MLB 2017 Predictions: Baseball Will Be Fun Again

The Super Bowl is in the books, and spring training is around the corner.  It’s time to take a look at what’s in store for this baseball season.  As Bryce Harper stated in 2016, he wants baseball to be fun again.  Well, 2017 will bring that, and I’ll tell you how.  There will be competition, players will have better seasons, and the MLB will just be a little bit more interesting.  Who will win it all?  Keep reading to find out.

My Predictions

AL East

  1. boston-red-sox Boston Red Sox 92-70
  2. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays 88-74
  3. new-york-yankees New York Yankees 87-75
  4. image Baltimore Orioles 80-82
  5. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays 69-93

The Red Sox did lose David Ortiz, but they got Chris Sale in the off-season, and after this off season, the rotation looks better, the bullpen is alright, and their lineup is still good.  The Blue Jays are still going to be good, but after the loss of Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders, they won’t be a playoff team.  Despite signing Kendrys Morales, this team doesn’t include a true superstar.  The Yankees went young and are looking better, but it will take time for them to return to the playoffs.  The Orioles rotation is falling apart again, and the Matt Wieters-less lineup isn’t enough.  Meanwhile, the Rays won’t get much better.  Despite a good rotation, they need big hitters to compete in the East.

AL Central

  1. cleveland-indians Cleveland Indians 92-70
  2. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers 89-73
  3. kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals 81-81
  4. chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox 78-84
  5. minnesota-twins  Minnesota Twins 63-99

The Indians signed Edwin Encarnacion and will definitely stay on top because of that.    But what else did they do this off season?  Not much, that will hurt them in the playoffs.  The Tigers and Royals didn’t do much either, but one or both of them could have a bounce back seasons.  It won’t be enough to Top Cleveland though. The White Sox are depending on young talent, which isn’t a safe bet, and the Twins are still in the middle of a treacherous rebuild.  

AL West

  1. texas-rangers Texas Rangers 94-68
  2. houston-astros Houston Astros 91-71
  3. seattle-mariners-logo Seattle Mariners 86-76
  4. la-angels-of-anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 76-86
  5. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics 65-97

I don’t know why people are saying the Rangers are going to miss the playoffs.  Their lineup is almost as good as last year.  Despite losing Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond, Josh Hamilton is working his way back and Jurickson Profar may contribute more in 2017.  The rotation is just as good if not better.  The Astros could also be a significant contender, with a better lineup and bullpen.  The Mariners and Angels also made some good moves and they both have gotten better overall. However, neither team is quite fit to contend yet.  Meanwhile, the Athletics are in a rebuild and will not contend either.  

NL East

  1. washington-nats Washington Nationals 93-69
  2. new-york-mets New York Mets 90-72
  3. miami-marlins Miami Marlins 87-75
  4. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves 67-95
  5. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies 65-97

The Nationals haven’t really done much this off-season, but they really haven’t lost much, and with a little fine-tuning, they could be as good as they have been.  The Mets should also be playoff material as they’ve put together a good lineup and still have one of the best rotations in the league.  The Marlins have also improved.  They have a good young lineup and the rotation has a lot of depth.  Although Jose Fernandez passed away, they added Jeff Locke and Edinson Volquez to maintain strength in their rotation.  Meanwhile, the Braves have a nice balance of old and young, but it will take a couple of years for them to rebuild.  Same with the Phillies.  Neither team will compete this year, but they are making smart moves for their future.  

 

NL Central

 

  1. Chicago_Cubs Chicago Cubs 96-66
  2. St_Louis_Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals 93-69
  3. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates 85-77
  4. cincinnati_reds_logo Cincinnati Reds 74-88
  5. milwaukee-brewers Milwaukee Brewers 72-90

 

The Cubs made some nice finishing touches in the off-season, and despite losing Jason Hammel, their lineup’s still good, and they will still be a World Series contender.  The Cardinals should compete though.  Their lineup lacks a true star, but young talent should help them improve, along with new outfielder Dexter Fowler.  Their rotation is also looking a lot better for 2017 with Lance Lynn returning.  The Pirates lack a good rotation although their lineup is still good.  But without good pitching they will not be a playoff team.  The Reds are going to be alright but need to trade away the older guys and rebuild if they want any chance at a pennant in the near future, and the Brewers are already rebuilding.  For them, it will take a couple of years to be able to contend again.  

 

NL West

 

  1. los-angeles-dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
  2. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants 88-74
  3. colorado-rockies Colorado Rockies 85-77
  4. arizona-dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks 79-83
  5. san diego-padres San Diego Padres 63-99

The NL West will be a tight division with no clear leader.  The Dodgers are the favorites, but they have flaws, in the bullpen and in the lineup.  For the Giants, it’s an odd year.  The rotation looks good, but the lineup could struggle.  That gives the Rockies the chance to sneak into contention.  They have a powerful lineup and they play in a place where you need that.  Their rotation needs some work, but with a veteran mentor, the young rotation will look a lot better and the Rockies could contend.  They are one team that will help make baseball fun again, along with other teams like the Marlins, Astros, Mariners, Angels and Yankees to name a few.  Their unique experimental style is making the game interesting. Signing a guy like Jason Hammel, Jered Weaver or Doug Fister may help.  The D-Backs are a young team that I expect to improve in 2017.  In a few years, they could contend.  Meanwhile, the Padres are just, the Padres.  They’ve hit rock bottom in a horrific rebuild and may have one of their worst seasons ever.  Signing veterans short term back then didn’t work out, and it’s causing bigger problems now.

2017 MLB Playoffs

In the NL, the Cardinals will be a lot better. They will challenge the Cubs for the throne. Once the Cubs win that series though, they’ll have an easy path to the World Series, as the Nats, Mets and Dodgers are nowhere near as good as the NL Central rivals. In the World Series, I think the Cubs will be the favorite, but the best team doesn’t always win the World Series, and the Cubs won’t repeat. Instead, the Astros will surprise the Cubs, and their young talent will be enough to beat the Cubs. The Cubs are a good young team, but the Astros have more young talent, and that will help them win the World Series.

