2016 World Series Predictions
by Badger, Baseball Handicapper, Predictem.com
Last October the Kansas City Royals made good on their return trip to the World Series, redeeming their failure a year earlier by cashing in on another World Series title in five games over the surprise National League Champion New York Mets.
But with the Grapefruit and Cactus Spring Training leagues drawing to a close and the regular season just a few short weeks away, it means it is once again time to take a look at all 30 teams and assess their chances against the odds for winning the American League and National League pennants.
After a lousy season in 2014 where I lost money on these predictions, I actually called the Mets run to the NL East title (+700) and NL pennant (+1725) last season for a solid return on my investment. So letís look into the crystal ball for 2016 and offer up a fearless prediction on a short, middle and longshot contender for both the American League and National League pennants and baseballís ultimate prize, the 2016 World Series.
Last year the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers all broke through to pack to completely change the look of the American League playoffs. So letís take a deeper look at the junior circuit and see where the value sits in regards to the AL Pennant futures odds.
American League East
Boston Red Sox
Two years ago we witnessed the farewell tour of Derek Jeter, so this summer weíre graced with the long goodbye of Red Sox DH Big Papi, David Ortiz. Boston went to the hip again this offseason, writing the big check to sign lefty David Price to the top of their rotation. Itís a good thing too, because with stud rookie Eduardo Rodriguez starting the year on the DL the Sox rotation will need big seasons from veterans Clay Buchholz and Rick Porcello in the No. 2 and 3 spots. If the heart of the Sox lineup ó Dustin Pedroia, Pablo Sandoval, Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez (now at first base after last yearís experiment in left field was an epic fail), can produce instead of regress collectively on offense, the Sox will sport a lights-out backend of the bullpen with Koji Uehara now setting-up new closer Craig Kimbrel.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays proved last season that offense can propel a team into the postseason, and this season the Jays will get a full season of SS Troy Tulowitzki hitting in the lineup between Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. Michael Stroman gives Toronto a great young arm at the top of the rotation, but the rest of the rotation consisting of Marco Estrada, R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ will all need to pitch lights out for the Blue Jays to repeat as champs in the deepest division in the American League. Toronto will score runs, can they find enough pitching?
The national media has been taking the Orioles management to task for their lack of moves this offseason, but at least they did resign slugger Chris Davis to a megadeal. The good news is that with Davis back in his spot the Orioles lineup is essentially identical to yearís past with Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Nick Reimold, J.J. Hardy, Mark Wieters, etc. But the bad news for Orioles fans is that itís the same lineup that only reached 81 wins last season, so Baltimore could be setting itself up to repeat a mediocre season. They did sign righty Yovani Gallardo to eat innings in the rotation, which could help to limit Buck Showalterís continued overuse of the bullpen.
New York Yankees
When was the last time the New York Yankees didnít go out and sign a big-name free agent during the winter? I canít remember either, but thatís essentially what happened this offseason in the Bronx. The Yankees added former Cubs SS Starlin Castro to play second base for the Pinstripes, and yes they did trade for closer Aroldis Chapman to aid the backend of the bullpen. But otherwise the Yankees are gonna play with what theyíve got. Theyíll need their deep lineup of sluggers to score a bunch of runs because the rotation is a collection of vets on the decline (Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia) and inconsistent youngsters (Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Nate Eovaldi) and nobody really knows what theyíll get from any of them.
Tampa Bay Rays
After years of overachieving of sorts, the small-market Rays finally struggled to remain with the chase-pack in the AL East last season. Unless youíre a huge fan of the Rays with deep knowledge of their farm system, youíll likely only recognize the names of Evan Longoria and James Loney in a lineup of youngsters. But everyone knows that the Rays contend every year because of their pitching, and with Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and Michael Moore all seemingly healthy Tampa has probably the best rotation in the division one through five. The Rays could surprise a lot of people in 2016, but doing it in the toughest division in the junior circuit is going to be tough.
