Here are the rankings I posted in the preseason of 2016, the parentheses mark where the team actually finished in the MLB. I was wildly inaccurate for the most part.
30. (22) Milwaukee Brewers
I thought this team would be the worst in baseball, but they weren’t. Jonathan Villar broke out and led all of baseball with 62 SBs, while other Jonathan (Lucroy), a player long time tenured with the team and a fan favorite, was traded midseason to the Rangers. 31 year old rookie Junior Guerra put together a surprisingly solid year and the team still managed to hold on to superstar Ryan Braun, someone I thought for sure would have been traded away during the season.
29. (26) Atlanta Braves
After pulling off the Dansby Swanson trade 2016 could already be considered a success for the Braves. Freddie Freeman had his best year and Julio Teheran bounced back from a down 2015, which helped them finish not quite at the bottom of the standings.
28. (16) Colorado Rockies
A Rockies’ hitter has won the batting title 3 out of the last 4 years, and DJ LeMahieu was the newest member to achieve it. Offensively the Rockies were one of the best teams, again, but pitching wise they were lackluster, again. There were at least some promising signs that the rotation is moving in the right direction compared to years before. Trevor Story was making the NL ROY race honest before going down with an injury. They always had a good offense and I underestimated how far it would carry them. I also expected them to trade away some of their star players, but they stayed pat.
27. (13) Seattle Mariners
This was one of my worst calls looking back at it, I didn’t expect Nelson Cruz to continue to produce at an elite level and I was equally surprised that Robinson Cano hasn’t tailed off either. Not to be undone by his younger brother, Kyle Seager had a career year. This team was on the cusp of a playoff appearance, and if Felix Hernandez pitched like he has done in the past, they may just have.
26. (23)Philadelphia Phillies
Offensively the Phillies were one of the worst teams in the league, but they actually exceeded my expectations thanks to a surprisingly effective pitching staff that should continue to develop.
25. (29) Cincinnati Reds
The Reds carousel of “closers” and experiment with young pitchers helped them secure a Top 2 pick in the MLB draft. Joey Votto had a 2nd half for the ages, but in a tough division and in a rebuilding year the Reds couldn’t compete.
24. (28) San Diego
Expectations were mildly optimistic for them coming into the season when they signed James Shields, but those were squashed almost immediately as they went on a fire sale midseason. Wil Myers nearly made it to the 30/30 club, but there weren’t too many bright spots in sunny San Diego.
23. (7) Baltimore Orioles
Instead of stealing bases, this team focused on hitting dingers. I expected them to finish last in the AL East, but this offense and bullpen really surprised me. On offense Mark Trumbo led the team with 47 HRs, but Machado and Chris Davis nearly reached 40. Zach Britton led the bullpen and with two key contributions from the rotation in Kevin Gausman and Christ Tillman (everyone else was below average), this team was able to improve by 8 wins from the year before.
22. (25) Oakland A’s
This is probably the team I knew the least about before I started this. Rich Hill managed to pitch over 100 innings for the first time since 2007, but he was gone before the season ended. Khris Davis managed to hit more HRs than Chris Davis, and they did other things I’m sure. I didn’t expect much from the A’s, I should have expected less.
21. (30) Minnesota Twins
Well basically all of their high profile prospects didn’t pan out or took steps backward, spending all of their money on Korean slugger Byung Ho Park somehow made them worse, and their pitching is still atrocious. Brian Dozier did pretty well in the 2nd half, but one player can only do so much when the pitching staff makes everyone look like Brian Dozier at the plate.
20. (18) Miami Marlins
Losing Jose Fernandez was a tragedy for all of baseball. Their young crop of outfielders has a strong case for the best in baseball, Ichiro got to 3,000 hits in the MLB, and Barry Bonds was let go after only one year as hitting coach. I was actually pretty close here.
19. (20) Chicago White Sox
They suffered through worst case scenario James Shields, early season clubhouse issues, a throw back uniform scissor incident, and came out of it no better than the year before. Adam Eaton and Jose Quintana improved to little fanfare and Tim Anderson quietly put up respectable numbers in a year of young elite SSs. Todd Frazier seemed to morph into Adam Dunn.
18. (24) Arizona Diamondbacks
A lot things went wrong, AJ Pollock suffered an early injury, and probably should have been out for the year, Zack Greinke didn’t pitch anywhere near the level of his contract, leading the league with the highest ERA wasn’t what they were expecting. Shelby Miller regressed considerably, I’m sure the pressure to live up to expectations for a trade he had no say in didn’t help. Jean Segura did pretty well though, but expectations were much higher for this team going into the season.
17. (11) Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander returned to Cy Young form and rookie Michael Fulmer contributed at an elite level immediately, a great parting gift from Dave Dombrowski. Jordan Zimmermann didn’t really work out, but the offense kept on chugging along with another elite year from Miggy and they almost made it to the playoffs.
16. (27) Tampa Bay Rays
This team shouldn’t have sported as bad a record, but there could only be so many good teams in the AL East. I thought they would be a lot better, but the rotation wasn’t as good as it should have been, and the offense was never going to carry them despite Evan Longoria’s resurgence.
15. (14) New York Yankees
This team achieved the wet dream of every irrational fan during the trade deadline last year by selling high on some older players and reloading their entire farm system while remaining competitive by the second coming of Yogi Berra in Gary Sanchez. Every year they find a way to stay competitive, the bullpen and Masahiro Tanaka not needing his UCL helped keep the team afloat.
14. (2) Texas Rangers
I think it’s pretty cool Matt Bush actually did well for this team after being out of baseball for so long, and to a lesser extent Carlos Gomez and Ian Desmond also had resurgences to their career in Texas, well outside of Houston for Gomez. This team didn’t skip a beat after losing Prince Fielder and coasted to another AL West coast victory. I thought Houston would lead the AL West and that they would regress from last year, but a lot of their rookies produced upon call up, Rougned Odor took a small step and a big punch forward, and Cole Hamels was able to lead the injury riddled rotation. Adrian Beltre has been a rock for the Rangers and I feel like he’s the least talked about superstar in baseball.
13. (12) St Louis Cardinals
Adam Wainwright wasn’t too good, and despite adding elite performances like Aledmys Diaz and Seung-hwan Oh, this team just performed slightly above average, well, actually finishing right where I predicted them to. Carlos Martinez stepped forward as the ace of the staff, Jedd Gyorko only needed to leave San Diego to become a useful player, and Carpenter and Molina were boringly good again. Matt Holiday getting injured probably didn’t help.
12. (21) Los Angeles Angels
Well this ranking looks terrible now, but hear me out, they had 85 wins in 2015 and if Garret Richards and Andrew Heaney didn’t suffer early season injuries I don’t think asking a team with Mike Trout on it to get 4 more wins is too difficult. They were 4 wins away from leading the AL West last year and Andrelton Simmons brought 4.2 Wins to the team, but this still looks like a terrible ranking.
11. (4) Cleveland Indians
I thought I was high on them in the preseason, but I wasn’t high enough. I thought the Royals would be better than they were. I compared them to the 2015 Mets, but they actually finished better despite many potholes. Their best hitter Michael Brantey didn’t play, and losing Carrasco and Salazar down the stretch didn’t really slow them down. I think Andrew Miller showed just how valuable a RP can be, and on almost any other team ESPN would be talking about Francisco Lindor more often. A very good mix of RPs, strong outings from their starters outside of Kluber, and a Jose Ramirez breakout propelled this team to a top 5 finish.
10. (5) Boston Red Sox
So Pablo Sandoval continues to look like one of the worst signings in baseball, and David Price wasn’t as amazing as he has been in the past, but Hanley Ramirez wasn’t worth negative WAR so that helped. Ortiz put up one for the ages for an aged hitter, Dustin “Pedey” Pedroia is still scrappy, and maybe Boston media shouldn’t have crucified the Porcello signing after it’s first year. Mookie Betts has the best name in baseball, and broke out in a huge way, and Jackie Bradley Jr. lived up to the hype, finally. I should have been higher on them.
