Maligned as it may be—particularly by owners in areas with high populations of Cubans—the preseason power rankings were rather accurate. Out of the predicted top 15 from the preseason, 9 teams are currently sitting in the “actual” top 15: Yankees, Marlins, Royals, Astros, Indians, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Cubs, and Brewers. Not bad. That said, the predictions certainly have their outliers in the form of teams that are both defying expectations, and failing to meet them.
Here are the five teams that are defying the expectations most drastically thus far:
Los Angeles Dodgers (25-15, 348 points)
This isn’t as drastic a difference as the other teams, but in the preseason, the Dodgers were ranked #18, and as of now, they sit at #12 overall. The preseason prognosis suggested that they team may be negatively impacted by starting three players that were currently in the minors, but the team added Aaron Hicks and saw some timely call-ups, so they find themselves with a winning record as we approach the summer.
Colorado Rockies (24-16, 9454.779 points)
Projected to be the 22nd best team this preseason, the Rockies are currently sitting in 15th overall. As noted in the preseason, though, the pitching staff is still lacking. A very strong offense led by Charlie Blackmon, Corey Dickerson, and Eduardo Nunez has propelled them to a winning record, however. If you factor in a ‘bounce back’ from Trevor Story, there is no reason to believe that the Rockies won’t be able to win plenty of games throughout the season.
Miami Marlins (34-6, 11092.757 points)
For whatever reason, the preseason points projections had the Marlins at #13. Right now, they are the #4 overall team, and #2 in points overall. As I pointed out this preseason though, the Marlins were a lot likely to be in the top 5-10 than they were outside of it by the mid-season, and here they are. Barring injuries, I expect Miami to stay here for the remainder of the season, being led by someone pretending to be Ryan Zimmerman, Corey Seager, Christian Yelich, Mark Reynolds, Dee Gordon, and of course, Mike Trout, when he returns.
New York Yankees (28-12, 10651 points)
Preseason rankings had the Yankees sitting at #14 overall, but here they are #6, and one of only 7 teams to score 10,000 points or more at this point in the year. Last year, the Yankees made 59 mostly non minor-to-majors trades. Players acquired in these deals that are currently helping the team sit just outside of the top 5 include Justin Upton, Chris Carter, and Brandon Phillips. Goes to show that if you have the ammo and you think you can make a run, go ahead and trade those picks and prospects!
St. Louis Cardinals (25-16, 9232.787 points)
Sometimes, the predictions are way off. The Cardinals were predicted to be the 7th-worst team in the league in the preseason, but here they are, battling for playoff position, at #10 overall, at 25-15. Preseason notes indicate that the Cardinals had too many rookies in starting positions, and that the pitching staff was too thin. In looking at the roster now, all the starting positions have players that are active and scoring points (some more than others, granted). That said, the staff still looks thin, but once healthy, the Cardinals have a lot of depth on offense to either make up for it, or to trade for some pitching help. Consider this, if these players get healthy, between his current DL and bench he has: Marwin Gonzalez, Kolten Wong, Martin Prado, and Yasmany Tomas.
Starting out the top 10 for us is the Detroit Tigers, a 2016 playoff team and division winner. The Tigers have only made minor moves thus far, shipping out Matt Holliday for draft picks, as well as some swapping of draft picks. That said, he is carrying a talented roster into this season, so maybe he hasn’t seen the need to shake things up too much. On offense, carrying the load will be Miguel Cabrera, a healthy Nick Castellanos (who is having a nice spring), Victor Martinez, Brad Miller, Rajai Davis and Curtis Granderson. Dexter Fowler is no slouch either, and another step forward from Javier Baez would be huge. There is some promise in the pitching staff too, though there is one open spot, and two spots occupied by minors’ players. Still, he’s got Scherzer, Verland, Salazar, and Dyson. I think Norris takes a step forward this year too. Plus, if Boyd can put forth some improvements, things are looking pretty good for a team that may only be a few acquisitions (free agency or trade), away from another run.
