2016 Sons of Sam Horn Staff Picks

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There’s just one more day separating baseball fans from games that count. With many Opening Day rosters set and final lineup decisions made (including some controversial ones), there’s not much else to do but play the guessing game. So without further ado, we present the first annual Sons of Sam Horn staff picks.

American League Predictions

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Staff Members AL East AL Central AL West AL Wild Cards
Brandon Magee Toronto Kansas City Houston Detroit Texas
Damian Dydyn Toronto Kansas City Houston Texas Boston
Dan Ennis Boston Cleveland Rockford Peaches LAA Toronto
Jimmy Wulf Boston Detroit Houston Kansas City Texas
Justin Gorman Boston Cleveland Seattle Houston Toronto
Pete Hodges Toronto Detroit Houston New York Chicago
Rick Rowand Toronto KC Houston Boston Detroit
Shane Liss-Riordan Boston Cleveland Houston Kansas City Toronto
Tony Kosinski Boston Kansas City Texas Houston Toronto

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Justin: I’m pretty sure everybody acknowledges that Cleveland is going to be a good team this year – I think they are in a position to surprise everyone by cruising to the AL Central crown. The AL East is too strong for its own good, while the AL West has two or three teams who may compete for the top spot.  Cleveland has the potential, both with talent and their division, to finish the year with the best record in the American League.

Brandon: The AL East will once again be five good but flawed teams beating up on each other. There is a decent chance all five finish above .500, but just as good of a chance that none break 90 wins. Every team could win the East. Every team could finish last. It will be a dog fight

Pete: Many thought that Houston made it to the playoffs a year early last year, and that will likely be good for them. The injury to Lance McCullers may be a blessing in disguise as it allows the ace-in-waiting to stay fresh for the playoffs where he will be needed to form a potent one-two punch with reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel.

Dan: Looking at Travis Shaw makes me think of how in “Son of Godzilla” the big guy’s offspring, named Minilla, can only blow little smoke, unlike his dad, who can exhale great gusts of radioactive fire. At a key moment, Godzilla stomps on Minilla’s tail, and the youngster emits a proper blast of atomic flame. If the AL East is made up of giant mutated praying mantises, then our own Son of Godzilla will discover his true potential, and that equals 95 wins in my book.

Damian: Toronto lost David Price. Yes, that’s a David Price sized hole in their rotation. Marcus Stroman, however, is sort of David Price shaped. The drop off from Price to Stroman is going to prove to be significantly less than many are expecting and the Blue Jays are going to cruise to another division title. Sure, the Yankees could get lucky with health and elude the crushing grip of time for another season, but it’s unlikely. The Red Sox are going to be much better than last year, but they have too many games to make up to catch the Jays. The Rays have a great rotation, but their offense just isn’t there. And the Orioles are the mirror image of the Rays.

National League Predictions

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Staff Members NL East NL Central NL West NL Wild Cards
Brandon New York Pittsburgh Arizona Chicago Washington
Damian New York Chicago Arizona Pittsburgh Los Angeles
Dan Washington Chicago LA SF New York
Jim New York Chicago LA St. Louis Arizona
Justin Washington Chicago Arizona Pittsburgh New York
Pete New York St. Louis Arizona Chicago Los Angeles
Rick Mets Cubs SF Bucs Arizona
Shane New York Pittsburgh San Francisco Chicago Miami
Tony Washington Cubs LA Cards Pittsburgh

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Brandon: The East will be a race between the Mets and the Nats once again, with the Mets pipping the Nats at the end. The Nats will be improved simply by replacing Matt Williams with another body. I’m not a great fan of Dusty Baker… but with the best player in the NL, the team should be fine. On the other hand, the race to the bottom could be fun to watch for those who like bad baseball… with the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves looking at sub-.500 records.

Pete: Everyone seems to be sleeping on the Cardinals in favor of the Lovable Losers, but they didn’t get that name for nothin’. In all seriousness, while the Central will be a fun race to watch I believe the pressure will get to the young lineup, and I don’t think that Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist are the veterans to prop those kids up. I don’t care how many shifts Joe Maddon puts on. In the end, give me Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha, Matt Holliday, and the last flying Molina brother.

Dan: I went with Chicago because of Theo.  I almost wrote “I went with Chicago because Theo” but that whole thing of leaving out the preposition is a Deadspin/Bleacher Report/buckknives.com affectation and our baseball website is better than that. Rizzo is going to break out, a thought that occurred to me watching the recent Fox TV live broadcast of Grease.

Damian: The NL Central is going to be insanely good this year, but it won’t matter. The Cubs are going to win 100 and neither the Pirates nor the Cardinals are likely to be quite as good as they were last year. The Mets won’t have much trouble in the East as the Nationals will struggle with injuries, and the Marlins will be just pesky enough to squeak by for a wild card spot. Arizona’s splurging will net them a division title, leaving Dodgers fans very angry because they still can’t watch the games.

