Posted on May 9, 2016 by Ammiel Cornes
The baseball season is progressing after around 30 games each have occurred and we have learnt loads about each teams’ credentials and potential in their 2016 campaigns. Let’s now have a closer look at each division, and the issues they face if they are to advance towards a successful season.
None of these teams have yet flexed absolute contenders’ muscles just yet, although I posit that the Blue Jays are the closest to being able to do so. Toronto looks rather strong in offense although the loss of Colabello for 80 games is significant. Perhaps the most pressing need though come waiver deadline will be rotation help, once Sanchez is relegated to bullpen duties with his innings limitations. A package something like they put together to acquire David Price would be ideal if possible, although as yet clear targets are not available. Tampa Bay appear to me to be the quiet achievers of the division, and could continue to contend, probably for a wildcard offseason berth. The Rays have good depth across the board, and could even look to cash in on a prospect as they look for a higher quality catcher or infielder at the deadline.
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Baltimore need their young pitchers such as Gausman, Wilson and Wright to provide quality starts throughout the season if they are to contend and utilize the awesome power bats they have to their fullest capabilities. The Yankees are in a world of hurt, and are staring down the barrel of a bad losing season, as their offense appears a bit stale and pitching stocks are very thin. Boston are definitely capable of giving Ortiz a fairytale ending to his epic career, however I think another pitcher for the rotation and an outfield bat may be needed to contend with Toronto once they start rolling.
AL CENTRAL DIVISION
This division is lively and sure to go down to the wire, with Cleveland, Kansas and the White Sox all more than capable of taking the pennant. The White Sox have the offense needed, but I think they need another starting pitcher to really concrete themselves in this tough division. Kansas face an unlikely task of repeating their last 2 seasons and going to a 3rd straight World Series, and look to be battling a little. A power bat seems necessary for them, although when they start playing like they have in recent years they are defiantly capable of success. Cleveland meanwhile has the starting pitching to win it all, with the questions remaining coming from the bullpen and infield.
Detroit remain a powerful player in this division, but just look to be a quality pitcher and a bigger infield bat short of their divisional rivals. Although, owner Mike Ilitch spent big in the offseason, I don’t think it is their year as other teams look to have more all-round quality. The Twins look shot already and would surprise everyone if they got back into the conversation, with their pitching woes the centre of the problems.
AL WEST DIVISION
These teams are among the most difficult to get a read on in baseball, as injuries and form have ravaged the early weeks of their seasons. Houston is sure to improve, there is simply just too much talent on their side to be 12-20, and would surprise if they don’t get back into the divisional race. Meanwhile, Seattle could potentially keep this form going and advance to the post-season, simply due to the fact that they have hugely talented players across the board. Texas will be there or thereabouts as they continue the form that led them well into October last season, particularly if Yu Darvish can return to the pitcher he was before Tommy John surgery in 2014.
Oakland and the Angels look like they could be the teams left behind in this division, particularly LA as they lost Richards and Heaney for long periods with elbow/forearm issues. Oakland will hope that Henderson Alvarez can return to good form, after losing Bassitt, but will still need more consistent offense and defence from their positional players.
NL EAST DIVISION
This division looks set to be the most exciting in all of baseball, with Washington and New York, both likely to win 90 games easily. The Mets are suddenly stocked up on power bats and their rotation is the best in baseball, while the Nationals aren’t far behind. The Marlins are a real improver in my eyes, with the addition of Mattingly to take control, they have a real chance to compete for a wildcard, however the loss of Dee Gordon is major. The key performance indicators for Miami rely heftily upon young rotation pieces Tom Koehler and Adam Conley; if they succeed the team will make the offseason.
Philadelphia is improved and look like they have nuisance value and I don’t think they will go away this year, but they aren’t likely to make the postseason either. Young pitching acquisitions such as Vincent Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer combined with local products Nola and Eickhoff look as though they can become a formidable core to the rotation for years to come. Atlanta are shot with the worst record in baseball, and need only be mentioned in considering trade targets for contending teams.
NL CENTRAL DIVISION
The Cubs look like running away with this division, and could easily smash 100 wins as they look unstoppable at present. A superb rotation, with power bats and stunning defenders makes them a team that can only beat themselves, if injuries or suspensions were incurred. St Louis has a young team that will remain inconsistent, but will improve as the year goes on, and will surely be contending for one of the wildcard berths. The Pirates are in a similar boat to the Cardinals, and have plenty of upside with their young outfield the strength of the franchise. Another pitching reclamation project for Ray Searage which succeeded would be ideal for them, as would a healthy infield. For the Brewers and Reds fans it will be a long miserable 2016 campaign, as the re-building continues and little optimism can be found.
NL WEST DIVISION
Perhaps the most changed division in the offseason, these teams look as though mediocrity might befall them all, and whoever does prevail will be up against elite teams in early October. The Dodgers seem to be lacking an elite bat to really aid Gonzalez to dominate, but Puig is becoming that, while pitching remains and unknown beyond Kershaw. Maeda started brilliantly, but Kazmir and Stripling have struggled somewhat, a fit Ryu would be a major plus. The Giants have 3 good pitchers and 2 that are really struggling, which appears to mean a mediocre season awaits, even though they have great bats and defence all through the lineup.
Arizona appear to be still developing their young positional players, while Greinke has settled in as their genuine ace, but most of the rest of the rotation doesn’t look good yet. It appears to be a stretch to imagine them contending, although a big run late in the season particularly if Pollock can return isn’t unfeasible. Colorado and San Diego look destined for another season toiling, for the Rockies they just need pitching and can’t get it with the unfriendly home field, while the Padres look ordinary throughout their roster.