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. Continue reading
12. Los Angeles Angels – The team with a once in a generation talent doesn’t really have too many supporting players around him to make a dominant team. They have the worst farm system in the MLB and I can’t see them making anymore trades; so no reinforcements are coming, this is the team they’ll have all season. After Trout the two best hitters on this team are Albert Pujols, a first ballot hall of fame career but with his best years behind him, and Kole Calhoun, only an above average hitter and a name spelling nightmare. This team doesn’t have any depth and I have trouble seeing anyone on the current lineup breaking out or improving too much on their previous year, but the rotation is where I see the most room for growth. Garrett Richards wasn’t 100% percent last year and he was worth double the WAR just the year prior, I still see ace potential in him. Andrew Heaney has the pedigree and showed enough promise last year that it wouldn’t surprise me to see him as a top of the rotation starter soon. Jumble together the rest of the potential starters the Angels have available and I see something resembling a strong rotation. It should help that they have one of the best defensive shortstops now in Simmons. Mike Trout hasn’t been talented enough to carry this team to the playoffs every year, but he should be good enough to carry them within shooting distance, again. If he ever got injured this team would be in hell.
That Scioscia player sure looks out of shape…he’s surprisingly tall
21.Minnesota Twins – Well this team came out of nowhere last year and I think we can thank skipper Paul Molitor for that, but with the improvements that the Tigers and White Sox made I think this team got pushed back to the bottom of a tough division. Phil Hughes actually matched his record setting low walks issued with 16, but his K rate fell off in a Hughe way… hopefully he can rekindle some of his 2014 efficiency again. Joe Mauer hasn’t been good since he lost his bromantic partner Justin Morneau, but clearly it’s all his fault the Twins suck now because of his big contract and it has nothing to do with his concussion like symptoms. In the year of the rookie Twin fans have to be a little disappointed and cautiously optimistic about Byron Buxton, who couldn’t figure out major league pitching at all and struck out in almost a 3rd of his at bats. I know Mike Trout struggled initially, but Buxton struggled with a 31% K rate and his stats look much worse than Trouts ever did. Maybe I’m setting the bar too high, but I expect great things from Buxton. Speaking of rookie studs, Miguel Sano smashed 18 HRs during his rookie year yet still somehow managed a K rate worse than Buxton’s at a whopping 35%. Those HRs though, real sexy, and he had some of the best hard contact in the majors. The Twins still have a ton of talent waiting to be called up, but for now they’re in an awkward phase of having veteran players fading out of their prime and young guys not quite ready to pick up that mantle. And they’ve lost ace Mike Pelfry, they have no chance this year.
30: Milwaukee Brewers– They’re a rebuilding team in a tough division, outside of their “Watch the Game with Your Dog and Eat a Free Dog” promotion and their mascot Hank, they don’t have much to look forward to in the immediate future. They have two established stars in Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy, one with a tarnished reputation and one already packing his bags, and basically no one else. This team looks like the discarded extras of the Astros, when they were bottom of the league. It worked out for Detroit, but for every JD Martinez there’s Nameless Player A we don’t hear of ever again. The pitching staff is lead by Matt Garza, not a good thing to say about a rotation in 2016. Wily Peralta clocks in as one of the hardest throwing hurlers in baseball, but he’s still pretty terrible. It’s not all bad, Scooter Gennet is still one of the coolest names in baseball and their logo is still the best as well; but Miller is a bad beer and so is this team.
The lovable Hank juxtaposed with the hatable Braun. Cuteness > Brains> Braun
As a Mets fan I’ll be rooting for them to clinch in game, well, 4-5-6-7, it doesn’t matter, just win! The Royals will be a tough matchup though, a team that came so close to winning it all last year. Teams that have swept in the LCS have had little success afterwards, going 1-6 in the World Series. Included in that statistic are the Royals, most likely this fluke statistic results from a small sample size, but it’s still unsettling for Mets fan. Despite having home field advantage Vegas lists both team’s chances at even. Let’s go over the series matchup.
