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.
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
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.
24. Colorado Rockies
The Rockies always seem to start the season blazing hot, throwing a puff of smoke infront of their fan’s red eyes and raising their hopes up sky high, only to have their hopes ripped apart well before the All Star break. If their dank hitting could stop chronically getting injured every year, maybe they can keep their trainwreck of a pitching staff afloat and win their weak division. To be blunt, things could be worse right? At least Rockies fans can get really high…when they go see their games live at Coors Stadium. I guess it’s better when your high producing offense rolls up and burns in the beginning of the season rather than when it matters most in the
Super Bowl…every year. I’m blown away by how good this team can hit, especially at home, but winning is a joint effort and the pitching staff is just…up in smoke. Jhoulys Chacin is no ace… I mean this team was desperate enough to trade for Astros pitcher Jordan Lyles, and he was barely good enough to play for the Astros…THE ASTROS. At least Denver fans can look forward to Peyote Manning and freshly baked cookies…to eat when they’re stoned.