Too much to take in? Here’s a video to sum it all up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWliFjZ7C6k

 

 

Awards

Here are my Top 3 choices for the MVP and Cy Young awards.

AL MVP

  1. Alcides Escobar KC – Escobar will prove himself in a contract year.
  2. Manny Machado BAL – Machado will continue greatness, this time, it will be MVP-worthy.
  3. Matt Holliday NYY – Holliday will come up big with his new team

 

NL MVP

  1. Bryce Harper WSH – Harper won’t repeat last season’s struggles.  Besides, baseball will be fun again for him.
  2. Nolan Arenado COL – Arenado will have another good season, this time bringing the Rockies up with him.
  3. Jason Heyward CHC – Heyward among others will keep the Cubs good in 2017.  The Cubs are still arguably the best team in the MLB.

 

AL Cy Young

 

  1. Cole Hamels TEX – Hamels will have a strong 2017 and go at a Cy Young.
  2. Chris Sale BOS – Sale will be motivated to start strong in Boston.
  3. Derek Holland CWS – Who needs Sale?  In Chicago, they’ll have a new ace in town with a breakout year by Derek Holland.

 

NL Cy Young

  1. Stephen Strasburg WSH – Strasburg will finally get healthy and return to Cy Young level
  2. Zack Greinke ARZ – Greinke will really bounce back in 2017, bringing on memories of  his 2015 greatness.
  3. Jeff Samardzija SF – Samardzija will lead a good 2017 Giants rotation, although the lineup in San Francisco will struggle.

 

ROTY Predictions:

AL – Andrew Benintendi: He will continue greatness in 2017, and go on to win Rookie Of The Year and be one of the better Red Sox hitters.

NL – Dansby Swanson: This won’t be an easy choice for voters, but Swanson will have a great season.  However, other rookies like Tyler Glasnow could chase the award.

 

So, there you have it.  The MLB is worth watching in 2016.  Baseball will be fun again.

Ranking The Teams 24-19: My Version: Let’s Get Real

Alright, we are getting to the point where it’s a little tougher to rank.  But come on, let’s get real.  There are still some pretty bad teams out there that I haven’t mentioned.

Alright, let’s go.

 

24.  image Baltimore Orioles 74-88

The Orioles didn’t really help their team with the trades made this off season.  After Chris Davis (resigned), Wei-Yin Chen and David Lough hit free agency, the Orioles weren’t looking great.  They still have holes in their rotation, they are short two pitchers.  They also have issues in the outfield.

They got Mark Trumbo and Hyun-Soo Kim, but Trumbo is also a DH candidate, and there is one more spot not filled by Kim or Adam Jones.  Right now Jimmy Paredes or Nolan Reimold would be in RF, but they need a better person there.  Some of their infielders aren’t hitting, and the rotation is just down to so few pitchers.  The O’s already weren’t the greatest in ’15, and they’ve gotten even worse in 2016.

Record Projection: 74-88

 

23. minnesota-twins.png Minnesota Twins

The Twins may have one of the best farm systems in the MLB, between Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Oswaldo Arcia but besides signing Korean DH/1B Byung-Ho Park, they didn’t do much to improve their big league relevance.  Sure, Buxton and crew could put on some good rookie seasons, but this team needs some veterans too.  The Twins were mediocre last year, they weren’t in full rebuild, and they had Torii Hunter but they had a good farm system.

They don’t have many veterans to mentor the young guys anymore.  Sure, they still have Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe but nobody who’s really all star material anymore.  Eduardo Escobar is still developing.  So are Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Miguel Sano.  That’s a large portion of the roster.

Their rotation on the other hand, is old and washed up.  Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes don’t have much left in their careers, I would give the spotlight to Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone and other young pitchers, but they have not done that.  The bullpen has also left no room for prospects to develop.  Between Kevin Jepsen, Ryan O’ Rourke and Glen Perkins, this is a good bullpen, but just doesn’t have that younger flash to it.  Let’s just say this team still needs work.

Projected Record: 73-89

 

22. oakland-a's.png Oakland Athletics

This team is in need of a big move.  All they’ve done the past few off-seasons is give out contracts to a bunch of minor contributors.  This team is still lacking superstars.  A team full of mediocre, older players who just aren’t the same anymore isn’t going to bring this team anywhere.  Despite the slight splash

 

NFL Week 3 Picks

The first two weeks have been full of upsets, and here are some locks, upsets and other scores to watch for in Week 3.

Lock Of The Week
Patriots, 37, Jaguars, 14

Tom Brady and the Patriots should have a dominant game against the Jags.  On offense, they Blount Force Trauma should get more touches after a quiet week 2 return.  I’d expect a TD from him.  The only road blocks are star linebacker Paul Posluszny and rookie defensive lineman Michael Bennett.  He can work around that.  I also expect a lot of passing touchdowns.  Julian Edelman doesn’t have a starting corner to watch him, so either safety James Sample or safety Jonathan Cyprien is left to guard him.  With Edelman and Gronk under that pressure, expect sleepers Danny Amendola, Aaron Dobson and Scott Chandler to show up, about a touchdown each.  The Patriots can look forward to a relatively easy match.

Tom Brady will stun the Jaguars defense with consistent scoring.
Tom Brady will stun the Jaguars defense with consistent scoring.

On D, they should be all set as well.  Running backs TJ Yeldon and Denard Robinson are going nowhere when the defense has Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Jerod Mayo to cover.  Last year they also had the added pressure of Vince Wilfork and Akeem Ayers, but Mayo was hurt.  I wouldn’t expect it to be much worse, especially if you put Jamie Collins and Don’t A Hightower in too.  And Marcedes Lewis, who has starred to start the year, will be guarded by Devin McCourty.  And Allen Robinson will have Malcolm Butler on him.