The Royals hitters struck out the fewest times (975) in the MLB and they were the only club to whiff under 1000 times. In contrast to the last team the Mets beat, the Cubs led the majors with over 1500 Ks. The Mets young power pitchers thrive on strikeouts, and while the infield has performed admirably so far in the postseason, the hit to contact Royals will put that defense to the test. On the flip side, the Royals were nearly last in the MLB in walks (380) while the Mets were nearly last in walks (383) issued. So I feel like the Royals will usually have to hit to get on base. Looking at the 2015 Postseason numbers, and I know it’s only a small sample size, but the Royals are beating the Mets across the board in every offensive category. Royals have played 2 more games than the Mets and the Mets played 5 of their 9 games against the top 3 NL Cy Young pitchers, so it makes sense the Royals would have better hitting stats in the postseason. To their credit the Royals played 3 games against the top 2 AL Cy Young pitchers, so it’s not like they’v been feasting on easy pitching matchups. The Royals hitters, especially you Salvador Perez, like to chase balls out of the zone, but it’s been working for them so far.
The Mets have been carried by Daniel Murphy so far, if he continues to hit like he has been then this might not even be a contest. Duda and Wright were showing signs of life in the last Cubs game too, so hopefully that carries over. The Mets haven’t really played from behind the entire postseason, whereas the Royals seem to thrive on making a comeback late. As for the DH, I assume it will be Kelly Johnson, but perhaps the Mets might go with Lagares on the field for better OF defense and let Conforto DH in some of the games. Either way, not sure we will be seeing much from Cuddyer, Nieuwenhuis, or Uribe other than the occasional PH.
Playoffs Teams of the MLB Rankings (Ranking at Half) (Preseason Ranking)
1. St. Louis Cardinals (1) (3) – I don’t know how they keep doing it – they just win. Their best pitcher went down for the year after a handful of starts, but will somehow miraculously return to the team in a relief role for playoffs! As a Mets fan having Wainwright in the bullpen is scarier than seeing him as a starter. Their star veteran OF didn’t play for most of the year and when he did play he was subpar. They gave up winless wonder Shelby Miller for a RF that never broke out offensively, but his defense remained among the best in the game. They keep pulling these random OF prospects out of nowhere who produce! Piscotty was their #1 ranked prospect heading into the season, but who the heck are Pham and Gruchck? They’re doing just as well! Jon Lackey, really?!! He’s never been this good ever and now he’s their Game 1 starter. A winning season, sure, playoffs, a stretch, but to win 100 games in the toughest division amid a sea of crucial injuries! Black devil magic is the only explanation! They lost Yadier Molina and Carlos Martinez right before the playoffs, and every baseball fan outside of St. Louis should be rooting for the Cubs, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them go deep into the playoffs, again. Somehow. I can’t think of a single candidate for MVP, Cy Young, or ROY on the MLB leading 100 win team…how is this even possible.
Final Record: 100-62
I’m hoping for a Mets/Blue Jays World Series, but as long as the Cardinals aren’t the team from the NL I’ll be happy.
2015 Wildcard Games
AL – Tuesday Oct 6th: Astros (Keuchel) @Yankees (Tanaka)
Keuchel is undefeated at home and just an average pitcher on the road, still he’s the likely AL Cy Young winner and a lefty, Yankee Stadium heavily favors lefty pitchers. Keuchel is also throwing on only 3 days rest, which is never a good thing. He also leads the league with 232 IP, more than a 30 IP increase from last year. However, in the extremely small sample size of 24 IP, Keuchel has shutdown the Yankees. If Keuchel can’t pitch at 100% or can’t remain in the game too long then the Yankees have a very good shot at beating this weak Astros bullpen, and on short rest this task doesn’t seem so insurmountable. Tanaka should at least perform decently, I was down on him going into the season, but he’s been above average all year. The bullpen is a huge strength for the Yankees and it’s where they have a huge advantage against Houston.
