* Note: Originally published in the March-April issue of Allentown High School’s newspaper, the Nutshell*
Spring break is just around the corner, which can only mean one thing: that Major League Baseball is just about ready to resume play! Indeed, the 2016 season will officially begin on April 3rd, and Spring Training is underway for all 30 ballclubs.
The 2016 season isn’t short on storylines, so here’s your preview on the upcoming year.
Around the MLB (Standings in Projected Order of Finish)
1. Toronto Blue Jays: The Jays have a good shot to defend their division crown this year. Boasting multiple 40-home run hitters in Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion, the Jays will be tough to beat.
2. Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox have loaded up in the offseason before, but this time could be different. David Price and Craig Kimbrel will make sure that David Oritz’s final season is a good one.
3. New York Yankees: If the Yankees can stay healthy, they’ve got the best team in the East. But that’s a big “if” with as old a roster as the Yankees have right now.
4. Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore spent more money than usual this offseason, but still lacks a big-name rotation. The club’s hitting and bullpen will keep them close though.
5. Tampa Bay Rays: The anti-Orioles, the Rays have a ton of quality pitching led by Chris Archer, but were second-worst in the American League in runs scored last season.
1. Kansas City Royals: The defending World Series Champions will face more adversity in 2016, but the Royals always find a way to persevere. The consummate “grinder” squad.
2. Detroit Tigers: The Tigers spent big this offseason to claw back to relevance, but money cannot stop the Tigers’ aging process. This veteran team can be dangerous if healthy.
3. Cleveland Indians: Cleveland hosts a fantastic young pitching staff, but with star Michael Brantley out for at least a month, can the Indians stay afloat on offense?
4. Minnesota Twins: Last year’s near-Cinderella team, the Twins won’t sneak up on anyone this year. The club may be too raw right now to compete, but the future is bright.
5. Chicago White Sox: The White Sox revamped for the second straight offseason, seeking better results. The club cannot waste any more of Chris Sale and Jose Abreu’s prime years.
1. Houston Astros: The Astros shocked everyone last season by making it to the playoffs, but their window is just beginning. The Astros could be the AL’s best team in 2016 if everything goes according to plan.
2. Texas Rangers: The Rangers went from worst to first last season, and a whole season of Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish in the rotation will go a long way. And Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre, and Shin-Shoo Choo can still mash.
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels made it interesting late last year, but even the presence of Mike Trout and Albert Pujols can’t make up for a lack of depth and clutch.
4. Seattle Mariners: The M’s have a boatload of young talent, but cannot string together a winning season for the life of them. An overhauled roster will look to bounce back in 2016.
5. Oakland Athletics: The statistic-driven A’s sure didn’t see the disaster of 2015 coming. It may be time to move on from “Moneyball” in the big O.
1. New York Mets: The city of New York is within the Mets’ reach for the first time in a long time. Last year’s NL champs will go as far as Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard can take them.
2. Washington Nationals: The Nats disappointed again last year. New manager Dusty Baker will try to rally the troops behind unanimous NL MVP Bryce Harper in a stacked Wild Card race.
3. Miami Marlins: The Marlins have yet another new manager, this time it’s Don Mattingly. Giancarlo Stanton is the game’s best slugger, but the Fins need healthy pitching.
4. Philadelphia Phillies: Look who made it out of last place in these projections! The Phillies have some young talent in Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco that will pay immediate dividends.
5. Atlanta Braves: The Braves are in full-on rebuild mode. Looking to have a competitive club by the opening of their new stadium in 2017, the Braves have acquired prospects left and right, but have also decimated their MLB club.
1. Chicago Cubs: The Cubbies have the prospects, the free agent studs, and the swagger to go to a World Series. Let’s see if the Cubs can break their 108-year Championship drought.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards are always consistently dangerous. However, their competition has improved while they got older. Pencil the Cards in for the playoffs at least.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates: Possibly the only team that could win 95 games and still settle for a Wild Card, the tough-luck Buccos need some playoff luck in Andrew McCutchen’s prime.
4. Milwaukee Brewers: The Brew Crew is in some trying times, but the kids are there to turn this franchise around in time. It’ll be another tough year in Milwaukee.
5. Cincinnati Reds: The Reds are also embracing the rebuild. The only race they’ll be in is for the first-overall pick this summer.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers have a ton of talent and money, but they failed under since-fired manager Don Mattingly. Can Dave Roberts manage the Dodgers into a playoff victory?
2. San Francisco Giants: The Giants spent heavily this offseason, and look poised for another playoff run. Hey, it’s an even year, so they’re due for a Championship.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs aren’t as far away from the playoffs as you’d think. Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and Zack Greinke will try to be this year’s Astros.
4. San Diego Padres: Last year’s blockbuster offseason didn’t accomplish much for the Padres. Closer to last place than a playoff spot, they’ll rebuild once again.
5. Colorado Rockies: The Rockies will hit a lot of home runs, but will also give up a ton. A mix of veterans and prospects, including Nolan Arenado, have the Rockies excited.
|American League||National League|
|AL East Champs: Toronto Blue Jays||NL East Champs: New York Mets|
|AL Central Champs: Kansas City Royals||NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs|
|AL West Champs: Houston Astros||NL West Champs: Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Wild Cards: Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox||Wild Cards: San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals|
AL Champs: Houston Astros
NL Champs: Chicago Cubs
World Series Champs: Chicago Cubs