Tag Archives: Reds

3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Milwaukee Brewers

Our look at the NL Central teams, part of our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season, continues with the Milwaukee Brewers, who finished in fourth place in the division last season.

The Brewers are coming off of two straight fourth-place finishes in which they finished more than 30 games back of the division champs. They had a fairly quiet offseason, with the most impactful move possibly being adding RP Neftali Feliz to serve as their closer. The team also made a trade that sent RP Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox in exchange for a package highlighted by 3B Travis Shaw. The team also traded for C Jett Bandy, who is essentially replacing C Jonathan Lucroy, who the Brewers traded to the Rangers at the trade deadline last season. OF Ryan Braun continues to be a veteran presence on a largely inexperienced team.

The Brewers struggled offensively in 2016, with their .244 team average ending up as the fourth-worst in Major League Baseball. They were better with their power, hitting 194 home runs, which was higher than the MLB average of 187, which helped them finish around the middle of the league with a .729 OPS; 41 of those home runs were hit by 1B Chris Carter, who is now with the Yankees. Braun had his best season since 2012 at the plate, hitting .305 — 10th in the National League — with 30 home runs and a .903 OPS, which was ninth-best in the NL. SS Jonathan Villar, who is sliding over to second base this season, hit .285 with 19 home runs, but his biggest value came on the bases, collecting a MLB-best 62 steals, which helped him earn a 3.9 WAR. With the Red Sox last season, Shaw hit .242 with 16 home runs.

The pitching staff finished a bit better than league average with a 4.08 ERA, but the pitchers had the third-fewest strikeouts in the majors with 1,175, and the bullpen recorded an above-average 46 saves. SP Junior Guerra led the staff with a 2.81 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. SP Jimmy Nelson led the team in strikeouts with 140 in 179.1 innings while posting a 4.62 ERA. SP Zach Davies had a 3.97 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 163.1 innings. RP Jeremy Jeffress recorded 27 saves with a 2.22 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 44.2 innings over 47 games. With the Pirates, Feliz struck out 61 batters in 53.2 innings to go along with a 3.52 ERA.

Going from Lucroy to Bandy, who hit .234 in limited playing time with the Angels last year, is a significant offensive downgrade at the catcher position, but putting Shaw in at third in place of Aaron Hill should provide the team with more power at the hot corner, but probably not enough to make up for Lucroy’s lost production. Braun is likely a key to how successful the offense will be in 2017. He had somewhat of a rebirth at the plate last season and the team needs him to repeat his performance this season to have any chance of a good offense in 2017, but it would hurt the team if Braun regresses toward the numbers he had been putting up in the 2013-2015 time frame because the team counts on him to be its leader at the plate.

The pitching staff lacks a true ace, with Guerra slotted into the No. 1 spot. He pitched well last year in his rookie season, so if he can pitch to a sub-3.00 ERA again in 2017 he could earn that “ace” label, but I need to see him do it again before believing it. Davies is going to have to see a significant improvement this season to solidify the No. 2 position in the rotation because posting a nearly-4.00 ERA doesn’t cut it in the NL. Veteran SP Matt Garza sits at the backend of the rotation, but don’t expect him to last there all season. He is coming off of two mediocre seasons and will likely wind up in the bullpen at some point, giving way to a another pitcher to get a chance to start — probably Chase Anderson, who made 30 starts last season but currently is listed sixth on the starting-pitching depth chart. Feliz is coming off of the two worst seasons of his career so he may not last the full season as the closer, but there’s no young prospect behind him in the bullpen waiting for the opportunity to replace him.

While the Cubs and Cardinals are at the top of the division, the Brewers will again be battling with the Reds to avoid finishing in the basement in the NL Central. They just don’t have enough talent to win enough games to be competitive. If they’re lucky, they may win 70-75 games, but that may even be a little on the high side of expectations.

