2016 MLB Preview and Predictions

I do not post much baseball on this blog, but I have compiled my 2016 MLB Preview and Predictions. Using the same formula as my basketball predictions, I rank each position, and use a complex, MIT style formula to come up with a "score". The score is then used to develop standings. I am going to attempt a weekly MLB Power Rankings column, and my first Power Rankings will be completely based off of those predictions.

Until then, enjoy this post, and go Cubs!

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National League West

1. New York Mets. It is so difficult to keep a young pitching staff healthy long term, but the window is definitely open for the Mets to win a World Series title, especially with an improved offense that will have Yoenis Cespedes for the entire year.

2. Washington Nationals. The Nationals always look better on paper than the on the field product. Perhaps Dusty Baker can bring the best out of this perennially underachieving bunch.

3. Miami Marlins. The Marlins have one of the best young hitters (Giancarlo Stanton) and pitchers (Jose Fernandez) in the game. The key will be for those superstars to make it through a whole season. If the young lineup can step up, Miami could steal a Wild Card berth.

4. Atlanta Braves. George Bush Sr. was still president the last time Atlanta underwent a complete rebuild. The Braves have completely restocked their farm system with an eye towards being competitive when their new stadium opens in a few years.

5. Philadelphia Phillies. Although about three years too late, the Phillies finally blew up the core that brought the team so much success earlier in the decade. The new generation of Phillies will be lead by Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola and JP Crawford.

National League Central

1. Chicago Cubs. The Cubs are built to win a ton of regular season games. But if they hope to return to the World Series, the young lineup will likely have to perform against the likes of the Mets, Giants and Cardinals pitching staff in the playoffs.

2. St. Louis Cardinals *. Everyone seems to forget about the Cardinals, even though they won 100 games during an injury plagued 2015 campaign. Gone are John Lackey and Jason Heyward, but even more solid young talent has arrived to The Show.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates *. The Pirates are on their best run since the Sid Bream/Bobby Bonilla/Barry Bonds days, but they can't seem to get over that Wild Card game hump. If Tyler Glasnow can make an impact when he arrives and Juan Nicasio carry over a tremendous Spring Training performance, Pittsburgh might not have to worry about that pesky play in game.

4. Milwaukee Brewers. Playing in a division with the three best teams in baseball, the Brewers decided to blow it up and rebuild. The farm system is stocked quite nicely, led by Orlando Arcia, one of the most dynamic players in the minor leagues.

5. Cincinnati Reds. The Reds completely bottomed out in 2015. In response, they dealt long time ace Johnny Cueto during the season and sent away Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman during the off season. Expect the team to lose big while developing a very young, but talented pitching staff.

National League West

1. San Francisco Giants. I'm not hopping on the silly "It's an even year so pencil the Giants in for a World Series championship" train. San Francisco does have enough to make it back to the playoffs, led by a rotation that welcomes Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. With a solid pitching staff and an underrated lineup, if the Giants get in the playoffs, they could bring home yet another trophy.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks. Arizona has decided to go for it, spending big to bring in Zack Greinke and trading a ton to land Shelby Miller. The rotation is top heavy and the lineup is unbalanced, but any team with Greinke, AJ Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt has a chance to make some noise.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers. Other than Clayton Kershaw, who is the best pitcher on the planet, it is hard to get excited about this roster. The rotation is full of question marks and the lineup is full of overpaid, underperforming players. Of course, Los Angeles has a loaded farm system and could easily upgrade their major league roster for a playoff push.

4. Colorado Rockies. The Rockies have been in existence for over two decades and still have not figured out how to build a sustained winner. Colorado has given up on trying to field a competitive rotation, and will hope to outslug opponents to wins. It won't work.

5. San Diego Padres. The new general manager tried for a quick fix in 2015, but that did not work. The team was able to recoup some minor league depth with a couple of off season trades. It looks like another long season in San Diego, for a team without much of an identity.

American League East

1. Toronto Blue Jays. The offense should continue to rake, with a devastating middle of the order featuring Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Russell Martin. If one or two young pitchers can step up Toronto could return to the playoffs.

