MLB 2018 Predictions: Exciting Season In The Making Despite Slow Off-Season

It is that time of year again.  Although I had to delay this article due to the excruciatingly quiet start to the off-season, my MLB Predictions are here.  Read below to find out my thoughts on who will win the World Series and how they’ll get there.  I will also be predicting who wins the major MLB awards.  Let’s get started with my projected regular season standings.  

Note: These Predictions are based on potential, but do account for the lack of real FA signings

Record Projections

AL East

  1. new-york-yankees New York Yankees 96-66 (#1 seed AL)
  2. boston-red-sox Boston Red Sox 92-70 (#4 seed AL)
  3. Toronto_Blue_Jays Toronto Blue Jays 76-86
  4. Baltimore-Orioles-Logo Baltimore Orioles 73-89
  5. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays 70-92

Image result for giancarlo stanton yankees

The Bronx Bombers are back.  With Giancarlo Stanton on board, the Yankees have last year’s top two home run hitters in their lineup.  They could have a historic home run duo going.  Stanton and Judge will be surrounded by other big hitters, young players full of potential, and a respectable rotation.  

Image result for jd martinez red sox

But the Red Sox will challenge them after signing the #3 HR hitter of 2017 in J.D. Martinez.  After a long game of chicken, they finally agreed to terms on a deal on February 19th.  The Sox also brought back super utility Eduardo Nunez, who will start at second until Dustin Pedroia returns in mid-April.  Martinez, Nunez and the Killer B’s will lead the Sox to be elite contenders and compete with the Yankees.  In addition, ace Chris Sale leads a strong Red Sox rotation, one thing Boston has on the Yankees.  Sale, Pomeranz, and Porcello have led Boston’s rotation to outpitch the Yanks.    I will have an extended spring preview for the Sox coming soon, where I will try and answer some of the team’s biggest questions headed into 2018.

The rest of the division is in rebuild mode, and the Red Sox and Yankees will feed on them, while the two of them compete against each other.  The Blue Jays have revamped their roster with lower tier free agents and younger players who will lead the new era of the team.  Meanwhile, the Orioles have rotation turnover issues after they lost multiple starters to free agency.  They signed two starters, but they still have rotation problems, and their lineup is still good, but it’s no longer All-Star material.  Meanwhile, the Rays have completely remodeled their roster after trading away Evan Longoria, Jake Odorizzi, and Corey Dickerson.  They will be led by young talent on their new look roster. Although the other teams in this division look intriguing, Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams that I would consider playoff contenders in the AL East.

AL Central

  1. cleveland-indians Cleveland Indians 92-70 (#3 seed AL)
  2. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins 87-75
  3. kansas-city-royals Kansas City Royals 73-89
  4. detroit-tigers Detroit Tigers 69-93
  5. chicago-white-sox Chicago White Sox 66-96

The Indians are still the clear favorite.  They may have lost key pieces in Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce, but they made up for it by signing 1B Yonder Alonso, 1B/DH Mike Napoli, OF Melvin Upton Jr. and OF Rajai Davis.  Young outfielder Bradley Zimmer is also in the running for a starting outfield job.

Image result for yonder alonso indians

That doesn’t mean the Twins won’t contend though.  They upgraded a roster that was already strong this off-season, by signing Logan Morrison and relievers Fernando Rodney and Addison Reed as well as acquiring Jake Odorizzi from Tampa Bay.  They also signed Michael Pineda, who may return from Tommy John surgery later this year.  The Twins are setting themselves up to return to the playoffs, but they’ll have competition in the wild card race, with the Red Sox and Angels also contending.

The rest of this division will fail to contend.  The Royals lost their core players in Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, and Lorenzo Cain and that has led them to rebuild.  The Tigers are heading into a rebuild of their own after their older team struggled in early 2017.  However, their roster appears to be falling into place, for the most part.  They could use another infielder in the mix.  After trading away J.D. Martinez last year and trading Ian Kinsler in the off-season, the Tigers are headed in the right direction, focusing on their future.  The White Sox will rely on their young talent after rebuilding in 2017.  They are hoping that their top prospects, Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez, can make an impact at the major league level as well as prospects that cracked the majors last year.  The Indians are the clear favorites here, but the Twins could also contend, and do not be surprised if one of the three rebuilding squads in the division begins contending quicker than expected.

AL West

  1. houston-astros Houston Astros 95-67 (#2 seed AL)
  2. la-angels-of-anaheim Los Angeles Angels 88-74 (#5 seed AL)
  3. seattle-mariners-logo Seattle Mariners 83-79
  4. texas-rangers Texas Rangers 74-88
  5. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics 68-94

The Astros are still the clear favorites here.  They’ve only gotten better since last year’s World Series win, so if they have any hangover, it will only affect them early on, and won’t hit them that hard, similar to what happened to the Cubs last season.  A full season of Justin Verlander and the acquisition of Gerrit Cole will make their rotation unstoppable, and their lineup is still just as good, as prospects will fill in for what they lost in Carlos Beltran, who retired.