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below. And be sure to subscribe, check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.brewers.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Cincinnati Reds

The next NL Central team up in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2017 season is the Cincinnati Reds, who finished in last place in the division last season.

The Reds, coming off a 68-win season, have finished in last place in the division each of the last two seasons, and are clearly in rebuilding mode. Last month, they traded veteran 2B Brandon Phillips to the Braves for a couple of minor leaguers and earlier in the winter traded SP Dan Straily to the Marlins. Their biggest acquisition this offseason was RP Drew Storen, who provides a veteran presence in the bullpen and could compete for the closer’s role, a position he has experience in from his time with the Nationals. Phillips’ departure leaves 1B Joey Votto as the only experienced position player in the starting lineup. Replacing Phillips at second is speedy Jose Peraza, with more speed in the outfield represented by Billy Hamilton. SP Anthony DeSclafani looked like he might be on track to lead the rotation — which also includes SP Scott Feldman, who the Reds signed to a one-year contract in January — but he has been shut down for a month with a torn UCL sprain, so he’ll be starting the season on the DL.

The Reds’ .256 batting average last season was just above the MLB average of .255, but they were in the bottom 10 with 164 home runs and a .724 OPS. Thanks to Peraza and Hamilton, the team ranked second in the majors with 139 steals. Votto’s .326 average led the team, and he hit 29 home runs for a .985 OPS. OF Adam Duvall hit 33 home runs, the most on the club, but hit just .241 with a .795 OPS. 3B Eugenio Suarez hit .248 with 21 home runs in his first full season in the majors. Peraza hit .324 and stole 21 bases in 72 games, while Hamilton swiped 58 bases, which was the second-most in the majors.

The team’s 4.91 ERA was tied for third-worst in the majors and the pitching staff’s 1,241 strikeouts were in the bottom half of the league. The bullpen recorded just 28 saves, which was the fewest in the National League and second-fewest overall in the majors. DeSclafani posted a 3.28 ERA with 105 strikeouts in 123.1 innings over the course of 20 starts. SP Brandon Finnegan put up a 3.98 ERA and struck out 145 batters in 172 innings in 31 starts. RP Tony Cingrani led the bullpen with 17 saves in 65 appearances. His 4.14 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 63 innings don’t stand out as part of a particularly successful season. In 37 games, RP Raisel Iglesias recorded 83 strikeouts in 78.1 innings with 6 saves and a 2.53 ERA. With the Blue Jays and Mariners, Storen pitched in 57 games last season with a career-worst 5.23 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 51.2 innings; he also added 3 saves to his career total.

Without adding any big-name hitters after trading away Phillips, the Reds are likely going to remain an average to below-average offense this season. You would expect Votto to exhibit power again this year, but Duvall likely won’t be able to repeat the 33-homer season he had a year ago. Having Peraza and Hamilton on the basepaths with their speed doesn’t benefit the Reds as much as it could other teams since they can’t capitalize on having the runners on base as much as they should. The pitching staff is mediocre for the most part, lacking both a proven ace and closer. The team has SP Homer Bailey waiting in the wings as he recovers from offseason elbow surgery, but he likely won’t be able to pitch until June at the earliest. Iglesias is probably the best option to close games, but he has virtually no experience in the role so it’s a gamble as to whether he would succeed as the closer. Storen has closing experience — he’s just a couple saves shy of 100 for his career — but he didn’t have a good year in 2016 and the Reds may not want him closing out games.

The Reds are likely still the worst team in the Central and playing in the same division as the World Series champion Cubs obviously won’t do them any favors. If their young players can develop into stars, the Reds could be good in a few years but for now they’re just a bad team that will finish another season well under .500.

