2016 MLB Predictions

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…

Related image

AL EAST

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Boston: Huge moves aquiring David Price and Craig Kimbrel, along with a solid lineup. But will it be enough?
  3. Toronto: Offense, offense, offense.
  4. Tampa Bay: Good enough to be in the picture, could turn some heads with a fast start.
  5. Baltimore: Strong offense top to bottom, but not much else, especially on the mound.

AL CENTRAL

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.

  1. Minnesota: 2015 was a big jolt of confidence for the returnees, and there is balance throughout the roster.
  2. Kansas City: A winning culture has been bred for the defending WS champs, and it’s bound to continue.
  3. 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.
  4. Detroit: Some good power in the lineup and Jordan Zimmerman is a nice pickup to bolster a decent pitching staff.
  5. 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.

AL WEST

A pretty top-heavy division with Texas and Houston, but Los Angeles and Seattle look to surprise.

  1. 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.
  2. Houston: Last year was no fluke, but they’ll need another hot start to keep pace with the Rangers.
  3. Los Angeles Angels: Could contend for this division, but they’ll need health and consistency out of their rotation.
  4. Seattle: Lots of turnover again, but they’ll be better.
  5. Oakland: Billy Beane is in heavy rebuild mode right now.

NL EAST

In 2015, it was Washington’s division to lose…and they did. Now it’s all on the Mets.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Miami: Some underrated talent led by manager Don Mattingly and coach Barry Bonds and this team could open a few eyes.
  4. Philadelphia: Nowhere to go but up. They’ll be better, but not by much.
  5. Atlanta: A good pipeline is waiting to be mined, but it’ll take some time.

NL CENTRAL

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Pittsburgh: They’ll be a player again. Solid lineup and pitching, and Clint Hurdle is an excellent manager. The Bucs aren’t going anywhere.
  4. 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.
  5. Cincinnati: They’ve unloaded, and waived the white flag it would seem.

NL WEST

Not unlike the AL West, this division would seem like a two-horse race if not for a couple potential surprises.

  1. 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…
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. San Diego: They may have won the offseason last year, but it didn’t equate to much. They’re not there yet.
  5. 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 😉

Fullerton Unknowingly ‘Predicts’ Black Sox Scandal

We all know that historically speaking, baseball is an exceptionally spooky game. Not only in the sense of measuring all players’ success against the ghosts of those that played before them, but also in the case of delivering the inadvertent prophecy. (An eerie example is the story of Ray Chapman, which I wrote about here.)

This one is equally bizarre.

In a display of coincidental yet unmitigated clairvoyance, writer Hugh Fullerton “saw” a crucial element of the ill-fated 1919 World Series puzzle unfold four years before it happened.

As one of America’s leading sportswriters in 1915, Fullerton often wrote fictional stories in addition to his regular beat reports in the newspaper(s.) That year, he published a novel about a left-handed pitcher named “Williams” who was bribed by gamblers to lose the pennant. Four years later, in an unbelievable parallel, left-handed star pitcher Claude “Lefty” Willaims would do just that – as he and the other members of the infamous “Black Sox” would conspire with gamblers to fix the 1919 World Series.

Fullerton, who for many years had written about the dangerous gambling element in baseball, covered the Series and was the reporter who first broke news of the scandal after it ended and the Cincinnati Reds had won.

Was Fullerton psychic? Perhaps not. But some things are just too strange to be purely coincidental…

This Date In Baseball History

Some interesting tidbits on this day, March 24, in baseball history…

  • In 1911, Cardinals president Stanley Robison dies unexpectedly. He leaves the club and most of his estate to his niece, Helene Hathaway Britton, who then became the first female owner of a major league club.
  • In 1933, Babe Ruth took a $23,000 pay cut, due to the Depression.
  • In 1959, prior to an exhibition game played against the Dodgers in Havana, Cuba, a photo of Pete Whisenant is taken that shows the Reds outfielder toting a machine gun. The weapon for the photo is supplied by a rebel from Fidel Castro’s revolutionary army.
  • In 1984, the Tigers trade utility player John Wockenfuss and outfielder Glenn Wilson to the Phillies for relief pitcher Willie Hernandez and first baseman Dave Bergman.

Wow, I’d say the Tigers won that trade! And although it may be a stretch, one may wonder if the sudden change in ownership of the 1911 Cardinals was partially influential to the story of the classic comedy film, Major League (1989.)

 

Source: http://www.nationalpastime.com

Player Spotlight: John “Honest Eddie” Murphy

In an era where old fashioned, blue collared, hardnosed ballplayers were virtually everywhere, one gentleman stands in distinction. He is John “Honest Eddie” Murphy (1891-1969), a veteran of 11 Major League seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

277d50f59dda1a44beb1bc5b99a3c353

Getting his major league start in late 1912, Murphy would be a part of two of the best clubs in the Deadball Era: Connie Mack’s powerhouse Athletics, and the White Sox, where the nickname “Honest Eddie” was crowned him in the aftermath of the infamous Black Sox scandal of 1919.

Murphy made three World Series appearances in his career. In 1913 as the leadoff man on Mack’s A’s, and again in 1914, which would incidentally be his last season as an every day player. During those two years, Murphy would hit solidly (.295 and .274 respectively,) and score over 100 runs each, putting him among the league leaders. Following the disastrous 1914 World Series in which the A’s were swept by the notorious “Miracle Braves” from Boston, Connie Mack, in disgust, dismantled his pennant-winning club, which landed Murphy in Chicago with the White Sox. Although reunited there with his former A’s teammate and future Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, Murphy would see his playing time diminish rapidly over the next several years, as he struggled to see much action behind outfield thumpers Shoeless Joe Jackson, Happy Felsch, and the right field platoon of Nemo Liebold and John “Shano” Collins. During the infamous 1919 season, Murphy only appeared in 30 games, but hit .486 and was recognized and praised thereafter as one of the “Clean Sox.” Many years later, Murphy said of the scandal, “We might have started the dynasty that was the Yankees’ good fortune, but our best players…sold their honour and souls to the gamblers and a pennant purgutory came upon the White Sox.” (Pomrenke, 156.)

To his credit, Murphy embraced his role as a pinch hitter with the Sox from 1915-1921, hitting over .300 in four of those six years despite an inconsistent number of plate appearances and battling a couple injuries. Retiring from pro ball after 1921 before coming back for a handful of appearances with the Pirates in 1926, Murphy would tally up a strong .287 lifetime batting average and an OBP of .374. By all accounts, Murphy was a scrappy, tough ballplayer who never got the playing time he likely deserved. He was a team guy who flourished in the roles he was given throughout his career, although it’s hard not to wonder what could have been for this man if he was given the chance to play every day after 1914…

Farewell Honest Eddie. Baseball hasn’t forgotten you.

 

 

Source(s): Scandal On the South Side: The 1919 Chicago White Sox, Jacob Pomrenke (editor) 2015, a SABR publication

Random Baseball Fact

Here’s a baseball factoid for you that’s in a word, crazy:

If a pitcher threw every inning of all 162 games in a season, for four straight seasons, he’d still have 101 fewer career complete games than Cy Young.

They don’t make ’em like they used to, folks.