Image result for justin verlander astros

The Angels will also compete though.  They arguably have one of the best lineups in the league after adding Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart as well as resigning Justin Upton.  Although the rotation is not dominant, the new two-way Japanese star in Shohei Ohtani will help them improve, and hopefully, the injury bug will not hit them as hard this year.  The Mariners will also have a decent year, but they are relying on Dee Gordon to make a smooth transition to the outfield, and the rest of their outfield doesn’t look great.

In addition, it will be hard to contend with inexperienced players occupying several starting jobs.  The Rangers aren’t going to be terrible either, but some of their best players like Adrian Beltre are getting old, and not all of their younger players will be able to succeed at the major league level this year.  I like their intriguing off-season, but unless they break out with what they have, it might be time for the Rangers to consider a rebuild.  The Athletics are hoping that they can start moving in an upward direction after their own rebuild, but I think their young players need another season or two to develop before the A’s get ready for contention again.  This year will focus on the development of their young guns like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Jharel Cotton, and Andrew Triggs among others.  In the end, look for the Astros to repeat here and the Angels to make a run at a wild-card spot.

NL East

  1. washington-nats Washington Nationals 97-65 (#1 seed NL)
  2. new-york-mets New York Mets 86-76
  3. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves 78-84
  4. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies 71-91
  5. miami-marlins Miami Marlins 64-98

After the Nationals cruised into the NLDS in a weak NL East in 2017, I do expect Washington to repeat.  But other teams in the division will start to make strides toward contention.  At one point, I thought this might be the year that the Marlins pounce to the top of the division, but instead, they decided to rebuild early, dealing away all three of their starting outfielders (Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna) plus 2B Dee Gordon.  Now they might very well be the MLB’s worst team on paper.

But the Mets, Braves, and Phillies are moving in an upward direction.  If they can stay healthy, the Mets added several key pieces that could lead them back to contention.  I think they are close to playoff material, but not quite there yet.  The Braves look ready to break out at any moment, but I don’t know if their breakthrough will come in 2018.  But I definitely think they will improve this season.  The Phillies may not be ready for contention yet, but this young team is setting themselves up for success.  If they continue to boost their young roster with veterans over the next couple years, we may see them return to the playoffs.

Image result for bryce harper

Despite the rest of the division’s effort to contend, the Nats are still the #1 team here, and they are a World Series contender.  In his contract year, Bryce Harper will lead a powerful Nationals lineup, and their rotation might just need one more strong starter such as Jake Arrieta to lead the Nats deeper into the playoffs.  With many of their stars hitting the open market soon, it will be World Series or bust in 2018 for Washington.

NL Central

  1. Chicago_Cubs Chicago Cubs 92-70 (#3 seed NL)
  2. St_Louis_Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals 90-72 (#4 seed NL)
  3. milwaukee-brewers Milwaukee Brewers 87-75
  4. Image result for cincinnati reds Cincinnati Reds 79-83
  5. pittsburgh-pirates Pittsburgh Pirates 67-95

If I had to name one division that improved the most this off-season, I would say the NL Central without hesitation.  Despite losing SP John Lackey to free agency, the Cubs continued to improve this off-season with the signing of pitchers Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, and Drew Smyly (may return late in 2018).  They are a significant World Series contender.  But the division will not be easy to win as the Cardinals and Brewers have also improved.

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St. Louis signed Miles Mikolas in his return to the MLB but may need to add another starter for rotational depth.  They may even try and snag closer Greg Holland or 3B Mike Moustakas before Opening Day.  They also acquired OF Marcell Ozuna from Miami.  They will contend this year, and so will the Brewers, who despite the desperate need for a #1 starter, will be significantly better in 2018 after signing Lorenzo Cain and acquiring Christian Yelich to improve their outfield and make it dominant.  They may want to resign Neil Walker before Opening Day if they really care about winning now.  Unless they sign a pitcher or a middle infielder, I don’t see them as a lock for the playoffs, but they will contend.

Image result for lorenzo cain brewers

The Reds could also contend soon, but it will take another year or so for the lineup to become playoff material and the young rotation to improve.  Meanwhile, the Pirates have begun rebuilding after trading away OF Andrew McCutchen and SP Gerrit Cole.  They will not contend this year due to their rebuilding intentions as well as a serious depth problem and lack of a leader in their starting rotation.  Although Cincy and Pittsburgh won’t be in the playoff race, this strong division will be competitive as its top three teams battle for playoff berths.

NL West

  1. los-angeles-dodgers Los Angeles Dodgers 95-67 (#2 seed NL)
  2. colorado-rockies Colorado Rockies 88-74 (#5 seed NL)
  3. arizona-dbacks Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75
  4. sanfran-giants San Francisco Giants 85-77
  5. san diego-padres San Diego Padres 69-93

Although the NL Central improved the most this off-season, the NL West is still the MLB’s strongest division.  This year, I think that four teams in this division will finish with a winning record, and two will make the playoffs.  The Dodgers will stay on top here.  They have managed to keep most of the players that helped them succeed in 2017, although their rotation doesn’t have the same kind of depth that it used to.  They didn’t need 7-8 viable starters on the roster though.  No team in this division has gained significantly on the Dodgers, but other teams in the division have improved.