Let me know your thoughts by commenting below. And be sure to subscribe, check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.reds.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: New York Mets

Up next in our preview of all 30 MLB teams, leading up to the start of the 2017 season, are the New York Metswho finished in second place in the NL East last season

 

A season after losing to the Royals in the World Series the Mets had an 87-win season in 2016, finishing behind the Nationals in the division, and losing to the Giants in the National League Wild Card game in the playoffs. The Mets didn’t make any notable moves in the offseason. They lost SP Bartolo Colon in free agency, opening up a spot in their starting rotation, which has high upside with the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey, who is coming off an injury that limited him to 17 starts last season and ending his season in early July. Barring an injury SP Steven Matz should be able to get 30-plus starts for the first time in his major league career, which could provide a boost to the pitching staff if he can pitch well out of the No. 4 spot in the rotation. OF Yoenis Cespedes will likely be relied upo to lead the offense with injury questions surrounding veteran 3B David Wright, who had to leave spring training early to head back to New York to have doctors look at a shoulder injury, which could prevent him from being ready for Opening Day.

The Mets ranked near the bottom of the majors with a .246 average last season but their 218 home runs were fifth-best among the 30 teams. Cespedes and OF Curtis Granderson led the team with 31 and 30 home runs, respectively, while 2B Neil Walker‘s .282 average was tops among the team’s starting position players. Cespedes’ 31 home runs put him in a tie for the ninth most in the National League and his .530 slugging percentage was also ninth in the NL. 3B Jose Reyes, who played 60 games with the team as a midseason free-agent signing, had one of his best seasons in recent years, hitting .267 with 8 home runs. Young OF Michael Conforto showed some power last season, hitting 12 home runs in 304 at-bats, but hit just .220 and struck out 89 times. On the mound, Syndergaard had one of the best seasons among all major league pitchers, posting a 2.60 ERA with 218 strikeouts in 183.2 innings while compiling a 14-9 record. His 6.0 WAR ranked sixth among all players in the NL. The Mets also saw a good year out of deGrom, who had a 3.04 ERA in an injury-shortened season during which he threw 148 innings in 24 starts, striking out 143. Harvey, who was limited to just 92.2 innings put up a disappointing 4.86 ERA and struck out just 76 batters. Closer Jeurys Familia recorded 51 saves in 56 opportunities. He notched 84 strikeouts and a 2.55 ERA over 77.2 innings.

Heading into this season, the Mets need to get more consistent at getting on base, they can’t rely on the long ball as much as they did last year. A key piece to the offense will be OF Jay Bruce, who struggled at the plate after being traded by the Reds to the Mets at the trade deadline. Bruce is the projected starter in right field, but he may not hold that job long if he doesn’t improve upon the .219 he hit in his 50 games with the team last season. Conforto is lurking behind Bruce on the depth chart, waiting to take over for the veteran if he can’t perform to the Mets’ expectations. It might be hard for Syndergaard to repeat his performance from last season, but if he can even come close to that he’ll be a strong ace of a young rotation. The questions come with the rest of the starters, including whether Harvey is fully recovered from his injury and can make it through the full season and if Matz can handle a full-season workload after throwing 132 innings in the majors last season. The Mets shouldn’t have much concern about their bullpen, with Familia coming off two seasons with 43 and 51 saves. The caveat with that is a possible suspension looming for Familia, who was arrested for domestic violence last year. If he misses time for that, RPs Addison Reed or Hansel Robles would likely to get the bulk of the save opportunities in his absence.

The Mets and Nationals should continue to fight for the top spot in the East this season, though the Mets are likely going to be on the worse end of that battle if the offense doesn’t pick things up. The team will likely have to rely on the starting rotation to keep them in games and help them get victories if they want to make it to the playoffs for a third straight season.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Sources: http://www.mets.com, http://www.baseball-reference.com

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3rd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Atlanta Braves

Over the course of the next 30 days (or so) I will be previewing all 30 MLB teams, leading up to the start of the 2017 season. The series begins with a preview of the Atlanta Braves, who finished in last place in the NL East last season.

