Hey guys! New posts incoming for 2016, including updates on my life and more long-form pieces soon. But for now, here are my predictions for the 2016 season and playoffs. When these turn out to inevitably be wrong, I’m sure I’ll do updated ones for the actual playoffs eventually. But for now, enjoy (playoff teams and picks in bold):

AL East

Toronto Blue Jays 94-68

New York Yankees 83-79

Tampa Bay Rays 82-82

Boston Red Sox 78-84

Baltimore Orioles 75-87

AL Central

Cleveland Indians 90-72

Kansas City Royals 86-76

Detroit Tigers 84-78

Minnesota Twins 80-82

Chicago White Sox 77-85

AL West

Houston Astros 95-67

Texas Rangers 89-73

Seattle Mariners 83-81

Los Angeles Angels 79-83

Oakland Athletics 73-89

NL East

Washington Nationals 97-65

New York Mets 86-76

Miami Marlins 82-80

Atlanta Braves 70-92

Philadelphia Phillies 66-96

NL Central

Chicago Cubs 96-71

Pittsburgh Pirates 95-73

St. Louis Cardinals 84-78

Cincinnati Reds 71-92

Milwaukee Brewers 70-93

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68

San Francisco Giants 89-73

Arizona Diamondbacks 87-75

Colorado Rockies 79-83

San Diego Padres 76-86


Wild Card Round: Texas vs. Kansas CityPittsburgh vs.San Francisco.

Division Series: Houston vs. Kansas City. Toronto vs. Cleveland.
Washington vs. Pittsburgh. Los Angeles vs. Chicago.

Championship Series:  Houston vs. Cleveland. Washington vs. Chicago.

World Series: Houston vs. Chicago


AL MVP: Mike Trout

NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen

AL Cy Young: Carlos Carrasco

NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg

AL Rookie of the Year: Byung-ho Park

NL Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager

World Series

Mets vs Royals

And then there were two.

The New York Mets will face the Kansas City Royals in the World Series starting Tuesday evening, with Matt Harvey set to square off against Edinson Volquez in Game 1. The Mets will follow with Jacob DeGromm, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, while the Royals will use Johnny Cueto, Yordano Ventura and Chris Young to round out their rotation.

Some of the story lines worth following will be if Daniel Murphy will suffer any ill effects from his long layoff between series after briefly turning into Babe Ruth and setting the record for most games in a row with a home run in the playoffs. If Murphy’s home run streak continues, good luck to the Royals stopping the Mets in this series. Kansas City is fresh off of beating the best team in baseball (by run differential) this season thanks in part to their contact-oriented offense, great defense and baserunning like this. There have been some great pieces surfacing lately on contact-hitting teams faring better in the playoffs, especially against power pitchers, but most have focused on how the Royals have done against pure velocity (very well). However, these Mets starters (and back-end relievers) are much more than just pure power. What makes the Mets starters of Harvey, DeGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz so good is not just that they throw hard, but they have the ability to locate and control both their fastballs and their secondary pitches. It will be interesting to see if the Mets will use a counter strategy such as throwing more balls out of the strike zone against a Royals team that puts the ball in play so often and doesn’t take many walks.

To top that all off, we have the designated hitter rule making an impact in this interleague series. The Royals have employed Kendrys Morales at that position all year long, but considering that they would need to bench Eric Hosmer or play him in the outfield to keep Morales in the starting lineup, he will likely be relegated to bench duty for the three games in New York. The Mets don’t have a pure designated hitter either, with Juan Uribe or Kelly Johnson as possibilities. They could also help their defense by starting Juan Lagares in center, shifting Yoenis Cespedes to Left and putting Conforto or Cuddyer in the lineup without risking their gloves in the outfield. Cespedes has also been a question mark heading into this series, after injuring himself in an off-field golfing incident. But he says he will be ready to go in this series, we’ll see if that is the case.

So add that all together and what do we get? Well, predictions are hard in any sport, but in a seven game, winner-take-all baseball series they are pretty much impossible. With that being said my prediction is…Mets in 6 games.


Well that went a bit better. After an 0 for 2 start in the Wild Card games, I righted the ship and went 3 for 4 with my picks in the Division Series, only missing on the Mets-Dodgers series which I did say would go 5 games and could go either way. So how am I feeling right now?

101415_tor_bats_batflip_medres_l3h1efwsI have a feeling I might use that gif a lot in the coming years.

We move now to the Championship Series round where the Kansas City Royals and Toronto Blue Jays are set to face off in a best of seven series starting tonight with Edison Volquez facing Marco Estrada. The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs will start their series on Saturday with Matt Harvey squaring off against Jon Lester. All of these teams have overcome a lot of obstacles to get to this point and it will be exciting to see who moves on, especially since basically none were picked to win their divisions at the beginning of the year.