This could be the year for the Rockies.  Their lineup will dominate, and their young rotation should continue to improve.  The rotation is also aided by a strong bullpen that will be led by new closer Wade Davis.  The D-Backs have added outfield depth after J.D. Martinez’s departure for Boston, and they will continue to contend in 2018, although I don’t think they will quite make it this time around, as the Cardinals and Brewers have gotten better and could grab a wild card.

Image result for andrew mccutchen evan longoria giants

The Giants have also improved after acquiring Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but after a 64-98 season, I find it hard to believe that even year luck alone will lead them back to the playoffs.  They still have rotation depth problems behind their top three starters and aside from Cutch, Longo, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence, this lineup isn’t overly intriguing.  Even the Padres will improve.  Some of their top prospects have cracked the majors, and they have brought back Chase Headley and Tyson Ross in addition to acquiring Freddy Galvis.  Their biggest move of the off-season was signing 1B Eric Hosmer.  He will be a veteran mentor for this young team and allows Wil Myers to assist the young outfield.  The Dodgers are the clear favorites here, but this division is hard to predict beyond that.

Image result for eric hosmer padres

Now for my playoff predictions.

Playoff Predictions

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As you all know, I am an avid Boston sports fan.  But as an unbiased reporter, I don’t think the Red Sox have the edge on the Yankees this year.  The Bronx Bombers just have too powerful of a lineup, and despite the fact that Boston has one of the best rotations in the MLB and signed a home run hitter of their own in J.D. Martinez, it’s just not enough to compete with the “Evil Empire” in New York.  The Sox will win over the Angels in the Wild Card round though.  The Angels may have a powerful lineup, but they are nothing like the Yankees, and rotation problems will hold them back.  I have the Yankees advancing to the World Series, but only to be defeated by the motivated Washington Nationals.  Like I said, it’s World Series or bust in Washington, and I think this year’s Nats are legitimate contenders.

In the AL, the Astros will come close to a World Series return, but even their dominant rotation will struggle against the Yankees lineup.  The Astros will top a well rounded Indians team.  The Indians look good this year but will have a hard time competing with this strong Astros team.  Jose Altuve (who I could see having another MVP caliber year), George Springer, and Justin Verlander among others will lead Houston to the ALCS.

In the NL, the Dodgers will also come close to a World Series return after beating the Cubs somewhat easily in the NLDS.  But they will struggle against a strong Nats rotation, and even Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw could have a hard time against Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and the improved Nats lineup.  The Cardinals will also fall to the Nats.  Their younger rotation will struggle on the big stage, and their lineup isn’t fierce enough this year to stop the strong Nats rotation, despite the powerful pieces they have in Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Carpenter among others.

The Cards do have the edge in the Wild Card round though, as their lineup will overwhelm young Rockies ace Jon Gray.  In the end, the Nats will dominate this side of the bracket and go on to win the World Series.  The window is closing for the Nats to win a title with Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and company.  But 2018 is their final shot at a World Series win in this era, and they will be driven by this fact.

To much to take in?  My video summary of this post will be on YouTube soon.  I will post the link on my blog when it is up.

Award Predictions

Below I have listed my Top 3 picks for each major MLB award.  

AL MVP

  1. Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU – After winning this award last year, I could see Altuve repeating his 2017 dominance.  He is one of my favorite non-Red Sox players and he has emerged as a star and leader on the Astros.
  2. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, NYY – On his new team, not only will Stanton pair up with Aaron Judge to create one of the best HR duos of all time, but also put up a strong average and hit not only for power but also for consistency
  3. Mike Trout, OF, LAA – Trout is always a candidate for this award, and although injuries held him back a bit in 2017, he will remain an elite contender for this award in 2018

Honorable Mention: Justin Upton, OF, LAA

NL MVP

  1. Bryce Harper, OF, WSH – Another one of my non-Red Sox favorites.  In a contract year, Harper will go from elite player to future Hall Of Famer in an all-around dominant season
  2. Nolan Arenado, 3B, COL – With the Rockies back in playoff contention, Arenado will play at MVP level in 2018, leading the strong Rockies lineup to continued success
  3. Joey Votto, 1B, CIN – I think Votto will also emerge as an MVP caliber player this year as he continues to put up great numbers despite the fact that he is older than many other all-star level players.

Honorable Mention: Eric Hosmer, 1B, SD

AL Cy Young

  1. Chris Sale, BOS – I think Sale will repeat the success he had early in 2017 with the Red Sox, and he is my pick to win the Cy Young.
  2. Justin Verlander, HOU – Verlander will emerge as a leader in the strong Astros rotation in another deep playoff run for the Astros.  He will be Sale’s #1 competitor for the Cy Young in 2018.
  3. Carlos Carrasco, CLE – I could see Carrasco returning to his dominant 2015 form this year and creating a dynamic duo in the rotation alongside Corey Kluber.