Last year, the Nationals were a wildcard team, coming in second place in the division to perennial powerhouse Miami. They were also a team that eclipsed that elusive 23,000 mark, which was a number that netted all teams who hit it a cash reward last year. The Nationals come back this year with a strong team. In the offseason, the Nationals made a few moves, highlighted by a major deal in which he sent AJ Ramos, Adam Jones, a 5th round pick, and Danny Duffy to the Braves for the 1st overall pick, which brought him Carlos Santana. This is in addition to an offense that has a good mix of talent and promise, with names like Anthony Rendon, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, and Jurickson Profar. Some nice names on this pitching staff, too. I like Jon Gray taking the next step, and he’s got Strasburg, Britton, Kimbrel. Smyly’s injury doesn’t help, and Ryu hasn’t been the same for a while, but he could be a dark horse to have a nice year. Promising prospect Gioloto is in the minors too, though he hasn’t matched up to the hype that’s surrounded him for a while just yet. Overall, probably a team that has ammo to be a top scoring team again this year.
Surprise, surprise. The Rays were in one of the least competitive divisions in the league last year. Even after selling off a number of pieces in that Dansby Swanson deal (with me), he still almost made the playoffs. Tampa has been crazy busy this offseason. (Seriously, go check out the trade history for this season). Major or notable acquisitions include Ian Kinsler (who he just traded to me for Johnny Cueto, by the way), John Lackey, Brian Dozier, Addison Reed, and David Freese. Make no mistake, this (like most teams), will be a team carried by its offense. In addition to Dozier and Swanson, and led by Mookie Betts, the team also has Andrew McCutcheon, Howie Kendrick, Nori Aoki, and some bit players who will help too. In addition to Cueto and Lackey, the staff has guys that will help, like Odorizzi, Colome, and to a lesser extent, Boxberger, Gallardo, and Gibson. Miranda, with the injury of Smyly, has the chance to pitch his way into the permanent rotation. He could end up being a nice player that would really help the Rays in their efforts to go on a run and make the playoffs this year.
Another team that has made a ton of transactions this offseason, having acquired players lik, Lorenzo Cain, Masahiro Tanaka, Ken Giles, Dan Straily, Kendall Graveman, Drew Pomeranz, Jeurys Familia, Jorge Soler, and prospects like Josh Bell and Anderson Espinoza. The rather-deep offense includes Travis d’Arnaud, Mike Napoli, Starlin Castro, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, and Kendrys Morales, as well as bench players like Wilmer Flores, Adeiny Hechavarria, Soler, Delino Deshields (acquired this year), and Steven Souza. Some serious depth. The pitching staff will rely heavily on new guys Tanaka, Giles, and Familia, but will also get contributions from Straily, Casilla, Graveman, and Buchholz. Looks like a team that benefit by adding another starter, but whether or not they do, this team will be putting up points again in 2017.
The Astros, another 23,000-point club from last year and a team that went 44-4 in their division, bring back a stacked lineup. Jose Altuve, Chris Davis, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa, Adam Duvall, Yoenis Cespedes, and George Springer. Whoa. On top of this, they added Yuli Gurriel and Danny Duffy. Pitchers for the Astros, one of only two teams to win 80-plus games last year, include Chris Archer, Gio Gonzalez, Lance McCullers (breakout?), and David Robertson, but still has plenty of guys that will contribute, like Gregerson, Devenski, and Guerra. I don’t see any reason why the Astros won’t once again be one of the top scoring teams in the league—poised to go on another deep playoff run, and possibly ready to unseat Boston in the AL.
You all know the story by now. Jeff’s movements have been the main offseason story line. Let’s take a look at some of his main acquisitions: Jonathan Lucroy, Jose Abreu, Jose Quintana, Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta, Hector Neris, Aroldis Chapman, and Edwin Encarnacion. Whoa. Who else is on the offense you ask? How about Trea Turner, Francisco Lindor, Nomar Mazara, Tyler Naquin, Max Kepler, and a stashed Wilson Ramos on the bench. On the pitching side, joining the aforementioned pitchers are guys who will contribute, like Joe Ross, Brandon Maurer, etc. This has to be the quickest turnaround we’ve seen in this league right? I’d tell Boston, and maybe the NL too, to watch out for Cleveland come later this year.
