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 National League division, the wildcard teams, and who should do battle in the National League Championship Series. Time to forecast and come up with who should come out on top. This shakes out like a year where the NL Central only gets one entrant into the dance. The Pirates might have another great year but fall just short, if only there was one more playoff spot.
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 American League variant you can check out 2016 MLB Predictions: Projecting American League Division Winners, Wildcard
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|World Series Representative|
National League East – Washington Nationals
To say that the Nationals under performed in 2015 is an understatement. How do you fix it? You bring in an old hat like Dusty Baker to manage the club and mold the youth. Of course, he just might kill the long term prospects of the pitching staff (ask Mark Prior and Kerry Wood) but we are talking about 2016. Players like Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman will return from injury to join the phenomenal Bryce Harper in a talented offense. Even losing Jordan Zimmerman, the Nationals still have Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez on the front end of the rotation and the gruff but solid Jonathan Papelbon to lock in the ninth.
National League Central – Chicago Cubs
Cubs fans will be able to sit back when the 100 year curse is broken soon enough, this team is for real without a doubt. They are stacked with young talent like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Anthony Rizzo to name just a few. They are a year old with added experience. They have the reigning Cy Young winner in Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester to run the front of the rotation. They brought in John Lackey and watched the talented Jason Hammel settle in the fifth spot, what a nice problem to have. Oh and they brought in multi-tool player Jason Heyward and the super sub jack of all trades in Ben Zobrist. This team is scary.
National League West – Arizona Diamondbacks
I had high hopes for the youngsters last year and they seemed to find their grove at the tail end. The offense is still there and improving with MVP contender Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, and drastically underrated A.J. Pollock. They have young talent in the staff and added two big arms to the front of the rotation. Everyone knows about Zack Greinke and just how good he is but let’s not forget about Shelby Miller, who is a young and talented plus arm. The top-3 pitchers in the rotation in Arizona are as formidable as almost any rotation in the league.
Wildcard One – New York Mets
It is hard to knock what the New York Mets did during their run to the 2015 World Series. The have three young and extremely talented pitchers at the front of their rotation with the likes of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom. Offensively, it is true that that the Mets led the National League in runs after the All-Star break, it is not a true representation. While great, can Yoenis Cespedes really keep that up after signing a nice deal, David Murphy moved on, and a middle of the NL offense is more realistic. Still with young Michael Conforto and crew, it is hard to find a way they do not at least grab a birth in the 2016 post-season.
Wildcard Two – San Francisco Giants
Well it is an even year so the Giants must make the playoffs and must win the World Series right? Well let’s not go that far but his team is still very good. They still have Matt Cain, who by the way is now the five in a crazy rotation that includes stud Madison Bumgarner, newly signed Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, plus the ageless Jake Peavy. They call all flat out pitch. Offensively they are not top of the league but the core group of Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, and the new addition of Denard Span make them plenty good enough to get in the post season and try for the even year mojo yet again.
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.