Don’t look now, but the MLB season starts in five days! I know it feels like it was yesterday that we saw the Royals hoisting the World Series title at Citi Field in New York, but that was 149 days ago.
As we embark on another season of America’s pastime, we are face with many questions: will the Royals repeat? Is this the year the curse finally ends in Chicago? How will other young teams like Houston and New York Mets respond to better-than-expected seasons from last year? While those are all valid questions that we will have answers for by November, this blog is here to try and predict some things that will happen in the 2016 campaign. So, without further ado, here’s five things that I think will happen this season.
- The Pittsburgh Pirates will not make the playoffs- Let me first start off by stating that I love the Pirates. They’re a fun, young team with a former MVP in Andrew McCutchen guiding the way. They have surprised us all the past three seasons, making the playoffs and almost defeating the Cardinals in the NLDS in 2013. This year, however, they’re going to run into the problem of too many good teams for not enough spots in the N.L. In their division alone, they have two teams in the Cardinals and Cubs who are poised to have big years again. In the N.L. East, you have the defending league champions in the Mets. And then out West, the San Francisco Giants seem poised to re-gain the N.L. West crown (it is an even year after all). So if those teams win their divisions, you have two Wild Card spots remaining for four or five good teams. Either the Cardinals or Cubs should get the top Wild Card spot, and then you have the Nationals, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks to go along with the Pirates for that second Wild Card spot. That’s some stiff competition for one playoff spot. To me, it’ll either go to Arizona or Washington, leaving Pittsburgh the odd man out in that situation. The Pirates are good, but with a loaded National League this year, they could be left watching the postseason from their couch.
- The Astros won’t win the A.L. West, and that’s okay- Oh, the Astros. Everyone is high on them this year, and rightfully so. They have an amazing core of Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, and Colby Rasmus, not to mention the reigning A.L. Cy Young Award winner in Dallas Keuchel. I still think they’re going to be the top Wild Card team in the A.L., but I don’t think they’ll win the A.L. West. The Rangers, who are the defending division champs, come back with two ace pitchers in Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. Prince Fielder had a great bounce-back year last year for Texas, and shortstop Elvis Andrus has emerged as a top 10 shortstop in the game today. While I love the Astros too, I feel like the Rangers can be more consistent over a 162 game stretch that’ll lead to them winning the A.L. West for a second straight year. Expect some fun games between these two all year, though.
- Paul Goldschmidt will finally win the N.L. MVP- Is Paul Goldschmidt the best player that nobody knows about? Cause it seems like that is the case. He’s been an All-Star the past three years, finished runner up in the N.L. MVP voting twice, and has hit 88 home runs while driving in 304 runs in that same stretch. If he played in New York, this man would be considered a living legend. Instead, he plays in Arizona, where only the west coast people can see him play on a regular basis. Simply put, this man is the best first baseman in baseball, and not many know it because the Diamondbacks have gone a combined 224-262 in the past three years. Now, though, a lot of eyes will be watching Arizona as they made some big acquisitions in the offseason, including Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, two legitimate starting pitchers in the MLB. This will give a platform to show the rest of the country what true MLB fans already knew about Goldschmidt: he’s the real deal. Barring injury, this should be Goldschmidt’s year to win that MVP he’s desperately been chasing as he potentially leads the Diamondbacks to their first postseason appearance since 2011.
- Jose Fernandez will be traded by July 31- Fernandez has been a sensational pitcher for the Marlins…when he’s been healthy. He’s 22-9 with a 2.40 ERA, which are great numbers for one season…too bad that’s been stretched over three. Fernandez has come back from Tommy John surgery and pitched well, but will be on an innings/pitches limit probably this year. He and the Marlins have had some issues, though, and his name has popped up before in trade rumors. He’s currently only on a one-year deal, increasing his trade market because a team wouldn’t have to inherit too much of a salary hit. If the Marlins are where they’re expected to be this year (the bottom of the N.L. East), then Fernandez becomes the top prize amongst potential trade bidders. A team desperate for a starting pitcher that could put them over the top would give Miami a lot of assets/draft picks for Fernandez, and I think the 23-year old will be dealt by the July 31 deadline.
- Two new teams from last year will be playing in the World Series- I’m not a fan of picking actual teams to go to the World Series (usually because I’m way off), but it is almost impossible to get back to the World Series these days. The last team to go back-to-back years (before the Royals the past two years) was the Rangers in 2010-2011. No team has won back-to-back titles since the Yankees won three in a row from 1998-2000. The Giants have won three of the past six, but haven’t been two consecutive years. My point is that it’s highly unlikely we will see either the Royals or the Mets in the World Series. So who will be playing in the Fall Classic? Your guess is as good as mine. The Vegas odds say it’ll be the Cubs, and while that would be amazing to see (I am a Cubs fan), I can’t fully commit to them winning because, you know, THEY’RE THE CUBS. It’s an even year, so in theory it’s the Giants’ to lose. They’re a good team with a lot of talent and could easily win their fourth championship of the decade. The Blue Jays, Astros, Rangers, Cardinals, and Nationals also have a claim to be the favorite for the upcoming season. And, for all we know, we might get our first repeat World Series since 1977-78 when the Yankees and Dodgers played in back-to-back years (the Yankees won both). If I had to put my money on it, though, we will not be seeing either Kansas City or New York in the World Series come late October.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to check out the other blogs I’ve posted, and stay tuned as I go more in-depth on all the things going on in the sports world. This is Game of Sports.