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2016 Major League Baseball Predictions

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In which I go out on the usual limb to pick this year's order of finish and playoff results.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season (this was originally going to run tomorrow, but with three regular-season games today, I moved it up). If you have been here for the last 11 years, you'll find this prediction format familiar -- and yes, you'll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.

I started this format more than 20 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you're here I don't need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs' best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you'll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the thirty contenders for October glory.

I'm also not going to "predict" award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Bryce Harper is a top choice to repeat as N.L. MVP or that Clayton Kershaw has a chance to with the N.L. Cy Young? Just before the 2015 season started, would you have predicted that Jake Arrieta would win the N.L. Cy Young Award? Last March, did you predict Dallas Keuchel would win the A.L. Cy Young in 2015? (No. No, you did not.)

And in any case, anyone using the search function here can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was. Further, looking back at the six years of predictions here from 2004-2009, I note that I picked the Cubs to make the playoffs every year and to win the World Series every one of those years except 2006. Obviously, that was the optimist in me, not the realist, and although they did make the postseason in two of those years, those predictions were... well, not so smart. I didn't make that choice the last six seasons, but now that the Cubs are an excellent team... well, read on.

I didn't do too well last year, not managing to get a single one of the A.L. playoff teams right (I had them third, fifth, third, fourth and fifth in their division), although I did pick right by selecting the Cubs as the second wild card. (Ignore the fact that I picked the Pirates to finish fourth.)  So, take these seriously, but not too seriously. I sure don't.

Without further ado, here are my choices for 2016. You are all welcome to leave your own picks in the comments.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1) WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Hitting: Impressive
Pitching: Deep
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Dusty Baker

2) NEW YORK METS (2nd wild card)
Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Excellent
Defense: Uh... next question please
Intangibles: Can they defend their league title?

3) MIAMI MARLINS
Hitting: Young
Pitching: Young
Defense: Young
Intangibles: Third by default

4) ATLANTA BRAVES
Hitting: What...
Pitching: ... is ...
Defense: ... this team doing?
Intangibles: The last year at Turner Field

5) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Hitting: New
Pitching: Mixed-up
Defense: Pretty good
Intangibles: Spiffy new management


NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CHICAGO CUBS
Hitting: Depth everywhere
Pitching: Solid
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Joe Maddon, as always

2) PITTSBURGH PIRATES (1st wild card)
Hitting: Good
Pitching: Troubling
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Can't seem to get past the wild-card game

3) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Hitting: Uncertain
Pitching: Uncertain
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Is this the year it falls apart in St. Louis?

4) CINCINNATI REDS
Hitting: Traded away
Pitching: Rookies
Defense: Mediocre
Intangibles: Saved from last by the Brewers

5) MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Hitting: Traded away
Pitching: Uh...
Defense: Okay, I guess
Intangibles: They'll fight it out with the Reds for last place

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Hitting: Very good
Pitching: Bolstered by free agency
Defense: Solid
Intangibles: If I said "even-numbered year" it would be a cliche, so: Bruce Bochy

2) LOS ANGELES DODGERS
Hitting: Expensive
Pitching: Even more expensive
Defense: Improved
Intangibles: Spiffy new manager

3) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Hitting: Suddenly, not quite so good
Pitching: Suddenly, excellent
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Starting to put a solid crew together

4) SAN DIEGO PADRES
Hitting: Uncertain
Pitching: Not really
Defense: OK, I guess
Intangibles: No real direction

5) COLORADO ROCKIES
Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Pitching: Lots of home runs! F -- oh, wait.
Defense: In that ballpark?
Intangibles: Worst team in the N.L.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1) TORONTO BLUE JAYS
Hitting: Powerful
Pitching: Not quite so powerful
Defense: Fair
Intangibles: Will win when they hit

2) BOSTON RED SOX (2nd wild card)
Hitting: Retiring
Pitching: Ramped up
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Seem to actually want to win

3) NEW YORK YANKEES
Hitting: Old
Pitching: Rotation, shaky; bullpen, deep
Defense: Uh...
Intangibles: At some point, the winning stops

4) BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Returning
Defense: Returning
Intangibles: It's an even-numbered year so... never mind. .500 again.

5) TAMPA BAY RAYS
Hitting: OK
Pitching: Decent
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Could be close to .500 even in last place

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) KANSAS CITY ROYALS
Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Man, that bullpen...
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Once again, Ned Yost. Good? Bad? Both?

2) CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Hitting: Improved
Pitching: The same
Defense: Uh...
Intangibles: I don't know. This team just... something's missing.

3) MINNESOTA TWINS
Hitting: Young
Pitching: Next question, please
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Surprising last year. Can they improve on that?

4) CLEVELAND INDIANS
Hitting: Solidifying
Pitching: Could be very good... or not
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Just never quite seem to put it together

5) DETROIT TIGERS
Hitting: Aging
Pitching: Whither Verlander?
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Mike Ilitch can't live forever. (Or can he?)

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1) TEXAS RANGERS
Hitting: Very good
Pitching: Whither Darvish?
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Surprise division title last year. Can they repeat?

2) HOUSTON ASTROS (1st wild card)
Hitting: Young and improving
Pitching: Surprising
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: The Cubs of the A.L.

3) LOS ANGELES ANGELS
Hitting: Old
Pitching: Broken-down
Defense: Nope
Intangibles: Lots of money tied up here in old players

4) SEATTLE MARINERS
Hitting: Good
Pitching: Good
Defense: Good
Intangibles: That's the problem. Just good. Not much more.

5) OAKLAND ATHLETICS
Hitting: Who needs hitting?
Pitching: Sonny Gray and what army?
Defense: Better than you'd think
Intangibles: No Billy Beane miracle this year

N.L.: Pirates over Mets in wild-card game. Cubs over Pirates, Giants over Nationals in division series. Cubs over Giants in NLCS.

A.L.: Astros over Red Sox in wild-card game. Blue Jays over Royals, Rangers over Astros in division series. Rangers over Blue Jays in ALCS.

World Series: The Cubs head to Texas to play in their first World Series in 71 years... and win it over the Rangers. Yes, it says here: The Chicago Cubs will be the 2016 World Series champions.