(This is one post in a series of posts where I will be predicting the outcome of each MLB division. The final post will include full 2016 MLB postseason predictions.)
The 2014 Royals lost in the World Series to the Giants, but they brought back roughly the same team in 2015. The robot projection computers have disliked the Royals the last three seasons. They disliked them before their 2014 World Series appearance. They picked against them in the spring of 2015. For some reason, the robots are still picking against them in 2016. Jesse Spector wrote a great article attempting to explain why this is the case. Although the robots are self-aware, they don’t yet know how to love, and they clearly don’t know how to detect the Royals “it factor”. It seems resilience, determination, and experience “Do not compute”. I think despite the skepticism of the robots, most experts predicted they would make the playoffs in 2015 by winning the AL Central. Then of course, we saw that they didn’t just make the playoffs. They got back to the World Series and won it all. Despite all their spending, the Tigers struggled with injuries and bad luck in 2015. The Indians have a young pitching staff that rivals the Mets staff, but they are lacking in the offensive department. The White Sox spent a bunch of money on free agents prior to 2015, but their season turned out to be a mess. The Twins didn’t spend anything per usual and were mediocre. Here’s what I see in 2016:
AL Central: 1) Kansas City Royals (x) 2) Detroit Tigers 3) Cleveland Indians 4) Chicago White Sox 5) Minnesota Twins
You can’t bet against Kansas City. They are young, they just won the World Series, and they have repeat potential. I know they lost Ben Zobrist. I know they lost Johnny Cueto. But Ian Kennedy can eat innings, and they were never wowing anyone with their rotation anyway. They have the same pesky grind it out offense, and an even better pen with Joakim Soria back in the fold. They’ll take the division again.
Detroit sucked last year. But they had injuries, an awful bullpen, and bad luck. I like what Jordan Zimmerman and Justin Upton do for their rotation and lineup respectively. Cameron Maybin had a career year in 2015. Maybe he figured something out. Francisco Rodriguez can still finish games with the best of them which will help their pen which was dogshit last season. I see them getting more production from Victor Martinez this year. And my boy Michael Fulmer is going to come up and have an impact in their rotation or bullpen. The Mets have been breeding strong arms, and this guy is supposedly the real deal. That being said, the Tigers will be behind the other Wild Card teams and miss the playoffs.
Cleveland has that deadly rotation with Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco. A sort of Mets lite rotation. But they didn’t fix their problems on offense in my opinion, and Michael Brantley could be out for a stretch to start the season due to offseason shoulder surgery. I suppose they did add former Mets Juan “Hog Show” Uribe and Marlon “Biogenesis” Byrdman. But they needed a big bat. They pulled a Mets 2014/2015 in the offseason. We added old deteriorating Michael Cuddyer last offseason, when we really needed an actual big bat. Then we got Yoenis Cespedes midseason. Maybe they will do the same thing and have a big second half.
The White Sox are completely out. Sell sell sell! They are going to blow it all up midseason. White Sox Executive Vice President Ken Williams better pick up a copy of Windy Shitty: Theo Epstein’s Guide to Tanking in Chicago. They had a mediocre pitching staff last season and big time problems on offense. And a roll of Todd Frazier duct tape mixed with some Brett Lawrie crazy glue ain’t gonna patch the holes in this sinking ship. Plus DH Adam LaRoche just pulled a Michael Cuddyer by surprise retiring with money still on his contract. No matter how quickly they patch them holes they just keep opening up. Maybe they will spend that extra LaRoche money on another big bat to keep patching their crummy lineup. But I think it’s more likely they are posting a “Chris Sale for Sale” sign at the trade deadline. Book it.
Minnesota was .500 last season. They supposedly had an extremely “lucky” season by all advanced metrics and standards, and it still wasn’t good. They added a first basemen from Korea Byung-ho Park but not much else. I don’t expect much from them.
Other Divisional Predictions: