Sports

Major League Baseball Preview

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Troy Tulowitzki leads the Toronto Blue Jays to the playoffs, according to Nick Viennas. Photo Credit, Arturo Pardavila III, Flickr.

Can you smell that? It’s the smell of cracker jacks, hot dogs, burgers, and freshly cut grass. No, I am not talking about a spring cook-out; I am referring to the upcoming Major League Baseball season. What a beautiful time, with families marching into stadiums all over the country to watch America’s pastime.

Today, Nick Viennas and I will be previewing the upcoming 2016 MLB season. As Spring Training is well underway and Opening Day is right around the corner, we sat down to project the division standings, award winners, and the postseason bracket. Viennas projected the American League, and I the National League.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The 2015 season was full of surprising teams, including the Houston Astros, who had been the laughing stock of the American League for the past three seasons and out of nowhere won their division. Another team that comes to mind, but probably wasn’t a surprise to some people, is the Toronto Blue Jays, who made the decision to go all-in on offense by acquiring shortstop Troy Tulowitzki then Cy Young award winner David Price.

Let’s start with the preview:

AL East
1. Toronto Blue Jays
2. Boston Red Sox
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. New York Yankees
5. Tampa Bay Rays

I believe the Blue Jays will repeat as the AL East champions for one reason. That reason is that even with an average rotation last year, their juggernaut offense carried them into October. The AL East is a quirky division. Any of these teams could realistically win the division, but I think Toronto is the most well-rounded team.

AL Central
1. Kansas City Royals
2. Chicago White Sox
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Detroit Tigers

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The Kansas City Royals lead the pack in the AL Central, look to repeat as division champions. Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.

The Royals have a firm grasp on the AL Central; coming off back-to-back World Series appearances, they aren’t slowing down. While the White Sox (on paper) seem to have improved, I don’t think they will be good enough to overtake the AL Central crown.

AL West
1. Houston Astros
2. Texas Rangers
3. Los Angeles Angels
4. Oakland Athletics
5. Seattle Mariners

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Dallas Keuchel, the ace of the Houston Astros. Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavilla III, Flickr.

Probably the most surprising team of 2015, the Houston Astros stole the AL West from underneath Texas’ nose. With their young core and tremendous upside, I highly believe that the Astros are the best team in the American League and that they are serious World Series contenders.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Last season, one of biggest stories in the National League was the meltdown of the Washington Nationals. The Mets came out, clinched the division, and ultimately took the NL Pennant. Another interesting story line in the 2015 season was the rise of the NL Central. The Central is hands down the strongest division in baseball. Stacked with the Chicago Cubs, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Central dominates compared to the rest of the National League.

Here is the Preview:

NL East
1. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets
3. Miami Marlins
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. Atlanta Braves

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Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Photo Credit, Keith Allison, Flickr.

I picked my Washington Nationals as the favorite to win the East based purely on the facts. Okay, maybe a little bias was thrown in there as well. But opinions aside, the key for the Nationals in 2016 will be to stay healthy. The Nats have the reigning NL MVP, two Cy Young hopefuls in the form of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and their shortstop of the future, Trea Turner.

NL Central
1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Pittsburg Pirates
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Cincinnati Reds

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Kris Bryant, the NL Rookie of the Year, for the Chicago Cubs. Photo Credit: Minda Hass, Flickr.

The Chicago Cubs come into 2016 looking like the favorites to win the whole National League. The Cubs have a perfect mix of veterans and budding superstars, all coached by the amazing Joe Maddon. Look for reigning NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant to compete for the home run crown and for their young superstars to lead them near a 100 win season.

NL West
1. San Fransisco Giants
2. Los Angeles Dodgers
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. San Diego Padres
5. Colorado Rockies

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It is an even year, which means things are looking up for Buster Posey’s Giants. Photo Credit: Roger Jones, Flickr.

It is an even year, folks. We know it, and the Giants know it. The Giants look poised to return to the postseason this fall after adding some key pieces to their roster during the off season. It also helps the Giants that the Los Angeles Dodgers did not seem to address their needs over the off season, projecting the Giants over LA to win the division.

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