Lock Notables
Colts over Titans, Seahawks over Bears, Texans over Buccaneers, Giants over Redskins

Upset Of The Week
Lions, 24, Broncos, 20

This might sound silly to you, but it’s not really that surprising.  Peyton Manning is getting older, and at the same time, Matthew Stafford is on the uprise.  Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah will get touches, but will get DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller as guards.  It would be easier to throw the rock.  Not just to Megatron, who will have Aqib Talib by his side, but should break through once Talib wears down, but Golden Tate.  Tate, the former Seahawk, doesn’t have an amazing second string corner to guard him.  Tate should see action, along with tight ends Eric Ebron, thenewly signed Tim Wright and possibly Brandon Pettigrew if he’s healthy.

While on the Lions D, it’s a better fit for the Broncos offense.  DeMaryius Thomas will have Stephen Tulloch on him like white on snow.  Emmanuel Sanders and Owen Daniels may get TDs, but the overall options are limited in Denver.  I think Sanders’ season will be a low point in his career, and Daniels isn’t quite a perfect fit in the Denver style offense.  Expect an early season loss today out of Denver.  What about CJ Anderson and Ronnie Hillman.  Ngata and DeAndre Levy should be enough to hold them up.  So, the Lions could have a huge win vs Denver today.

The Broncos defense will be in for a surprise when Matthew Stafford throws fire.
The Broncos defense will be in for a surprise when Matthew Stafford throws fire.

Upset Notables
Rams over Steelers, Cowboys over Falcons

Other Scores
Jets, 37, Eagles, 30
Dolphins, 17, Bills, 14
Ravens, 27, Bengals, 23
Rams, 17, Steelers, 14
Browns, 14, Raiders, 9
Colts, 30, Titans, 24
Texans, 30, Buccaneers, 17
Packers, 33, Chiefs, 31
Chargers, 28, Vikings, 23
Cowboys, 27, Falcons, 10
Giants, 28, Redskins, 7
Seahawks, 33, Bears, 16
Panthers, 41, Saints, 21
Cardinals, 31, 49ers, 30

Team Of The Week
1. This team’s quarterback got severely injured last season.
2. This team has been in last in their division for the last couple years.
3. In 2013, this team’s division was the toughest.
4. This team is named after an animal.
5. This team is located somewhere in the Midwest.

Last Week: Chiefs

10 Bold Predictions For The Upcoming NFL Season

1 day into the season, here are some things to look out for.

1.The Cowboys will sign Montee Ball, and he’ll dominate

Montee Ball was ditched by Denver last season after injury.  Before then, he was a star.  Now CJ Anderson is there.  In Dallas, their old star, DeMarco Murray, is gone.  Ball can fill in that slot, and I believe he can make a comeback to the top 10 fantasy running backs.  The Dolphins may also need him to backup Lamar Miller, but Dallas is a better fit for Ball. Comeback Player of The Year, no decision.

2. Peyton Manning will conclude his NFL career

This year I think is Peyton Manning’s last. Manning is getting older, and he isn’t as dominant anymore.  I would rank Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford before him, at this point.  The burning question is, how will to Broncos do without him?  Unless they get a sharp rookie QB, not as good.  More like 10-6, 9-7 than 12-4, 13-3.   I expect Manning to announce his retirement any moment now.

3. The Packers will struggle at receiver

The Packers still have Randall Cobb, but Davante Adams is not a WR2, and James Jones is not a good WR3.  they’ll depend on Aaron Rodgers, Cobb and Lacy.  Who else do they have.  This is not as dominant of an offense without poor Jordy Nelson.  Nelson is amazing, probably top 3 in the league, of any position, along with Rodgers and DeMaryius Thomas.  Hope for 11-5, 12-4 if the D is sharp.

4. The Seahawks defense will slow down

Besides Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett, who do they have anymore.  This years ‘Hawks will be more base offense, using Marshawn Lynch, and Jimmy Graham like their wide receiver that can fill that hole, while they continue using the same old guys like tight ends.  I wouldn’t be shocked if Graham became a receiver permanently. This is another slowing team.  In the future, look Eagles, Cowboys, Colts, Ravens, Steelers, Pats and Bengals.  Maybe also the Pack if Nelson returns.  Not the Seahawks as much.

5. The Texans will not perform offensively

the defense in Houston is amazing.  J.J Watt and Vince Wilfork on one defense, joined by Brian Cushing, Jadeveon Clowney, and Johnathan Joseph.  But the offense, when you think about it, isn’t so great.  Brian Hoyer is not very good, and with Arian Foster out, Alfred Blue, Chris Polk and  Jonathan Grimes are the only running backs left.  And at receiver, DeAndre Hopkins I think is overrated.  Then you have Jaguars and Titans former sleepers Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III.  Shorts could be alright, but I don’t feel it in Washington.  And that leaves you with rookie Jaelen Strong, and I feel that Strong is a strong player.  Then at tight end, Garrett Graham, C.J. Fieodorowicz and A.J. Griffin.  The offense is not as good as you might think.

6. The Vikings won’t get better, but get worse

This sounds stupid, stating the fact that Teddy Bridgewater is emerging and Mike Wallace got bring some power to his options, but the defense has not improved very much, and that will impact the team.  Adrian Peterson has returned, but that thins their other options.  If they don’t play, what happens if Peterson gets hurt like he did in 2013?  At receiver, it’s the same.  After Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson are the next best options.  And the tight ends are better that 2014, but they can’t always catch passes.

7. The Buccaneers go 2-3 in the first 5, but won’t win another game

The Buccaneers have easy matches against the Titans and other bad teams early on that they can easily win.  But when their schedule gets tougher in the last eleven weeks, don’t expect another victory.  Everyone on the Bucs is pretty much a sleeper or developing player.  EVERYONE.  Even Doug Martin and Bobby Rainey.  When they don’t have an easy match, they can’t win.

