2016 MLB Season Predictions: Part One

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With baseball season around the corner, every blogger and writer with an internet connection is scrambling to put out their predictions for this upcoming season. The truth is, they don’t have any clue what’s about to happen. Luckily for you, we do! As we here at LWOS never like to miss out on the fun, we now proudly present our 2016 MLB Season Predictions: Part One.

Strongest Lineup

Daniel Sperry – Toronto Blue Jays: David Price may be gone, but Tulowitzki and Donaldson are here to stay. Tulo, Bautista, Donaldson, and Encarnacion would be cleanup hitters on close to three quarters of the league. Having all of them in one lineup will be deadly again.

Mike Salvatore – Blue Jays: Even though Tulo might come back to earth this year, the Jays still have the most potent offense in the AL. Between reigning MVP Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Russell Martin, no team can match the Jays firepower. Expect Toronto to mash its way to another AL East title.

Eric Kabakoff – Blue Jays: They already had a terrific offense before adding Troy Tulowitzki, and he’ll be there for a full season now.

Sean Couch – Blue Jays: Without a doubt, the biggest bats in Major League Baseball belong to the Jays. Toronto Boasts reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnación, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, and Kevin Pillar. This is a team that will have no trouble scoring runs in 2016.

Joshua Greenberg – Blue Jays: How can I deny it? No, seriously, tell me how. The Red Sox fan in me is adamant that Big Papi will mash in his final year, and that Travis Shaw will erase the very memory of Pablo Sandoval from this Earth. But I just can’t pick against Dinger City in this category.

John Daniel Mosier – Chicago Cubs: Joe Maddon will most likely keep Dexter Fowler in the leadoff spot, followed by Jason Heyward. Both Fowler and Heyward are great at getting on base and setting the table. The middle of the lineup provides the intimidation factor. Following Fowler and Heyward will be Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Kyle Schwarber. All three have the potential to hit thirty home runs and drive in ninety runs. The bottom of the lineup is by no means a cakewalk either. It could feature Ben Zobrist, Addison Russell, and Miguel Montero.

Jesse Smith – Cubs: I’d be a fool to pick any other team. There is enough raw talent on this offense to set me, a notorious Cub skeptic, on the edge of my seat. Kris Bryant is currently ordering cases from Kittles for all of his MVP trophies that are to come. Jason Heyward is a consistent threat. Anthony Rizzo is the leader they need. The only ones who can stop the Cubs from dominating the Central this year are the Cubs. I’m feeling 104 wins from the Northsiders.

Brandon Murphy – Detroit Tigers: This lineup has five potential 20+ home run hitters that won’t strike out at all. Expect Nick Castellanos and James McCann to take the next steps towards becoming major league hitters.

Matt Bruder – Blue Jays: The strongest lineup belongs to the team that scored the most runs in the majors last year. That of course is the lineup that boasts the big bats of Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin, and a full season of Troy Tulowitzki. They will once again lead the majors in runs.

Jake Aferiat – Blue Jays: Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson combined for 103 home runs. That makes it east to forget that Ryan Goins stole twenty-five bases and Chris Colabello hit fifteen home runs and .321 off the bench.

Nick Primeau – Blue Jays: Without a doubt it’s Toronto. The DH gives them the edge over the Cubs. With a team featuring Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnarcion, and Troy Tulowitzki, you arguably have the four best offensive players at their respective positions. No other team features that kind of fire power.

Andrew Grishaw – Cubs: This team is absolutely stacked; Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, and more. This lineup is going to absolutely dismantle the National League, and will be effective in late October.

Michael Beard – Cubs: The Cubs have a young and stacked lineup. They are highly talented and can hit for power, which they showcased in the 2015 playoffs. Thanks to the additions of Jason Hayward and Ben Zobrist, and re-signing Dexter Fowler, they cemented their lineup as highly formidable in 2016. They occasionally lacked timely hitting in 2015 which is why the Cubs pushed so hard to sign Heyward and Zobrist. Now, it’s time to sit back and watch the show, folks.

