Alright folks. As Spring Training comes to a close, it’s time to unveil this year’s 2016 regular season predictions. Note that last word, because that’s only what they are: Predictions. Prognostications. Educated guesses. Only one pick below is based on my favorite intangible: Reverse Karma. (Hey, it works in hockey.) So without further adieu…
This division is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in baseball this year. It may appear front loaded with New York and Boston, but Toronto and Baltimore are packing some firepower, and Tampa Bay is the proverbial thorn.
- New York Yankees: Nice offseason additions, and the best bullpen in baseball lead the way here. If the Yanks have the lead in the 6th inning, they really shouldn’t relinquish it.
- Boston: Huge moves aquiring David Price and Craig Kimbrel, along with a solid lineup. But will it be enough?
- Toronto: Offense, offense, offense.
- Tampa Bay: Good enough to be in the picture, could turn some heads with a fast start.
- Baltimore: Strong offense top to bottom, but not much else, especially on the mound.
Muck. Logjam. Crapshoot. Look at five different publications and you’ll probably see five different orders of finish predicted here. This will be fun to watch as it’s all up for grabs.
- Minnesota: 2015 was a big jolt of confidence for the returnees, and there is balance throughout the roster.
- Kansas City: A winning culture has been bred for the defending WS champs, and it’s bound to continue.
- Chicago White Sox: A very good offseason with key additions in Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie to backup a solid front of the rotation. If they get off to a good start, the Sox will be a factor in this division.
- Detroit: Some good power in the lineup and Jordan Zimmerman is a nice pickup to bolster a decent pitching staff.
- Cleveland: Their arms may keep them in the discussion early on, but without an extra bat or two, it could be a long second half.
A pretty top-heavy division with Texas and Houston, but Los Angeles and Seattle look to surprise.
- Texas: Cole Hamels in a full season, and a healthy Yu Darvish lead the way for this well-balanced team looking to win another division title.
- Houston: Last year was no fluke, but they’ll need another hot start to keep pace with the Rangers.
- Los Angeles Angels: Could contend for this division, but they’ll need health and consistency out of their rotation.
- Seattle: Lots of turnover again, but they’ll be better.
- Oakland: Billy Beane is in heavy rebuild mode right now.
In 2015, it was Washington’s division to lose…and they did. Now it’s all on the Mets.
- New York Mets: Pitching wins, and the Mets have tons of it. Throw in a nice player in Neil Walker to replace Daniel Murphy, and re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, and the Mets look to repeat as NL East champs.
- Washington: A nice team who fell short in 2015, but a lot of that can be contributed to a disagreeable clubhouse. New skipper Dusty Baker will surely fix that, and it will help the Nats slug it out for the top spot with the Mets.
- Miami: Some underrated talent led by manager Don Mattingly and coach Barry Bonds and this team could open a few eyes.
- Philadelphia: Nowhere to go but up. They’ll be better, but not by much.
- Atlanta: A good pipeline is waiting to be mined, but it’ll take some time.
This division was the talk of baseball last year, with the omnipresent Cardinals, scrappy Pirates and explosive young Cubs at the top. Look for those three to juggle the division torch again, but how will they finish?
- St. Louis: If the Cardinals wrote any mythical book on baseball, it’s how to win with injuries. They Redbirds must deal with more, again, to start this season, but until someone knocks them off their top perch, there they will remain.
- Chicago Cubs: A ton of free agency cash was spent bolstering a frighteningly talented young roster led by Crazy Uncle Joe Maddon, coming off a 97-win campaign and a trip to the NLCS. Can the Cubs take that long next step?
- Pittsburgh: They’ll be a player again. Solid lineup and pitching, and Clint Hurdle is an excellent manager. The Bucs aren’t going anywhere.
- Milwaukee: Some talented players in the midst of a rebuild. Still, this team could play spoiler to one of the top three teams in August and September.
- Cincinnati: They’ve unloaded, and waived the white flag it would seem.
Not unlike the AL West, this division would seem like a two-horse race if not for a couple potential surprises.
- San Francisco: Skipper Bruce Bochy is one of the best in baseball, and he welcomes in a very solid roster loaded with defense, speed and several good arms. It’s also an even year…
- Los Angeles Dodgers: A huge payroll keeps this team a factor, likely to be in step with the Giants. But time will tell if it will be enough.
- Arizona: Adding Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller to the front of your rotation are moves that show they aren’t messing around. With an offense that can score, the Dbacks could be THE sleeper team in MLB. Depth may be an issue, however.
- San Diego: They may have won the offseason last year, but it didn’t equate to much. They’re not there yet.
- Colorado: See Cincinnati.
Best (most competitive, that is) Division: AL East or AL Central
Sleeper Teams: Miami, Arizona
Team that could buck the FA Trend?: Chicago Cubs
Note: No playoff predictions at this time 😉