Honorable Mention: Corey Kluber, CLE

NL Cy Young

  1. Stephen Strasburg, WSH – Strasburg already returned to the ace level last year with an ERA around 2.50, and I think he could keep it up in 2018 and make a significant run at a Cy Young award.
  2. Yu Darvish, CHC – Chicago is a great fit for Darvish, and I could see him thriving in Chicago and running at a Cy Young.
  3. Clayton Kershaw, LAD – Kershaw is always a candidate for this award much like Trout is for the MVP.  He will continue to succeed in 2018.

Honorable Mention: Max Scherzer, WSH*

* For those of you who read my latest free agency article, you would know I think Alex Cobb is going to the Brewers.  If he signs in Milwaukee, he could be a significant candidate to battle for a Cy Young award.

AL Rookie of the Year

  1. Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, LAA – Who else would I put at the top of this list?  This two-way phenom is practically a lock to make the Angels roster despite the fact that he is a rookie non-roster invitee.
  2. Kyle Tucker, OF, HOU – I think Tucker could have a significant role at the major league level in 2018. He will compete for a starting outfield job when he comes up.  He is the brother of former Astros outfielder Preston Tucker.
  3. Hunter Dozier, 3B, KC – I think Dozier can make an impact at the major league level, even with Lucas Duda in line to start at first.  I see Dozier as Kansas City’s starting third baseman as long as he is successful early in the season, and I see potential in him.

Honorable Mention: Christian Arroyo, 3B, TB

NL Rookie of the Year

  1. Jesse Winker, OF, CIN – I think Winker will breakout this year as he establishes himself as a starter at the major league level.  He will compete for the Rookie of the Year award.
  2. Ronald Acuna, OF, ATL – Once Acuna cracks the majors, he has the chance to become a starter in left field, and once that happens, I see the potential for him to be great.
  3. Ryan McMahon, 1B, COL – With Ian Desmond headed back to the outfield and Mark Reynolds in the open market, there’s an open spot for McMahon at first base.  If they resign Reynolds, they could work out some sort of platoon, but either way, I think McMahon has the potential for success in the majors this year.

Honorable Mentions: Alex Reyes, SP, STL and Victor Robles, OF, WSH

 

That’s all for my MLB 2018 Predictions.  Stay tuned for more baseball articles including my spring power rankings, my Red Sox 2018 season preview, and my 2nd annual preseason Baseball Bits article.

 

 

NFL 2017 Predictions: Pats Are Only Getting Better

It’s that time of year.  Training camp is approaching.  Soon enough the NFL season will be getting started.  This year, football will return with a boom.  After a somewhat disappointing 2016 NFL season, I expect this league to bounce back and have an exciting year.  Divisions will come down to the wire.  Many teams will compete in a tight wild card race.  Then, the playoffs will give us thrills, comebacks, and strong victories.  Who will win it all?  Keep reading to hear my thoughts.

AFC East

  1. new_england_patriots New England Patriots 13-3
  2. Dolphins-logo Miami Dolphins 10-6
  3. Buffalo_Bills Buffalo Bills 5-11
  4. Jets-Logo New York Jets 2-14

The Pats won the Super Bowl, and now they’ve gotten better.  There’s no way they’ll lose the AFC East.  Tom Brady has so many good receivers to throw to.  This team even added Brandin Cooks and Dwayne Allen.  They will be unstoppable.  The Dolphins still have a strong offense, and finally revamped their TE depth chart.  The defense will also be tough to play against.  They could make the playoffs again.  The Bills just don’t have the depth offensively or defensively to be good.  They have so few quality receivers for Tyrod Taylor to throw to.  Taylor has good potential, but please Buffalo, don’t leave him with this slim an offense again.  But if you think the Bills are bad, wait till you see the Jets.  They have no quality receivers at all, and no strong QB.  The defense isn’t as good either.  They have earned the title of worst team in the NFL.

AFC North

  1. pittsburgh-steelers Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  2. cincinnati-bengals Cincinnati Bengals 7-9
  3. Baltimore_Ravens_Logo Baltimore Ravens 6-10
  4. cleveland-browns-brown Cleveland Browns 4-12

The only strong team in this division is the Steelers.  They have one of the best offenses in the NFL, so they should win a good amount of games.  They may be one of the biggest threats to the Patriots this year.  Not the biggest, but one of the biggest.  They don’t have the best defense, that is their downfall.  The defense is good enough, but not great.  The Bengals and Ravens are starting to fall out of contention.  Both of these teams had something last year that they don’t have now.  The Ravens had a much better front seven last year, and the Bengals had a more productive offense.  The Bengals are depending on a couple rookies to lead their offense now.  A.J. Green is the only player locked in for a strong year.  The Browns are slowly starting to improve, but they’re not even close.  They aren’t at the bottom of the NFL, but they really don’t have a good offense, defense or special teams.  The offense has improved slightly though.