Championship Predictions

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Staff Members AL Champion NL Champion World Series Champion
Brandon Houston Washington Houston
Damian Toronto Chicago Chicago
Dan Cleveland Chicago Chicago
Jim Boston Chicago Boston
Justin Houston Chicago Chicago
Pete Houston St. Louis St. Louis
Rick Astros Cubs Astros
Shane Boston New York New York
Tony Boston Cubs Cubs

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JimW: Yup, I’m hanging out in homertown and betting big on the mother of all storylines. Boston’s recent lack of success has overshadowed the growth of a young core that’s ready to burst out in a big way, and David Price is a game-changer, the best pitcher to walk through that door since #45. Chicago, on paper, should mash their way through the NL to the Series, so long as Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester remain healthy. On the grandest stage, Chicago’s trick-or-treat bats will wilt just enough for the Red Sox to take the throne, continuing their Jekyll-and-Hyde journey through the 2010s.

Justin: While I have the utmost respect for my man Jim, and I am hesitant to bet against David Ortiz’s heroics in his retirement year, I have to give the nod to Theo Epstein.  He has assembled an organization ready to win now, and they have the lineup and pitching staff to go the distance.  Plus, they have the budget and market to make additions at the deadline, if necessary. Perhaps a year too late to fulfill the prophecy of Back To The Future 2, but this year, the Cubs finally get their prize.

Dan: The Cubs-Indians World Series I am expecting will be the most important fall classic since 1919. Either the Tribe finds an off-ramp on their trail of tears Cleveland Franchise finally gets over the top, or the Cubs pull a 2004 and save the entire sport of baseball for another generation. Take that, soccer.

Damian: Theo Epstein. That’s it. That’s all anyone is going to be talking about next November.

Individual Award Predictions

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Staff Members AL CY Young NL CY Young AL MVP NL MVP
Brandon  Dallas Keuchel Gerrit Cole Carlos Correa Clown Question
Damian Chris Sale Zack Greinke Mike Trout Paul Goldschmidt
Dan Cole Hamels Kershaw Josh Donaldson Rizzo
Jim David Price Clayton Kershaw Mike Trout Bryce Harper
Justin David Price Gerrit Cole Carlos Correa Kris Bryant
Pete Chris Archer Clayton Kershaw Josh Donaldson Giancarlo Stanton
Rick Sale Greinke Altuve Bryant
Shane Carlos Carrasco Jose Fernandez George Springer Buster Posey
Tony Danny Salazar Kershaw Trout Bryant

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Pete: Last year in 74 games, Giancarlo Stanton put up a .605 SLG, and he put a .395 OBP in 2014. This will be the year that Stanton puts it all together, finally stays healthy, and puts up an OPS north of 1.000 with over 60 HR. His MVP will not be unanimous, however, as the Marlins’ lack of pitching will doom them to an 81 win season and some stodgy writers won’t vote for him.

Justin: Coming off a torrid NL Rookie of the Year campaign, Kris Bryant will continue to rake his way to the NL MVP award, while guiding the Cubs to their first World Series since the Jurassic Age.  The Houston Astros will be a playoff contender for years to come, behind the bat of Carlos Correa, this year’s AL MVP.

Tony: Danny Salazar is entering his age 26 season and is poised to take the next big step as an ace. His two primary pitches (96-mph four-seam fastball and his splitter) are both excellent. As 2015 progressed, he mixed in more sinkers. 2016 will be the year of Danny as his HR/FB rate stabilizes and he continues to strike out and walk batters at elite rates.  

Dan: Pete picked Josh Donaldson to win the AL MVP award, and I think he’s in charge of issuing the SonsofSamHorn.com bonuses for good writin’. I don’t think the site has any revenue yet, but we’re just one Pablo Sandoval sex tape away from swimming in page clicks. When that happens and Pete is making it rain I want him to recall that I had his back on the Donaldson thing. The other writers are joking behind Pete’s back about his picking Chris Archer to win a Cy Young, but I’m smart enough to remain silent on the matter.

Damian: Paul Goldschmidt, simultaneously one of the most talked about and underrated players in the game, will finally be recognized for his greatness and win an MVP. His bat is as good as any in the majors and he’s no slouch with the glove. Zack Greinke will basically repeat his 2015, only this time Jake Arrieta won’t be there to steal his hardware. Mike Trout is Mike Trout again, and Chris Sale dedicates his season to Drake LaRoche and takes out his anger on the poor hitters of the American League.

[Editor’s note: There’s nothing wrong with a little brown-nosing once in a while.]

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