A little odd to do your own team’s preview, but here we go. I’ve made a few offseason moves that are worth mentioning, having moved Adam Eaton and Joe Blanton for Asdrubal Cabrera and Francisco Rodriguez; then Todd Frazier for Austin Hedges and Jedd Gyorko (who I flipped for Robert Gsellman), then Archie Bradley, Bryan Shaw, and a pick for Andrew Miller. Then I moved Hector Rondon for Brad Brach, Greinke for Bauer in a salary dump, and Johnny Cueto for Ian Kinsler. In addition to the players mentioned before, I’ve got Goldschmidt, Lamb, Desmond, Pollock, Cruz, Solarte, and Inciarte. Even moving Cueto, I think the staff looks solid. Carlos Martinez, Tanner Roark, Tyler Skaggs, Shawn Kelley, Fernando Rodney, Jason Grilli, and Drew Storen. Desmond is already injured, and there are a few question marks in guys like Skaggs, Storen, K-Rod, and possibly Roark, as well as Hedges and Pollock, but I do feel confident in my ability to make it back to the playoffs. From there, I may need some luck, some moves, or some breakouts.
Boston Red Sox
Two out of the last three seasons, Boston has made it to the championship round. Could this be the year they finally win it all? Let’s have a look at their chances. First, the offseason moves. Boston acquired catching prospect Jorge Alfaro by moving Jonathan Lucroy, and also acquired Archie Bradley, Bryan Shaw, and a prospect for Andrew Miller. Other notable additions include Steven Wright, JD Martinez, Brian McCann, and Miguel Sano. Some nice offseason moves, for sure. Looks like a powerful offense, with guys like Xander Bogaerts, Evan Longoria, Joey Votto, Andrew Benentendi, joining those other players. But there aren’t really holes in the offense, as they round out the roster with Odubel Herrera, Mitch Moreland, and Chris Young (With Blake Swihart waiting in the wings.) He probably needs another pitcher or two, but the staff looks good. Rick Porcello, Jameson Taillon, David Price, Patrick Corbin, Edwin Diaz, Joe Kelly (who will have sneaky good value early), as well as Wade Miley and the other players mentioned above, will all contribute this year. In total, I expect Boston to be competing with Cleveland, Houston, and so on, come the end of the year.
The reigning champions aren’t number one? They probably should be, but still, I am strictly going off of the point projection system that was developed. Will Chicago repeat this year? Well, they have as good a chance as any team to win it all this year. Notable offseason acquisitions include Adam Eaton, Neftali Feliz, and Tyler Thornburg. So maybe not an overly busy offseason, but maybe they didn’t need to make too many moves. This is an offense that boasts Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Hanley Ramirez, Ben Zobrist, Logan Forsythe, Stephen Vogt, Denard Span, and Addison Russell. Then on the bench, he’s got Luis Valbuena, Seth Smith, and Josh Phegley. Deep. That’s more than 650 points (from 2016) on the bench. The pitching staff is strong, too. Jon Lester, Carlos Carrasco, Mark Melancon, and Kyle Hendricks anchor the staff, but every other pitcher will be contributing points too, with names like Joe Blanton, Ryan Dull, Jason Vargas, and Kyle Barraclough. On paper, they are as strong a team as any, and barring any major injuries, should be right in the thick of the race later this year.
Last year, the Brewers didn’t even win their division. It’s fun to point out, only because even though this is true, they still had the fifth most wins in the league, and the third most points (eclipsing the 23,000-point mark.) It doesn’t look like this year is going to be a letdown for Milwaukee, either. Notable offseason additions include Kole Calhoun, Blake Snell, and Francisco Liriano. If you want to talk about having a deep team, how about the fact that this guy has Troy Tulowitzki on his bench, along with Keon Broxton and Tom Murphy. Then on the rest of his offense, he has Evan Gattis, Travis Shaw, Josh Donaldson, Jonathan Schoop, Jhonny Peralta, Khris Davis, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Bautista, and the players mentioned above. Over to the pitching staff, where a group of Toronto pitchers are leading the way: Aaron Sanchez, JA Happ, Robert Osuna, and Marco Estrada. He’s also got Jeremy Hellickson, Rich Hill, and others who will help throughout the year. And you know that Tony has more moves up his sleeve. Just try to make sure you don’t end up scratching your head, wondering how he got your best player for so little.
Baltimore needs a 1st baseman. This is the first thing I noticed when looking at the team. First base is a position that can represent a fantasy cornerstone player. (See Miguel Cabrera, Anthony Rizzo, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, etc.) Without one, it will be hard. There are a few bright spots on the offense though, with DJ LeMahieu and Stephen Piscotty. The rest of the outfield should be decent, but probably not quite strong enough. On the pitching side, it’s hard not like Gausman going into the year, especially on that contract. Bundy could be a break-through, too, but I feel like I have been saying this for years. Overall there is some talent, but it feels like a stretch to say this team will be competing this year, especially in that division.