2. Boston Red Sox *. The quartet of Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and Pablo Sandoval make more than some entire teams, but they have all been terrible investments for the Red Sox. Thanks to the acquisitions of David Price and Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox manage to squeak into the playoffs in this scenario.

3. New York Yankees. The lineup is old and the pitching staff is young. New York will hope to ride one of the most ridiculous (on paper) bullpens in the history of the sport. Of course, they will have to start the season without two thirds of that trio, which shows how fickle pitching can be.

4. Baltimore Orioles. Like the Blue Jays, Baltimore has the offense to contend, but might struggle to keep opposing teams off the base paths. Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman are talented starters who have yet to fulfill their potential. With some pitching luck, the Orioles could win a wide open division.

5. Tampa Bay Rays. At this point, Tampa Bay looks like the only team without much of a chance to win the American League East. Unlike the rest of the division, the Rays will ride their pitching depth and talent. Evan Longoria never quite developed into a superstar, and the rest of the lineup is severely lacking.

American League Central

1. Cleveland Indians. Could this finally be the year a Cleveland sports team wins it all? The Indians are certainly built for playoff success, behind one of the best trio of starting pitchers in baseball. If a young lineup can continue to improve, the Indians could be World Series bound.

2. Kansas City Royals *. I remember picking the Royals to win the World Series on this very blog back in 2012. It took a few years longer, but Kansas City parlayed all of that losing into a World Series trophy. This is a team that is built for the long haul with a young potent offense and lights out bullpen, but with a small payroll, will have to continue to get creative to field a championship caliber starting rotation.

3. Detroit Tigers. The Tigers championship window has likely closed, but that didn't stop the franchise from handing out huge contracts to Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann. Detroit still has superstar Miguel Cabrera, but the rotation is too weak and the bottom of the lineup too poor for Detroit to make a serious run.

4. Chicago White Sox. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon is a great pitching trio to build around, but the offense could struggle to score runs. Todd Frazier joins Jose Abreu, but there is simply not enough bats to make a serious run in the American League's toughest division.

5. Minnesota Twins. The Twins were the surprise of baseball before fading late. They don't have the arms to contend in 2016, but the lineup features some serious potential superstar talent, led by mega prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. With major pitching talent on the way, Minnesota could be the next Royals/Mets/Astros/Cubs team to make an impact.

American League West

1. Houston Astros. All of those 100 loss seasons finally paid off, as Carlos Correa and a talented pitching staff carried Houston back into the playoffs. The scary thing is, Jose Altuve and Carlos Gomez are the only established offensive players on the roster. With Correa, George Springer and AJ Reed, the lineup could quickly become as potent as the pitching staff, which is close to elite. The Astros could hoist the World Series trophy in 2016.

2. Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have been stuck in a standstill for years, despite efforts to spend money and improve the roster. There is reason for optimism, behind a solid deep rotation and an offense that has two of the better hitters in the American League. The AL west is perhaps the most winnable division in the game, and the Mariners could be a sleeper playoff team.

3. Texas Rangers. The Rangers have been hit hard by injuries since back to back World Series appearances earlier this decade. In 2014 it was basically the whole team. In 2015 it was Yu Darvish. Texas has a dangerous, deep, talented lineup and the addition of Cole Hamels last year takes some pressure off Darvish. Texas has the farm system to swing a trade or two, and could make it back to the playoffs in short order.

4. Los Angeles Angels. For years, the Angels tried to buy wins, but that strategy is outdated in today's game. Albert Pujols, CJ Wilson and Josh Hamilton have not brought much success to Los Angeles. Even worse, the farm system is completely barren. The Angels traded most of their remaining talent to the Braves for Andrelton Simmons. Mike Trout won't be enough to bring Los Angeles back to relevancy.

5. Oakland Athletics. Billy Beane always seems to find a way to win regular season games in Oakland, but he faces one of his stiffest tests yet. The A's are still reeling from the Addison Russell and Josh Donaldson trades. Mr. Moneyball will have to pull out one of his best magic tricks to rebuild a depleted rotation and empty farm system.