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American League Central
The Tigers made some moves and tried to make a push for one of the American League wild card spots last year, but after falling short the roster turnover this winter in Detroit will bring in a new front-end rotation starter in Jordan Zimmermann and protection for Miggy Cabrera in the lineup by signing Justin Upton to play leftfield. If Justin Verlander experiences a bounce-back season to re-emerge as a Cy Young-caliber No. 1 starter, the Tigers could challenge the Royals in the AL Central because they also traded for new closer Francisco Rodriguez to fix the broken back end of the bullpen.
Just when it starts to look like the Cleveland Indians are going to start a youth movement and rebuild, they go out and sign veterans like Juan Uribe and Mike Napoli to man the corner infield spots. SS Francisco Lindor is one of the gameís most exciting young prospects, if veterans Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis return to their former all-star form, the Indians pitching rotation with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Josh Timlin have plenty of experience to keep the Indians in a divisional race deep into September.
Chicago White Sox
Thereís been so much press coverage about the sudden retirement of Adam LaRoche over his disagreement with Kenny Williams that the White Sox havenít been focused on baseball and preparing for the regular season at all this spring training. With LaRoche walking away the Sox will still have offense because they added a whole new infield acquiring 3B Todd Frazier and 2B Brett Lawrie in trade and SS Jimmy Rollins in free agency. The new infield joins holdovers Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera and Avisail Garcia to formulate a potentially potent mix. Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon are solid at the top of the rotation, but there are nothing but questions after those three and pitching will be a huge variable in the AL Central in 2016.
Kansas City Royals
I didnít think the Royals had enough pitching to get back into the postseason last year, but their perfect balance of offense, defense and pitching was plenty good enough to make me eat my words. The biggest question this offseason for the Royals was whether or not they had enough money to bring Alex Gordon back, which they did, so the Royals will in essence be putting the same team between the foul lines this summer. Injuries and avoiding them will be the only question for Kansas City this season, because as they proved in winning the crown in 2015 they donít have any glaring holes in any phase of the game.
The Minnesota Twins were in the race for an American League wild card spot all the way down to the final week last October, a pretty good feat for a young team many (including myself) counted out before the season. The Twins biggest move in the winter was to bring in Japanís top slugger Byung Ho Park to be the teamís designated hitter. Park will join young slugger Miguel Sano, and holdovers Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier to anchor the Twins offense. The Twins will go as far as their veteran crew of starters (Phil Hughes, Edwin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Tom Milone) will take them, although Tyler Duffey could emerge as the Twins best starter before too long.
American League West
Los Angeles Angels
The thing I like the most about the Angels is that they donít sit on their hands and do nothing. This winter the AL team from L.A. remade the left side of their infield picking up Yunel Escobar to play 3B and Andrelton Simmons to play short. Together with Mike Trout and a rehabbed and healthy-looking Albert Puljos, the Angels should be able to score enough to stay in games until the late innings. I like Garrett Richards, but heís not your prototype No. 1 starter. And worse yet, after Richards the Angels have a rapidly declining Jered Weaver and an injured C.J. Wilson in front of a questionable bullpen with Houston Street as the closer.
The Mariners once again underachieved in 2015 and as a result the front office staff was shown the door to start over with a new regime. The Mariners new approach was to make subtle moves, trading for 1B Adam Lind to try and help drive in runs with Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano and adding Wade Miley to the middle of the rotation behind Felix Hernandez and a re-signed Hisashi Iwakuma. Iím also interested in the move to make Steve Cishek the closer. Iím not sure the moves are going to be enough to fix a team that only won 76 games last season.
I saw the movie Moneyball and Iím fully aware of the financial constraints that Billy Beane has to work with, but I have to say some of the moves the Aís have made over the years makes me scratch my head. Sure they have a solid collection of young arms with Sonny Gray at the top and Kendall Graveman and Henderson Alvarez at the bottom. But the offense for the Aís is something Iíd worry about because their biggest power source is likely to be new LF Khris Davis. I wonít be surprised if Oakland somehow finds a way to win games in 2016, but I just donít see how.
