2016 MLB: Season In Review

Back in April, I made a post with my 2016 MLB predictions. Now that we’re winding down the final week of the regular season, it’s time to take a look back. This has been the most ho-hum September in recent memory, with only the NL Wild Card really holding any excitement as we enter the regular season’s final weekend. Here’s hoping October provides a little more drama.

In the AL East, I picked Baltimore to win, which wasn’t a bad choice. They’re in contention in the Wild Card and still might make a deep October run. I noted that the O’s could legitimately have 8 players with 20+ homers, which was close; they have 7 regulars with more than 15. I pegged Tampa Bay as a dark horse, though, and I was on the record saying I didn’t really like the Red Sox. 92 wins later, that looks like a lousy pick.

In the Central, I paid lip service to the Indians pitching staff, which has carried them to the division crown. But in actuality, I picked the Royals as the most complete team in the division and I really thought they’d be more competitive. This has to go down as a disappointing season for Royal fans.

Out west, I put my money on Texas, which turned out to be the right call. I also noted that they’d need to add some bullpen help in order to push toward October. A deadline deal helped address this need, putting the Rangers in contention for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I also liked the M’s and their season has to go down as a success, too, even though they’ll just narrowly miss a Wild Card berth.

In the NL East, I went against the grain and picked the Nationals to win the division and the Mets for a Wild Card spot. After the Mets World Series run last year, they were the popular pick for a return trip to the Fall Classic. But it’s always dangerous to count on young pitching; the risks of injury and regression are high and the Mets experienced a bit of both this year.  As it is, I’m thinking the Nationals are the one NL club that could really challenge the Cubs in the NLCS.

NL Central: the Cubs. They’re the toast of baseball as well they should be. Of course, I won’t root for them, but they have to be the odds on favorite this October. They’re the best and most complete team in the majors. I played with my heart and picked the Cards to win the division and the Pirates to lock up the second Wild Card. While the Cardinals are still in the thick of the Wild Card chase, not picking the Cubbies was my worst call back in the spring.

In the NL West, I took the Giants, which was a solid choice. I still feel as if the Giants could make a deep run if they make it out of the Wild Card play-in game. But the Dodgers really separated themselves from the pack in the second half, coinciding with the Giants late season fade.

So in retrospect, I nailed a couple of picks and completely whiffed on a few others. Pretty typical.

My World Series pick was SF vs. KC, a 2014 rematch. Clearly that’s not going to happen, but that’s the fun of preseason predictions.

AL MVP: I went with Mike Trout (duh), which is always smart. And he might win another MVP this season, but personally, I’d give my vote to either Jose Altuve or David Ortiz. Altuve has asserted himself as one of the most complete players in the game, adding a power element to his already tremendous hit tool and game-changing speed. And Ortiz has had a season for the ages in his swan song. Don’t be surprised if voters award him with MVP honors.

NL MVP: I picked Paul Goldschmidt, but this is a no-brainer. Kris Bryant is the deserving choice. For a while there, I thought he and Rizzo might split the vote, but Bryant has really distinguished himself in the second half. This one might be unanimous.

AL Cy Young: I went with Chris Sale and he might end up winning the hardware. But this is one of the more wide open races. Honestly, voters might decide to reward Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, or even closer Zach Britton for their excellence this season. Sale’s midseason temper tantrum might cost him the Cy Young.

NL Cy Young: I went with Madison Bumgarner and he still has an outside chance at the award. But this is another wide open field and Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, or even the recently deceased Jose Fernandez have rightful claims to the award.

AL Rookie of the Year: My choice (Byron Buxton) never asserted himself. Meanwhile, another AL Central rookie, Michael Fulmer, has pitched brilliantly all year. I think he’ll hold off the late charging Gary Sanchez to bring home the award.

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager. Hands down.

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