Ben Criswell, staff writer
AL West: Houston Astros
The Astros made the playoffs for the first time in 10 years in 2015 and looked poised to overtake the Rangers for the AL West crown. A full year with Cargo in center field coupled with emerging superstar Carlos Correa should be enough to win 90+ games.
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
The White Sox? Really? It is really hard to repeat in baseball, harder than any other sport. Look for the Royals to return to their mid-market earth and the White Sox win the division comfortably. The addition of Todd Frazier gives the White Sox some pop in the middle of the lineup, and adding old man Jimmy Rollins sures them up shortstop. Look for Chris Sale to be a legitimate Cy Young candidate in a 90+ win season for Obama’s team.
AL East: Boston Red Sox
One word: David Price. Price will look to duplicate his performance from last year and carry the Sox to the playoffs. Pablo Sandoval and rising star Mookie Betts will do much of the heavy lifting for the Boston offense.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
It seems the Giants like playing in even years (World Series Champions 2010, 2012, and 2014) and 2016, well, is an even year. Look for Bruce Bochy and the boys to have a resurgent year on the backs of great pitching and a balanced lineup.
NL Central: St. Louis Cardinals
This might be mostly out of spite towards everyone (and I mean everyone) picking the Cubs to win the World Series. The division winner will most likely have to reach 100 wins. I like the Cardinals chances more so than a young Cubs team.
NL East: Washington Nationals
Health was a major issue for the Nationals in 2015. With a healthy lineup, Washington should win over 90 games. Look for Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon to do most of the work at the plate coupled with an already stellar pitching staff.
NL Wild Card: Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
The Cubs will be good this upcoming season, but not good enough to do any serious damage in the playoffs. Chicago’s young talent will be enough to get them into the playoffs and maybe even a series win in the first round, but that’s where it ends.
NLCS: Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
In a rematch of the 2014 NLDS, Drew Storen redeems himself with a game seven save sending the Nationals to the World Series. Bryce Harper does his best Daniel Murphy impersonation (even though it shouldn’t been Harper, not Murphy, last year) after his second straight MVP.
AL Wild Card: Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays
Both the Royals and Blue Jays will be significantly worse in 2016 – the Royals losing Johnny Cueto and The Blue Jays losing David Price. Both will be good and both will make the playoffs (partly due to a weaker American League) but neither will be good enough to make it back to the ALCS.
ALCS: Houston Astros vs. Boston Red Sox
This series will come down to pitching and defense, with a little help from some valuable post season experience on the Boston side. In the end it just could be a year too early for the Astros as the Sox go on to win in five games.
World Series: Washington Nationals vs. Boston Red Sox
Winner: Washington Nationals
Maybe a year later than expected, the Nationals put it all together in one the most dominant post-season performances in history closing out the World Series in five games. Steven Strasburg caps off his first Cy Yong award with a World Series ring and Bryce Harper is awarded World Series MVP. 2016 baby.