Wednesday, July 13, 2016

MLB Second Half Preview

Now that we know Game 1 of the 2016 World Series will be played at Fenway Park, here's a look at what could happen over the last months of the 2016 baseball season.

For a look back at how I called it in April, click here.

Five Baseless Predictions

1. The Yankees Will Impact October Despite Finishing In Fourth Place In The AL East

The Yankees begin the second half 7.5-games behind the Orioles in the AL East and 5.5-games out of the second Wild Card spot so it's not exactly like they have no hope but come the end of July they will see the writing on the wall and decide to become sellers at the trade deadline.

New York's general manager Brian Cashman will have contending teams begging him to trade any of his top three relief pitchers.  Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman all could make the difference between making a playoff run or being on the golf course for Columbus Day and the Yankees would get a hefty return for each of them if Cashman chooses to deal.  With an eye on 2017, I would assume Cashman would only move one of the three to maintain a good bullpen going forward but even one of these pitchers would help the Yankees re-stock their farm system.

Other Yankees that are likely to be moved are outfielder Carlos Beltran and starter CC Sabathia. Beltran and Sabathia are both past their primes but both could help a contender get over the hump this Fall.

The trades that Cashman makes could decide the outcome of the World Series long after the Yankees season ends.

2. The Mets Will Fade From Contention In The N.L. East

Despite losing the 2015 World Series to the Royals, the future of the Mets promised to be full of championship parades with a young pitching staff filled with potential Cy Young winners.

Seriously, how could a rotation of Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom, and Bartolo Colon (with Zach Wheeler scheduled to return after the All-Star Game) not repeat as N.L. champions?

For one, Harvey has been lost for the season due to injury and Syndergaard has dealt with arm fatigue.  Wheeler hasn't pitched yet this season as he returns from Tommy John surgery he had in March 2015.

The Mets offense has also been a disaster, other than Yoenis Cespedes.  They are second in home runs but are 13th out of 15 teams in runs scored and batting average.

With the Nationals looking like one of the few teams that can stand in the way of the Cubs long awaited World Series, the Mets will start looking ahead to 2017.

3. Clayton Kershaw Will Cement His Legacy As The Best Pitcher Of His Generation

If Kershaw had walked away from baseball before this season, he'd be considered the greatest pitcher of his generation.  He's just providing more evidence for his case in 2016.

Kershaw already has three Cy Young awards and an MVP on his resume.  He has led the major leagues in ERA four times, hasn't had an ERA over 2.91 since 2009, and has had a WHIP over 1.000 only once since 2011.

This year is another Hall of Fame worthy campaign from the 28-year-old lefty.  His record is 11-2 and he's leading the major leagues in ERA (1.79) and WHIP (0.727) at the All-Star break.

The dominance will continue and at the end of this season, Kershaw will collect his fourth Cy Young award and, if the Dodgers qualify for the playoffs, could also win his second MVP trophy.

4. David Ortiz Will Win His First MVP In His Final Season

Ortiz' production at age 40 and in his final season has been truly historic.  He is leading all of the major's in on-base percentage (.426), slugging percentage (.682), OPS (1.107), and doubles (34).  He also has a legitimate chance to win the batting title, home run title, and RBI title.

This type of production coupled with the Red Sox making the playoffs - and with the good will of this being his farewell tour - will earn Ortiz the first A.L. MVP of his Hall of Fame worthy career.

5. Ortiz Will Not Actually Retire

After winning the MVP and being offered a contract for $25-million next season, Ortiz will put his retirement off for one more year and return to the middle of the Red Sox lineup in 2017.

Second Half Predictions

American League

East - Red Sox
Central - Indians
West - Rangers
Wild Card - Blue Jays, Tigers
MVP - David Ortiz, Red Sox
Cy Young - Danny Salazar, Indians
Rookie - Nomar Mazara, Rangers
Manager - Terry Francona, Indians

ALCS - Red Sox over Indians

National League

East - Nationals
Central - Cubs
West - Giants
Wild Card - Dodgers, Cardinals
MVP - Kris Bryant, Cubs
Cy Young - Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie - Corey Seager, Dodgers
Manager - Dusty Baker, Nationals

NLCS - Cubs over Dodgers

World Series - Cubs over Red Sox

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