The Rangers found a way to emerge in a competitive three-way race last year because they found a way to get enough pitching out of guys like Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Martin Perez until the mid-season trade for Cole Hamels. The offense will continue to be a balance of youth (Delino DeShields, Rougned Odor) and experience (Prince Fielder, Adrian Beltre) and if things fall perfectly the Rangers could get a rebuilt Yu Darvish by mid-summer just in time for a potential playoff push. Shawn Tolleson emerged as a solid closer, so the pieces are there for the Rangers again this year but the odds of repeating of AL West champs will be steep.
I wrote in the Astros preview last year that I liked the way Houston was building their team, but even I didnít envision they would reach the AL playoffs in 2015. The Astros will have to win this year as the favorite in most games this season, as the expectations for them have changed now. The Astros will enjoy a full season of stud SS Carlos Correa, and they addressed a weakness at the back end of their bullpen by trading for Ken Giles to try and be the answer at closer. Veteran pitchers Doug Fister, Scott Feldman and Mike Fiers all need to pitch well enough to hold up the bottom of the rotation, otherwise a repeat of last yearís breakout will become a tall hill to climb in 2016.
American League Pennant
All odds listed are available at Bovada.lv.
Short Ė Kansas City Royals +600 Ė Considering the Royals have been to the World Series for two years straight, this isnít the best value on the board at Bovada. But looking at it strictly by baseball standards the Royals are still the most balanced team with offense, defense and pitching in the American League.
Middle Ė Chicago White Sox +1600 Ė Yes the White Sox have been distracted lately, but sometimes a little turmoil is a good thing. The Sox added some nice pieces this winter in Frazier and Lawrie and if anybody can break the Royals grip on the division and the American League it may as well be the team that most people are already counting out.
Longshot Ė Minnesota Twins + 3000 Ė Yes, all three of my futures picks in the American League this season are out of the Central division. But this is a longshot pick so Iím going to reach a little. I love the Twins offense with youngsters Byron Buxton and the player I think will win the AL Rookie of the Year, Byung Ho Park, when the Japanese veteran slugs at least 35 homers this season. If Minnesota somehow finds pitching, it could happen Ö ask the Astros.
One year after pitching led the San Francisco Giants to the National League pennant and World Series title, last fall the New York Mets put on display their full-stocked rotation of young power arms. The National League is still a league dominated by pitching, so it could be a few years before the Mets plethora of arms starts cashing in on free agency and the rest of the senior circuit catches up to the team in Queens.
National League East
Thereís no denying the fact the Nationals underachieved last season, especially with the ridiculous offensive MVP season turned in by Bryce Harper and two no-hitters from ace Max Scherzer. The Nationals reloaded a little on offense by signing last yearís playoff hero away from the rival Mets, Daniel Murphy. But if Washington is going to ever live up to their expectations they will need to find a way for to get Stephen Strasburg back to his pre-surgery dominating form to give them a one-two punch with Scherzer. Jonathan Papelbon is back to close games, but the cast in front of him has changed in the bullpen and inexperience could prove to be the Nationals Achilles heel.
The Miami Marlins had a G.M.-turned-manager kind of season last year and finished 19 games out in the NL East, so to nobodyís surprise the Marlins cleaned house and brought in a few big names to try and revive the fan base on South Beach. The Marlins made their splash by hiring Don Mattingly to manage a young, and Mattingly hired Barry Bonds to be the hitting coach. The Marlins did pickup lefty Wei-Yin Chen and immediately anointed him the ace ahead of Jose Fernandez as they continue to limit Fernandezís innings off surgery, but it will be interesting to see how the former Oriole handles the transition away from the American League. A.J. Ramos emerged as a solid option at closer, but getting to him may be an issue for Miami.