9. (6) Los Angeles Dodgers
A couple of washed up Phillies actually did really well for this team and a former Met put up his best season, Turner could still improve next year if he’s healthier. Corey Seager produced at an elite level instantly and Kershaw was dominant yet again without even pitching a full year. Kenta Maeda was a good signing it appears, and the Giants weren’t the powerhouse team I thought they would be.
8. (3) Washington Nationals
I didn’t expect Bryce Harper to regress as much as he did, but I guess expecting MVP performances as the norm is a little too much to ask for. Rendon and Ramos clocked in some solid years, being healthy helped, the 3 way trade with the Padres looks better for this team every year, Tanner Roark proved he can be a great pitcher if he’s given a rotation spot, and Daniel Murphy’s goliath post season in 2015 was a sign of things to come in 2016. I thought the Mets would be better, but on paper this team always looks like they have no weak points.
7. (8) Toronto Blue Jays
A team that lost out on David Price somehow got a better return from their rotation in the form of J.A. Happ maintaining Searage’s magic touch, Chopped chef Aaron Sanchez outperforming preseason defacto ace Marcus Stroman, well, even Marco Estrada did, and Stroman was still pretty solid this year. On top of that their young closer took a big step forward. Donaldson put up another MVP caliber year and everyone outside of Bautista looked above average offensively, but the Red Sox were still better.
6. (15) Houston Astros
Despite Jose Altuve’s MVP caliber year, without a fraction of Dallas Kuechel’s Cy Young campaign the previous year this team disappointed. The bullpen took too long to stabilize, the entire pitching staff was mediocre if not bad, and they never really had a first baseman all year. Carlos Gomez helped their instate division rivals more than the team he had over 300 plate appearances for. On paper this team looked young and ready to compete for the World Series, but they regressed from the previous year.
5. (9) New York Mets
By all accounts, this team probably shouldn’t have made the playoffs with all the injures, but somehow Terry Collins pulled through with some late season hot streaks and call ups that really rallied the team to a strong finish. Michael Conforto didn’t take the step in the right direction, but Thor took a huge step forward, while the other staff aces fell to the injury bug…a troubling development that is unfortunately becoming a pattern.
4. (10) San Francisco Giants
Even year magic finally died, but as far as seasons go, they had the makings of their past even year teams. Cueto and Samardzija flourished in the Bay area, and Bumgarner was a little more dominant than his odd year before. The Dodgers proved too much of a hurdle for them to climb.
3. (17) Kansas City Royals
It’s always hard to rank this team, the metrics never really like them and it’s understandable, on paper they don’t look too good. They weren’t highly rated either the years they went to the World Series back to back. I think I underestimated the World Series hangover, but there were a couple of bright spots in Dan Duffy’s breakout and Ian Kennedy looking above average, but the hitters weren’t the same, albeit All Star Lorenzo Cain was injured, but they couldn’t’ keep up in a tough division. Still this team fell harder than I could have predicted.
2. (19) Pittsburgh Pirates
Well I certainly had high expectations for them, but this team was selling players at the trade deadline. McCutchen regressed considerably either due to old age or injury, he’s still with the team thankfully, Jung Ho Kang had some very serious off field issues that affected his play, and Gerrit Cole was injured for a considerable period of time if not the whole year. Liriano’s BB/9 finally caught up to him, their 5 star rookies didn’t make as big as a splash as I would have guessed, I should have known Tallion and Glasnow wouldn’t be called up until late in the season. Cubs proved to be too dominant, but a lot of things went wrong here.
1. (1) Chicago Cubs
They basically did exactly what everyone expected them to do. The curse is broken, the lovable loser moniker is gone, and dynasty has started.