AFC South

  1. tennessee-titans. Tennessee Titans 10-6
  2. indianapolis-colts Indianapolis Colts 9-7
  3. jacksonvile-jaguars Jacksonville Jaguars 8-8
  4. hou-texans Houston Texans 7-9

The Titans have got this.  Corey Davis was a really nice draft selection, and Eric Decker will help out offensively.  Mariota finally has the tools to succeed.  A good o-line, two strong receivers, a good running back, and a dominant tight end.  The Colts are also looking better.  The defense finally has the tools to succeed.  That will make it easier for Andrew Luck to win games for the Colts.  Good defense leads to good offense.  I don’t know if I should give in to the Jags’ intriguing off-season again.  I’d say they’re a .500 team, a decent offense, and an improving defense.  They just don’t match up to playoff contenders yet.  The Texans are also in a bad position.  Without a good QB, this offense will not succeed, and without a decent offense, this defense can’t win games alone.

AFC West

  1. oakland-raiders  Oakland Raiders 11-5
  2. kansas-city-chiefs-logo Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
  3. San_Diego_Chargers Los Angeles Chargers 8-8
  4. denver-broncos-logo Denver Broncos 7-9

The Raiders are the most intriguing team in this division.  They signed Marshawn Lynch, they have a powerful young QB with many receiving weapons, and the defense has gotten better.  Even though the Chiefs defense is better, the Kansas City offense isn’t great.  Sure, Spencer Ware is a strong running back and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are tough to guard, but the Raiders are a better all-around team.  On the other hand, the Chargers have a strong young offense, but their defense will hold them back.  With the kind of defense they have, they are a .500 team at most.  The Broncos have a strong defense as well, but without Manning and Osweiler, this offense just isn’t doing it.  The running game needs a boost.  They need a better QB and tight end despite a strong receiving game, and they won’t contend until those things happened.

NFC East

  1. new-york-giants-logo New York Giants 11-5
  2. dalcowboyslogonew Dallas Cowboys 9-7
  3. philadelphia-eagles-logo Philadelphia Eagles 9-7
  4. washingtonredskins2 Washington Redskins 6-10

The Giants should win this tight division.  They’ve had a strong offense for several years, and now their defense is just as good.  I don’t think the Cowboys can top last year, and the defense is lacking depth, so I don’t see them making the playoffs.  The Eagles have an intriguing roster, and Alshon Jeffery and LeGarrette Blount will boost this team, but the defense is still only mediocre, and it’ll be a couple years before the Eagles return to the playoffs.  They will do much better this year though.  With the Giants, Eagles and Cowboys on top of the division though, the Redskins will not succeed.  They’ve lost the great receiving game they had last year and the defense is still not great.

NFC North

  1. gbpackers2 Green Bay Packers 12-4
  2. Image result for lions logo Detroit Lions 8-8
  3. min-vikings-logo2 Minnesota Vikings 7-9
  4. chicago-bears-logo Chicago Bears 3-13

The Packers are in line for another strong season.  They signed tight end Martellus Bennett to improve their receiving game.  They could use another running back but I believe in Jamaal Williams.  Although the defense has some bad times, I think the Packers will be led by an overall all-around team.  The Lions also have a good offensive core, but the defense is holding this team back.  They need to improve defensively if they want any chance at a playoff berth.  The Vikings tried to improve their offense this off-season, but I just don’t see them contending with the receiving game they have.  The defense is good, but the offense is a problem.  Don’t even get me started with the Bears.  They have no defense, and barely any offense.  They will be one of the worst this year.

NFC South

  1. IMG_0445 Carolina Panthers 11-5
  2. IMG_0448 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  3. atlfalcons Atlanta Falcons 10-6
  4. nosaints New Orleans Saints 6-10

The Panthers may have had defensive problems last year, but they improved their defense, and their running and receiving game.  I’m expecting them to bounce back.  The Bucs also improved this off-season.  DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans will be a dynamic receiver duo, and the defense has the power to improve this year.  The Falcons will also be a contender in this strong division.  Their defense isn’t as good and has some fatal flaws, but the offense is strong as ever.  The Saints also have a good offense, but their defense needs help.  A lot of help.

NFC West

  1. seattle-seahawks Seattle Seahawks 10-6
  2. az-cards Arizona Cardinals 8-8
  3. Image result for rams logo Los Angeles Rams 4-12
  4. IMG_0457 San Francisco 49ers 3-13

This division isn’t what it used to be.  The Seahawks still have a strong defense and a good offense, but they’re the best of the worst.  They get an easy division win.  The Cardinals are almost as good, but they don’t have the best offense anymore, and the defense is subpar, nothing compared to Seattle’s.  The Rams have no offense, despite a decent defense, they can’t put up a good amount of points.  The Niners just need to rebuild.  They need receiving help, QB help, and defensive help, despite some strong pieces of their team.

