by James Sasser
The MLB season is almost over for the 2016 year. We have had the anticipated division winners, and surprising starts and great baseball from other ball clubs.
Of course you have the powerhouse Chicago Cubs in the National League Central, but they have not won a World Series since 1908. Could 2016 be their year?
The Cleveland Indians have not been to the postseason since 2013 when they lost the Wild Card game to the Tampa Bay Rays. The dominance of the Royals and Tigers in the American League Central may in fact be over.
The NL East will have one team in the postseason unless the Miami Marlins can gain some ground behind the arm of their star pitcher Jose Fernandez. The Washington Nationals have played great this year especially inside the division as they have a 35-16 record. Much of their season success has come from the now healthy Jason Werth as he had an on base streak of 46 games.
Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have propelled the Chicago Cubs to an 93-52 record. In Joe Madden’s second year in Chicago, he has mixed and matched his roster full of youthful players. The Cubs look like they are officially running away with the National League.
One team that always makes their way in the playoffs is the St. Louis Cardinals. They have climbed their way back into contention after many injuries in the beginning of the year. Young Cuban All-Star Aledmys Diaz has held the reigns as he is batting .313 with 15 home runs and 55 runs batted in this year.
With all the off season acquisitions the Arizona Diamondbacks made, it was looking like the division was theirs this year. But after losing A.J. Pollock to a leg injury and the continued struggles for Shelby Miller they have fallen out of the race.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have fought their way back into first place in the NL West and look to win the division again. If they still do not have arguably the best pitcher in the game, Clayton Kershaw by the end of the season the Dodgers may get knocked out.
It is an even number year, which means the San Francisco Giants should win the World Series if you look back in history. The Giants won the World Series in 2010, 2012 and 2014. With a strong pitching staff, great everyday players and a strong bench, the Giants look to keep that trend going if they can get into the postseason.
Three of the playoff teams could potentially come from the American League East. The Baltimore Orioles have the best offense in baseball when looking at power. They have three players in the top 10 leaders for home runs, with Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado.
The Boston Red Sox have had a great final performance from the 40=year-old veteran David Ortiz. He became the oldest player to hit 30 home runs in a season, and adds 111 runs batted in as well.
You cannot count out the Toronto Blue Jays who are based on young pitching arms and some power bats. Aaron Sanchez was put on an innings limit but will come back in the last month of the season.
J.A. Happ has been their most dominant pitcher this year, posting a 3.33 era with 149 strikeouts and a great 18-4 win-loss record. Last year’s AL MVP Josh Donaldson has played great all season, and he looks to receive the award for the second straight year.
The biggest surprise comes from the AL Central. The Detroit Tigers have not played well most of the season. Injuries and bad pitching have hampered their season. However, the one bright spot on the team has been Justin Upton, who they signed in the offseason.
The division leader right now is the Cleveland Indians who won 14 games in a row during the dog days of summer. They are my pick to be American League Champions. The Indians have the best pitching staff in the league headed by Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer.
They would not be where they are now without the free agent signing of Mike Napoli in the offseason. Napoli has been a great pickup for the team who plays at first base and as a designated hitter. Napoli has batted .247 with 33 home runs and 94 RBI on the year.
Last year’s AL Wild Card winner, Houston Astros, struggled early but have had key contributions from the hands of many rookies. Jose Altuve is arguably one of the best second basemen in the league. He is leading all of baseball with a .341 batting average.
The Texas Rangers are 27 games above .500 and looks to be the AL West winner. Cole Hamels has been very reliable with a 14-5 record and a 3.24 ERA. The offense has been sparked by a change of scenery for former Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond who has torn it up in the outfield so far for the Rangers. They acquired All-Star catcher Jonathan Lucroy in a trade with the Brewers and they hope he provides their catching stability that they have been missing for years to come.
Wild Card Game: Blue Jays over Orioles
ALDS: Indians over Blue Jays 3-1 ; Rangers over Red Sox 3-2
ALCS : Indians over Rangers 4-2
Wild Card Game: Giants over Cardinals
NLDS: Giants over Nationals 3-2 ; Cubs over Dodgers 3-2
NLCS: Cubs over Giants 4-3
Cubs over Indians 4-3