8. The Rams will make the playoffs

Things are looking up in St. Louis.  Nick Foles is a less injury prone quarterback, so that straight-up trade for Foles was worth it, even if it was good for Philly too.  At wide receiver, I see potential in sleepers Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt.  These two players never fully adapted last season, and they can this year.  The defense has also improved.  Aaron Donald should be better in year two, and Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree should still be within stardom.  There are also many more offensive sleepers that push it so much, that the Rams should get an NFC wild card, giving them a ticket to the playoffs.

9. Matt Ryan, Tevin Coleman and the Falcons will have a bust season

I wouldn’t go expecting much from rookie Tevin Coleman, or any Falcons running back, and I have a feeling Matt Ryan will also have a bust season.  Even with Julio Jones and Roddy White at receiver, the rest of the offense is in bad condition.  And the defense isn’t any better.  The Falcons are not going to perform this season, at least that’s what I think.

10. The Colts will power the defense to win Super Bowl 50

The Colts already have a great offense.  Andrew Luck, Frank Gore, TY Hilton and Andre Johnson are all primed for a breakout.  And there’s more.  Don’t forget Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener.  The Colts will be the best offense in the NFL.  But imagine the defense doing the same.  Dwight Freeny, Robert Mathis, D’Qwell Jackson and Vontae Davis are all great players. What stops them from working together to make the defense much better than it really is?  They have super bowl potential.

NFL Week 1 Picks: Football Is Back

Football is back and better than ever!  So are my picks.  I’ve included a team of the week guessing segment at the bottom.

Lock Of The Week

Bengals, 30, Raiders, 13

The strong Bengals defense, made up of Vontaze Burfict, AJ Hawk and Geno Atkins has by far enough capability to stop a near last place Raiders offense.  Trent Richardson and Michael Crabtree, the latest additions, will be stopped by their guards most of the game, and Derek Carr will be a clear sack target.  The Raiders offense clearly has a lack of weapons to compare to strong Bengals D-Line and overall defense, ranked 4th overall by my preseason fantasy rankings.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, it may be hard to run for it, with Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck on watch, but Weapons like A.J. Green and young tight end Tyler Eifert.  They’ll be facing a weak Raiders secondary.  So, there isn’t much to explain.  The Bengals are clear winners of this meeting.

Notable Locks

Carolina over Jacksonville

New York Jets over Cleveland

Philadelphia over Atlanta

Upset of the Week

Rams, 24, Seahawks, 23

Although the Seahawks have a leading defense, the loss of superstar safety Kam Chancellor will be a setback on the “12 man team”.  So, the Rams passing game should step it up, even if the best they got is Tavon Austin and Jared Cook.  Austin and Kenny Britt are primed for a breakout with Zac Stacy broken down.  They can partially outsmart the Seahawks secondary, and get at least a few TDs out of it.  Running the ball?  That’ll be tougher, especially with Bobby Wagner and Michael Bennett covering them.  Maybe they can squeeze out a clutch rushing TD, but probably not.

Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson aren’t in a great position either.  Robert Quinn, Alec Ogletree and Aaron Donald should stop them.  Passing?  They can try Jimmy Graham a couple times but he can’t score infinite touchdowns.  The wide receiver options are slim, with Golden Tate and Percy Harvin, 2013’s main targets, elsewhere.  The ‘Hawks are left with Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and rookie Tyler Lockett.  They also have clutch options Ricardo Lockette and Chris Matthews.  The Seahawks are panicking at this point.  Looks like it’s jut an off day for The Legion of Boom.

Notable Upsets

Chicago over Green Bay

Other Games

Patriots, 23, Steelers, 21

Jets, 23, Browns, 7

Dolphins, 24, Redskins, 14

Colts, 30, Bills, 17

Broncos, 31, Ravens, 6

Texans, 30, Chiefs, 14

Buccaneers, 28, Titans, 24

Panthers, 17, Jaguars, 14

Chargers, 20, Lions, 17

Eagles, 37, Falcons, 24,

Cowboys, 27, Giants, 24

Bears, 27, Packers, 26

49ers, 27, Vikings, 20

Saints, 21, Cardinals, 17

Team Of The Week

Clues

  1. The coach coached a playoff team in the 2014 season.
  2. This team has not been above .500 for 2 or more years
  3. An important receiver departed this team this off season
  4. This team is in the NFC
  5. This team was named after the city’s most popular baseball team

What team is it?

Guess in comments.

NFL In Detail 2.0: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers may be bad again, even after drafting Jameis Winston with the first overall pick.  Winston was the Florida State quarterback, using tight end Nick O’ Leary as his main weapon.  He should start at QB, but Mike Glennon will challenge his throne as starter.

Fantasy and Training Camp Outlook

We already talked QB, so lets move on to running back.

RB

Three running backs should all compete for the starting position.  They have Doug Martin, who was supposed to have his outbreak year in 2014, but struggled.  He could be back to being close to his normal state.  Bobby Rainey will chase him though, and Rainey had stats higher than his projection last year, but Martin’s improvements get in Rainey’s way.  I doubt he’ll be the number 1, but the third spot definitely goes to either young Charles Sims, or fullback Jorvorskie Lane, even fullback Evan Rodriguez.

WR

Winston’s Tampa weapons should be between veteran Vincent Jackson, and 2014 outbreak rookie Mike Evans.  I expect Evans can keep it up, but Jackson has some skills to show this year too.

TE

Austin Seferian-Jenkins should be the number 1 again to at least start the year, but I could forecast him having a break down season.  That opens the door for returning Buccaneer and Pats XLIX champ Tim Wright.  Wright was Gronk’s second hand man last year, and he can do the same, maybe even surpass the skills of Seferian-Jenkins.

Defense

Both the offensive and defensive line shold be great, between Logan Mankins on offense, and Gerald McCoy and Larry English on defense.  They need another defensive back though, and are left with safety D. J. Swearinger, but no star corners.

The Buccaneers have developing, but older talent that shouldn’t do much, but will do something to make an effort to make the team at least 31st rather than 32nd of 32, although like all teams, they aim towards going to Super Bowl 50.