The Braves may be looking to the future by opening a new ballpark this season, but they were looking at the past with their offseason additions by acquiring veteran pitchers. In November, the Braves signed 40-something SPs R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon. Then in December, the Braves traded three prospects to the Cardinals in exchange for SP Jaime Garcia, who is coming off of a rare healthy season. That trio will slot into the middle of the rotation, behind SP Julio Teheran at the top of the rotation and a No. 5 role that will likely be determined during spring training. Just days before the start of spring training, the Braves sent a couple of minor leaguers to the Reds in exchange for veteran 2B Brandon Phillips. More exciting for Braves fans is SS Dansby Swanson, a former No. 1 draft pick who the Braves acquired from the Diamondbacks prior to the 2016 season, who should get his first full season in the majors in 2017.

The Braves are in rebuilding mode, coming off a 68-win season and last-place finish a year after winning just 67 games. The Braves’ .255 batting average last season was a slight improvement from 2015 and right on the average among all 30 MLB teams last season. They ranked last in the majors with just 122 home runs on the season and next-to-last with 615 RBI. They also ranked near the bottom of the league in OPS, which all helped lead to a second-worst 649 runs on the season. Their best hitter was 1B Freddie Freeman, who hit .302 with 34 home runs and a .968 OPS that was the third-highest in the National League. His 6.5 WAR also placed him third among all players in the NL. Swanson showed some promising signs in his limited time in the majors, hitting .302 with 3 home runs in 129 at-bats.

Teheran led a starting rotation that was among the worst in the majors. Despite posting a 3.21 ERA over 188 innings, he had his first sub-.500 season with a 7-10 record due in large part to the lack of run support from the Braves’ struggling offense. Teheran’s 1.053 WHIP was the fifth-lowest in the NL and his 4.8 WAR ranked 10th among National League pitchers. None of the team’s other regular starters finished the year with an ERA better than 4.31, with that mark held by SP Mike Foltynewicz, who appears to be the favorite to land the No. 5 spot in the rotation to begin the season. The team’s 39 saves was a few below the MLB average, with RP Jim Johnson leading the team with 20 saves over 65 appearances. His 3.06 ERA was higher than you’d like to see from a closer.

Looking ahead to 2017, the Braves will be relying on Swanson and Phillips — who they traded for to replace 2B Sean Rodriguez, who is expected to miss three to five months after being injured in a car accident — to help their offense have a better season than the production their hitters put up in 2016 because the rest of their lineup is the same as last year and not very inspiring. Likewise with the rotation. Teheran should put up good numbers at the top of the rotation, but the recently acquired starters all have question marks associated with them. Dickey and Colon are both in their 40s and the former is coming off his worst season since 2013. And while Garcia started 30 games last season — just the second time in his seven-year career he made at least 30 starts — he had a career-worst 4.67 ERA and gave up 26 home runs. If he can’t get his ERA closer to the 3.00-3.50 range, that won’t be good for a Braves team that is expecting him to be able to perform well in the middle of the rotation. Johnson had his best season in a while in 2016 but he’s not an elite closer and probably doesn’t have a long leash if he doesn’t get off to a good start in the season because RP Arodys Vizcaino, who saved 10 games in 14 chances last season, is lurking behind him on the depth chart.

With the moves the Braves made this offseason, they are an improved team and should do better than they have the past couple seasons, but that doesn’t mean they’ll compete for the NL East title. The Mets and Nationals are still the cream of the crop of the division and the Braves will likely be fighting with the Phillies for the bottom two spots in the rotation. The Braves are probably about a 75-win team this season. Better than last season but still a year or two away from competing for a playoff spot.

Be sure to check back every day around 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Sources: http://www.atlantabraves.com, http://www.baseball-reference.com

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The Nationals celebrate a win

MLB Weekly: Chicago teams winning, Harper and the Nats stay hot

With another week in the books, it’s time to take a look back at the last seven days and see what lies ahead for next week in MLB Weekly. As we head into May next weekend, the Cubs and Nationals are tied for the most wins in baseball, with 14 apiece, while the White Sox are surprising many, just a game behind with 13.

