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Predicting 2016 MLB division winners and assorted bold predictions

It's time to turn clairvoyant and predict the 2016 season.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

We're just a few days away from the beginning of the season. That means it's prediction time! We did this last year. As far as I know, we predicted everything accurately (I haven't checked). Let's dig in to see just how right we'll be this season. First, I polled 17 Purple Row staffers, who were asked to rank each division, from top to bottom. The final results below are the weighted averages. After that, we'll look at some bold predictions from the Purple Row staff.

Let's start with the most familiar division. The margin of joker-induced error is 1:

NL West (first place votes)

1 Dodgers (10)
2 Giants (5)
3 Diamondbacks (1)
4 Rockies (1)
5 Padres (0)

While the Giants and Diamondbacks made splashy acquisitions this offseason, the Purple Row staff still mostly thinks that the Dodgers will take the division. If they do, it will be on the strength of their depth, though that is already being tested this spring.

I also asked the staff to offer a predicted win total. The average guess is 75 wins, though that is skewed by the 96 win prediction some joker made. What a joker. 68 was the low, most hovered in the low to mid-70s, and a few staffers believe the Rockies will crack 80 wins. On the whole, these predictions weren't far off from the few season simulations we discussed recently. And, I must admit, we even found a 90 win season, so maybe the staffer who predicted a division title is focusing on the "probable" part of "improbable."

The rest of the NL:

NL Central

1 Cubs (13)
2 Pirates (3)
3 Cardinals (1)
4 Brewers (0)
5 Reds (0)

NL East
1 Mets (10)
2 Nationals (7)
3 Marlins (0)
4 Braves (0)
5 Phillies (0)

People really like the Cubs. While I can't blame them, I think the Pirates are still poised to be really competitive in the NL Central. The Cardinals seem in between, but few people will be surprised if they magic their way to another division title. In the NL East, the Mets edge out the Nationals for the division. The Mets have an outstanding collection of starters, but they aren't offensive slouches either. Michael Conforto, in particular, looks like he could have a breakout year on offense. The Nationals still made it a contest here. Remember, they have Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg atop their rotation to go along with the best hitter in the NL. They were also a favorite World Series pick just a year ago.

To the junior circuit

AL West

1 Astros (9)
2 Rangers (3)
3 Angels (4)
4 Mariners (0)
5 A's (1)

AL Central
1 Royals (6)
2 Indians (6)
3 Tigers (3)
4 Twins (1)
5 White Sox (1)

AL East

1 Blue Jays (8)
2 Red Sox (7)
3 Yankees (1)
4 Rays (1)
5 Orioles (0)

The AL is really difficult to predict. No team seems great, while none of them appear particularly bad, either. The staff is voting for youth in the West, giving the nod to the young Astros over the defending division winners, the Rangers. We're split in the Central. Cleveland was a hot pick last season. Though they never ended up contending, they are bringing back the high-ceiling pitching staff they had last season. The Blue Jays edge the Red Sox in the East. Toronto's starting shortstop might have something to do with that. They're also very good though.

As for the World Series, a lot of different teams got a vote. The aforementioned joker predicted that the Rockies would win the National and American League pennants, presumably it would be the first time that happens (I haven't checked) en route to a World Series victory. (I'm not doing this anonymously next year.) Ultimately, though, the plurality of vote casters have the Cubs defeating the Astros in the World Series. It wasn't my pick, but that would be a really fun matchup.


I asked the Purple Row staff to offer some bold predictions for the season. The only condition for inclusion here was that they should be truly bold. I'm not including Bobby's prediction that Tony Wolters will make the Opening Day roster because I'm pretty sure Bobby would also choose Wolters in the "who is Superman?" survey. Onward to the predictions, where we can judge their boldness.

A segment of the predictions were about surprising offensive performances. Bryan said that Charlie Blackmon will lead the team in adjusted offense, while Ryan Freemyer predicted that Blackmon would have a higher adjusted offense than Nolan Arenado. These are two in the same, and they should be viewed as Blackmon endorsements rather than marks against Arenado. My bold prediction is that Arenado will hit 30 or fewer home runs, but that he'll still have a better season. Here, I'm banking on improvements regarding his walk rate.

A sub-category of offense is home run predictions. Isaac believes that Trevor Story will hit 25 or more home runs, while Bobby asserts that Mark Reynolds will hit 35 or more. On the opposite end, I think Reynolds will hit fewer than 20, though I wouldn't be surprised if one or two travel more than 450 feet. Moving farther afield, Nick predicts that Corey Dickerson will hit more than 30 home runs for the Rays.

In the Wins Above Replacement division, we can find some optimistically bold predictions. Tom thinks that Gerardo Parra and Ryan Raburn will give the Rockies 3 WAR from left field. Ryan F. believes that the Rockies will produce more than 3 WAR from the shortstop position, while Ryan Schoppe ups him and maintains that Story will produce more WAR than Troy Tulowitzki. With perhaps the boldest of these predictions, Charlie thinks that David Dahl will play his way to center field this season and produce 1.5 or more WAR.

In the pitching division, we have a mix of optimistic and pessimistic predictions. Ryan F. thinks that Jorge De La Rosa will finally show his age and post an ERA over 5.00. Similarly, Bobby asserts that Adam Ottavino will also have an ERA north of 5.00, and that he'll have no saves this season. On the sunnier side, Carolyn sees Tyler Matzek back in the rotation in late July, while Isaac predicts that Miguel Castro will be the team's closer after Jake McGee is traded. Speaking of McGee, Bobby thinks he'll post an ERA under 2.50. He'd be just the seventh reliever in team history to do so (min. 40 IP).

In the awards category, Ryan S. predicts Story to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award (I'll throw my weight behind this bold prediction as well), while Carolyn thinks that four Rockies will win Gold Glove awards. She wants to focus on the number rather than the players, but Carolyn admitted that she thinks one of the winners will be Chad Bettis. And in maybe the boldest of these, Tim says that Nolan Arenado will win the NL MVP. It'll be easier for him to do that on a 96 win team rather than a 68 win team, of course.

There you have it, readers, the right and true assessment of the 2016 season, with some bold predictions sprinkled in. Dispute these predictions in the comments below, and add your own predictions—the bolder the better.