2016 MLB Season Predictions: Part Two

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 Two.

Biggest Surprise

Daniel Sperry – The Minnesota Twins are way under the radar, but I’ll tip them to be this year’s Astros. They have a lot of young offensive talent, but they also have a veteran pitching staff and a solid bullpen. Add in the fact that they can play great defense, and you can expect them to be the biggest shock in the AL.

Mike Salvatore – The Los Angeles Angels will finish last in the AL West. Aside from Mike Trout and a banged up Albert Pujols, the offense packs little, if any, punch. While the rotation may be the strength of the team, it’s still spotty at best. With the Astros and Rangers looking to build off of last season’s success, coupled with the potential of the Mariners in 2016, don’t be surprised to see the Angels fighting the A’s to avoid the basement this season.

Eric Kabakoff – The Miami Marlins will be better than expected. Don Mattingly is guiding the team, Barry Bonds stars as hitting coach, and the lineup features Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton. Their outfield could be terrific, J.T. Realmuto is a find at catcher, and any pitching staff with Jose Fernandez is a good one. They could surprise a lot of people.

Sean Couch – After back-to-back World Series appearances, and a World Series victory in 2015, the Kansas City Royals will miss the World Series in 2016.

Joshua Greenberg – We will see the Yankees in the ALCS. I hate it, but that bullpen should be scary good once all the pieces are available. The rotation is iffy, but they can score enough runs to get it to Chapman and company with the lead in most games.

John Daniel Mosier – Stephen Piscotty began to make a name for himself last year playing in the final sixty-three games for the Cardinals. He batted an imposing .305 with seven home runs, thirty-nine RBI, and twnety-nine runs scored. With production like that, Piscotty could land himself in the middle of an already talented lineup. Jason Heyward’s departure and the struggles of Matt Adams make playing time not an issue, especially since Piscotty can play outfield and first base.

Jesse Smith – After a dismal 2015 campaign that left the club with ventriloquist-like management, the Fish are poised for a rebound. With Dan Jennings no longer running the show in the club house and above, the 2016 Marlins lineup has a lot to offer. That being said, I wouldn’t expect a run at the playoffs just yet, but we can assume better than a ninety-one-loss season. Miami found themselves a bona-fide leadoff man in Dee Gordon to set the buffet of power for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich. This team will only go as far as the rotation will let them. It will be up to young flame-thrower Jose Fernandez and newly acquired Edwin Jackson to carry their top-heavy starters.

Brandon Murphy – While everyone is still wondering why they made the Shelby Miller trade (including myself), the Diamondbacks possess a dynamic 1-2-3 rotation and one of the strongest lineups in baseball. Expect them to compete until game 162 for a NL West crown.

Matt Bruder – While he may not be an unknown to Cub fans, Javier Baez is a young man who could make some noise this year. He’s been a top prospect for years, and this is the year he finally breaks out. Given a chance at either of the middle infield positions, he will excel. I see him as a man who could earn significant playing time at shortstop as the year progresses.

Jake Aferiat – Arizona Diamondbacks won’t make the playoffs. Despite going out and signing Zack Greinke and trading for Shelby Miller, the Giants are the team to beat in the West, and both NL Wild Card spots will be taken by whichever two NL Central teams don’t win that division.

Nick Primeau – Nolan Arenado, although he had a stellar year last year and is best known for his gold-glove defense, is under-appreciated thanks to playing on Colorado. He hit forty-one home runs last year and won his third gold glove in a row. If he raises his average or OBP a little, he’s a top-five position player. I think he’ll do that this year and get the credit he deserves.

Andrew Grishaw – Zack Greinke is a huge acquisition, but he himself is not the sole reason that I have the Diamondbacks winning the NL West this season. Their returning lineup of power bats and consistent production, led by Paul Goldschmidt, is going to have a breakout season. A healthy team will deliver Arizona their first NL West title since 2011.

Michael Beard – Last season, Justin Verlander heard the rumblings concerning the possibility of his retirement. However, according to him, that isn’t on the table. He says he feels great a year and a half removed form his surgery and will be back to his old dominating form this year. My biggest surprise this season is going to be Justin Verlander. I predict he will once again be an All Star.