American League Championship Series

Royals vs Blue Jays

I’m keeping my picks the same through the rest of the playoffs for now. I still think the Jays have the best all around team in the playoffs sporting the best offense, an underrated pitching staff and bullpen and good defense. The Royals are a great team when they can string hits together, but I don’t see it happening over a seven game series with strikeout pitchers like David Price and Marcus Stroman ready to go. Things got chippy earlier in the season between these teams, so expect emotions to be high. I’m taking the Toronto Bat Flips in six.

National League Championship Series

Pirates Cubs vs Dodgers Mets

I knew that I liked the Wild Card winner to advance against the Cardinals, I just picked the wrong wild card. So it goes. The Cubs are one of the most exciting teams to watch this postseason, thanks to a slew of talented rookies and great managing from Joe Maddon. It will be interesting to see how they handle the loss of shortstop Addison Russell, and the flamethrowers in the Mets pitching staff. I’m still taking the Cubs in this series, but I think it will be highly entertaining and could easily go all seven games. I’m taking the Cubs in seven.

World Series

Pirates Cubs vs Blue Jays

Enjoy your baseball everyone!

Well that’s what I get for betting against the aces. I’m already 0 for 2 on my predictions so far thanks to the one game playoff, but I’m not upset about it. Those were some great games and dominant pitching performances. Both featured aces coming into a rival ballpark, quieting the crowd, and delivering dominant performances. They may have gotten a little help from the home plate umpires, but neither game was close enough for it to have made the difference between winning and losing.

Just a note that, despite picking them to win it all, I feel bad for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They have gone into two straight postseasons as a dominant team and fallen victim to aces on historic runs. The one game playoff giveth and the one game playoff taketh away.

But on we go into the Division Series round with my revised predictions.

American League Division Series

Blue Jays vs Rangers

The Jays will take on Texas with David Price going up against Yovani Gallardo. Price and the Jays are my pick for this game and for the series as a whole as they come in with the best offense in the majors and a surprisingly good defense to back it up. Price and Stroman (#ACLGang) lead the pitching staff backed up by a bullpen that has improved as the year has gone on. The Jays are the team to beat, but don’t sleep on the Rangers. Gallardo and Hamels are more than capable of silencing a lineup, even one as strong as Toronto’s, and Adrian Beltre has put together a ridiculous second-half run, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest third basemen of all time. This will be a fun series, but I’m still taking the Jays in 4.

Yankees Astros vs Royals

The Astros were the first, but will not be the last of my wrong playoff calls this year, as they cruised to a win over the Yankees in New York. Keuchel was dominant, displaying the Cy Young-caliber control and deception he has been working with all year. The Royals come into this series a bit bruised, but not broken. Catcher Salvador Perez and Center Fielder Lorenzo Cain have both been dealing with some minor injuries, but the time off for the last few days should do wonders. Yordano Ventura starts things off against Collin Mchugh tonight in what should be a back and forth series with fairly equally matched teams. The Astros are a good young ballclub and I could easily swing and miss picking against them again, but I’m taking the Royals in 5.

National League Division Series

Pirates Cubs vs Cardinals

The NL Central rivals square off tomorrow in St. Louis with former Red Sox teammates Jon Lester and John Lackey squaring off. The Cubs are healthy heading into this series, but the Cardinals are not – with Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday both question marks coming into the series. Adam Wainwright has worked his way back to pitch, but will only be available out of the bullpen, and Carlos Martinez is out for the year with a shoulder injury. But the Cardinals have overcome injuries before with a next man up approach. This will be a series decided by young position players, with the Cubs and Cardinals each possessing an embarrassment of riches in that regard. I’ll take the Cubs in 4 over the aching Cardinals.

Dodgers vs Mets

The last matchup on the Division Series slate will see Clayton Kershaw go up against Jacob DeGromm. This will be a series decided by the pitching, as Zach Greinke will also face Noah Syndergaard and Matt Harvey will go in Game 3. This is going to be a fun series to watch, as the Dodgers are World Series or bust after three straight division championships and the Mets are trying to capitalize on their great season and contract years of their deadline acquisitions. This should be another series with great pitching matchups, meaning it will likely be settled by a few timely hits or some untimely defensive lapses. I’m going with the Dodgers in 5, but this could easily go either way.

The rest of my predictions are below and I’ll do another post leading up to the Championship Series games, and I’m sure updating my many incorrect predictions. Enjoy the games everyone!

American League Championship Series

Royals vs Blue Jays

National League Championship Series

Pirates Cubs vs Dodgers

World Series

Pirates Cubs vs Blue Jays

It has been an incredible season highlighted by historic pitching performances and ridiculous rookies. As usual, some of my preseason picks worked out, some did not. What follows will be a rundown of each of the playoff matchups and my picks for the winners, starting with the wild card round. My picks for the winners are in bold, but I’ll also include why that pick could be wrong – meaning what would happen to cause the series to swing the other way. Enjoy the playoffs everyone. Baseball is awesome.

