Baseball starts tomorrow. After having wrapped up all my division previews over the past six weeks, it's time for my postseason and awards predictions for the upcoming season. Each division preview is linked (i.e. clicking on "East" will take you to the East preview) in case you happened to miss it.
This season is different. Well, every season is different, but there's one weird thing about 2016. The five or so worst teams are all in the National League. This makes the records of the better teams even better and those of the worse teams even worse. As for the American League, there's an argument to be made for all 15 teams to make the postseason. My best AL team finishes with only 93 wins, and my first Wild Card has 90 wins.
This season, perhaps more than ever, will show the parity within baseball. There are just so many teams with different strengths and weaknesses, and I'm just about ready to sit back and watch it all unfold. It all starts tomorrow.
Without further ado, here are the picks.
East: Washington Nationals (91-71)
Central: Chicago Cubs (100-62)
West: San Francisco Giants (93-69)
Wild Card 1: St. Louis Cardinals (94-68)
Wild Card 2: Pittsburgh Pirates (93-69)
NL Wild Card: Pirates over Cardinals
NL Divisional Series: Giants over Nationals
NL Divisional Series: Cubs over Pirates
NL Championship Series: Cubs over Giants
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers
NL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals
NL Comeback Player: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Why the Cubs for pennant:
Is there anything wrong with this team? They have the youth, they have the veterans, and they basically have no weaknesses. What it comes down to this: the Cubs lost the NLCS last year because of a weak starting staff outside of Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta. This offseason, they just go out and get John Lackey to fix that problem, and fix other problems they didn't even have. To the Cubs, Jason Heyward is a sports car that they don't need. But he makes the team even better. The National League better watch out, because between the Cubs' lineup, rotation, bullpen, defense, and manger, there's absolutely no problems here. And that's rare for a club.
East: Boston Red Sox (90-72)
Central: Kansas City Royals (93-69)
West: Houston Astros (92-70)
Wild Card 1: Cleveland Indians (91-71)
Wild Card 2: Texas Rangers (90-72)
AL Wild Card: Indians over Rangers
AL Divisional Series: Indians over Royals
AL Divisional Series: Red Sox over Astros
AL Championship Series: Red Sox over Indians
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
AL Cy Young: David Price, Boston Red Sox
AL Rookie of the Year: Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona, Cleveland Indians
AL Comeback Player: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers
Why the Red Sox for pennant:
This Red Sox pick is a bit more ambitious, per se, than the Cubs pick. However, I like the Red Sox for similar reasons to the Cubs, but not to the same extent. They have a great mix of youth, with Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and others, but also have some very good veterans, including two Davids, Price and Ortiz, that could make or break this Red Sox season. Don't forget about Dustin Pedroria, either, who is still putting up excellent offense numbers once again. Boston may need some additional help at the trade deadline, but like the Mets and Blue Jays last year, it will make all the difference down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Chicago Cubs over Boston Red Sox in 7
Before I move into my rationale, can we please envision this World Series for a second? There would be games at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, baseball's greatest gems. I'd love it, and I think plenty of general baseball fans would love it too.
The Cubs are the best team in Major League Baseball, so I can't get myself to pick anyone other than them. However, the Red Sox and their mystery trade deadline acquisition trade punches with the Cubs, going round for round like two boxers in the ring. Chicago prevails, however, on a walk-off home run from Kris Bryant, who makes an excellent defensive play in the top of the ninth inning to keep the game tied (this is why the Cubs kept him in the minors last year). The Cubs win their first World Series since 1908 and clinch at home for the first time in team history.