 NFL Playoffs
AFC

  1. New England Patriots 13-3
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4
  3. Oakland Raiders 11-5
  4. Tennessee Titans 10-6
  5. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6
  6. Miami Dolphins 10-6

NFC

  1. Green Bay Packers 12-4
  2. New York Giants 11-5
  3. Carolina Panthers 11-5
  4. Seattle Seahawks 10-6
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6
  6. Atlanta Falcons 10-6

Wild Card Round
Dolphins @ Raiders
The Dolphins have a strong all-around team. They have a good running game and receiving game, and pretty good defense. But the Raiders will be hard to beat. Derek Carr is really blossoming into a strong QB, and he has multiple good receiving targets. If Marshawn Lynch is still Marshawn Lynch this year, the Raiders will have a great running game that is difficult to cover. Their defense is no more than mediocre, but this offense will be overwhelming for even some of the best defenses. I don’t think the Dolphins will be able to handle this Raiders offense.  
Dolphins: 20

Raiders: 27

Chiefs @ Titans
The Chiefs have one of the best defenses in the league. But the Titans really improved their offense this off-season. Marcus Mariota will have a huge game, he has plenty of people to throw to and good protection. The Chiefs offense just doesn’t match-up. They don’t have enough receiving options or a good enough QB. The run game is okay but might be stopped by an improved Titans defense. I’ve got the Titans winning this one.  
Chiefs: 23

Titans: 26
Falcons @ Panthers 
The Falcons almost won the Super Bowl last year. They have a dominant offense, and a defense good enough for a playoff team. The defense has declined from last year though, and the Panthers are in line for a bounce back year. Their defense is headed in the opposite direction and I like the changes they made to their offense. Carolina is honestly the better team at this point. In a high scoring game, I have the Panthers winning.  

Falcons: 30

Panthers: 31
Buccaneers @ Seahawks
The Bucs are getting better. With an improved defense and a strong offensive core, they should be going places. Winston will be boosted by his new dynamic receiving duo to throw to. The Seahawks still have one of the best defenses in football, but their offense hasn’t been taking them far lately. Eddie Lacy is a nice addition, but they still haven’t filled Lynch’s hole. They could also use another receiver, but Jimmy Graham has been a strong receiving tight end for them. Honestly, although the Seahawks have a nice offense and powerful defense, the Bucs have made some nice moves, and have built a better team this year, one that can top the Seahawks.  
Buccaneers: 23

Seahawks: 16
Divisional Round
Titans @ Patriots
The Titans are building a nice offense, but I don’t know if Mariota’s bunch can top the offense of Tom Brady’s Pats. The Titans have a better running game, but the Pats have two Top 20 receivers and a Top 5 tight end. The Patriots offense will kick butt, starting with the Titans. The Titans defense just isn’t built enough to stop Brady and crew. The Patriots should easily win this game, no matter how much Decker and Corey Davis are in red zone situations.  
Titans: 26

Patriots: 28
Raiders @ Steelers 
This is going to be a close game. The Steelers have the best offense in the NFL. But the Raiders have an elite young offense that will compete with the Steelers. This will be an offensive shootout with two of the best offenses but just mediocre defense. This is about which team will outscore the other. Carr has Marshawn Lynch, Michael Crabtree, Jared Cook and Amari Cooper, while Big Ben has Bell, Brown and Bryant. Who will win this tight game? It will be close, but I’m going to say the young Raiders pull away.  
Raiders: 28

Steelers: 20

Buccaneers @ Packers
The Buccaneers will compete in this game. They have the strong offense to. They have the rebuilt defense to. But the Packers are just too good for them. I know they have a serious problem at running back, but they at least have Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams at the position. They also have a lot of receiver depth. Jordy Nelson, Martellus Bennett and others will make a big impact in this game. The Packers have another weakness, defense, but their defense is decent enough for them to win this game. The Packers should control this game.  
Buccaneers: 27

Packers: 30
Panthers @ Giants
The Panthers may have improved from last season, but look what they did last year. They can’t be that much better. They have some nice offensive pieces, but the Giants’ team is just more solid. Strong defense, solid offense, and not many weak spots. The Giants are going far this year. I think they can beat a Carolina team that’s still working on improving their entire team.  
Panthers: 23

Giants: 24

AFC Championship
Raiders @ Patriots
The Raiders have some great young offense, but the Pats have a very powerful all around team. This defense may be strong enough to slow down the Raiders, and the Patriots offense should definitely outscore them. The difference in this game may be because the Pats have added Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and other receiving targets this offseason. The Pats just have so much depth at the position, and Gronk should be healthy too. When he’s healthy, he’s a beast at this time of year.  
Raiders: 19

Patriots: 27
NFC Championship
Giants @ Packers
The Giants may have this nice all around team, but the Packers are dominant in the receiving game. They will put up a lot of points although the Giants defense will be able to slow them down. The Giants have a strong offense as well, but their passing game is not nearly as good as Green Bay’s. The Packers should dominate this game as well, and this is where the Giants will go down for good.  
Giants: 21

Packers: 24

Super Bowl LII
Patriots vs. Packers
This could very well top Super Bowl LI as the best Super Bowl ever. Brady vs. Rodgers. The battle of two league leading, future hall of fame QBs. Although Aaron Rodgers may have as good of a receiving game than the Pats, if not better, neither team, especially the Packers can effectively run the ball. The Patriots have so much depth though, at running back and receiver. That’s what Green Bay is missing. Offensive depth. Offensive depth is the reason that Brady will win the Pats their 2nd straight Super Bowl.  
Patriots: 31

Packers: 27

Well, the Pats have only gotten better, so why wouldn’t I predict them as Super Bowl LII Champions after last year’s win?  