Looking Back

The Nationals continued their hot start, going 5-2 last week, largely behind the bat of OF Bryce Harper, who hit 3 home runs this week, including as a pinch-hitter today after getting the day off to rest. That game eventually went to 16 innings, with the Nats winning on a walk-off home run by OF Chris Heisey. The Cubs also went 5-2 in a week that included SP Jake Arrieta throwing his second no-hitter in the last two seasons, a game in which the Cubs beat the Reds 16-0 on Thursday.

The Cubs aren’t the only team winning in the Windy City. The White Sox, who were 76-86 last season, are off to a 13-6 record, leading the defending World Series champion Royals in the AL Central. SP Chris Sale is having his typically good season on the mound, 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 26 strikeouts. He’s not the only pitcher on the team who is 4-0, though; SP Mat Latos, after winning today, has the same record and an even lower ERA — 0.74. As the season continues, we’ll see if Latos is for real. The ERA will likely go up, but if he can keep it below 3.00, he’ll make a strong 1-2 combo with Sale.

The Orioles are still leading the AL East at 11-6. It’s the offense continuing to do the damage for the Orioles, led by 1B Chris Davis, OF Mark Trumbo and 3B Manny Machado; Davis and Trumbo each have 6 home runs so far, while Machado has 5 and a .380 batting average, while Trumbo is hitting .373.

The Astros continue to be the most disappointing team in the majors thus far, with just six wins entering Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox. The Astros still have not won back-to-back games, with much of their lack of success due to the pitching staff, which has an AL-worst 4.94 ERA. Even reigning AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is just 2-2 with a 3.71 ERA. No one else in the starting rotation has a sub-4.00 ERA. The Astros had a chance to make up ground in the AL West this week, playing a three-game series at Texas, but the Rangers swept that series. The Rangers then got swept by the White Sox this weekend, allowing the A’s to tie Texas for the division lead at 10-9.

The Week Ahead

The series to keep an eye on early in the week is the White Sox visiting the Blue Jays Monday through Wednesday. It’s a battle between the AL Central leaders and the team many picked to win the AL East. At 10-10, the Blue Jays are in second in the East, 2.5 games behind the Orioles, who have played three fewer games than Toronto. After Toronto, the White Sox travel to Baltimore for a four-game set against the Orioles. With seven games against Toronto and Baltimore, the White Sox could face their biggest test of the season thus far. If they do well, it could mean their hot start is for real. If they falter, it could be a sign they are pretenders more than contenders the rest of the way.

There are some pitching performances to pay attention to on Monday, with Orioles SP Kevin Gausman coming off the DL to make his first start of the season and Diamondbacks SP Zack Greinke, who has a disappointing 5.25 ERA, looking to get on the right track in a tough matchup with the Cardinals. Tuesday could see a good pitching matchup in D.C., with SP Vincent Velasquez, who has had a couple of impressive starts early this season, going for the Phillies against SP Max Scherzer and the hot Nationals. Wednesday, Arrieta tries to complete “the Vander Meer” with back-to-back no-hitters; he faces the Brewers at home.

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2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: Over/under and playoff picks

Now that we’ve previewed the 2016 season of all 30 MLB teams, let’s take a look at how the season is going to play out. In this post, we’ll be analyzing Vegas over/under totals for each team and pick the teams that will make the playoffs.

NL East

Atlanta Braves: 66.5
They won 67 games last year and added some pieces to their offense, like SS Erick Aybar, but lost their best pitcher in SP Shelby Miller. Overall, I think they’ll win at least as many games as they did last year, which would be an Over.

Miami Marlins: 79.5
They have one of the best power hitters in OF Giancarlo Stanton and a good young pitcher with SP Jose Fernandez, who should be in the running for the Cy Young Award if he can stay healthy. Stanton is surrounded by some young hitters. I think 79.5 is too many wins, so I’m going Under.

