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The Carletonian

MLB Season Preview

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With the onset of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training facilities around the country, baseball season is upon us again! With the end of the NFL season, it is time to focus on the original American pastime and its upcoming season. This winter has been filled with big time players switching teams, vast amounts of money flowing into the pockets of free agents, and of course the 2016 Hall of Fame announcements. But now, as spring nears, teams have started joining together in Arizona and Florida, and baseball fever has started. With last season’s exciting playoffs, where the Chicago Cubs made a run to the NLCS, the NY Mets and Daniel Murphy got hot at the right time, and the Royals took home their first World Series in thirty years, we can only hope that this season is as exciting as last years. But probably the most talked about trend that will very much be in the headlines throughout the season is the year, 2016. It is an even year, and all of you baseball fans should know what that means; 2010, 2012, and 2014. The last three seasons and world series that have taken place in an even year have been won by the San Francisco Giants. Will it be four World Series victories in six years? The rest of the MLB will probably have something to say about that.

AL East: Coming off a strong finish last year, the Toronto Blue Jays are poised for another solid season. With their resigning of AL MVP Josh Donaldson and young pitcher Marcus Stroman, they have their solid offense and pitching staff (besides David Price) back from last year. But, the Red Sox and Yankees might have something to say about the Blue Jays winning the East again. The Red Sox’s additions of David Price and Craig Kimbrel will bolster their pitching staff, but their struggles defensively could be their doom. Hanley Ramirez will undoubtedly struggle in left field and Pablo Sandoval’s brick hands at third base won’t help either. The Yankees had a strong offseason as well with the addition of Aroldis Chapman’s 100 mph fastball, which sets up the big three (Chapman, Betances, Miller) in the back end of their bullpen. But their starting pitching struggles will ultimately land them in third place in the East. The Jays will win and the Red Sox will come in a close second.

AL Central: The Royals, coming off their World Series victory last year, will win the AL Central this season. They do not have much competition in the division, but their biggest threat this year could be the Chicago White Sox. They added the extremely talented, power hitting third baseman Todd Frazier, who will undoubtedly help their usually dismal offense. The Tigers strengthened their lineup as well, with the additions of Justin Upton and Jordan Zimmermann. But their relatively old team will prove no match for the young and confident Royals.

AL West: The Astros will win the AL west this season. Their young and versatile shortstop Carlos Correa will have a monster season. They will play extremely well at home, and their 2015 Cy Young Award Winner, Dallas Keuchel, will continue to mow down hitters. Mike Trout and the Angels might have something to say about that, but their pitching staff, which is average at best, will have to over-perform. Prince Fielder and the Rangers are the Astros other threat. For them to beat the Astros, their relatively weak pitching staff will have to find ways to hold teams to 4 or fewer runs per game. I don’t think this will happen, so thus they will not be able to catch the Astros.

NL East: This division is pretty much a two horse race: Nationals vs Mets. Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals will look to bounce back from their disappointing 2015 season. Their loss of Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, and Doug Fister could hurt their chances, but I feel strongly that this will be the year the Nationals play up to their potential. The Mets resigned Yoenis Cespedes, and still have their young, hard-throwing pitching staff. But they lost their playoff hero Daniel Murphy in the offsea- son. I think last year was somewhat of an anomaly for the Mets, and their luck will run out this season. They will come in second and hopefully snag one of the NL Wild Card spots.

NL Central: This division is stacked. The Cubs, Pirates, and Cardinals will all be fighting to win the division. The Cubs additions of Jason Heyward, John Lackey, and Ben Zobrist without losing any of their young talent, will undoubtedly make them better than last year. The Cardinals lost Heyward and Lacky in free agency, but will get their ace Adam Wainwright back this season coming off an injury. The Cardinals will be a playoff team, but will not be able to catch the Cubs down the stretch to win the division. The Pirates will be extremely good again this season. But with all the talent in their division, it will be difficult to win as many games needed to overtake the more talented Cubs and Cardinals. In the end, the Cubs will win the NL Central with over 100 wins, and the Cardinals will snag one of the wild card spots.

NL West: It is an even year. The Giants, no matter how big of underdogs they seem to be, always seem to come through in the end. Their additions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to their pitching staff, which already contains Madison Bumgarner, will be tough for the rest of the division to handle. The Diamondbacks also boosted their pitching staff with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, but their offense will lag behind that of the Giants’. We cannot forget about the Dodgers, who won the division last year. Although they lost Greinke to Arizona, they still have the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. But with the Dodgers, you always have to worry about their locker room synergy, especially with Yasiel Puig still in Los Angeles. The Giants are just too talented and destined for a superb year.

World Series: The San Francisco Giants will win the World Series in 2016. History is on their side, and with their major additions to needs such as pitching and outfield, they are poised for another October run. First they will beat the Chicago Cubs in 6 games in the NLCS, and then the Astros in the World Series in 7 games to pop the champagne. The Astros will beat Blue Jays in 6 games to win the ALCS, but their inexperience will lead to them falling short falling just short in the end.

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