American League Wild Card

Yankees vs Astros

The baseball playoffs kick off tonight with Dallas Keuchel leading the Astros on three days rest against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees. I’m taking New York despite Keuchel’s history of dominance against the Yankees. For the Yanks to win, they’ll need their right handed bats led by Alex Rodriguez to come up big and put a few balls in the air against Keuchel’s groundball-centric arsenal. For the Astros to win they’ll need Tanaka to falter in a big game situation and their 1-3 in the order of Jose Altuve, George Springer and Carlos Correa to string some timely hits together.

National League Wild Card

Pirates vs Cubs

In what is probably the most fun matchup on paper for a wild card game in its brief history, Jake Arrieta leads the Chicago Cubs into Pittsburgh to take on Gerrit Cole and the Pirates. With this matchup you can pretty much flip a coin, but I’m taking the Pirates in what could ostensibly be an upset. Arrieta has been on an absolute tear for the last few months of the season, vaulting him into the conversation for the NL Cy Young with the Dodger Duo of Kershaw and Greinke, and it would be easy to make the prediction that that tear will continue into the postseason. But the Pirates are possibly the best team in the Majors, and with an ace of their own, a deep bench, and a fan base that has been waiting a calendar year for redemption in the one-game playoff, I’m taking the Pirates in this one. Expect a low-scoring, tense affair. This one is going to be fun to watch.

American League Division Series

Yankees vs Royals

Blue Jays vs Rangers

National League Division Series

Pirates vs Cardinals

Dodgers vs Mets

American League Championship Series

Royals vs Blue Jays

National League Championship Series

Pirates vs Dodgers

World Series

Pirates vs Blue Jays

ESPN’s Outside the Lines recently reported information from a previously unseen notebook that proves Pete Rose bet on baseball as a player. Pete Rose of course, was famously kicked out of baseball by then-Commissioner Bart Giamatti for betting on the game while as a manager. However, he maintained throughout his investigation and to this day that he never bet on the game when he was a player, which was one of the arguments many of his proponents used to make his Hall of Fame case. This new revelation changes his story and certainly makes it very unlikely that current Commissioner Rob Manfred will overturn Giamatti’s ruling or re-open the matter. Meaning Pete Rose will likely remain barred from baseball for the rest of his life.

There are official and unofficial rules in baseball. You shouldn’t cheat or take performance enhancing drugs, you shouldn’t try and get hit by a pitch to break up a perfect game, you shouldn’t flip your bat or admire your home run ball, and you shouldn’t touch an umpire or take too long to adjust your batting gloves in the batter’s box. But more important than any of these: you can’t bet on baseball. The Chicago White Sox were famously dubbed the Black Sox in 1919 for taking money from gamblers to help throw the World Series. And due in part to that scandal and the effect it had on the game, fixing and betting on games was considered the ultimate evil for someone involved in the game to do. Fans looked the other way at stars taking PEDs and amphetamines, at minor league players earning less than minimum wage and even at outright racism and homophobia from their team’s players and personnel, but what they would not tolerate was betting on the game.

This has been the doctrine of the league for years and no one has questioned it. And yet, on April 2, 2015, DraftKings.com became the official Daily Fantasy Sports partner of Major League Baseball.


DraftKings is an official partner of Major League Baseball

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has seen an explosion of popularity over the last few years, and recognizing this, Major League Baseball capitalized on the surge in enthusiasm and the emerging market. There are many DFS sites around, with the most popular being DraftKings, FanDuel, and FantasyAces, but there are many more and no reason to list them all here. Fantasy sports is a multi-billion dollar industry, and DFS capitalizes on that market by giving players the opportunity to play every day with a different team participating in new contests for new prizes. While there is skill involved in picking your lineup and optimizing to the opposing pitcher, where your player is batting in the order, ballpark factors and more, it is still a form of legalized gambling. You pick your roster and pay a certain amount to enter that roster into daily contests. The contests then pay out a prize to either the top half of entrants or to a set number of winners (depending on the site and contest).

DFS has been a huge boon for the fantasy sports industry, as fantasy writers and experts can double up by participating and making money in the contests since they usually know more than the average participant while also writing articles and giving advice on DFS tactics through their personal websites, companies and other mediums. It also continues to grow in popularity, and with money on the line, people are likely to seek the advice of experts to make sure they are making the right moves.

DFS has also been a hit for MLB, as with any fantasy sport, fans are more likely to tune in to track their players and see how well their team is doing. Baseball especially is a tribal sport with most fans only following the progress of their own team or maybe sometimes that of their rivals as well. But with fantasy sports, players track stars across the sport on all 30 teams and look for the best value if he is wearing your team’s colors or not.

