There are baseball diamonds everywhere.
This is the most exciting time of the year for baseball fans! The last month of the regular season is upon us and dramatic finishes are lined up for pretty much every league. Let me tbreak it down, map it out, and predict it, please.
As of Aug. 31 at noon, the pennant races for three of the six divisions are up for grabs.
The Chicago Cubs have easily ran away with the National League Central this year. Their versatile lineup, their genius of a manager (Joe Maddon) and their pitching rotation is marvelous to watch. The Washington Nationals have a nine-game lead over the New York Mets in the National League East. The Texas Rangers are currently 8.5 games up on the Houston Astros in the American League West.
The plot thickens in the remaining three divisions, the AL East and Central and the always-tough NL West.
The toughest division in the majors this season has been the AL East. The Toronto Blue Jays hold a slim lead over The Boston Red Sox. Boston in turn, barely leads the Baltimore Orioles for the top wildcard spot. The AL East will send these three teams to the post season, with the Jays as the winner of the pennant.
It seems everyone in Ohio is excited about the Cleveland Indians this season. However, don’t get too excited just yet. The Tribe is currently up on the always-pesky Detroit Tigers. The Tigers are in the hunt with the Orioles for the wildcard. The Indians and Tigers control their own fate, meeting seven more times this season. I say, Cleveland Indians are the 2016 AL Central Division Champions.
And then there is the NL West. The Los Angeles Dodgers are lead the struggling San Francisco Giants. This race seems to occur every season while the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks just sit back and try to play spoilers. The Dodgers will win the pennant out West, even with the history of the Giants winning it all in recent even numbered seasons (2010, 2012 and 2014).
Now I will take a second to bid adieu to the teams out of any playoff contention.
If I am proven wrong on these or any of this, I will admit it. The American League cellar welcomes the Oakland Athletics, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, and the Minnesota Twins. The Twins and Atlanta Braves are battling for the worst record in Major League Baseball. National League teams seeing their seasons end at the beginning of October are the Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, and the afor mentioned Atlanta Braves.
Now for the even better stuff, awards and playoff predictions! I know, this just keeps going and going …
The best pitching staff of this season has easily been the hurlers from the Chicago Cubs. From first to fifth, their rotation always seems to be on. The scariest lineup goes to the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Just a note, the Sox will more than likely finish the season in the top 10 in many of the important offensive statistics. Jose Altuve of Houston (AL) and Daniel Murphy from Washington (NL) will win the batting titles. Mark Trumbo from Baltimore will crack at least 50 home runs. Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion will bring in more than 120 runs. Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds will swipe more than 60 bases. The Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado will hit more than 40 HR and 120 RBI. Max Scherzer from the Nationals will be crowned the Cy Young Award winner in the NL. In the American League, that award will be in the hands of J.A. Happ from Toronto. After winning the NL Rookie of the Year award last year, Kris Bryant of the Cubs wins the Most Valuable Player. On the American League side of the MVP award, Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays repeats as he won the award last season.
How will it all end?
I wish that I could say the Red Sox will be the 2016 World Series Champions. Sadly, I can’t.
The American League
Boston and Baltimore will meet in game 163. The Sox edge out the Orioles and move on to play the top-seeded team in the American League, the Texas Rangers. The Cleveland Indians will have the unfortunate task of taking on the Toronto Blue Jays in their Divisional Series. The Red Sox and the Blue Jays will battle it out for the American League Championship. Much to my dismay, the Toronto Blue Jays will be the AL Champs.
The National League
Game 163 in the National League will be played by the San Francisco Giants against the St. Louis Cardinals, with the nod going to the Giants. That victory will match the Giants against the Chicago Cubs in which the Cubs will advance to the NLCS. The Los Angeles Dodgers will be put up against the Washington Nationals, with the Nationals advancing to take on the Cubs. The Cubs handle the Nationals and win the National League, moving on to play the Blue Jays in the World Series.
The World Series
One of the top lineups versus the top pitching rotation, every baseball fans dream! Even though I was very appalled at the expert’s predictions of the Cubs winning it all in the preseason, I have the Chicago Cubs as the 2016 World Champions, knocking off the Toronto Blue Jays in six games.