Strongest Rotation

Daniel Sperry – San Francisco Giants: Bumgarner and Cueto could be the deadliest top-of-the-rotation combination in baseball. With Samardzija and Cain to follow, the rotation is deeper than most people expect. SF has three Major League ready arms that they have no room for. That’s how deep they are.

Mike Salvatore – New York Mets: The 2015 NL Champs return their entire rotation from last season’s World Series squad. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and friends will continue to make life miserable for hitters in the National League. Oh yeah, and Zack Wheeler comes back this year too…

Eric Kabakoff – Mets: They go five deep, have the ageless Bartolo Colon to eat up innings, and then Zack Wheeler comes back. Scary.

Sean Couch – Mets: I’ve got to go with the Mets on this one. Their rotation was a big reason they made it to the World Series last year, and I think it’s going to take them far once again this year. With Matt Harvey, Jacob de Grom, Noah Syndergard, Steven Matz and Bartolo Colon, they Mets have the strongest rotation right now.

Joshua Greenberg – Tampa Bay Rays: I know what the Mets are capable of when healthly, but relying on that many power arms in the time of Tommy John mania just worries me. Very quietly, the Rays have assembled one of baseball’s betters staffs. The wins may not be there, but the peripheral numbers will be.

John Daniel Mosier – Mets: The Mets will be rolling out arguably the best three-starter rotation in the majors, with Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard. Steven Matz and the seemingly timeless Bartolo Colon lock down the fourth and fifth spots. Harvey and deGrom are top-tier, without a doubt. Along with Syndergaard, the trio beat up on lower-scoring teams last season, going 31-13 against opponents averaging less than 4.2 runs per game. Against those knocking in more, the Mets went 26-24. It may be worth following the trend again this season.

Jesse Smith – St. Louis Cardinals: Yes, this is bold. A lot of how we look at this prediction will hinge on the performance of Carlos Martinez. Martinez is only 24 and is extremely electric, particularly with the slider. He has at least a couple more years with veteran backstop Yadier Molina to help guide and mentor. Last year, Martinez finished with fourteen wins and a 3.01 earned run average, good for 14th and 13th in the league, respectively. If he can continue to develop, it makes the Chicago-St. Louis matchup all the more riveting.

Brandon Murphy – Mets: With this rotation, the Mets could end the season with the best record in baseball. It’s hard for me to see them losing many series.

Matt Bruder – Mets: The strongest rotation top to bottom belongs to the Mets. With Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, and Noah Syndergaard as your top three, and with Bartolo Colon never ceasing to amaze at the age of 42, they will be a tough team to score on. The depth of this rotation is what makes this team so dangerous.

Jake Aferiat – Mets: The Mets have Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom, arguably the best 1-2-3 combo since Maddux, Smoltz, and Glavine. They top that off with Steven Matz, who can double as a hitter, Bartolo Colon, who can somehow still throw a ball 60 feet 6 inches, and sixth starter Zack Wheeler, who, when healthy, could bump Colon to the bullpen.

Nick Primeau – Mets: Again, an easy answer. Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Zach Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz are all under 30 and could all be All Stars. The Indians and Giants also have great staffs, but they have potential holes, while the Mets have virtually none. When you include Bartolo Colon, the Mets have the most talented staff and the most depth of any starting staff in baseball.

Andrew Grishaw – Giants: Madison Bumgarner is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, and with the additions of Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, this rotation has the potential to be scary good. It is important to not forget that they will pitch most of their games in AT&T Park, which is pitcher-friendly.

Michael Beard – Mets: When you look at the success of the Mets starting five (Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz, and Wheeler), it’s difficult to say there is a better rotation in baseball. What this rotation did in 2015 was no fluke; these guys are that good and will be again in 2016. Colon has pitched well for the Mets and will serve as the fifth starter until Wheeler comes back from Tommy John in June. Having either one at their disposal is a very good thing for an already dominant rotation.