But even while the baseball industry makes money hand-over-fist from fantasy, it punishes its players for participating or even mentioning it. On April 3, 2015 (one day after signing the deal with DraftKings), Major League Baseball fined Miami Marlins pitcher Jarred Cosart for a link to gambling. In a statement from Commissioner Manfred, “the investigation [into Cosart] did not reveal any evidence to suggest that Cosart, who fully cooperated with the investigation, bet on baseball.” Instead, they fined him for violating a rule that “prohibits players from placing bets with illegal bookmakers or agents for illegal book makers.” In other words, even though Cosart did not bet on baseball he did make a bet. And it was with an “illegal bookmaker.” Now what constitutes an illegal book maker? The rule comes from Major League Rule 21(d)(3) which just says the above and that it is “strictly enforced and applies to gambling with illegal bookmakers of any sport or event” (not just baseball). So that doesn’t clear anything up about what is illegal. All we can think is that MLB wants to discourage gambling, except when it is sanctioned or through their own legal bookmakers – DraftKings.

The purpose of MLB’s hardline about players betting on baseball is that the Black Sox Scandal was a real black mark on the sport, and thanks to its occurrence during the World Series, many fans were lost and never returned. Leaving aside that at the time the players did not have any form of free agency and were similar to indentured servants, tied to their teams and owners who were the only people they could negotiate their salary with as a reason that the players on the White Sox took the money from gamblers when it was offered – the issue still seemed to be that by agreeing to fix and lose the game, the legitimacy of the sport was called into question. The White Sox players did not take money to try and win the Series (something that they obviously would have tried to do without any extra incentive), they took money to lose it.

This all brings us back to Pete Rose. Major League Baseball will likely review the new report from Outside the Lines and conclude that the initial ban from baseball by Bart Giamatti was the right decision and that Pete Rose will never be allowed back in baseball in any capacity. But to do so is to assume that when Rose was betting on baseball, he was ever doing so to lose a game. The thought that one of the greatest players to ever play the game, the man who holds the records for the most hits in major league history, was trying to lose is just silly. If you have ever watched Pete Rose play – live or in clips from the past – you knew that he played all out, all the time. Heck, his nickname was Charlie Hustle. To think that he was ever betting on the Reds or Phillies to lose while he was playing for them does not align with everything we’ve ever seen him do. And he makes the same claims for himself as a manager when he admitted to betting on the game, but never against his own team.


Budweiser markets many of their products using MLB logos thanks to their partnership

I will never know what exact bets Pete Rose placed, and likely he doesn’t remember all of them either. Gambling is an addiction that can be as harmful as anything, and it can tear apart families and lives just like more common addictions to drugs and alcohol. But before we vilify Rose and prop up MLB for keeping out a criminal, let’s remember that profiting off of vices has been part of baseball’s business model for almost its entire existence.

Major League Baseball has no place being high and mighty about gambling and Pete Rose. Just as they had no place suspending and punishing Josh Hamilton for admitting to relapsing on alcohol and drugs in the offseason. As long as baseball continues to take money from DraftKings and Budweiser for being the “official daily fantasy sports partner” and “the official beer of Major League Baseball,” then they don’t get the moral high ground to fine and suspend their players for participating in those same vices. DFS is not going to go away, and since most sites operate online, it is not an easy form of gambling to regulate. If Major League Baseball wants to police its players and keep them from participating in activities that are thought to be unbecoming without being hypocrites, they must renounce their deals and partnerships with these companies and industries.

1) The Pirates will win the NL Central and it won’t be close

There is an argument to be made that the Pirates are the best team in baseball. The Nationals and Dodgers are getting all the preseason love, but the Pirates just keep on keeping on. Andrew McCutchen continues to get overlooked and overshadowed because his name isn’t Mike Trout. And Ray Searage continues to take reclamation projects like Francisco Liriano, AJ Burnett, Vance Worley and more and turn them into diamonds. Also, this is the year Gerrit Cole breaks out and becomes the ace he was projected to be. The Jung-Ho Kang signing went way farther under the radar than it should have. We are talking about someone who hit 40 home runs last year in the Korean leagues. One person hit 40 home runs last year in the majors: Nelson Cruz. Power is down all across the big leagues, and I know, all caveats in here about how Korean league baseballs are different and the league lends itself to more home runs, but even you take away half of Kang’s home runs and project him out to 20 next year in the big leagues, do you know how many shortstops managed that last year? 3. Ian Desmond, Jhonny Peralta and Troy Tulowitzki. Only 5 had 15 homers, adding in Jimmy Rollins and Alexei Ramirez. Don’t sleep on Kang and don’t sleep on the Pirates.

