With Spring Training right around the corner, why not look at the 2016 Season? More specifically, a way too early World Series prediction.
Boston Red Sox
Of course, I’m a tad bias here but if you don’t think that the Boston Red Sox are contenders this season than you’re delusional. They have something to play for this year, actually more of a someone. With David Ortiz announcing that this upcoming season will be his last go-around, expect Boston to dedicate this title run to his career. Everybody’s biggest problems with the Sox were their lack of an ace (cue David Price) and lack of a bullpen (cue Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith). The pieces are aligned to make something special happen and major props to David Dombrowski and the Red Sox Front Office to what they accomplished this offseason. On top of what they’ve added, Beantown still has an extremely underrated outfield manned by Betts, Bradley Jr, Young and Castillo, a young collection of studs scattered around the diamond with Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, Henry Owens and Blake Swihart (maybe Brian Johnson too depending on his spring?), and a strong sense of veteran leadership in the forms of David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. Also, we can’t forget about Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, they are there too, sometimes…. if they’re not injured (looking at you Hanley). The past is the past and this Red Sox team seems primed to make a run deep into October.
Kansas City Royals
The reigning World Series Champions but still seemingly the underdog. The Royals are one of those teams that is really good but gets really no credit. At one point last year the Royals led in every position on the fan-voting for the All Star Game. Headlined by a world class bullpen, a consistent rotation, and a quartet (I know that is for music but you know what I mean) of young talent with Hosmer, Cain, Moustakas, and Gordon. The Royals are more or less the same World Series team as last year minus relief pitcher Ryan Madson who they lost to the Athletics but they picked up comparable reliever Joakim Soria to replace him. With a rejuvenated fan base that has rediscovered their love for America’s Pastime after suffering through losing season after losing season, you can definitely count on KC to be in the conversation come October.
Honorable Mention: Houston Astros, New York Yankees
San Francisco Giants
The Giants have quite the pattern going on, winning the Fall Classic every other year for the last six years. And don’t look now but they’re due for another ring this October. Veteran leaders Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner will lead the way with surprisingly productive Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford on the infield. With other experienced players like Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence remaining consistent season to season the main challenge will be emerging from the talented NL West. The Giants added right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to complement the 2014 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, MadBum. San Francisco will get off to a rocky beginning but after the All Star Break they should be able to turn it around and make the NL West very interesting.
The Cubs were a few wins away from making it to World Series last season and as one of the youngest and brightest teams in baseball many people thought that Chicago would be powerhouses in the 2016 season. Many people thought that but now many people know that. The Chicago Cubs Front Office left no doubt who the favorite in the NL is this season and should have no problem dominating the extremely competitive NL Central. Theo and company added Ben Zobrist as well as Jason Heyward, both players that frankly, they didn’t need but now have and will fit in very well into the starting nine of the Cubs. Jake Arrieta is coming off of his first NL Cy Young honors, and paired with Jon Lester they will make a strong one-two punch. Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Javier Baez, and Jorge Soler are only getting better which is terrifying. Also worth mentioning, John Lackey got a few Cy Young votes last season and looks to be getting stronger after fully recovering from Tommy John surgery. If the Cubs do fall out of the pennant race it will be due to their lackluster bullpen but if the can overcome that, the sky’s the limit.
Honorable Mention: Pittsburgh Pirates, Washington Nationals
And for my World Series prediction……
The San Francisco Giants over the Boston Red Sox (4-3)
Cover Photo via ESPN