Philly is a team that has yet to make any moves this year, which is curious. On offense, Pedroia, Franco, and Trumbo are good bets to be solid consistent producers. Franco could even be someone who could improve drastically. Rupp is someone I like this year too, at a thin position. The rest of the offense is more of a question mark. Hernandez and Joseph, if they progress, could be nice. Bourn, Werth, Guyer, and Lowrie, not as exciting, though they will at least provide some points, unlike some teams who have rookies or injured players in these slots. For the arms, not much stands out beyond Hamels and Watson, though I do think that Greg Holland has the chance to be a steal, and would make for excellent trade bait, or a good keeper. Nova should be okay too, but is a little expensive. In fact, this team is more than $20 over the limit, so moves already have to be made. In summary, probably not a staff that can be a huge difference maker.
Los Angeles Dodgers
On first glance, I notice that this is certainly a team with talent, but there are also three minor league players in starting positions. This helps in terms of fielding a compliant roster, but that’s about it. Still: Manny Machado, Jose Ramirez, Clayton Kershaw, and to a lesser extent, Adrian Gonzalez, Yadier Molina, and maybe even Puig and Duda, who knows. There are some guys I like on that staff that could be sneaky good, too. Walker (NL now…could be in for a big year), Baez, Strop, Ottavino, and in particular, Matt Moore. Still, there are some holes on the roster in the form of those minor leaguers. And if a team is going to be carried by its offense, that outfield isn’t all that intimidating. Don’t sleep on the Dodgers, though. There’s a large farm system, with some good names. Trades or call-ups could change this team’s outlook, as obvious as that may sound. Though he would have to make some changes, after not making a single trade in 2016. Finish Reading: 2017 Real Deal Dynasty Baseball Preseason Power Rankings: 20-11
Toronto Blue Jays
Starting with the offense, this is a pretty solid roster. Not really a glaring hole, but aside from Carpenter and Polanco, there are some question marks. Will Buxton will emerge? Will Vargas reach his power potential? Can Reyes still play at a high level? I’m willing to guess that for at least one of these, the answer will be yes. On the pitching side, there are certainly some steady contributors. For one, I am a believer in Marcus Stroman, and think he comes back strong this year. Manaea is another player I like to take a jump this year too. The bullpen is unspectacular, but there are players that will contribute. Keep an eye on Cam Bedrosian, who has been lights out this spring. His name is one that could be a lot more popular come mid-season. Lastly, this is another deep farm system, with multiple top-100 prospects, which provides hope for the help in the future, or ammo for in-season trades for a more immediate run.
San Francisco Giants
The future down we get, the more you see a “complete team.” And by that I mean literally, a team with all spots filled. In every spot on this offense, there are players that are going to contribute consistent points, or will at least be given the opportunity to do so on a regular or semi-regular basis. Some more (Posey, Seager, Pence), than others (Mahtook, Jay, Smoak), but still, points are points. In looking at the pitching staff, your eyes may first go to Bumgarner. Hard not to. But Ian Kenndy, and then bullpen names like Jeffress, Madson, and Strickland should put up some good points. And maybe Keuchel has a year closer to 2015, or at least better than 2016. Of note here, too, is the fact that the Giants also have plenty of players in the farm system.
I think this could be a sneaky good offense. Let’s start with the obvious contributors: Wieters, Pujols, Jones, Kemp. But what about Thames, Haniger, Polanco, and maybe even Saladino? You’ll also have some decent contributions from Gomez and Garcia. Could potentially be a deeper offense than it seems, if one of those aforementioned question marks can break out. Regarding the pitching staff, though, this isn’t as much depth. Sure, Teheran and Ramos will offer plenty of points, but some of the other names are quite average, Dickey, Garcia, Koehler, or even just not very good, Peralta, Knebel. German Marquez could be a nice sleeper though. Not a bad minors’ system here, either, with top 100 names like Albies, Allard, and Anderson in the mix.