 

Ranking The Teams 30-25, My Version: The Ugly

Each year since 2014, David Schoenfield has ranked all 30 teams in tiers during the preseason.  For the third year straight, I am creating my own version.  I am out of school this week, so throughout the week, I will be posting my rankings.  Today they start with the bottom 6.  

30. minnesota-twins Minnesota Twins

Off-season Review

Image result for jason castro twins

In the process of a rebuild, the Twins let older players Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe sign elsewhere in free agency.  However, they also lost young pitcher Tommy Milone.  They signed veterans Jason Castro, J.B. Shuck and Ryan Vogelsong.  These guys are nice veteran boosters and mentors, but are unnecessary signings.  The young Minnesota Twins just need a little time to develop before coming back to contention.  

The Case for the Twins

The Twins will not contend in any way this year.  They are in the midst of a rebuild, and actually have a bright future ahead.  The Tigers and Royals will get old and decline which will leave room open for the Twins in coming years.  For now, they need to focus on establishing their young players, and wins and losses will not matter for them this year.  But in coming years, look for the Twins to finally get better.   

The Bright Spot

Image result for miguel sano byron buxton

Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier are getting older, and I’m liking the young talent on the Twins.  The younger players they have will do well this year, and eventually bring the team up with them. Third year player Miguel Sano is one guy who could make an impact.  He will take a full time job at third base in 2017, and will be a bigger contributor to the lineup.  He could be a team leader in the future.  Byron Buxton is another player to keep an eye on.  Despite a disappointing 2016 for both of them, 2017 should be a good year for Buxton and Sano.  

Best Case Scenario: The Twins surprise many, as their young guns bounce back and lead the Twins to a second place finish in the AL Central.

Worst Case Scenario: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano continue to regress and the Twins finish with the worst record in baseball.

Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in AL Central

29. san diego-padres San Diego Padres

Off-season Review

The Padres didn’t do much in the off-season.  After losing veterans they shouldn’t have spent their money on, the Padres are at a desperate state.  They will not compete this season, so it’s time for a rebuild.  They did sign veteran Erick Aybar to a minor league deal, but he’s no more than a veteran mentor, and will not lead the Padres to contend.  The Padres will focus on building upon their young roster, and if they did that a couple of years back, they might of had a legitimate chance this year.

The Case for the Padres

The Padres may be at their worst ever.  While building a young roster, they will not compete this season.  None of their starting pitchers are very established yet, and the lineup has some bright spots, but needs work.  This rebuild could take a long time, but it’s worth it.  If the Padres tried to go for it this season, the end result would be the biggest MLB failure in a long time.

The Bright Spot

Image result for wil myers padres

One investment from a couple of years ago that was worth it was the signing of Wil Myers.  Myers has done well for the Padres, and him, Yangervis Solarte and Erick Aybar make up a nice infield of veterans to teach the younger players.  Myers will actually put up some impressive stats in 2017.  In 2016, he was a Home Run Derby participant and All Star.  Myers will continue to put up good numbers in 2017, and he will make the Padres look just a tiny bit better.

Best Case Scenario: Wil Myers boosts the lineup, and the young rotation breaks through as the Padres finish just under .500.

Worst Case Scenario: The Padres have their worst season in history, the young players struggle at the major league level, and the Padres barely endure a dismal season.

Projected Finish: 63-99, 5th in NL West

28. oakland-a's Oakland Athletics

Off-season Review

Image result for rajai davis a's

The Athletics weren’t quite as active as they usually are this off-season, but they did fine-tune their team.  They aren’t anywhere near contending, but adding some depth with experienced players will at least prevent disaster in 2017.  Rajai Davis recently came back to Oakland.  Alejandro De Aza, Ross Detwiler and Jaff Decker were invited to spring training among other veterans.  They also signed young third baseman Trevor Plouffe.  They filled most of their major off-season needs, and that will help them despite other problems.

The Case for the Athletics

The A’s have a nice mix of veterans and younger players.  Once their prospects develop, this will benefit them and they will thrive.  But that might not happen for a while, and right now, they’re just going to be considered an old team that won’t contend.  If they rebuild a little, maybe they’ll season their young players more and see more success soon.  But whether they rebuild or stay put, the Athletics aren’t going to have a winning season.

The Bright Spot

Image result for khris davis a's

Khris Davis was acquired from Milwaukee in the 2015-16 off-season, and since joining the Athletics, he has been their best hitter, and has been a bright spot on the Athletics by putting up impressive stats.  Davis was a home run hitter in 2016, with 42 dingers.  He drove in 102 runs and got a career best 137 hits.  The 42 dingers, also his career best, were enough to tie Edwin Encarnacion and Brian Dozier for 3rd in the MLB.  Encarnacion and Dozier are team leading stars, and Davis may be developing to be just that.  Davis had more home runs than the Rockies’ star third baseman Nolan Arenado!  I also think starting pitcher Sonny Gray could look good in a bounce back year, but Davis is the safest bet.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation bounces back, the lineup finally finds a way to do strongly and the A’s attempt to return to the playoffs.