At the risk of angering the best fans in baseball, I don’t like the Cardinals this year. Every year they are the easy pick. They have good young talent and do well no matter what, they are the easy hedge when making predictions. They have had years of success and should be commended for it, but for the first time in many years I don’t think they’ll do well. Ya, they’ll still make the playoffs, but I don’t like them to win the division. The team has glaring weaknesses and is counting on bounce backs or return from injury for a lot of its regulars. Adam Wainwright has now thrown over 1500 innings in his successful career and injury scares are popping up every day. The ace of the future Michael Wacha is coming off his own shoulder troubles that could resurface at any time. The MVP of the team Yadier Molina finally started showing his age last year and even if he comes back healthy, he will likely never play 140 games in a season again. Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthall have yet to show they can control their lights out stuff, and newcomer Jason Heyward has never quite put it all together. All that being said, I could totally see this prediction being wrong and the Cardinals being great as usual, but it’s just feeling like this is the year that things begin to fall apart for them.

2) The Mets will win more games than the Yankees this year

Of the two New York teams, the Mets are going to win more games in 2015. Not only do reports from spring training show that ace Matt Harvey is back to his old ways, but the team features reigning rookie of the year Jacob DeGromm as it’s one-two punch. We haven’t seen both of those pitchers at full strength at the same time until now. The Mets have an underrated offense, featuring some nice power from the likes of Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda, along with some good veterans and high-upside young arms in Jon Niese, Jenrry Mejia and Rafael Montero. All of this is not to mention that they play in the worst division in baseball (more on that below). This is the year it comes together for the Mets.

Is it possible to feel bad for the Yankees? All of the Derek Jeter pomp and circumstance was a good distraction from a team that ranked 13th in the AL in runs scored despite large free agent signings from the winter before. There are obvious reasons to worry when it comes to relying on aging veterans, but the Yankees actually improved in smart ways this year. Replacing Derek Jeter’s “defense” with Didi Gregorious’s DEFENSE. I also suspect Nate Eovaldi might get the Brandon McCarthy syndrome, develop his offspeed pitches and breakout in the Bronx. But all that being said, this team is going to depend on Masa Tanaka’s elbow. He is going to be playing all year with a partially torn UCL, and all it will take will be one setback before he’ll be forced to have Tommy John surgery. The Yankees will not embarrass themselves, but consecutive seasons without reaching the playoffs could lead to blowback and restructuring in the front office near the end of the year.

3) The Nationals are all in and they will win 100 games this year (and then lose in the playoffs)

The last time a team won 100 games was the Phillies in 2011. That drought will be broken this year thanks to the Nationals being the most “win-now” of the “win-now” ball clubs. Fresh off the signing of Max Scherzer to what will go down as one of the worst contracts of all time, the Nationals now feature a rotation of 6 pitchers that could crack the top 3 on any team in baseball. That the Nationals decided to buy a free agent starter despite already featuring the best rotation in baseball, instead of locking up homegrown talent like Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmerman shows that the team is frustrated after strong showings the past three years, but lack of playoff success and that the owner is desperate to buy a championship in the worst way. This team is solid top to bottom, and it plays in a division with the two worst teams in baseball: the Braves who have already conceded the season and set their sites on the 2016 one featuring their new ballpark, and the Phillies, who are no more than a punch line at this point.

But the issue is, the playoffs are unpredictable. Bullpens can matter more than rotations, and a fluky hit or call here or there can ruin your chances. And unfortunately, managing matters more in the playoffs. We saw last year that Matt Williams can affect a game when he pulled Zimmerman early, leading to a blown save, an 18-inning loss, and an early exit from the playoffs. The Nats will be fun to watch this year, right up until their early exit from the playoffs.

4) This is the year of the Cuban duds

There has been a string of Cuban phenoms making their debut the past few years, featuring concensus rookie of the year Jose Abreu, MVP in the making Yasiel Puig and La Potencia Yoenis Cespedes. This year featured the high profile signings of Rusney Castillo to a $72.5 million deal with the Red Sox, Yasmany Tomas to a $68.5 million deal with the D’Backs, and Yoan Moncada to a record $31.5 million signing bonus (total cost of $63 million after penalties), and Hector Olivera to a $62.5 million deal with the Dodgers despite worries of a torn UCL.

The problem is, the best players from Cuba have already arrived, and even though teams are hoping to capitalize and get their own Puig or Abreu, the recent signings come with real question marks and holes in their games. Castillo is already showing injury issues, Moncada will need at least a year if not more in the minors to catch up to major league pitching (especially with a year off from baseball), and while Tomas has real power, his defense and hit tool are suspect. I expect 3 out of 4 of these new signings to not work out. (Post spring training update: all four players are starting the year in the minors, so we will have to wait and see.)

5) The Cubs will finish below .500 again

Everyone has been hyping the Cubs all offseason thanks to the additions of Jon Lester and Joe Maddon along with the monstrous Spring Training numbers of rookie phenom Kris Bryant. However, the Cubs have already delayed Bryant’s call up to the majors for a few weeks to keep his service clock from starting and earn themselves an extra year of his services before free agency. But Bryant or no Bryant, this club has real issues and is relying heavily on rookies and unproven players to all break out together. Unfortunately, that’s not how baseball works, and while I do expect a lot of the Cubs young talent to begin to emerge this year, they are still one year away from relevancy.

