MLB 2016 Fearless Predictions

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Opening Day is just a couple days away, and it’s time to give all my predictions for division winners, MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards. For each award, we’ll go over a winner, runner-up and dark horse candidate. Absolutely every one of these predictions will be correct, and will not give anyone any chance to screenshot these to tell me I was wrong come October.

NL Rookie of the Year

Winner – Corey Seager, SS Los Angeles Dodgers

Runner-Up – Steven Matz, SP New York Mets

Dark Horse – Lucas Giolito, SP Washington Nationals

Seager will not be able to keep up the ridiculous pace he showed in his first 99 at-bats last season, but he is still one of the best prospects in MLB. It doesn’t hurt he plays a premium position on a prestige team. Matz has always had injury concerns, but stays healthy enough to gain some votes in what is assumed the best rotation in baseball. Giolito may or may not get enough time in the majors to win, but is a high impact player from his first pitch. I’m not sure how many fans realize just how special last year was for rookies coming up and making an immediate impact. This year has a nice selection, but doesn’t have near the ceiling of last year.

NL Cy Young

Winner – Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

Runner- Up – Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

Dark Horse – Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates

Kershaw is certainly a chalk pick, but with excellent reason. In the past five seasons, he hasn’t finished below third in Cy Young voting. His strikeout to walk ratio in 2015 was 304-42. If not for his former teammate Zach Greinke and Chicago’s Jake Arrieta having career seasons, Kershaw would’ve won last year. Bumgarner has always been on the periphery of the Cy Young conversation, and this is the year he vaults into the running. Cole finished fourth last season, and could make a run. His biggest issue is he’s too competitive for his own good sometimes.  I have a hard time seeing a Mets pitcher in the running since all of them could cannibalize votes for each other.

NL MVP

Winner – Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks

Runner-Up – Bryce Harper, OF Washington Nationals

Dark Horse – Andrew McCutchen, OF Pittsburgh Pirates

As other-worldly as Harper was last season, Goldschmidt had more hits, RBI and stolen bases. Harper will only be entering his age 23 season, and he could still get better as he matures. If he takes even a slight step back this year, Goldschmidt could slide in to take the MVP. McCutchen is not a traditional dark horse. It looks like he may bat second in the Pirates lineup, which help his totals across the board. However, Pittsburgh will not be close enough to the postseason for McCutchen to get the votes.

AL Rookie of the Year

Winner – A.J. Reed, 1B Houston Astros

Runner-Up – Byron Buxton, OF Minnesota Twins

Dark Horse – Blake Snell, SP Tampa Bay Rays

Even though Reed did not make the Opening Day roster for the Astros, he smashed the ball in the minors in 2015. Tyler White will not be able to hold off Reed for long, and he’ll fit right into the Houston lineup. Many people have soured on Buxton, but it would be totally unfair to judge a player off of 138 plate appearances. Even Mike Trout struggled when he first came up to the majors. Tampa really likes Blake Snell, trying to extend him before the season started. Snell faces a very difficult division which could keep his ceiling lower this season.

AL Cy Young

Winner – Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Runner-Up – Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays

Dark Horse – Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

Sale has always been one of the best pitchers in the game. He was reportedly very vocal in the Adam LaRoche situation, and will look to show he’s one of the team leaders. His ERA spiked last season, but his WHIP was still only 1.088. Archer will put together another fabulous season. The only thing that will hold him back is just how many great offenses he has to face in his division. King Felix had a down year for him last season, but expect that to be a blip in the radar. He still has a couple Cy Young seasons left.

AL MVP

Winner – Mike Trout, OF Los Angeles Angels

Runner-Up – Carlos Correa, SS Houston Astros

Dark Horse – Miguel Cabrera, 1B Detroit Tigers

Trout is on a team that looks to have no chance at the postseason and is in a lineup that doesn’t appear to give him much protection. Having said that, if he puts up the year he’s capable of, he’s the MVP again. Correa will regress slightly off of what we saw last season, but not a lot. It would not be a surprise at all if he walks away with the award. As with McCutchen in the NL, Cabrera is not a “dark horse”. He had a healthy off-season for the first time in years, and could potentially threaten a Triple Crown season once again.