NFL In Detail 2.0: Oakland Raiders

The Raiders are one of three teams who made a few big moves, but still are bottom teams along with the Titans and Jaguars, all in the AFC.
Fantasy and Training Camp Outlook
QB

Derek Carr is a developing starter in Oakland, and they struggle to find a backup. But I think if Carr struggles, start Christian Ponder at quarterback. He tops Matt McGloin in the race for backup. Ponder got a little playing time with the Vikings last year, but was a third string quarterback. He can take his career up a notch.
RB

They lost key RB Darren McFadden, long time Raider, but have plenty of reserves. They snagged strong third string Roy Helu, and former Colt underdog Trent Richardson, and still have Latavius Murray and fullback Marcel Reece. Murray will fight Richardson for the lead spot, while the other is left a reserve. Most say Murray, but veteran Richardson should take it from young Latavius Murray in my opinion. They also let go of veteran Maurice Jones-Drew, left a free agent.
WR

Hopefully Michael Crabtree can rebound to take the lead role, but if not, they only have Andre Holmes, former Pat Kenbrell Thompkins, and developing rookie Amari Cooper. Meanwhile those guys do show power, and could be decent. I have an especially good feeling about Cooper.
TE

Mychal Rivera could be the starter again, but I would give it to rookie Clive Walford. The smart drafting Raiders snagged him and Cooper in the first three rounds.
Defense

This defense is one of he worst in the league, but Justin Tuck and Khalil Mack should lead the defense. I expect it to improve from last year, probably leaving the Jags in the bottom spot.
The Raiders now have a few sparking veterans, but are dominant in young talent drafted ver the past couple years. Smart in the draft, and free agency.

MLB Monthly Rankings: June

This is my monthly power rankings for June.  I had much more time so I could put more effort into it than just a list.

1. St. Louis CardinalsSt_Louis_Cardinals

The Cardinals clearly deserve Number 1. they’ve held on to the best record in the MLB for a long time, Michael Wacha is 8-2 with a 2.45 ERA in and he’s pitched in the MLB for under 2 years.  Jhonny Peralta has a .317 batting average, and Matt Holliday’s hitting .303 with a team leading .417 on base percentage.  Impressive stats and ecord have earned the Cardinals the numer 1 spot.  Even if the games they’ve won have been close, it’s not the score that matters, it’s who wins, even if they’ve been outscored in some winning series’.

los-angeles-dodgers2. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are rising again, and Joc Pederson is helping. 17 home runs is great for a rookie.  Zach Greinke also has stayed as a record breaker this season with a 1.95 ERA.  They have a good offense and rotation, and will continue to rise for the rest of the season.  Hopefully Clayton Kershaw can do whatGreinke’s doing too, and some other hitters can get warmer.  I see good things to come.

kansas_city_royals3. Kansas City Royals

Even if the hitting is starting to wear off, the Royals lineup has led the team to victory, and I think later in the season, they’ll get back on track.  Mike Moustakas has put up a .318 average to start the year.   Salvador Perez and several other contributors to the Royals lineup are leading all star candidates.  This really reminds me of a modified version of last year.

Chicago_Cubs4. Chicago Cubs

Joe Maddon has really improved the team this season ever since he took over as manager.  They’ve added OF Dexter Fowler, 2B Tommy La Stella, 3B Kris Bryant, OF Javier Baez and C Miguel Montero to their lineup, and Jon Lester, former Red Sox and A’s starter to their rotation.  How have they performed with the new additions.  Pretty good, especially compared to Cubs squads from recent years.  Cubs veteran Anthony Rizzo has led in most major batting stats.  He has a .307 average, 69 hits, .421 on base percentage, 11 home runs and 37 RBI.  Not too thrilling, but still good.  They’re 34-27 currently in the NL Central’s third place spot.  Also, Jason Hammel has a 2.81 ERA, although Jon Lester has struggled mildly so far. Usually, he tops the rotation.  Otherwise, they’ve been just a little over average.  They could be a wild cardcanditate, but aren’t at the top of the current race.

5. Toronto Blue Jays Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are red hot and had won eleven straight until Monday night, including sweeping my Red Sox for their 4th-6th striaght losses.  They now have a seven game losing streak over in Boston.  Chris Colabello is hitting a whopping .345.  Josh Donaldson has 17 home runs on the season with his new team here in Toronto.  The Blue Jays made some great off season moves that built them into a much better team this season.  Additions like Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson have really helped the 2015 squad.

Houston Astros6. Houston Astros

Surprise, surprise.  The Astros have finally rebuilt enough to be in the playoff race.  Their pitching has shocked all.  Dallas Keuchel is 8-2 with a 2.04 ERA.  Pat Neshek has 17 holds and Luke Gregerson has 16 saves.  They’ve had plenty of new contributors to the lineup this year as well.  Have you heard of Luis Valbuena?  He replaced Matt Dominguez and has smashed 14 homers so far this year.  With a few player outbreaks, the Astros have managed to climb from the bottom to close to the top.

Minnesota_Twins7. Minnesota Twins

Another surprise team that quickly climbed to the top is what I would call this ball club.  Again, they’ve balanced on a few outbreak players.  Do you recall Brian Dozier from the 2014 Home Run Derby?  Well, he’s hit 13 for the Twins this season.  In the pitching staff, Glen Perkins has closed well with 22 saves on the season.  This team is very similar to the Astros in many ways, especially this season so far.

new-york-yankees8. New York Yankees

The Yankees have managed to stay on the top of the weak AL East division balancing on just a couple stars.  Brett Gardner to start the season was just hot overall.  Mark Teixeira has finally overcome his 2011 injury completely after a few very mellow years, hitting 18 home runs so far this season.  Jacoby Ellsbury is hitting .324 with fourteen stolen bases already, even being on the 15 day disabled list during part of the start.  Also, pitching is another smaller factor.  Michael Pineda is 8-4, winning two out of every three starts with a win or loss and Andrew Miller has put up 17 saves this season.  Are the Yankees finally Yankees again?  The consistent Yankees they once were?