New York Mets
What a luxury it is to have all of the power pitching the Mets have in the rotation with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Mat Harvey and Steven Matz in front of the ageless Barton Colon. That allowed the front office to focus on resigning Yoenis Cespedes, which they did, and retool a middle infield by adding 2B Neil Walker and veteran SS Asdrubal Cabrera. Obviously an arm injury to any of the arms in the rotation and all bets are off, but the Mets are a solid and well balanced team that is stacked with pitching.
The Braves are rebuilding, and I wouldnít be surprised if the veteran players they didnít move in the offseason like Freddy Freeman, Nick Markakis and A.J. Pierzynski find a new address before the trading deadline this summer. Julio Teheran leads an iffy rotation, but it will be nice to see if second-year Arodys Vizcaino emerges as the next lights-out Braves closer. Its going to be a long season in Atlanta, but things will look better when they open up SunTrust Park in 2017.
I have to admit, I have no idea what to predict out of the Phillies in 2016. On paper their rotation with Jeremy Hellickson as the No. 1 will be overlooked, but both Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff flashed good potential in September call ups last year. The lineup young guys like Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrea in front of Ryan Howard will have to grow up quickly if the fans in Philly want to get back to meaningful baseball in September.
National League Central
St. Louis Cardinals
Every year I predict the fall of the Cardinals from their perch atop the NL Central, and every year they somehow find the right recipe to prove me wrong. Most of the faces in the lineup are familiar, about the only real change for the Cards will be the full-time roles for both Randal Grichuk in CF and Stephen Piscotty in right. With Brandon Moss and Matt Adams both stuck at 1B, there may be a lack of power in the Cards lineup this year with a declining Matt Holliday. The rotation will get Adam Wainwright back at the role of ace, bumping Jamie Garca, Michael Wacha and Mike Leake all down a spot and makes Carlos Martinez the best No. 5 starter in baseball. St. Louis will be in the division chase until the end, like always they will find a way.
The folks in Pittsburgh have to be starting to feel like a bridesmaid, finishing with 98 wins in 2015 and yet still ending up in second place in the division. The best news is that the Pirates are locked and loaded again in 2016, with the only real question this spring focusing on who will win the job at first base between John Jaso, Michael Morse, David Freese and Jason Rodgers. Pittsburgh will also need to get big innings and big production out of Jeff Locke and Ryan Vogelsong in the No. 4 and 5 spots in the rotation if they have any hope of overtaking the Cards.
Yes Ö I believe Armageddon is upon us because the Chicago Cubs are the favorite to win the World Series in 2016. Lord help us. I will say this, the Cubs additions of Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to an already potent young lineup certainly look great. If they could just find a way to get Klye Schwarber to play catcher, the Cubs would be stacked. John Lackey was brought in to provide innings to an already deep rotation. Perhaps the only potential weakness is a weak back end of their bullpen in front of Hector Rondon. The Cubs will have the target on them now, how will the play with higher expectations will be the million dollar question.
The Brewers hired their new G.M. David Sterns from the Astros organization, so thereís similarities to the dismantling of the major league club for a new focus on cheap, homegrown talent. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy will be joined by vets Aaron Hill and Chris Carter to give the Brewers a mix of old and new, but a rotation with Wily Peralta at the top is going to seriously struggle to hang with the much deeper staffs in the division.
It almost seems like the Reds donít know whether to scrap the whole thing and start over and rebuild, or try and hang on for one last hurrah. Brandon Phillips rejected a trade to Washington this winter, Joey Votto is no longer as scary a threat at the plate and Jay Bruce is already reportedly on the trading block and we arenít even out of spring training yet. By default because everyone else seems to be hurt, Anthony DeSclafani has become the Reds ace Ö big shoes to fill for a second-year player. With their Cuban closer finishing games for the Yankees, the Reds donít even have an established closer for the games the Reds are leading in late innings.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers won the NL West last season with 92 wins but didnít get out of the divisional playoffs again so Don Mattingly was let go and the Dodgers promoted Dave Roberts to the manager role. Zach Grienke walked away to Arizona this winter so Clayton Kershaw will have Scott Kazmir as his new running mate atop the rotation. The Dodgers also paid for Kenta Maeda to come over from Japan, and his strong spring has him looking like a sneaky-good No. 3 starter. The only questions for the Dodgers are will Yasiel Puig ever get back to his rookie-year potential and will SS Corey Seager live up to the hype without playing in the spring due to a bad knee. Not much to worry about for Roberts.