New York Yankees
Last year, the Yankees made 59 trades, most of which were non minor-to-majors moves. The team improved from 8-85 to 37-56 last year. Expect another jump this year. Since last season, the Yankees have acquired, among other assets, Justin Upton, Chris Carter, Brandon Phillips, Eduardo Rodrigez, Brandon Finnegan, Mike Montgomery, and Jerad Eickhoff. He also has a healthy Greg Bird for 2016, a player that many people look at as capable of having a star-turning breakout season. In his active minors, he has some players that could help soon, too, in guys like Aaron Judge and Jose De Leon, as well as guys that can help now, like Eduardo Rodriguez. Other certain players, if they pan out, could end up helping too. Names like Severino, Refsnyder, Mitchell. Still, even by slotting in Rodriguez, Severino, Holder, and Mitchell, there will be two open roster spots to fill. Free agency is looming though, so things should pan out. A solid roster coupled with a breakout season or two could help to improve the Yankees, a team on the upswing, once again.
Last year, the Marlins made to the NL Championship against the Cubs, but ultimately fell short. Since then, the team has moved Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz, Neftali Feliz, Steven Wright, Shelby Miller, Eduardo Rodriguez, JT Realmuto, Rougned Odor, Addison Reed, Francisco Liriano, and David Freese. In those deals, he’s added, among others, Corey Kluber, Yu Darvish, Shin-soo Choo, Nathan Karns, Chris Owings, CJ Cron, Dee Gordon, and Jeff Samardzija. Points prediction wise, the system didn’t seem to favor these moves, but knowing Miami, there are multiple moves to be made. Not to mention, this is a team has Mike Trout, Dee Gordon, Corey Seager, Christian Yelich, in addition to some of the other names mentioned above. I’m trying to steer clear of predictions here, but I am guessing that Miami’s mid-season power ranking is going to be a bit lower on the list. (That is, closer to the top 5-10.)
New York Mets
Check out the offensive depth here. Some teams don’t have full rosters. The Mets have Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra, Michael Brantley, and Brett Lawrie on their bench, along with a few others. The roster, aside from (promising) rookie Hunter Renfroe, all contributed more than 200 points last season. When healthy, Matt Duffy should be a nice player, too. Beltran, Pederson, Realmuto, and Simmons will put up steady points all year. To the pitching staff we go, where deGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz (if healthy) will anchor the starters. Will Hernandez improve like Verlander, or will he slide more? That determination will have an impact on this team, for sure. Harvey is hitting 97 MPH on the gun too…. The relievers are less impressive than the rest of the team, though he does have Gsellman as an RP available, along with Seth Lugo, who could be decent. The Mets regressed from 2015 to 2016, but we could see and upswing this year if people stay healthy.
Kansas City Royals
The last of the middle group is the Royals, who were a playoff team last year. Looks like the team is poised to once again put up points, with a roster that includes Wil Myers, Robinson Cano, Yasmani Grandal, Jackie Bradley Jr, Jonathan Villar, Jay Bruce, and a healthy Mike Moustakas. If the Royals are going to make another run, though, they will be relying quite heavily on the offense. This a staff that, if we are looking at last year’s numbers, only has two players that eclipsed 200 points, both of which are relievers (Will Harris and Kenley Jansen, the latter of which should once again put up monster numbers, to be fair.) Maybe a Robbie Ray breakout season could assist here, otherwise the Royals will be looking to acquire pitchers, or just stack up an already formidable offense to win games.
Rejoice, fellow baseball fans. The 2017 Major League Baseball season is almost here, and with it comes a fresh chance for all of us to once again chase the Real Deal Dynasty Baseball crown.
Will the Chicago Cubs, both the MLB version and the Real Deal version, have a chance at repeating this year? Sure. But there will be plenty of other teams and owners that will doing their best to prevent that. In an attempt to show just which teams have the best shot at unseating the Cubs and making out of the long season as the league champion, I’ve put together a Power Rankings list that factors in the projected points for each team.
Since the league’s current projections are different from what our actual point scoring system is, primary league Commissioner Jeff Hemlick helped me come up with a calculation that would help give us a good idea (but not perfect idea, mind you) of where all of the teams stack up. The method is inexact, so I will omit the actual numbers, but please do note that these rankings are entirely based on the numbers, and not any predictions. Also consider that the calculation is not perfect, and that these are just projections. (Which is to say, don’t take it as gospel.)
First, the projected top offense this year is the Boston Red Sox, who just edged the Milwaukee Brewers. The top projected pitching staff this year is the Arizona Diamondbacks by a good margin. Who has the second best projected staff? Again, the Milwaukee Brewers. More on them much, much later in the list.