Pittsburgh_Pirates9. Pittsburgh Pirates

This Pirates team is red hot, especially their pitching, surprising everybody.  Gerrit Cole is 11-2 with a 1.78 ERA.  Mark Melancon has 24 saves.  Francisco Liriano has struck out 105 on the season.  Those are what you call great pitching stats that boost you in the power rankings.  A.J. Burnett also has a whopping 2.05 ERA and isn’t the team leader, trailing behind Cole.  The one thing that makes me think they don’t belong higher is their lack of a good lineup this season.  It looked good, but just like the Red Sox pitching, it’s not executing like it was supposed to.  The only other difference is that Pittsburgh is winning more, lots more.  That’s why the Red Sox are down at the bottom rather than up here.

Washington-Nationals10. Washington Nationals

This was supposed to be an all star team with the best rotation in the MLB.  They’ve been a few games above .500, and no more than that.  But looking at how badly they did to start the season, I would call them hot, and Bryce Harper is finally hitting like the all starhe was meant to be.  He’s hitting .339 with 24 home runs and 57 RBI.  Yunel Escobar was another great addition to the lineup, hitting .325 so far.  Max Scherzer has also had a great year with his new team, putting up 123 strikeouts and a 1.76 ERA.  Closer Drew Storen has put up 21 saves.  So they have put up stats like an all star team would.  They just need to win some more games.  If April never happened, the Nationals would be a whole lot better.

Tampa_Bay_Rays11. Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have somehow, some way, pushed through tons of injuries, losses, and setbacks, but still have stayed near the top of the division all season.  Well, who exactly has put up such uge numbers, without getting hurt?  CHRIS ARCHER.  He’s in his prime years of his career, with a 2.10 ERA, 123 strikeouts and a 9-4 record.  Closer Brad Boxberger has also earned 19 saves this season.  Even if hitting has struggled moderately, Chris Archer has led the Rays to victory after victory.

detroit-tigers12. Detroit Tigers

Their record hasn’t been dependable, but Miguel Cabrera’s having a breakout season, andif he had more home runs, he would be a Triple Crown candidate.  He’s hitting .351/.455/.590 with 52 RBI, 15 home runs and 88 hits on the season.  J. D. Martinez also has 17 home runs while hitting .272/.331/.517, which isn’t quite as impressive has the homers.  He also has 43 RBI and 72 hits.  Pitching is decent as well, David Price with a 2.42 ERA and 95 strikeouts, and Joakim Soria with 16 saves.  If only they could win some games.

new-york-mets13. New York Mets

The Mets have surprised pretty much everybody by starting their season so well.  Pitching is part of the matter.  Jacob DeGrom has a 2.34 ERA and 93 strikeouts.  Jeurys Familia has 19 saves, and Carlos Torres has 11 holds.  However, hitting has seriously been struggling.  Their record isn’t even so great, and that’s exactly why they’re down here and not up in the top 10.  They really need to improve their lineup and the rotation besides DeGrom, including the struggling star Matt Harvey, or they’re going to start to have some serious problems.

san-francisco-giants14. San Francisco Giants

The Giants actually sill have something in them, even after losing the Panda to Boston.  Nori Aoki, acquired from the Royals has 83 hits while batting .317.  In pitching, Madison Bumgarner has a 3.04 ERA with 102 strikeouts.   Santiago Casilla has 19 saves, and Sergio Romo has a whopping 18 holds!!!!   Still, the stats could be better, bumping the Giants down to almost the bottom half of my June Power Rankings.  Besides, they’re only 39-34.  So, there are some consequences for dropping Panda, one of them being that he’s red hot on the Red Sox over these last several games.

Texas-Rangers  15. Texas Rangers

The Rangers have been red hot, of late especially.  Chi-Chi Gonzalez has a 2.27 ERA.  Nick Martinez has a 2.77 ERA.  Yovani Gallardo has a 2.98 ERA.  Colby Lewis is 7-3.  So each starter may not be good in every way, but are contributing in at least on way each.  After an injury, Prince Fielder has been a huge contributor, batting .342/.412/.522 and with 93 hits and 47 RBI.  However, the lineup hasn’t been up to it’s expectations besides Fielder.  Fielder also only has 11 home runs, which is below his average per season.  the Rangers aren’t even that far above .500.  They sit at a mediocre 37-35 record, in 2nd in the AL West.  Just like 2014, they started the season about average?  The question is, will they stay that way for a change, or be early season conquerors again and fall apart late?

los-angeles-angels-of-anaheim16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

The Angels aren’t meeting their expectations exactly, but they’ve been okay.  Albert Pujols has been red hot, with 47 RBI, 23 home runs, and joining the 500 home run club (I bet Big Papi is next.)    Mike Trout also has 80 season hits and continues to be like the potential star he is.  Trout also has 18 home runs, and a .296 batting average, that nobody on the team has done better than, except pitchers against interleague teams, going 1 for 3 and batting .333 each in one start with at bats.  In the rotation, Hector Santiago has a 2.68 ERA.  But pitching and somewhat hitting have been struggles.  The team has been far below the high 1st place expectations most people had for them, including me.

cleveland-indians  17. Cleveland Indians

The Indians had an April and early May disaster, but are starting to recover and have been playing like they should be lately.  Corey Kluber has struck out 117 this season, and lineup members like Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley are hot and all star worthy as well.  Kipnis is hitting .354/.431/.521 with 31 RBI and 10 stolen bases.  Kipnis also is one hit shy of 100 hits this season, at 99 hits currently.  One more game and he should have 100+ season hits.  Kipnis has also scored 49 runs, 1 run shy of fifty runs, which it should probably take a couple more games to get.  Michael Brantley also is hitting .293/.370/.435 with 37 RBI, and former Oakland Athletic Brandon Moss has 11 home runs, however he has no other stats that are that impressive.  I think the Indians will continue to improve throughout July and August.