New York Mets: 89.5
Again, this number basically equals the 90 games the Mets won last season. They’ll have OF Yoenis Cespedes for the whole season, plus one of the best starting rotations in the league, led by SPs Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. They’ll play a lot of games against bad teams in the Braves and Mets. I think they can get back to 90, so this is another Over.

Philadelphia Phillies: 65.5
The Phillies are a bad team. They won 63 games last season. They lost a key piece of their offense with the departure of OF Ben Revere and they don’t have  a good pitching staff, which could be a problem when playing teams like the Mets and Nationals. Under.

Washington Nationals: 89.5
They’re going to compete with the Mets for the best team in the division. OF Bryce Harper is one of the best hitters in the majors, and they added Revere to their offense. They’ll likely get more out of OF Jayson Werth than they did last season. On the mound, they have SPs Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. They have a good team, and I’ll go Over.

AL East

Baltimore Orioles: 79.5
The Orioles have some good hitters — namely 1B Chris Davis and 3B Manny Machado — but lack a great rotation. Closer Zach Britton can get the job done to finish games when the starters give him a lead. They won 81 last year, I think they can get up to 80 this year so that’s an Over.

Boston Red Sox: 86.5
We’re looking at a big number for a team that won 78 games in 2015, but adding SP David Price is huge for the rotation. If OF Hanley Ramirez can bounce back from a difficult season last year, that would be a key piece for the Red Sox to turn things around. I think they’ll finish above .500 in DH David Ortiz‘s last season before retirement, but I don’t think they’re quite to 87 wins yet so I’m going Under.

New York Yankees: 85.5
The Yankees are an old team. I don’t think anyone expects DH Alex Rodriguez to come close to the numbers he put up last year. There are question marks in the rotation, especially with veteran SP CC Sabathia, but they have a strong bullpen in the late innings. They won 87 games last year, but I think they’re going Under this year.

Tampa Bay Rays: 81.5
SP Chris Archer proved himself to be one of the best pitchers in the majors last season, but they don’t have much else in the rotation. Outside of 3B Evan Longoria, the Rays don’t have many big-time hitters. After winning 80 games last year, I think they’re around 80-81 again so it’ll be close, but I’m going Under.

Toronto Blue Jays: 87.5
The Blue Jays won 93 games last season, and I don’t see them being much worse this season, especially with SP Marcus Stroman healthy. They still have the reigning AL MVP with 3B Josh Donaldson and OF Jose Bautista. I’m surprised this number is so low because I think they’re winning more than 90 again,so this is an easy Over.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: 92.5
Many people are all-in on the Cubs this season, after winning 97 games last season. SP Jake Arrieta  and 3B Kris Bryant are expected to lead the way again this season. It’s a tough division with the Pirates and Cardinals there, but I’ve got to go Over with the Cubs.

Cincinnati Reds: 70.5
The Reds won 64 games last season, and I don’t see how they’re much better this year. They traded away RP Aroldis Chapman, one of the best closers in the majors and they’re just not a good team. Under.

Milwaukee Brewers: 69.5
OF Ryan Braun is the best hitter on the Brewers, and C Jonathan Lucroy also has a good bat if he’s healthy after being injured much of last season. But they don’t have much else on the team and I don’t see them getting 70 wins, so it’s Under with them.

Pittsburgh Pirates: 86.5
After 98 wins last season, I’m not sure how the over/under number is this low. They didn’t lose anyone from the core of their team, so I expect OF Andrew McCutchen and SP Gerrit Cole to help lead them to well over 90 games again. This one’s an easy Over.

St. Louis Cardinals: 87.5
Again, after a 100-win season a year ago, the Cardinals’ number is this low? They’re getting SP Adam Wainwright back after he missed essentially all of 2015 on the DL. Like with the Pirates, this is an easy Over.