6) The Astros will put up huge offensive numbers

The Astros will lead the league in home runs and will be top 5 in runs scored. However, they will still end up below .500. I like a lot of what the Astros have been doing, grabbing cast offs and bringing up good young players. They have monstrous power with Chris Carter, George Springer and the addition of Evan Gattis, but they also are playing in the toughest division in baseball. You will start to see the first real signs of life from a team that has been dormant for years, but they are still one year away from really making a run in the AL West.

7) The Tigers won’t make the playoffs

The Tigers spent another offseason getting older and worse. They traded away more of their depth and extended more veterans who are past their primes. The AL Central has 4 relevant teams this year, and the Tigers could be the worst of those 4. With Cleveland and Kansas City emerging as dominant teams and Chicago drastically improving over the offseason, the Tigers needed to do a lot to keep up. However, while a full year of David Price will help the team immensely, their reliance on past-their prime players will bite them along with the injury bug this year causing them to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

8) Billy Beane will be right…again

Beane raised a lot of eyebrows this offseason – and rightly so – as he traded away a lot of controlled young talented players for other controlled younger potentially less-talented players. However, the A’s will still be good. They have loads of good young pitching, hitters who will make contributions in many facets of the game, and the willingness to make the extra additions to put his club over the hump should things look bleak midseason.

But my favorite of his moves this offseason, and this one is selfish, was the acquisition of Marcus Semien to play shortstop in the trade that sent Jeff Samardzija to Chicago. I had the pleasure of playing with Marcus since I was 5 years old in the El Cerrito Youth Baseball League and then again in High School at St. Mary’s College High School in Berkeley. Then I got to watch Marcus play at Cal a few years later and have been following his quick rise through the minors. Marcus is a solid player, he does everything well even if he doesn’t do any one thing spectacularly. Marcus is a great player and a great person and I think he’ll be the A’s shortstop of the foreseeable future and I can’t wait to cheer him and the A’s on as they race for the AL West crown this year.

9) Kris Bryant won’t win Rookie of the Year

I know that everyone has already crowned Bryant the ROY after his 9 home run romp through Spring Training, but Bryant will have issues this year and will not win the award. First off, he will be getting a late start. It isn’t his fault, since Chicago is delaying his service clock, but regardless, it will hurt his chances as his overall numbers will be down for the year. He also has shown a propensity to strike out in the minors, posting high strikeout rates at both AA and AAA last year. That isn’t the kind of thing that is likely to change at the major league level, and it could bring his batting average way down even as he hits lots of home runs. A good reference for that would be his teammate Javier Baez and fellow phenom George Springer in 2014.

The other problem for Bryant will be Joc Pederson. Pederson will have his own issues with the strikeout in the bigs, but like Bryant he tore up the minor leagues last year and looks to be ready to take the next step. And after a hot spring, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly finally looks ready to make him the every day center fielder. His defense will drastically help the club improve on what they received from Kemp, Puig, Ethier and Van Slyke in center last year, while his power – speed combo will light up the fantasy scorecards and get him on the radar of the national writers. That plus hitting every day in a great lineup will win Pederson the rookie of the year award in 2015 and keep Bryant relegated to 2nd place.

Alternate Title: “Ya, I know. Predictions aren’t exactly a novel concept when it comes to writing about baseball, but I gotta start back up with something.”

I feel like starting off with an explanation for why I haven’t written in so long isn’t going to do much. This blog has more resurrections than Rasputin and more insincere apologies and promises than a high school relationship. Sorry, but I’ve been busy. I have been working full time and playing in a working band (Johnny Soultrain, check us out if you’re in the Bay Area). Ryan got into and is now attending grad school to go along with working as well. So, this blog has laid dormant. But no longer!

A few weeks ago I got the email asking if I wanted to renew my hosting fee for this domain, and it planted the seed back in my head. Couple that with spring training baseball and preparing for my fantasy draft and the creative juices are flowing again. So, here we are.

I’m going to break this post apart into my by the numbers predictions as well as my choices for the playoffs and major award winners like I did last year. I’ll follow with some predictions for the year and some more “radical” ones as well, which will be linked here when they are posted.

These predictions won’t be the obvious predictions you’ll hear everyone making, or if they are they will be coupled with a not-so obvious follow up. I totally expect some of these to bite me, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them come to pass. We’ll just have to let time be the judge. So with no further ado, here are my by the numbers predictions. Playoff teams are in bold.


