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2016 National League West Predictions

2016 National League West Predictions It was an odd-numbered year last year, so we knew that the Giants wouldn’t be in the race. The Dodgers finally gave up on skipper Don Mattingly and initial reports on new manager Dave Roberts are very positive. Arizona made the biggest splashes during the offseason and appear ready to contend, while the Padres and Rockies appear to be floundering yet again. San Francisco Giants San Francisco was doomed before the season began, as it wasn’t an even-numbered year.  They made some smart, albeit costly, costly moves to improve the brittle rotation behind Madison Bumgarner by adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.  Cueto struggled going to the AL last year, as most career-NL starters do, but his elbow checks out and he should see a nice return to form.  The same can be said for Samardzija, who was simply putrid for the White Sox last year. We think he’ll cut a good 1.5 runs off of his ERA in a much better pitcher’s stadium. The combination of the resilient Jake Peavy, Matt Cain, and Chris Heston will round it out. The bullpen is deep and has a nice back-end duo in Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla. The only change in the everyday lineup was signing CF Denard Span. While injury concerns are real, he brings speed an great on-base skills to the top of the lineup. Full seasons from Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt will be key; they are both so vital to how opposing pitchers handle Buster Posey.  We see a nice return to form for Pence (.275/25/85) and a breakout for Belt...

2016 National League Central Predictions

2016 National League Central Predictions To say that this division has been dominated by the Cardinals is an understatement; five division titles in seven years; four appearances in the NLCS in five years: four World Series titles in the past twelve seasons; sheer domination. The Pirates and Cubs, long the doormats of the division, might have something to say about it this year…and beyond. Chicago Cubs The young Cubs were the surprise of the NL last year, making it to the NLCS before getting swept by the Mets.  GM Theo Epstein has the organization about two years ahead of schedule. He rebuilt the roster and the farm system perfectly, as the Cubs possess the perfect blend of youth and experience, especially in the lineup. New RF Jason Heyward could experience a rebirth of sorts. He’s spent his career in pitcher’s parks; we expect a nice power bump and 100+ runs. 3B Kris Bryant is much-exalted for his power, but he needs to cut down on his K-rate and produce more on the road; only 5 of his 26 HRs were hit away from Wrigley. The Cubs are going to try to hide the brutal glove of slugger Kyle Schwarber in LF this year; Jorge Soler is ready and waiting as one of the best fourth OF’s in the game. 1B Anthony Rizzo is our MVP pick this year; we looking for a slash line of .290/.390/.550 with monster run production. The rotation is fantastic at the top, mediocre at best behind them. Jake Arietta and Jon Lester will be the best ½ in the division again, and John Lackey...

2016 National League East Predictions

2016 National League East Predictions As expected, the Senior Circuit’s World Series participant came from the East. Quite unexpectedly, though, it was the Mets representing and not the heavily favored Nationals. It appears that it’ll be a two-team race this season, as the Braves and Phillies are in rebuilding mode, while the Marlins teeter on the border between success and rebuild again. Washington Nationals Washington woefully under performed last year, despite the valiant efforts of Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer. Injuries had a lot to do with it, but former manager Matt Williams lost this squad early on and never got them back. Enter Dusty Baker, a notorious player’s manager who has some outstanding regular seasons under his belt.  The rotation will challenge that of the Mets, though they aren’t as talented at the back end. Scherzer and Steven Strasburg are dominant; a full season from the latter is a necessity, though, if he wishes to cash in during the next offseason.  Gio Gonzalez, Joe Ross, and either Tanner Roark or Bronson Arroyo will back them up, and young buck Lucas Giolito isn’t far behind.  The bullpen is average at best, and the Nats couldn’t find any takers for closer Jonathan Papelbon’s attitude and contract. Losing Drew Storen stings, as there is no longer a clear back-up. The lineup is talented, but very brittle. Moving Ryan Zimmerman to 1B is just the latest effort to keep him in the lineup. Fear not, as he’s certain to find the DL again this year. LF Jayson Werth is certain to join him at some point. 3B Anthony Rendon missed half of...