arizona and Chicago would bring two powerhouse offenses up against each other and would probably lead to a lot of high scoring affairs. The games may come down to a battle of the bullpens and that is where the Cubs are a bit stronger and have a more seasoned group than the Diamondbacks. The Cubs are poised to end their World Series title drought dating back to 1908 and NL Pennant drought that drags to 1945. This looks to be the year the for the Cubs.

Cubs fans will get to see their club in the World Series for the first time since 1945 (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

Cubs fans will get to see their club in the World Series for the first time since 1945 (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

 

2016 World Series Prediction

Royals VS Cubs

Winner: Cubs In 6

 Yes Cubs fans it’s going to happen. The Chicago Cubs will win the world series for the first time since 1908. This World Series should be very fun to watch however. The Royals would be coming into this series as three time defending American League Champions and defending Champions of the World. The Cubs who got a taste of October last season reaching the NLCS before being swept by the Mets would be coming in with their eyes set on ending an 108 year World Series title drought. The Cubs and Royals both have very strong starting lineups. The Royals more on base, speed type, Cubs more power type. The reason I give the advantage to the Cubs is because they have the stronger starting pitching staff I’m not sure if the Royals have the starting pitching to get some of these young Cub sluggers out. I do however have faith in guys like Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and John Lackey to shut down the Royals just enough for the Cubs to win games. The Royals have the much stronger bullpen however so if they are able to build leads the Cubs could be in deep trouble however the Cubs offense is so balanced with both power, and contact hitters, and some guys who can steal bags that they may just be too much for the Royals. The Cubs are bound to finally have the curse of the billy goat lifted they have the roster on paper and what a scene it would be on the North Side of Chicago watching Cubs fans some of the most loyal fans in the world celebrate their team winning the World Series.

(Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports ORG)

(Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports ORG)

What a sight it would be on the North Side Of Chicago if the Cubs end their 108 year World Series Championship drought. (AP)

What a sight it would be on the North Side Of Chicago if the Cubs end their 108 year World Series Championship drought. (AP)

 

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