Worst Case Scenario: The injury bug hits Oakland at its hardest, and the Athletics finish terribly, with one of the worst records.

Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in AL West

27. philadelphia.phillies Philadelphia Phillies

Off-season in Review

Image result for howie kendrick welcome to phillies

The Phillies have finally established a young roster, but it will take a couple years to return to stardom.  The rotation still needs work but they added some veteran mentors/big hitters to help their case.  They acquired starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, and added Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders to the lineup.  Now, with veteran mentors to help a young, talented roster, the Phillies could be back to contention a couple of years from now.

The Case for the Phillies

Image result for jimmy rollins phillies

The era of washed up, old Phillies is over.  Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ben Revere, John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown are all gone. Now, it’s time for the young guns to take over this team.  This puts this year’s team pretty low in the rankings.  However, don’t be surprised if the Phillies are the next surprise wild card in 2018.  These young players are very talented, and once they’re developed, which will happen over the next year or two, the Phillies will be good once again.

The Bright Spot

Image result for maikel franco

Putting the older guys aside, there are a few talented young guns that have already broke out.  Odubel Herrera, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco are already doing strongly.  Franco is the Phillies’ bright spot.  He is keeping this lineup alive.  In a couple of years, Franco could be a superstar.  The new environment in Philly leaves him with an important role in the lineup, and I think he will come through in that role.

Best Case Scenario: The Phillies return to contention with an impressive season by a lot of young players.

Worst Case Scenario: The Phillies fail again, and the young guns go full bust.

Projected Finish: 65-97, 5th in NL East

26. atlanta-braves Atlanta Braves

Off-season Review

Image result for bartolo colon braves

The Braves are in the midst of a rebuild.  The starting rotation is getting old after they added Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, but the older players are still good.  The lineup also includes veteran mentor Matt Kemp.  The rest of it consists of young stars and players ready to breakout.  Dansby Swanson is the favorite for the NL Rookie of The Year, Freddie Freeman continues to shine, Nick Markakis has done alright in Atlanta, and new acquisitions Brandon Phillips and Kurt Suzuki will help this team improve.

The Case for the Braves

Image result for freddie freeman

The Braves won’t compete this season, but they’ve put together a nice mix of old and young that could do well in the future.  The pitching staff still needs to develop and be fine-tuned, but the lineup is looking better, and could be a lot more powerful this year and in future years.  The Braves currently lack depth, but once more prospects break the majors, the Braves could have some of the best hitting in the MLB, with a strong lineup led by Freddie Freeman.

The Bright Spot

Image result for dansby swanson

Some of the older players provide power to the lineup, but younger players Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson make the Braves a little more fun to watch.  Freeman really broke out last year, with a stellar performance especially in the 2nd half.  Freeman had already established himself as a franchise player, but he really went all out in 2o16.  Swanson has a potentially great rookie season ahead of him.  The Braves have opened up a spot at shortstop for him, and Swanson will take advantage of that.

Best Case Scenario: The rotation finally gathers itself, the lineup is dominant, and the Braves compete for a wild card in the NL East.

Worst Case Scenario: The rotation is a bust, the lineup doesn’t perform like it should, and the Braves finish last in the NL East.

Projected Finish: 67-95, 4th in NL East

 

25. Tampa_Bay_Rays Tampa Bay Rays

Off-season Review

rasmus-rays.jpg

The Rays didn’t have a huge off-season.  They lost some crucial guys, and they traded away Logan Forsythe and Drew Smyly.  However, they added to their pitching depth in that trade by acquiring Jose De Leon.  Despite losing Desmond Jennings, they resigned Logan Morrison and signed Colby Rasmus to help fill out the starting lineup.  Wilson Ramos and Nathan Eovaldi were also signed but are recovering from injuries.  They made a lot of small moves, but nothing major enough to impact the Rays.

The Case for the Rays

The Rays play in the toughest division in the MLB.  They have a talented team, but just don’t stack up to the rest of the AL East.  They would be a mediocre team in a weaker division.  But this is just how it is.  The Rays don’t stack up with everybody else.  A rebuild is not needed, now is just a big wait.  A big wait for the Rays to able to do well again.  They have a good roster, but some of these guys are getting old, or just aren’t as good as the other stars of the league.

The Bright Spot

Image result for chris archer

The lineup is just mediocre.  The true bright spots in Tampa are Chris Archer and Alex Cobb.  Archer struggled in 2016, but is still the ace of the Rays.  Cobb has been injured the last two years, but will perform well when healthy.  Both of these guys should make a big impact for the Rays in 2017.

Best Case Scenario: The strong rotation leads the Rays to compete towards the top of the AL East, in hopes of a playoff spot.

Worst Case Scenario: Injuries hit hard again, and the Rays look worse than ever, finishing not just last in the AL East, but the whole American League.

Projected Finish: 69-93, 5th in AL East

 

Baseball season is almost here.  This is just the start of my rankings series.  Comment your thoughts and predictions, and check back tomorrow for my 24-19 rankings.  Who will be next on the list?  Check tomorrow to find out!

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.