Woo hoo! Opening day is here again! With our Blue Jays only hours away from taking the field (and honoring the late great Roy Halladay beforehand) it’s time to look ahead and predict what might happen this season…although the unexpected is really half the fun of the long, 162-game summer!
Today I’ll start with the league we have a little less interest in, the National.
Without further ado, here’s my best guess for the standings come Sep. 30:
Washington 92 70 —
New York 86 76 -6
Atlanta 77 85 -15
Philadelphia 73 89 -19
Miami 63 99 -29
Chicago 91 71 —
St. Louis 86 76 -5
Milwaukee 84 78 -7
Cincinnati 72 90 -19
Pittsburgh 67 95 -24
L.A. 95 67 —
Colorado 87 75 -8
Arizona 86 76 -9
San Fran. 78 84 -17
San Diego 67 95 -28
Clearly this would result in Colorado being in the Wild Card, hosting either St.Louis, New York or Arizona (wouldn’t that make for an interesting final weekend of the regular season!) Winner would ten play L.A. while Washington would host Chicago in the other NLDS. I tend to think whichever of the three wild card opponents face Colorado, they’d win. So here’s how I see that playing out:
wild card: St. Louis over Colorado
NLDS: LA over St. Louis Chicago over Washington
NLCS: LA over Chicago
so, there you have it. The more things change, the more they stay the same. I see the Dodgers making another run at the World Series.
Now to see how my predictions stack up against others, I’ve looked at USA Today, Yahoo and Sports Illustrated. The former put forward 7 experts,Yahoo, 6., making for a total of 14 opinions besides my own. Here’s how they see things. The top, second and third picks are from the 14 other sources cited with number behind the number of “votes”:
|Category||My Pick||Top Pick||Second Pick||Third Pick|
|West||L.A.||L.A. 13||Col. 1||–|
|NL champ||L.A.||Wash. 6||Chicago 5||L.A. 3|
Clearly there’s not much variation in picks until we get to the Championship series, so it could be a good year for a Dark Horse! By the way, the only “dissenting” vote was one USA Today writer who saw the Rockies winning the West.
A few thoughts before we go: I call it the “Curse of Strasburg”. Or “curse of cockiness”. The Nationals have clearly been the best team in the NL East this decade, and still are, but have yet to even make it to the NLCS. In fact, for all their stars and glory, they’ve won a grand total of 7 playoff games in their history. Deciding to shelve their top pitcher, Stephen Strasburg back in 2012 seemed to start their run of October bad luck, and whether it’s an angry Magic 8 Ball, too much over-confidence from the clubhouse to Owner’s box or perhaps just the fact that beyond their top three starters, they’re not that good, it seems like a Washington characteristic – ease to a division championship then tank. With the team one of the older ones around, I don’t see that changing this year- but i see a change next year with Atlanta and Philly both on the ascent and Bryce Harper likely as not gone to greener pastures. This might be the last year in the near future the window is open for D.C.’s team to do anything much.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the Marlins. They were surprisingly good last year but as we know Derek Jeter and his cohorts have cleaned house there to the dismay of soith Florida fans. I almost think my prediction of 99 losses for them conservative. For one thing, chances of them finishing the year with the roster they have now are slim. Catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Starlin Castro both want out and will probably be accomodated. Meanwhile, there’s already strife in the clubhouse between the few veterans like Dan Straily who say they’re happy to stick it out and those demanding a trade. A tumultous clubhouse is seldom good in a winning environment. In a bad setting, it can be disastrous.
I see the Cards have signed reliever Greg Holland today. I think that will solidify their chances to finish ahead of Milwaukee, a team with a good field but rather shaky starting pitching.
Out west, boy- if you could combine the Rockies position players and D’backs pitchers, you’d have a World Series team. But you can’t, so I see the money and talent of L.A. holding them both at bay easily. I do,for the record, think Colorado has the best hitting team in the game and that Carlos Gonzalez is going to have a comeback year and Nolan Arenado should take home the MVP if his team make the playoffs in any capacity.
The Giants tried, bringing in aging stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria but it looks like their year’s over before it begins with ty Blach their opening game pitcher. Madison Bumgarner has a broken hand and Jeff Samadzjia is out with a pec strain and by the time they’re both back, the Giants could already be buried 10 games out. They should however, be better than last year’s mystifying 64-98.
Well, this weekend I tackle the real fun – the American League.