America’s Pastime is about to make its triumphant return to battle for the apex of the sports world to with the NBA and the NFL Draft. The ritual that is heading to the ballpark, watching or listening to telecasts, and fantasy baseball is returning once again. Spring Training will be here before you know it and the nations of faithful fans all awake with the hope that this is “their year.” Its baseball season let everyone rejoice.
Sports bars, job sites and cubical mazes will be filled with fan conversations centered on the 2016 Major League Baseball season. Who will make the playoffs? Who will win the World Series? This time of year there are always more questions than answers. That is the beauty of it all. In fact, picking winners and predicting divisions or World Series teams is often an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, there are some teams that make more sense than others.
It is time to take a quick look at each American League division, the wildcard teams, and who should do battle in the American League Championship Series. Time to forecast and come up with who should come out on top. This year’s looks like the return, after a brief hiatus of the AL East with three teams in line to make the 2016 post-season. Will it play out that way? Time will tell.
There are polls added so the nation can weight in as well. Let’s see who got it right and who got it wrong over the coming months. If you are looking for the National League variant you can check out 2016 MLB Predictions: Projecting National League Division Winners, Wildcard
|Category||2015 Final Results||2016 Predictions|
|World Series Representative|
American League East – New York Yankees
The top three in the Al East could go in any direction and the Red Sox made the big splash but the Yankees added Aroldis Chapman to go with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. That seventh-eighth-ninth could be the best in the game and help hide flaws in the rotation. Offensively they got better with the major upgrade of Starlin Castro at second and other youngster is Aaron Hicks. Injury is always a concern but given reasonable health it can be expected that the Yankees return to the top of the AL East once again especially since the top-3 will all be in the 86-90 win range.
American League Central – Kansas City Royals
Experts are predicting the demise of the Royals in 2016. I just do not see it. The defending champs return the key core of their team including Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez and Alex Gordon. They are a team who relies on timely hitting not subject to as many team wide slumps. Their rotation is good but not great yet they added Ian Kennedy and his ability to swallow innings and rest the insanely talented bullpen. The seventh, eighth, and ninth inning corps could arguably be the best in baseball.
American League West – Houston Astros
Make no mistake about it; the Houston Astros are no flash in the pan. They are real and will step forward off of last season’s surprise. Players like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer are more seasoned now and even checked the playoff experience block. Dallas Keuchel, winner of the 2015 Al Cy Young award, leads a rotation including the likes of Collin McHugh and closer Ken Giles. They are real and they are formidable then when considering the concerns around the Rangers and Angels, the division gives the default nod as added boost to fluff the win column a bit.
Wildcard One – Boston Red Sox
In last year’s offseason the Red Sox won the name game with the signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez but both we overbuys and did not resolve the core concern of pitching, that reflected in their final record. This offseason, they addressed it in a big way with the addition of David Price as the true ace with experience in the AL East. They also added Carson Smith with his high strikeout rate and stud closer Craig Kimbrel to shore up the bullpen. This is not the return of the king but they made solid moves despite the price tag (no pun intended) and can reach the post-season.
Wildcard Two – Toronto Blue Jays
Runs will continue to be scored in Toronto where they scored over 100 more runs than the rest of the league last year. Yes it is true that they lost David Price to a division rival and it will hurt but all was not lost. The return of Marcus Stroman, a player I have been high on for a while, will be a major plus for a team in need of an ace. Aaron Sanchez will return to the rotation and there staff is still good enough to win 85 games and round out the wildcard.
To know how these teams will all shake out in the 2016 post-season just take a look at the American League Championship Series, National League Championship Series, and World Series projections.