I wanted to do this post on Labor Day, but found myself busy. Things aren’t any lighter now, but I squeezed in some time to do it today.
AL EAST: Blue Jays, Yankees (Wild Card), Red Sox (Wild Card), Rays, Orioles.
The Blue Jays are one game behind the Red Sox in the division race, while the Yankees still have an outside shot (2 GB) at the Wild Card. I was too high on the Yanks, especially now considering how they’ve out-performed their Pythagorean record. I was too low on the Orioles pitching, though I rightfully felt good about their offense. Here is what I wrote about them in April. The Rays were a major disappointment, considering how I thought their pitching would be better.
AL CENTRAL: Royals, Indians, White Sox, Tigers, Twins.
I nailed the Twins being in last place, but the rest of my division picks are in shambles. I had the Indians winning the division right until the time I wrote this post because I thought I would look foolish for counting out the Royals for a third straight year. Prognostication lessons I’ve learned in 2016: Trust your instincts, trust the team with the better manager and starting pitching … and never trust the White Sox again.
AL WEST: Astros, Rangers, Angels, Mariners, Athletics.
I could not have been more wrong about this division. The Astros had a shot at this thing had they done better than 3-13 vs. the Rangers and/or had not gotten off to a 7-17 start. The Angels could’ve been better had they not lost their two best pitchers to elbow injuries. Credit Texas’ pitching staff for doing better than expected. The A’s are still rebuilding from the ashes of what happened at the end of 2014, while the Mariners still might finish with a winning record and another postseason-less year for Felix Hernandez.
AL Awards Predictions: MVP (Mike Trout is still the best in the game, but might be runner-up again), Cy Young (Chris Sale will likely be a top-3 finisher, but his offense does him no favors), ROY (Jose Berrios has dominated Triple-A twice this year and struggled during each MLB call-up), MOY (AJ Hinch isn’t going to win it because the Astros are probably missing the playoffs).
NL EAST: Nats, Mets (Wild Card), Marlins, Phillies, Braves.
Finally, I nailed a division from top to bottom. I’ll take my victory lap while I can.
NL CENTRAL: Cubs, Cardinals (Wild Card), Pirates, Reds, Brewers.
I came close to figuring out the Central, but the Brewers haven’t been as bad as I thought they would be. We really could get a Mets/Cardinals Wild Card game. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be rooting for Team Meteor that night. The Cubs have baseball’s best record (I honestly didn’t see that coming), but all that fun can be over quickly with a few bad games in a best-of-5 LDS. I thought the Reds would be better, but some of the pieces I thought would be there haven’t performed to my expectations (or haven’t arrived).
NL WEST: Giants, Dodgers, D’backs, Padres, Rockies.
I thought the 3-4-5 teams in this division were interchangeable and it turns out they pretty much are. The Rockies are the class of that group because of the Coors factor and the D’backs fell apart because their starting pitching spit the bit. The Padres are doing a rebuild thing after putting all their eggs into 2015 before that basket broke. Giants/Dodgers was a coin flip and one I was wrong about. Dave Roberts should be manager of the year, so long as the Dodgers either win the division or end up as the Wild Card team. He’s made chicken salad out of chicken bleep and more injuries than you can shake a stick at.
NL Awards Predictions: MVP (Bryce Harper was on an MVP pace before meeting the Cubs in May. Oops). Cy Young (Stephen Strasburg started strong, but injuries slowed him down). ROY (Corey Seager is also a candidate for NL MVP). MOY (Dusty Baker probably finishes in the top 3 in voting, but it will be a crime if Roberts doesn’t get it here).
Because my preseason picks didn’t scare me off, here are some awards season predictions with how I would vote for the awards — if I had a vote.
AL MVP: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
**If I had a vote, Mike Trout would have it. As it stands, my top-5 are Trout, Betts, Jose Altuve, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson.
AL CY YOUNG: Corey Kluber, Indians
**It might be hard to vote against the pitcher with the highest WAR in the AL who also happens to be the best/most consistent pitcher on a team that could still finish with the league’s best record. If I had a vote: Kluber, Sale, Hamels, Porcello, Britton would be my top-5.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Michael Fulmer, RH SP, Tigers
**If he hits qualifying marks, Fulmer could lead the AL in ERA. He owns a 1.08 WHIP and the TIgers are 16-6 in his 22 starts. Tim Anderson and Max Kepler round out my top-3 AL rookies.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Terry Francona, Indians
**This team has battled injuries and suspensions to take over the AL Central and Francona has led with a steady hand. Jeff Banister has done an excellent job in Texas and would be my No. 2 choice for this award behind Francona.
NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs
**Even I wouldn’t have expected Bryant to take the leap from NL Rookie of the Year to MVP, but here he is on the verge of winning this award if all goes well down the stretch. The offensive numbers are there (again) but to do that while playing 3B, LF, RF well is impressive. If I had a vote: Bryant, Corey Seager, Anthony Rizzo, Nolan Arenado, Daniel Murphy would be my top-5.
NL CY YOUNG: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
**If Kerhsaw comes back with a healthy September, it will be impossible to vote against him. Despite not pitching enough innings to qualify, he has the best ERA in baseball and the second highest bWAR. If I had a vote: Kershaw, Scherzer, Syndergaard, Bumgarner, Hendricks.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Corey Seager, Dodgers
**An easy pick, even though Aledmys Diaz would have been a strong candidate had he not been injured a few months ago. The NL is loaded with quality rookies, so here are my top-5: Seager, Diaz, Trevor Story, Trea Turner, Seung-Hwan Oh
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Dave Roberts, Dodgers
**To say the Dodgers have been bitten by the injury bug would be an understatement. Between balancing injuries, drama, egos and more, Dave Roberts has done a fantastic job juggling everything and keeping the Dodgers in contention in the NL West. My top-5: Roberts, Joe Maddon, Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Don Mattingly