Strongest Bullpen

Daniel Sperry – New York Yankees: While the AL has plenty of deep bullpens (KC, Oak, Min, Tor), the Yankees bullpen is by far the deepest. Last year they almost overtook KC as the best bullpen in the AL, but the addition of Aroldis Chapman has put them well over the top. The Yankees pen won’t miss a beat with him being suspended for the first thirty games. When he and Miller get back, they might have to historically be the best bullpen ever.

Mike Salvatore – Yankees: They’ll have to survive the first month without new closer, Aroldis Chapman, but when you have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller to pick up the slack, you could be in worse shape. Of course, now that Miller is out for a month, things are hazier. Betances will close while Miller heals, and then both will move down a peg when Chapman returns from his suspension and becomes the closer. The rotation might be full of question marks, but this bullpen will shorten a lot of games.

Eric Kabakoff – Yankees: The Yankees three-headed monster of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, and Dellin Betances will turn their games into six-inning affairs. The three best strikeout relievers in the game are all in the same bullpen, and that’s some serious firepower.

Sean Couch – Yankees: Even with the recent thirty-game suspension of Aroldis Chapman, the New York Yankees have the strongest bullpen in baseball. In 2016, the trio of Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Chapman will look to replicate the success of the Kansas City Royals.

Joshua Greenberg – Boston Red Sox: This is my homer pick. I’m allowed one. It’s hard to deny how great New York’s ‘pen will be once Miller and Chapman return, but the Sox have a strong relief corps, too. Kimbrel is an All-Star closer, and Tazawa, Uehara, and a healthy Smith can bridge the gap between him and a questionable rotation.

Josh Daniel Mosier – Kansas City Royals: During their historic run through the American League playoffs, the Kansas City Royals have relied on the same basic formula: get a lead early and turn it over to the best bullpen arms in history. No team has ever had two relievers with at least sixty innings pitched in a season and an ERA below 1.50. The Royals bolstered their bullpen with the addition of Joakim Soria during the off-season, and look to continue the trend.

Jesse Smith – Royals: This has been the case for the last few seasons. I honestly do not see any team that can rival what this ‘pen has done for their team. They are solidified from long-relief to closing. Next question.

Brandon Murphy – Yankees: So… Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller (once healthy) run the anchor, and the Yankees get Chapman back in May? If the Yankees get to the 7th with the lead, they will win many games.

Matt Bruder – Yankees: What happens when you have one of the best bullpens in baseball, and then add flamethrower Aldoris Chapman? You have the best bullpen in baseball, and that’s exactly what the New York Yankees have done this off-season. A bullpen this good will shorten games and make the Yankees a tough team to beat.

Jake Aferiat – Yankees: With Aroldis Chapman joining the already potent combination of Dellin Betances, the first relief pitcher in history to record back-to-back 100+ strikeout seasons, and Andrew Miller (once healthy), Joe Girardi can mix and match and play any combination of guys in the 7th, 8th, or 9th innings. The problem will be the Yankees starters maintaining leads that long.

Nick Primeau – Royals: I was tempted to go with the Yankees here, but when you look at it closely, the real answer is the Royals. Davis, Herrera, Duffy, Soria, and Hochevar are all guys that have been getting it done for years. The Royals made it to a World Series and won a World Series in consecutive years on the strength of their bullpen. If they have a lead in the 6th inning, the game is over. With no true ace, the Royals bullpen carries their pitching. They had a combined 2.72 ERA last season. Enough said.

Andrew Grishaw – Yankees: Adding Aroldis Chapman is what puts the 2016 Yankees bullpen over the top. Along with Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, James Pazos, and Branden Pinder, this bullpen could be one of the best we’ve seen in a long time. Gaining a big lead early in games will be the key to beating New York in 2016.

Michael Beard – Yankees: The Yankees beefed up their bullpen in big way by signing flame thrower Aroldis Chapman this offseason. They ranked second in all of baseball last year without Chapman, so they should be number one this year upon the return of his thirty game suspension. Andrew Miller would have been the interim closer for those thirty games. Now Betances will be. The Yankees will use either CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova in the bullpen as well this season.

Want more? Check back tomorrow for Part Two.

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