Baltimore-Orioles-Logo  18. Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have gained, regained and lost many members of their trusty lineup.  Alejandro De Aza was signed by the Red Sox.  Have you heard the name Jimmy Paredes?  Since they found he would be a great starting DH after losing Nelson Cruz at the start of this season, he’s hit .311/.333/.486.  Manny Machado has returned from his injury and impressed all by hitting .303/.357/.516 with 14 home runs and 84 hits.  Chris Davis has returned from a struggling season well with 15 home runs and 41 RBI, hitting the way he should be.  His classic, low average, home run king kind of mindset. Slugging percentage is the new stat in town.  However, his slugging percentage is a lowly .461, as well.  For pitching, each guy has one good stat.  Wei-Yin Chen has a 2.89 ERA.  Ubaldo Jimenez has struck out 82.  Closer Zach Britton has 20 saves.  The team does have some missing pieces to the puzzle though, even if they are doing well, and that’s why they’re down here.

19. Arizona Diamondbacks

How have the D-Backs gotten so high up?  It’s because of a few shining guys in the lineup that are red hot, like Paul Goldschmidt.  Goldschmidt is hitting amazingly, at .351/.468/.645 with 20 home runs, 93 hits and 62 RBI.  He’s just been a gem for them this season.  There aren’t any better hitters, or hitters even close to what Goldschmidt’s done on the Diamondbacks.  For pitching, it’s been off to a hard start, and the pitching has continued to struggle, and losing Wade Miley to the Sox didn’t help much.  So technically, Paul Goldschmidt is leading the entire D-Backs squad to big wins.  Nobody else has shined like him on this team at least.

20. Atlanta Braves
The Braves are just below .500 on the season.  Why is this?  They practically gave up everything.  They didn’t give away any starting pitchers.  Shelby Miller has a 1.94 ERA.  Plus, the bullpen and new closer have really paid off.  Jim Johnson has 18 holds and Jason Grilli has 21 saves.  That makes Miller-Johnson-Grilli the perfect starter-reliever-closer combo.  The one struggle has been the lineup.  But a couple guys have paid off.  Nick Markakis is hitting .300/.387/.355 with 86 hits and Freddie Freeman has 41 RBI.

21. Cincinnati Reds
The Reds have plenty of guys that have the potential to do well.  Only a few have actually shined though, and that’s why they’re here.  Todd Frazier has slugged with 25 homers, 53 RBI and 85 hits while hitting .290/.353/.625.  Joey Votto also has 14 homers while hitting .284/.394/.504.  Johnny Cueto has been the rotation ace with a 2.98 ERA with 92 strikeouts.  Several pitchers like Mat Latos and Homer Bailey have gotten seriously hurt, holding back majority of the rotation while taking the spotlight and number one spot.  The Reds supposed hitters, like second year all star Billy Hamilton, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce haven’t actually hit like they’ve supposed to, while they have made some plays in the field.  Hamilton is also a mighty lead off who can get on base and has stolen 33.

22. Chicago White Sox
Hitting, especially out of Cuban sleeper Jose Abreu has struggled.  Abreu still leads the team, but he’s an underperformer based on his expectations.  He has 13 homers, 41 RBI and 80 hits.  The pitching’s been the same way, except it has done well, all really close to underperforming ace Chris Sale.  He’s 6-4 with a 3.02 ERA.  But, the ERA is decent and he has and MLB leading 129 strikeouts.  I just thought of something.  You know how hitters can win a Triple Crown Award, for leading their league in RBIs, batting average and home runs?   They should have a pitching Triple Crown Award, wins, ERA and strikeouts.  That’s the big three of pitching stats, just like the three chosen for hitting are the big three of batting stats, along with overall hits as a fourth hitting component.

23. Colorado Rockies
The pitching has been disastrous, keeping the team below .500.  But the lineup has shocked everyone.  TROY TULOWITZKI.  This all star shortstop is hitting .313/.347/.480.  J. A. Arenado has 24 homers and 68 RBI. He is also hitting .293/.326/.632.  Troy LeMaieu is also hitting .304/.363/.405 with 83 hits.  The Rockies have struggled overall though, with only one starter getting 16 starts, Kyle Kendrick and he has a very sad 6.07 ERA, one of three pitchers worse than Rick Porcello of the Red Sox, also including Orioles supposed ace Chris Tillman.

24. San Diego Padres
The Padres new guys aren’t all doing quite as well as I expected, but they’re not doing to bad, and a few guys are shining.  Ace James Shields is 7-2 with 116 strikeouts.  Closer Craig Kimbrel has 19 saves, and Joaquin Benoit has 10 holds.  Yonder Alonso hasn’t played as an everyday starter, but he’s hitting .318/.407/.415.   Justin Upton also leads the team with 14 homers and 46 RBI.  But otherwise, they had some higher expectations from most.  However, I was mostly correct saying the Padres would stink, then modifying to say they’d be unpredictable.  That’s what they’ve been.  An average team that you can never know with.  It’s near impossible to make Padres picks unless you’re a Padres expert.

25.  Seattle Mariners

I’d expect more out of the Mariners if they’re going to go out in the off season and sign Austin Jackson, Nelson Cruz and more new sluggers, although they lost Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders to Toronto.  Cruz has shined, hitting .305/.368/.552 with 19 homers, 46 RBI and 85 hits, but besides Cruz and third baseman Kyle Seager, (12 HR & 38 RBI), the lineup has been pretty disappointing.  King Felix has done as expected though, led the rotation, but only a couple guys are following Hernandez’ great starts.  Hernandez has 100 strikeouts, is 10-4 and has a 3.05 ERA.

26. Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers are probably the biggest disappointment in the NL, (It would be by far the Red Sox in the AL).  After the September collapse last season, they haven’t gotten any better.  Adam Lind has the best average on the team.  Does .294 sound like the leading average on a team?  Not to me it doesn’t.  Ryan Braun is the only guy with a good stat.  50 RBI.  Not bad.  But he’s also team leader in home runs, but he only has fifteen!  Well, Hanley Ramirez of Boston is the same way.  And the only impressive pitching stat comes from Mike Fiers, with 93 strikeouts.  But his ERA is over 4.00 and he has a losing record.  So that’s pretty much just considered a fun fact if it’s all alone.  The pitching stinks.  They need to rebuild the rotation for next season.  Practically every starter is underperforming.

27. Miami Marlins

Alright, I will admit that Giancarlo Stanton may be the best hitter in the current MLB.  He has 27 homers, has a .606 slugging percentage, and 67 RBI.  Dee Gordon was also a good acquisition, hitting .353/.373/.423 and having 112 total hits.  But the pitching is a disaster, and if those two hitters can’t win the games alone, they don’t belong very high in my rankings.  And they can’t.  It’s a team effort.  They need at least okay play from all aspects to make a winning team.

28. Boston Red Sox

Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez are the leading hitters right now.  Pedroia is hitting .306 and Hanley has 15 homers.  But those stats aren’t so great, and they’re both injured now, even though the Sox have won 3 of 4 with out them.  That’s good, because Hanley is expected to return, but Pedroia is on the disabled list, and when he’s on the DL, it means a serious injury, because he plays through the worst of them unless it gets really bad.  If the lineup had a better start to the season, the team might be better.  And pitching is an underperforming component of the team.  The best ERA from a starter is Clay Buchholz’s 3.68 ERA, and no other starter has an ERA under 4.00, not even minor league sleeper and now possible Rookie of the Year, Eduardo Rodriguez, also known as Eddie Rodriguez or E-Rod, after the great Alex Rodriguez, (A-Rod).  The bullpen is okay though.  Japanese natives Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have made a great reliever-closer combo, Tazawa with 12 holds and Uehara with 16 saves.  They just need a good starter that can pitch well through the first six or seven innings.  The Red Sox have spent a ton on great stars of the past, but some of them, like Rick Porcello, are having and first years with the team.

29. Oakland Athletics

The pitching here has been great in a couple starters, but a lousy lineup and lack of run support has cost the A’s to lose majority of their games.  Steven Vogt is a sleeper hitter though, hitting .300/.393/.532 with 13 homers and 53 RBI, all team leading.  Josh Reddick also has a close 46 RBI.  Sonny Gray has aced again, with a 2.09 ERA, going 9-3 with 97 strikeouts.  Scott Kazmir has a 2.79 ERA while he’s struck out 85.  Why did the Athletics go signing all these new hitters if they aren’t going to hit?
Really, why?

30. Philadelphia Phillies

ABSOLUTE DISASTER.  Their lineup is getting too old to help much, making them 27-50.  The games they have won have been mostly because of Cole Hamels (106 strikeouts, 3.26 ERA).  But with Hamels and closer Jonathan Paplebon both trade targets, what should they do?  Go completely young and let go of their current generation.  That’s what most disastrous teams do.  But if they’ve been that way for it’s third year now, then why haven’t they yet?  It’s time.

In Detail: New York Mets

This is my 15th post in my MLB In Detail post series this April.  The Mets have improved greatly from past years and are due for a better season.  In the off season, they acquired Michael Cuddyer from the Rockies and John Mayberry Jr. from the desperate Phillies.  They also will have Matt Harvey healthy and active this year, which will be a great help.  They’ve also added Bartolo Colon from the Oakland Athletics to help the starting rotation.  In the infield, they have Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Wilmer Flores.  Other than that, they don’t have anybody too good.  There’s four positions in the infield.  On;y three guys that are actually good play.  There’s a hole at third base.  Wait, what happened to David Wright?  He got injured.  Yet again on this team, injuries is a deciding factor.  Travis d’Arnaud, the catcher, is also on the 15 day disabled list.  The injuries make position holes, which lower records.  This will make the Mets decent rather than good.  Putting injuries aside, the Mets outfield has no holes, but no backups either.  They don’t have any backups on the disabled list or in rehab either.  They do have Curtis Granderson, Michael Cuddyer, and John Mayberry Jr. to fill the outfield but what if one of them gets injured.  So, the Mets are going to be okay, but with injuries being a factor, they won’t be too good.  My prediction for the Mets is that the Mets are going to come in 2nd place in the NL East, finishing with an 84-78 record, being ranked 16th overall.  The Mets will be a good team, but not good enough if the injuries continue.

In Detail: Seattle Mariners

This is my 14th post in my MLB In Detail post series this April.  The Mariners have most of what they had last year.  They lost Michael Saunders and Justin Smoak to the rebuilding Blue Jays, but they didn’t anyone else, except Chris Taylor to the disabled list.  Nelson Cruz was recently added to the team.  He was the main factor in the Orioles winning their division, will he do the same for Seattle?  Robinson Cano, acquired from the Yankees last year, will surely help the Mariners as well.  The infield is a weakness, only holding Kyle Seager besides Cano.  They have a pretty full roster otherwise.  The starting rotation consists of King Felix, J.A. Happ, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, all at least decent pitchers.  The outfield has also been filled well.  Along with Nelson Cruz, the Mariners have Dustin Ackley as a dependable oufielder, and Mike Zunino as a dependable catcher.  They also have a decent backup in Seth Smith.  If he’s backing up, who’s in center field?  The Mariners acquired former Detroit Tigers lead off hitter and center fielder, Austin Jackson, to play center field.  I think Seth Smith should play designated hitter though.  After the loss of Kendrys Morales, there has been a hole at designated hitter for the Mariners.  Rickie Weeks who is not that good, is the current DH so Seth Smith is the next option.  My prediction for the Mariners is that they will come in 3rd place in the AL West, finishing with an 84-78 record, being ranked 17th overall.  The Mariners have their holes, but a few solid areas can get them where they’ve gotten, a little above .500.