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Playoff Predictions

National League

1. Chicago Cubs
2. New York Mets
3. San Francisco Giants
4. St. Louis Cardinals
5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Wild Card

St. Louis over Pittsburgh

Once again the Pirates fail to advance past the Wild Card playoff game despite finishing with the seventh best record in my predictions. Perhaps another injustice will cause the Wild Card round to be stretched to three games.

NLDS

St. Louis over Chicago

The Cubs offense was shut down by the Mets during the 2015 NLCS, and the Cardinals staff is nearly as deep and talented. As a Cubs fan, as much as I hate to type this prediction, pitching beats hitting until proven otherwise.

San Francisco over New York

This series could go five games, and the winner would really be a toss up. I'll go with the Giants, because even year, yadda yadda yadda and all.

NLCS

St. Louis over San Francisco

Perhaps the two best run franchises in baseball meet for yet another trip to the World Series. This time, the Cardinals pitching staff edges out San Francisco's in 7 games.

American League

1. Houston Astros
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Toronto Blue Jays
4. Kansas City Royals
5. Boston Red Sox

Wild Card

Kansas City over Boston

In these one game situations, I usually go with the team with the best starting pitcher, but David Price has not shown that he capable of that big game. I'll roll with the Royals and their experience to make it to the ALDS for the third straight year.

ALDS

Houston over Kansas City

Again, it's hard to pick against the Royals, but I really like what the Astros bring to the table. The rotation is deep and powerful, and built for a deep playoff run.

Cleveland over Toronto

As you can see, I am of the belief that pitching beats hitting. This should be a great clash of Toronto's dynamic offense against Cleveland's young loaded rotation. I'll go with the Indians here.

ALCS

Cleveland over Houston

Two of the best rotations in the American league featuring the last two AL Cy Young award winners. Two of the most dynamic young shortstops in the game. This should be a fun series between two long suffering fan bases. It's a toss up, but I'll go with Cleveland here.

World Series

St. Louis Cardinals over Cleveland Indians

As much as I would like to see a team like Cleveland, Chicago, Houston or Toronto win it all, I ended up going with the Cardinals to bring home yet another trophy. This is a deep, playoff tested team that always seems to rise up when the chips are down. Is that enough sports clich├ęs thrown into one sentence for you?

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Award Predictions

National League

MVP - 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt is smack dab in the middle of his prime, and is a legit .320/30/100 player who chips in 20 steals and plays solid defense. The first base position is not what it used to be offensively, but Goldschmidt is as good as they come.

Dark Horse MVP - 3B Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
Carpenter might be the best player in baseball that no one talks about. He plays solid defense, draws a ton of walks and even exploded with 28 homeruns last year. If Dustin Pedroia and Jimmy Rollins can win MVP awards, so can Carpenter, who

Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
It is hard to pick against the most dominating pitcher in the game. The only thing that could keep Kershaw from a Cy Young award is his team's success, and the greater success of another team, such as Jake Arrieta and the Cubs last year.

Dark Horse Cy Young - Stephen Strasburg, Nationals
One of these years Strasburg will stay healthy, remain consistent and post that tremendous season he is clearly capable of. As an upcoming free agent, that could be 2016.

American League

MVP - SS Carlos Correa, Astros
The hype is real. Carlos Correa was the top overall pick in the draft several years ago, tore the cover off the ball during his minor league career and continued to hit once he reached The Show. Correa draws comparisons to Alex Rodriguez as a once in a generation talent, and the MVP awards could start rolling in as soon as this year.

Dark Horse MVP - OF Lorenzo Cain, Royals
Cain has the talent to put together a 30/30 season with a .900 OPS. Sitting in the middle of a deep lineup and on top of his game, he could garner some MVP consideration.

Cy Young - Chris Sale, White Sox
In 2015, Sale posted a stellar 274:42 K:BB ratio. If he can get that ERA and WHIP back to 2014 levels, the 27 year old could establish himself as the best pitcher in baseball.

Dark Horse Cy Young - Danny Salazar, Indians
This could really go to Carlos Carrasco or Danny Salazar. Salazar had a brief stint in the minors in 2015, but was terrific when he came back. Only 26, he has the stuff to strike out 250 batters.

Jonathan Carrano

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