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
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
Fantasy All Stars (5×5, on-base leagues)
C – Buster Posey, SF – Has 3 titles in 5 years and is putting up solid numbers again. I thought where he was going in the draft was too high, 3rd round, but so far he’s been worth it.
C – Derek Norris, SD – He was the 2nd choice in OAK, because Vogt is amazing, but now he’s 1st in SD. He’s been the consolation prize for fantasy players everywhere who missed out on Vogt.
1B – Paul Goldschmidt, AZ – the #1 rated player on Yahoo! for good reason, maybe people will finally start talking about him in real baseball. I can’t not see him going 1st overall next year.
1B – Anthony Rizzo, CHI – Theo’s poster boy, but for some reason ESPN only seems to mention Kris Bryant. The Cubs made out on that deal, but I’m still hoping for Cashner to put it all together. The SBs have been a pleasant surprise, proving that any smart player with an aggressive manager can get to 20 SBs easily. Continue reading
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.
23. Oakland Athletics
I have no idea how to rank this team. They had the highest run differential in 2014 but only went 29-38 after the half and stumbled into a wildcard game with the miraculous Royals. They probably should have won that game and could very well have went to the World Series, but they didn’t. And now we’re having this conversation. Cespedes, Donaldson, Moss, Norris, Lowrie (the duo of Lawrie and Lowrie were name buddies destined to play together!) and others are gone. The Lester, Samardzija, and Hammel rentals are over, so I doubt their pitching will be as strong this year. I thought the whole point of giving up your best prospects for Samardzija (and Hammel I guess) was because they could keep him for an additional year, but they shipped him to the White Sox for Semien and prospects. The A’s are hoping Kazmir can remain healthy enough to pitch a full season again and Jesse Chavez to not break down like he did last year. Sonny Gray looks like a budding star, but he had some horrendous months and his K/9 regressed. Despite losing a ton of key players, the A’s went out and signed Billy Butler…not even the Royals wanted to resign him. They also acquired Ben Zobrist, and who knows maybe Brett Lawrie breaks out this year, I know I’m rooting for an Ike Davis revival. Ben Zobrist always has a high WAR, but somehow Coco Crisp is their most familiar player…because whenever I think of Coco Crisp I think of franchise center piece and not breakfast cereal. They traded Yunel Escobar for Tyler Clippard and he should work out better in the bullpen than last years Jim Johnson signing. I couldn’t explain how they were doing so well the past few years, but this year seems different. It feels like Billy Beane has been restocking the farm system while still trying to remain fairly competitive, but I don’t think they will be. I can’t begin to understand how Beane thinks, but if the A’s are competitive again this year, I swear he must be cheating somehow.
On the left a handsome baseball GM. On the right Brad Pitt. I can’t tell the difference anymore.
30. Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollin’s 15 year tenure with the Phillies is over, but it’s only the beginning. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Rollins, a grown man, called himself Jimmy when playing for the city of Philly, he was a poet and he know it. Sources tell us he’s officially going by Jim now that he’s a Dodger. The Phillies are in fire sale mode, everyone is on the chopping block but no one wants to negotiate with Amaro Jr. Chase Utley’s still on the team and wants to retire a Phillie, but so did Rollins and he’s already gone. I don’t think too many fans would be sad to see Ryan Howard leave, but his burdensome contract should keep him in the cheesesteak capital for 2 more years at least. Cole Hamels is still a stud, but my gut tells me he won’t be on the team next year. Behind Hamels in the rotation is Cliff Lee. The Phillies tried rushing him back from injury last year to increase his trade value, but it had the opposite effect. I want to say he’ll bounce back, but I never imagined Halladay would disappear as quick as he did, so I’ll remain skeptical. The Phillies then have…Aaron Harang and 2 starters I don’t know. Maybe Dominic Brown finally puts together sustained success, maybe Ryan Howard finally bounces back to his old self, maybe Jonathan Papelbon stops being terrible. The best scenario for this team would be a bolstered farm system and the first overall pick.
At least they have the best mascot named the Phanatic
Special thanks to contributing writer James Boyce.
In the playoffs I’ll be rooting for the Pirates and the Royals.
Teams Rankings (previous month)
1. Angels (1) – Best overall record.
2. Nationals (4) – Best record in the NL and best record in September at 19-8.
3. Orioles (3) – Top spot in AL East.
4. Dodgers (5) – Top spot in NL West, plus they have Kershaw, though as wonderful as he’s been in the regular season, his post season ERA is 4.23.
5. Cardinals (10) – Top spot in NL Central and fended off…
6. Pirates (14) – an equally hot Pirates team on the last day. Hosting WC game.
7. Tigers (9) – Top spot in AL Central and fended off…
8. Kansas City (6) – an equally hot Royals team on the last day, but back in the playoffs for the first time in 29 years. Hosting WC game.
9. Giants (11) – Visiting the Pirates in WC battle.
10. Athletics (2) – Visiting the Royals in WC battle. Had awful September. Limped into playoffs, holding off Mariners on last day.