AL Central

Chicago White Sox: 80.5
The White Sox added offense this offseason, with 2B Brett Lawrie and 3B Todd Frazier joining 1B Jose Abreu. SP Chris Sale is among the best in the game and SP Carlos Rodon could be a good young pitcher. They’re improved over last season, when they won 78 games, so I think they’ll go Over 80.5.

Cleveland Indians: 84.5
The Indians’ success this season could depend on young guys, like SS Francisco Lindor. If he can step up to the next level, he could be a leader for the offense. They won 81 games last season, and I think they could be a game or two better in 2016, but I’m thinking Under for this number.

Detroit Tigers: 81.5
The Tigers only won 74 games last season, but I think they underperformed some. They added OF Justin Upton and SP Jordan Zimmermann to the mix this season. But SP Justin Verlander is key to this team. If he has a good season, the Tigers could contend for the division. Either way, I think they’ll go Over 81.5 wins, potentially more like 86 or 87 wins if Verlander returns to his old form.

Kansas City Royals: 85.5
The defending World Series champions are coming off of a 95-win season. I don’t expect them to reach that number again, especially with the White Sox and Tigers both improved this season, but 85.5 seems like a low number so I’ll go Over.

Minnesota Twins: 78.5
Unlike the Tigers, I think the Twins overperformed last season when they won 83 games. I don’t think they were that good, and without any major additions in the offseason, I still don’t think they’re very good. They’ll be a sub-.500 team, but I think they’ll get close to .500 so I’ll reluctantly go Over and say 79 or 80 wins.

NL West

Arizona Diamondbacks: 82.5
The Diamondbacks won 78 games last season but have now lost added SPs Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to the rotation and have a good offense with 1B Paul Goldschmidt, but they may have lost OF A.J. Pollock for the season with an elbow injury. They improved significantly this winter, so I’m going Over.

Colorado Rockies: 70.5
They won 68 last year and I think they may actually do a little worse than that this year. They don’t have starting pitching and there’s no telling when SS Jose Reyes may be able to play as rookie SS Trevor Story starts the season filling in for him. Despite having OF Carlos Gonzalez, I’m going Under for the Rockies.

Los Angeles Dodgers: 88.5
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in the majors and perhaps the best pitcher in SP Clayton Kershaw, but they lost SS Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks and they have some injury concerns on offense. They had 92 wins last year en route to a division title but I don’t see it happening again. I think it’ll be close, but I’m going Under, which would likely be a disappointing season for the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres: 72.5
The Padres won 74 games last year. They added OF Jon Jay in the offseason but lost 2B Jedd Gyorko and OF Justin Upton. I think SP Colin Rea is going to have a breakout season in the rotation, helping to get the team Over 72.5 wins.

San Francisco Giants: 89.5
The Giants won 84 games in 2015, then added SPs Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzjia to the rotation and OF Denard Span to the offense. They still have the likes of OF Hunter Pence, C Buster Posey and SP Madison Bumgarner, making them a formidable team in the West. They have a well-rounded team that I think can reach 90 wins, so I’m going Over.

AL West

Houston Astros: 87.5
The surprising Astros won 86 games last year and now have SS Carlos Correa in the majors for the whole season to go along with 2B Jose Altuve. Reigning Cy Young winner SP Dallas Keuchel should have another good season at the top of the rotation. Over.

Los Angeles Angels: 81.5
Coming off of an 85-win season, the Angels face a tough battle in the division. The offense should be fine with OF Mike Trout and 1B Albert Pujols, but there are concerns about the pitching staff, with SP  C.J. Wilson expected to miss the first month or so of the season. I think the Angels should finish the season above .500, so I’ll go Over.

Oakland Athletics: 75.5
The A’s won 68 games as a last-place team last season and I don’t see how they’re going to be much better in 2016. They added OFs Khris Davis and Chris Coghland, but they’re not game-changers for a team. SP Sonny Gray should have a decent year out of the No. 1 spot in the rotation, but I don’t see the A’s winning eight more games than they did last year, so this is an Under.