Biggest Disappointment

Daniel Sperry – The Pittsburgh Pirates have a really solid rotation and a decent bullpen, but their offense’s ability to manufacture enough runs is a serious issue. Depth is a major concern for them, as one injury to a position player for longer than a month or two will see them lose significant ground in the playoff race. Unfortunately, I don’t see them making a fifth-consecutive Wild Card appearance.

Mike Salvatore – With their payroll, you could argue if the Angels finish last, they would be the biggest disappointment, but the $100 million shortstop in the Great North will be the season’s biggest disappointment. For years, Tulowitzki put up gaudy numbers in Colordao, though he always battled injuries. Now, entering his age 31 season, Tulo is a prime candidate to begin regressing. If you look closely, that regression started when he was moved to Toronto at the trade deadline last year. Tulowitzki hit only .239 after joining the Blue Jays, and by the end of 2016, he will be the third best shortstop in the AL East, behind Xander Bogaerts and Didi Gregorius.

Eric Kabakoff – Jonathan Papelbon has been very good for a very long time. But he’s 35 now, has a lot of mileage, and is pitching for a team with a new manager and a lot of uncertainty. There’s also bound to be at least one of his patented head-case eruptions.

Sean Couch – I think the San Francisco Giants took a big risk on Jeff Samardzija. The Giants are paying $90 million over five years for a guy that had a losing record last year and an ERA that approached five. Samardzija has had good seasons, but owns a career 4.09 ERA, 47-61 record, 1.278 WHIP and a 3.84 FIP. I just don’t see it.

Joshua Greenberg – After the moves they made this off-season to bolster their rotation, it’s division title or bust for the Diamondbacks, and I just don’t think they’ll do it. The have a very good offense and a solid defense behind what is ostensibly a formidable rotation. On paper, it looks like it’s theirs. Yet all-in seasons rarely work out, and I think it will be hard to beat a very talented and experienced Giants squad.

John Daniel Mosier – Justin Verlander, now 33, has earned nearly every award that can be given to a pitcher in the Major Leagues. He has earned the Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young, the MLB Player of the Year, the pitching Triple Crown, the American League MVP, and several invitations to All-Star Games. He still has one award left to win: the World Series MVP. Verlander’s heater dipped under 93 MPH for the second consecutive season, begging the question of whether or not he is still an elite fantasy arm.

Jesse Smith – Expectations are always high in Hollywood, but I’m thinking we should lower them for the boys in blue. The Dodgers will be in the playoff hunt and I guarantee that, but I do not see them as a legitimate contender. Kershaw can only play 1/5 of the time, and losing Greinke will hurt a lot more than people realize. Yasiel Puig is not ready to carry a lineup just yet. Don’t be surprised if the Dodgers slip to third place.

Brandon Murphy – The Justin Upton/Craig Kimbrel deals blew up on the Padres. A horrible first half will result in the trades of Tyson Ross and James Shields, and San Diego will finish in the bottom five of the National League.

Matt Bruder – The biggest disappointment of the season will be David Price and the Boston Red Sox. Price will not be bad, but he will be unable to live up to the money he is being paid and will not be able to bring Boston to the post-season. Look for him to finish far from the top in most major pitching categories.

Jake Aferiat – Oakland Athletics failure to make moves is very disappointing. Billy Beane’s moneyball strategy is finally proving ineffective. The A’s lost ninety-four games a season ago and made almost no moves this off-season. There is still a glaring hole in left field, where one of either Sam Fuld or Coco Crisp was slated to play. They also lost starter Jarrod Parker, who broke his elbow, meaning the only reliable pitcher is perennial All Star and top-three Cy Young finisher Sonny Gray.

Nick Primeau – Either Jake Arrieta, or the New York Mets. Arrieta pitched a lot of innings last year and had his best season surprisingly late in his career. I think those innings and the weight of expectations will hurt Arrieta. He might be really good again, but another year like 2015 is unlikely. The Mets have the best rotation in baseball, but I don’t think their offense is good at all and it will ultimately hold them back. Cespedes carried their offense last season and he’ll have to do it again in 2016.

Andrew Grishaw – After signing one of the biggest contracts in MLB history in 2011, Albert Pujols was an All Star again for the first time in 2015. Pujols put up some pretty solid numbers (forty home runs and ninety-five RBI), but he only had a .244 average. That is an important statistic. As he ages, his overall production will continue to decline.