Division Winners (* denotes Wild Card)

NL East

  1. New York Mets
  2. Washington Nationals*
  3. Miami Marlins
  4. Atlanta Braves
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies and Braves are in complete rebuild mode and will not be a factor in 2016. The Marlins will be more competitive than most people think, powered by SP Jose Fernandez and OF Giancarlo Stanton. In the end, they aren’t well rounded enough to compete. The Nationals and Mets will be in a dogfight for the division crown all season long. New York has the rotation to win everything, especially if Zach Wheeler provides the shot in the arm mid-season as expected.  Bryce Harper and the Nationals will have to settle for a Wild Card appearance.

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. Cincinnati Reds
  5. Milwaukee Brewers

As with the NL East, the bottom two teams are rebuilding and will not be much of a factor. Look for Milwaukee to potentially ship C/1B Jonathan Lucroy to a contender by the trade deadline. The Pirates will once again tease their fans by being a very good team, but will miss the playoffs this season. The Cardinals have a rock solid rotation and will always be a team to fear. This year they will take a slight step back and miss out. The Cubs are the sexy pick here, but just have too much balance between young talent and veteran contributors to ignore.

NL West

  1. San Francisco Giants
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks*
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies

Colorado still has yet to figure out the mystery of starting pitching. The Padres have been very quiet after the complete disaster of last off-season. The Dodgers have a ton of injuries already, and have zero proven SP options behind Kershaw. Former teammate Zach Greinke will help the D-Backs eke out a Wild Card slot over Los Angeles and St. Louis. San Francisco has an underrated offense and could have a lethal top three starters in Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto. The Giants will fight with the Cubs for the best record in the NL.

AL East

  1. Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Boston Red Sox*
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles can hammer the ball, but not much else. The lineup is so dependent on the home run, it won’t carry them far in the division. The Rays have the pitching to compete, but no offense to really speak of. The Yankees will have issues keeping all of their veterans healthy through the year and will eventually taper off. The Red Sox have a very balanced offense, but could really use another high end SP before the year is over. The Blue Jays are another team with pitching concerns, but the offense will smash their way to the division crown.

AL Central

  1. Kansas City Royals
  2. Cleveland Indians
  3. Detroit Tigers
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota has some young talent to be excited about, but still has too many holes. The White Sox will be slightly better than last year, but not enough to compete over 162 games. The Detroit offense will once again be the strength of the squad, but they have question marks in the rotation and bullpen. Cleveland has the pitching to be a playoff team, but will end up regretting not getting one more bat for their offense. Kansas City once again has a questionable rotation, but they make it work with that power bullpen and their offense. It’s tough to pick against the defending champs.

AL West

  1. Houston Astros
  2. Texas Rangers*
  3. Seattle Mariners
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Los Angeles Angels

It’s incredible how little talent the Angels have around Trout, and they’ll pay for it this season. Oakland hasn’t looked great on paper the past few years, but always find a way to scrape together a competitive team. The Mariners will just continue to be stuck in the middle of the pack. Texas has a great offense, but is lacking in the rotation. Yu Darvish returning from Tommy John will push them in the second half to a Wild Card berth. The Astros are one of the most exciting young teams in baseball, and could end up with the best record in all of baseball.

N.L.

Wild Card Round – Nationals over Diamondbacks

National League Divisional – Cubs over Nationals

Giants over Mets

National League Championship- Giants over Cubs

A.L.

Wild Card Round – Red Sox over Rangers

American League Division Series – Astros over Red Sox

Blue Jays over Royals

American League Championship – Blue Jays over Astros

I have the Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants in the World Series. In the end, the Giants and their pitching staff will be enough to stifle the Blue Jays lineup, making it the fourth championship in the last eight seasons for San Francisco.

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