Predictions for the 2015 Season


AL East

Baltimore Orioles 92-70

Toronto Blue Jays 91-71

Boston Red Sox 78-84

New York Yankees 78-84

Tampa Bay Rays 70-92


AL Central

Cleveland Indians 90-72

Kansas City Royals 85-77

Chicago White Sox 84-78

Detroit Tigers 80-82

Minnesota Twins 71-91


AL West

Seattle Mariners 95-67

Los Angeles Angels 89-73

Oakland Athletics 87-75

Houston Astros 79-83

Texas Rangers 70-92


NL East

Washington Nationals 99-63

Miami Marlins 85-77

New York Mets 83-79

Atlanta Braves 73-89

Philadelphia Phillies 69-92


NL Central

Pittsburg Pirates 94-72

St. Louis Cardinals 84-78

Milwaukee Brewers 83-79

Cincinnati Reds 82-80

Chicago Cubs 77-85


NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers 97-65

San Diego Padres 82-80

San Francisco Giants 81-81

Colorado Rockies 79-83

Arizona Diamondbacks 77-85




Angels over Blue Jays. Marlins over Cardinals.


Orioles over Indians. Mariners over Angels. Dodgers over Pirates. Nationals over Marlins.


Mariners over Orioles. Nationals over Dodgers.


Mariners over Nationals in 6 games.


AL MVP: Mike Trout

NL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton


AL Cy Young: Chris Sale

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw


AL Rookie of the Year: Dalton Pompey

NL Rookie of the Year: Joc Pederson

Last year, we looked at the arguments for and against the implementation of instant replay in baseball. This year, Major League Baseball decided to make replay a part of the game, but as with any change, there have been some hiccups. These hiccups have led to some resistance and blowback, leading to contention about the system itself. Each failure of instant replay in its infant stage represents a chance for the entire system to come crashing down. Baseball should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.


While many initially fought replay on the grounds that the new system was too complex or arbitrary, the list of rules agreed upon by MLB owners is very straightforward. A list of reviewable plays as reported by Jayson Stark at ESPN reports, can be seen below:

In addition to home runs, expanded replay was unanimously approved by MLB owners for the following plays:

• Ground-rule double
• Fan interference
• Stadium boundary calls
• Force play*
• Tag play
• Fair/foul in outfield only
• Trap play in outfield only
• Batter hit by pitch
• Timing play
• Touching a base (requires appeal)
• Passing runners
• Record keeping

*Except fielder’s touching of second on double play

These plays provide little room for interpretation and instead place a burden of education on the managers and team staff, as is the case with all other baseball rules. It is the team’s responsibility, as well as the announcers commentating on the game, to understand the possibilities of replay in order to effectively do their job.

Any critique of the new system on the basis of challengeable plays, such as those regarding the “neighborhood rule”, which is the caveat to the force play listed above, are fair in order to examine possible improvements. Yet these arguments should be analyzed through the lens of player safety, which is another focus that MLB is attacking through new policies regarding catcher collisions, pitcher’s padded hats, and now middle infielders.


Mark Ellis Needed Surgery to Save His Leg After a Double Play Slide Injury Last Season

Another large critique is that replay is still getting calls wrong. However, it should be understood that replay is not a method that eliminates mistakes; as football fans will attest. Instead, the goal of replay is to reduce the number of incorrect calls. And this is done through the requirement that a replay needs “indisputable video evidence” in order to overturn, which gives preference to the initial call, sometimes at the cost of the right call. Yet this type of system, as opposed to one that assumes skepticism toward the play, limits the umpire’s ability to change a right call to a wrong call and will ultimately reduce the number of blown calls.

By no means is the system perfect, but it should be looked at with respect to what other negative effects replay could have imposed on the game. The current system does a good job of allowing for the possibility of taking a second look at close plays while limiting the possible nuances that could accompany play review. Currently replay rarely prolongs the game any more than a standard pitching change (average replay was just 1:39 in the first 13 games). It limits the possibility of over-challenging by invoking a negative penalty for poor challenges. And it gives GM’s another tool that they can use to evaluate their coaching personnel with; is the manager challenging at the right time, or is the manager too quick to go to replay.

While replay has its flaws, the current system accomplishes its goal of reducing blown calls while working within current MLB policy focuses. Any critiques of the replay system should also be viewed and discussed with the acknowledgement of how they will influence the larger game of baseball. New technologies represent new ways to help improve the game, provided any changes are evaluated and implemented with an eye to existing rules. There is no reason for baseball to stick its head in the ground and reject all change. Its time to move forward and look towards ways to continue improving the game.

Tampa Bay

Might as well start off with a bang. Tampa Bay is my choice for division winner and for eventual World Series champion. “Pitching and defense” has become a bit of a trope at this point, but nobody does it better than the Rays and skipper Joe Madden is the best at using defensive switches and metrics to set his defense. Notable losses from the 2013 squad include Alex Torres, Fernando Rodney, Luke Scott, Kelly Johnson, and Jose Lobaton. Notable additions are David DeJesus, Grant Balfour, and Heath Bell.