9. Toronto Blue Jays
I’m sorry. I want to rate them as the best team in the AL, but they’re the Blue Jays. As sure as Canadian maple syrup will be deliciously sticky this team will disappoint. Last year the Red Sox and Rays were neutered, the Yankee pitchers were dropping like flies, the Orioles lost “star” players Wieters and Machado, and this Jays team still blew it. I’ll give them one more chance though. Edwin Encarnacion is capable of hitting 16 HRs in a month and he’s reliably productive even through injuries. I could almost say the exact same thing about Bautista except his defense is better, he never earned a lovable error based nickname. Dickey isn’t the Cy Young guy he was in Queens, but him and Buehrle are reliable innings eaters. Shorty Marcus Stroman impressed last year, apparently Doc Halladay taught him a sinker and he was unhittable after that. Drew Hutcherson looks like a promising young flamethrower in the icy city of Toronto. This offense is nasty, they were in the top 5 in most offensive categories last year and now they added Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, if everyone stays relatively healthy, they should be the best offense in the league. How did the Blue Jays not win the Donaldson trade again? “So you’re telling me you guys only want Brett Lawrie and a handful of our midlevel prospects?” Moneyball failed here. Jose Reyes is still toiling around as one of the best SS in the league, offensively at least, but 2B and the OF outside of Bautista are weaknesses. Good thing they signed oft injured Michael Saunders… Yeah this team is good, please don’t blow this Canada.
Instead of doing the more traditional rain dance, Bautista does the HR dance to help teammates.
17. San Diego Padres
I can’t remember the last time the Padres were relevant, they’ve sort of always just been there. Anchorman 2 brought back the original cast, added a bunch other funny actors, and featured an even bigger brawl scene, but it still was just okay. This is what the Padres are doing, except they were never as good as Anchorman and they’re hoping that bringing in quality ingredients to their mediocre stew will make them better. Have I made enough arbitrary analogies? What the Padres are doing feels different than when Miami and Toronto failed to buy better teams, but maybe that’s because those two franchises pretty much bought the same cast of players. James Shields in Petco should help a team that relies on glass ace Andrew Cashner, remember when the Cashner for Rizzo trade felt like the Padres won? A year makes a ton of difference. Tyson Ross broke out, but he throws sliders over 40%, has over a 3 BB/9, and I feel like Petco hides his mistakes. Maybe the overuse of sliders doesn’t wreck his arm, but I like Ian Kennedy more than him this year. Justin Upton and Matt Kemp are good enough players to have elite numbers in expansive Petco Park, but their defense won’t exactly be good. I still think Wil Myers is going to be a star, but I’m uneasy about him in CF. The Padres infield is not good. Jedd Gyorko is the most interesting name in the infield and he needs to bounce back from last year to justify playing time. New acquisition Will Middlebrooks couldn’t do much in Fenway, Petco won’t do him any favors. This team wasn’t good last year, sporting the last place in almost every hitting category, yet still managed to win 77 games! They’re definitely better than last year and their division still has 2 very weak teams, I expect better than mediocre this year.
I’d be uncomfortable leaving my kid with that guy…just saying
Written by James Boyce
I came across this photo and I really liked it. The black and white contrasts, the pitcher and catcher warming up, the ball in the air, how the light seems to be act like a spot light, and the batter waiting, observing it all. It was also fun tracking down what game this was – Ted Williams is the batter, and it’s Boston vs. Sox in old Comiskey Park – but when? Its 2-1 top of the 6th but I couldn’t quite make out the right side of the score board until an eagle-eyed friend pointed out that the last two columns were the #s of the battery mates of each team – Billy Pierce and Sherm Lollar for the White Sox, and Frank Sullivan and Pete Daley for the Red Sox. Then it was easy to find via the Baseball Reference website.