Michael Beard – Unfortunately for LA fans, the Dodgers seem doomed by the injury bug before they even had a chance to get going this year. That is a tough NL West to compete in and their stars are going by the wayside with every passing day. They aren’t even sure who will be toeing the rubber Opening Day. Due to these injuries, I believe they will miss the playoffs altogether in 2016.

Bold Predictions

Daniel Sperry – The Cardinals will miss the playoffs. While their division is weak at the bottom, the Cubs will be too good for them to deal with. Their biggest issue doesn’t lie within the division, it actually lies in the divisions surrounding them. The depth of the NL West will prove problematic, as Arizona has vastly improved from last season. I’ll predict the NL Central will be lucky to get even one of the Wild Card slots.

Mike Salvatore – Giancarlo Stanton will hit sixty home runs. Stanton’s power has never been in doubt; his health and lineup protection have always hindered him. This season, Stanton will make it through largely unscathed, and he’ll have more support from his teammates, as Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna are primed for big seasons in 2016.

Eric Kabakoff – The Seattle Mariners will make the ALCS. Tajuan Walker should finally emerge and Wade Miley will settle in after his year at Fenway Park to team with King Felix. Meanwhile, the offense will come together in new GM Jerry Dipoto’s image.

Sean Couch – The San Francisco Giants will not win a World Series in an even year.

Joshua Greenberg – Jackie Bradley, Jr. will hit above .280 for the season. Bradley has always featured stellar defense. He might even be the best defensive outfielder in baseball. And while he has hit well in the minors, that has yet to translate to the big leagues. He caught absolute fire last August, when he hit .354 with nine doubles and five home runs, but fell off again in September. He isn’t a .354 hitter, but if he can stay out of his own head at the plate, he’ll keep from being an offensive liability.

Josh Daniel Mosier – Bryce Harper will win the Triple Crown. Coming off his first MVP season, Harper finished tied for the NL lead with forty-two homers, and missed out on the batting title by .003 points in 2015. The Nationals inability to get on base ahead of Harper led to him driving in only ninety-nine runs, but the addition of Daniel Murphy, along with the healthy versions of Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth, will improve his chances of pulling off such a feat.

Jesse Smith – Manny Machado will win the AL MVP. I touched on this in a previous piece and continue to go with my gut here. I made Machado my first round pick in fantasy, so I really hope I’m making the right call here. Machado is young and raw, but can flash a mitt as well as a bat (thirty-plus home run power). If he can keep his head on straight again this year, he can carry this Orioles lineup. In a division seemingly up for grabs, a post-season spot could make all the difference.

Brandon Murphy – After World Series victories in 2010, 2012, and 2014, the Giants will not continue their even-year streak in 2016.

Matt Bruder – The Arizona Diamondbacks will win their division. With a strong lineup of hitters in place, they were a mid-division team. Zack Greinke pushes them over the top and will place them ahead of San Francisco and his old team, the LA Dodgers, come October.

Jake Aferiat – Ichiro doesn’t get to 3,000 hits. With the Marlins already crowded outfield, and relatively strong bench, the 42-year-old first ballot Hall of Famer is nothing more than a figurehead and won’t get the at bats needed to reach those sixty-five illustrious hits. Or he does, but comes up just short.

Nick Primeau – The Cubs, the consensus World Series winner, won’t win the NL Central. Friction over playing time between players, struggles by young players Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, and down years from Arrieta and newly acquired John Lackey will see the Cardinals or Pirates winning the division.

Andrew Grishaw – The Cubs will win the World Series. The time has finally come for the title to go back to the Chicago faithful. The lineup is there, the rotation is powerful, the bullpen is battle-tested, and they are well coached. 2016 will be a season to remember in Wrigleyville.

Michael Beard – Corey Seager will win the 2016 Rookie of the Year award for the National League. Although 2015 was just a small sample size to what he can do, the numbers don’t lie. In just ninety-five at-bats, he hit four home runs and knocked in seventeen RBI, and did it with a .337 average and a .986 OPS. He has five-tool potential and showcased his talents before the world; he not only made the playoff roster, but also hit toward the top of the order for the Dodgers in the playoffs in 2015.

If you missed part one, you can find it here. Check back tomorrow for part three.

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