Jake Odorizzi, the lesser known piece of the Wil Myers for James Shields trade, won the 5th starter spot in Spring Training. Look for him to shore up the backend of the best rotation in baseball while Alex Cobb breaks out into a true superstar in 2014. And that is without even mentioning David Price, who I expect to stay in Tampa Bay at least until the end of the season and is also my choice for AL Cy Young. Wil Myers is ready to take the next step after a solid freshman campaign and its time for Desmond Jennings to finally put it all together. Many of these players are young and relatively unproven, but if this team plays up to its potential, look out.


Baltimore was the hardest team for me to figure out going into this year. They lost Brian Roberts and Nate McLouth to Free Agency along with trading away their 40 save closer Jim Johnson to the A’s for once-prospect Jemile Weeks. They then stood pat for most of the offseason before making a flurry of moves late in Spring Training. Johan Santana looks like his days in the bigs are over, but Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez could have real impacts, unfortunately both are flawed players. Cruz will be a negative defensively, unless they utilize him as a full-time DH, left field could be an adventure. Jimenez has had stretches where he has been unhittable in his career, usually coming right before a contract. We’ll see if his new digs translate to his old successful ways, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Suk-min Yoon could be the steal of the season despite flying under the radar as Hyun-jin Ryu did in the 2012-2013 offseason.

This team has real stars in Chris Davis and Manny Machado. It has solid position players in J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters. But the rotation just won’t be able to keep up in the talented AL East. All-Star Chris Tillman’s 19-win season glosses over some problems with his underlying numbers, but he’s still the closest the team has to a number 1 starter. Marwin Gonzalez, Bud Norris and Wei-Yin Chen should not be in the rotation of a team that is looking to win now. And that is what the Orioles need to do. Their team is not built for the future, its built for now, but it is still missing a few key pieces if they look to surprise the baseball world again with another playoff berth.


The first thing you might notice is that I did not pick the reigning World Series champions to repeat, or even reach the playoffs. Everything went right for the Boston Red Sox last year and they overcame a lot of underlying issues with their pitching and team as a whole and went on an incredible run in the postseason. However, this is not the same team from 2013, and there are real problems heading into the season. Notable losses from the offseason include Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia along with Ryan Dempster who decided to take a year off. Those losses have been replaced with some real question marks in the oft-injured Grady Sizemore, the untested Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and the consistently mediocre A.J. Pierzynski. Look for Will Middlebrooks to settle into his role as starting third baseman after an up and down freshman campaign and have a moderate breakout. Unfortunately, this team has lost too many key players and is asking too much of its young players as they look to follow up on their 2013 world championship.

New York

This Yankee team looks remarkably different from the one that took the field in 2013, with a new starting position player at every position on the diamond in 2014. The loss of Robinson Cano obviously loomed over everything that occurred in the offseason, but the Yankees tried valiantly and expensively to mitigate his loss of production with the additions of veterans Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Carlos Beltran along with Masahiro Tanaka the $155 million man. All of these players will contribute in 2014 and help the Yankees to field one of the most experienced and productive teams on the field in 2014, but there are real question marks in the rotation. CC Sabathia has declined for two years in a row now and the zip is off his fastball taking him down from an ace to a hittable middle of the rotation starter. Tanaka will be good, but fans should temper their expectations. The first year in America can be a rough one for players making the jump from Japan, and there is already a lot of wear on his arm from 7 years in the big leagues in Japan – don’t expect Darvish-like production. New York’s best pitcher last year was the ageless Hiroki Kuroda who had one of the best years of his career at 38. The question is how much longer the Yankees can expect him to hold up. At age 39, there may not be much left in the tank, and he will be asked to carry the load all season. Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda represent real upside at the back end of the rotation, and the way they pitch could dictate if the Yankees finish near the top or bottom of the AL East standings.


Everything went wrong for the Blue Jays last year, with a majority of the players on the Jays’ roster succumbing to some form of injury or another. That being said, the 2014 Toronto team still has some work to do to contend in the deep AL East. Notable departures include Josh Johnson, Rajai Davis and J.P. Arencibia. Though Johnson never put it together in a Jays uniform, he represented the best chance this staff had for an anchor, and without him or a bounce back from R.A. Dickey, this staff will repeat as one of the worst in the majors. With the loss of Arencibia, the Jays looked to upgrade at the catcher position and did so with the addition of Diner Navarro. Navarro has yet to prove himself as a full-time backstop, but a 2013 slash line of .300/.365/.492 definitely turned some heads. The bat is there, but the defense remains a question, and Toronto is one of the hardest staffs to catch in the big leagues with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey and junk-thrower Mark Buehrle. The lineup is one of the best in the bigs, and look for Colby Rasmus to finally break out this year, but the pitching remains a problem even with newcomer Drew Hutchinson making his way into the rotation full time.