Seattle Mariners: 82.5
The Mariners should be on the upswing after acquiring OF Leonys Martin, 1B Adam Lind and SP Wade Miley this winter so they should surpass the 76 wins they had last year, but 82.5 is a big jump. I don’t think they’re there yet, so I’ll go Under for them.

Texas Rangers: 84.5
The Rangers won 88 games last season, and that was with just half a season with SP Cole Hamels, who underperformed with the team, and they’ll now get a full season with him. They added SS Ian Desmond to a roster with DH Prince Fielder and 3B Adrian Beltre. They should get a boost a couple months into the season when SP Yu Darvish is expected to return from Tommy John surgery. I don’t see them winning four fewer games than last season, so I’m going Over for the defending division champs.

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Playoff Picks

National League

NL East Champs: New York Mets
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
NL West Champs: San Francisco Giants
NL Wild Cards: Pirrsburgh PIrates, Washington Nationals

American League

AL East Champs: Toronto Blue Jays
AL Central Champs: Kansas City Royals
AL West Champs: Texas Rangers
AL Wild Cards: Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers

World Series: Blue Jays over Cubs in 6 games

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2nd Annual 30 in 30ish MLB Previews: San Francisco Giants

Finishing up the NL West, the next team in our continuing series previewing all 30 MLB teams leading up to the start of the 2016 season is the San Francisco Giants, who finished in second place in the division last season

It’s an even-numbered year, which means the Giants are going to win the World Series, right? Nah, it’s not that easy. They have won titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014, but it’ll take more than a year ending in an even number for them to win the World Series again. Signing SPs Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija could help, though, as well as adding OF Denard Span to the offense. The pitchers slot in behind SP Madison Bumgarner in the rotation, with Span forming a veteran outfield with OFs Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. And, of course, the Giants still have C Buster Posey, one of the best in Major League Baseball behind the plate.

The Giants had the top average (.267) in the National League last season but had the fourth-fewest home runs, with 136. Posey led the team with a .318 average, to go along with 19 home runs and 95 RBI. The team’s home-run title went to SS Brandon Crawford, who hit 21 homers. The Giants got decent production out of a couple of young players, with 3B Matt Duffy hitting .295 with 12 home runs and 77 RBI and 2B Joe Panik posting a .312 average, with 8 home runs and 37 RBI IN 100 games. The team’s 3.72 ERA was in the top half of the NL. Bumgarner led the rotation with a 2.93 ERA and 234 strikeouts in 218.1 innings. With the Reds and Royals last season, Cueto posted a 3.44 ERA while striking out 176 batters in 212 innings. Samardzija had a disappointing year with the White Sox, with a 4.96 ERA — nearly 2 runs higher than in 2014 — and 163 strikeouts in 214 innings. Closer Santiago Casilla pitched well out of the bullpen, converting 38 saves in 44 opportunities, with a 2.79 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 58 innings.

The Giants had a good offense last season, and they should have another one this year since they didn’t lose any of their key hitters in the offseason. They may get a little help hitting home runs with Panik in the majors for a full season, which should get him in the 10-15 homer range, and Pence looking to bounce back from a down year last season when he played just 52 games. If he can get close to his career average of 25 home runs, that would be a major improvement from the 9 home runs that he hit last season. After 1B Brandon Belt showed some promising signs on offense last season, the team is hoping he can repeat that performance and get close to 20 home runs again in 2016.

The Giants are trying to improve upon their 84-win season from 2015 to try to catch the Dodgers and win the NL West. The Giants are definitely improved over last season, particularly in their starting rotation, but the Diamondbacks are also improved from 2015 and pose a threat to both the Giants and Dodgers. It should be a good race between those three teams to see who ends up as the division champion.

Be sure to check back every day at 12pm Eastern for another team preview, see them all here, and follow me on Twitter for a link to each new post when it’s posted.

Source: http://www.sfgiants.comhttp://www.baseball-reference.com

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