San Diego Padres
The Padres were last yearís biggest spenders and boy was it an epic fail. But try and try again the Padres brought in Alexei Ramirez to play short and John Jay to play everyday in centerfield. Tyson Ross, James Shields and Andrew Cashner all form a poor manís top-notch rotation, all solid and underrated for what the bring to the mound. Fernando Rodney is the new closer, headlining a bullpen that could have some major questions if Rodneyís days are dwindling.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants proved only a few short years ago that they have the talent and pitching to win a title. This season the Giants will try and mix Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to rotation to team with Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy and Matt Cain. The Giants also added Denard Span in a questionable move that makes Angel Pagan have to move to leftfield, but with the rest of the lineup returning in tact to give them almost as much firepower as the Dodgers in the division. With Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo the bullpen is the kind of bullpen that wins pennants.
No longer content to watch the Dodgers and Giants own the NL West, the Diamondbacks made a big splash and hurt the rival Dodgers at the same time by signing Zach Grienke to be the ace of the staff. They also got Shelby Miller to team up with holdovers Paul Corbin and Rubby De La Rosa for a decent rotation with plenty of potential. The D-backs didnít do much to get Paul Goldschmidt help on offense, but Socrates Brito and Yasmany Tomas offer potential protection behind Goldschmidt. Getting Grienke was good, but I donít think itís going to be enough to break through this season in the desert.
Stop me if youíve heard this before, but if the Colorado Rockies could only find some really good starting pitching they could make some noise in the NL West. The Rockies will have plenty of offense, with Gerardo Parra joining the outfield of Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez and Nate Arenado and David LeMahieu just coming into their prime as two of the best (and quiet good) players at their positions. For the 15th year in a row Jorge De La Rosa is the Rockies ace Ö sigh. Finding someone to eat innings and become the Rockies best pitcher on the staff is still a task they canít seem to complete.
National League Pennant
Short Ė New York Mets +550 Ė Until the arms of deGrom, Harvey and Syndergaard fall off, Iím riding the Mets as my short to win the National League for years to come.
Middle Ė St. Louis Cardinals +1100 Ė So the Cardinals donít make it to the World Series and suddenly they are 11-to-1 for the NL pennant? Iím all over that for value, and if picking them is the jinx than all you Pirates and Cubs fans can thank me.
Long Ė San Diego Padres +5000 Ė Again, this is a long shot pick but I try not to make it a completely wasted pick either. I think the Padres rotation is underrated, and one of these days you know they are going to break through finally.
2016 World Series Predictions
Favorite Ė Los Angeles Dodgers +1100 Ė Sure the Dodgers lost Grienke, but I still think they have the deepest talent on the mound, at the plate and in the bullpen in the game right now.
Middle of the Road Ė Washington Nationals +1800 Ė They donít have the pitching depth of the Mets, but the Nationals have Harper and heís becoming the kind of player that puts teams on his back and wills his team to a title. If Strasburg can become dominate again, this is great value as a middle.
Longshot Ė Pittsburgh Pirates +2000 Ė At 20-to-1 it may or may not qualify as a long shot, but the Pirates are just as capable and deep and talented as anybody Iíve already picked in these spots and at incredible value. Fatten up your bankroll and bet your 2016 MLB picks for FREE by taking advantage of the generous 50% bonus offered at Bovada Sportsbook! You can deposit $500 and they will add $250 to your account! For smaller bankrolled players, you can deposit $100 and get $50 free. The best value is obviously with the biggest deposit that you can make up to $500. Free loot is good loot!
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