This probably isn’t too surprising. This is a team that doesn’t have a full offense, and the majority of its players are rookies. There are some pitchers on the staff that are likely just there to fulfill roster requirements, and a few that will likely be trade bait later in the season, in order to obtain more prospects, because the cupboard is quite bare there, too.
San Diego Padres
Sometimes it can be tough to keep the minimum amount of franchise players for your fantasy team. This is a good case, as San Diego is basically going into the season with one franchise player who will contribute. The weather in San Diego is beautiful. This fantasy season for the Padres may not be. That said, if you are curious how this team is being built, go check out the farm team. Absolutely loaded, including big names like Brinson and Robles. Oh, and he also has Yoan Moncada. So the long-term picture isn’t so murky.
Los Angeles Angels
Another team in transition with a number of young players in key positions. Not a team that is necessarily going to be competing this year, but also a team with a good amount of prospects in the pipeline, headlined by Manny Margot and Rafael Devers, etc. There are also some pieces here that will be tradeable during the season, so if a team like this remains patient, the team could be in much better shape in a few years.
Chicago White Sox
This is an interesting team. There are some stud names on both the offense and defense, but overall the depth isn’t quite there, since the team some spots to fill. Empty spots definitely impact projections, hence why Chicago is here. Still, the team could choose to try and compete this year by acquiring some MLB-ready talent, or to move names like Frazier and Greinke (and others) to acquire younger talent, and punt to next year. Keep an eye on this team if you are a buyer, or a seller.
Not exactly a sexy roster, but there are certainly some names here that are going to be highly-tradeable commodities, if that is the path that is chosen. A big minor league system here, too, with top 10 talent Austin Meadows leading the pack.
This is a tale of two teams. The offense looks like it could put up some serious points. Stanton, Walker, Odor, Hosmer, Crawford, and Braun. Not bad. Scroll down a bit further, though, and you’ll see a pitching staff with only five names, one of which just had Tommy John surgery. Of the remaining four, only Paxton has true upside, unless you see Wacha having a bounce back season. To compete, Minnesota would need to make a lot of moves for pitching, and I am not sure he has the ammo to do so, even with Joey Gallo in the minors.
St. Louis Cardinals
Well, he’s got a full team. So he’s got that going for him. There are some real solid players on the roster, for sure, mostly on offense though. There are also four rookies in starting slots, and the pitching staff, particular the starters, look a bit thin. But there is young, inexpensive talent on the offense, so it may not be crazy for this team to be turned around sooner rather than later.
Tough blow to see Reyes needing Tommy John so early in the offseason. I personally had a lot of faith in him having an excellent season, both in real life and in fantasy, but these injuries do happen. Again, this should be another rebuilding type season for the Reds. There will be some in-season trades for the Reds, I am betting, as he looks to bolster an already deep minor league.
The pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired here, but there are some bright spots on the offense. Colorado will have some weeks where there are a ton of points put up, I am guessing, but overall I just don’t see the team being deep enough to make a serious push.
This should be a decent offense. Acquiring Schwarber probably feels pretty good right now. Sonny Gray came in that deal too, and who knows, he could easily have a bounce back season as well. That said, the A’s aren’t there yet, in terms of being able to compete with the teams that will be outlined later on in the rankings. Things can happen quickly, though. Ask Jeff/take a look at the new Cleveland Indians roster…
With the 2016 Real Deal baseball season in the rear view, let’s take a look back at the year, which was dominated early and often by just a handful of teams.
First, congratulations to all of those who won money this year, led by the championship-winning Chicago Cubs and runner-up Boston Red Sox. And well done to the division winners, the Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Miami Marlins, as well as the Cubs and Red Sox. Lastly, a tip of the cap to the wild card teams, the Washington Nationals, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, and Kansas City Royals.
To start, I’ll discuss the divisional races a bit. As a result of team building strategy, patience, luck, and whatever else you’d consider in terms of what makes a fantasy team successful; most divisions were not that close. In fact, four out of the six division winners won by double digit wins: Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, and Houston Astros. In addition, the Cubs won their division by 9, though noting this may not be all that fair, since the runner up Milwaukee had the fifth most wins in the league, and the third most points.
That leaves just the AL Central, which was an interesting to follow in terms of the battle between Kansas City and Detroit. Interestingly enough, the Tigers won the division on the last day of the year despite having scored less points (20,780 vs 21,294) oveall. This was a fun division to watch and should be next year as well, with Cleveland stacking up, a new owner in Minnesota, and a White Sox team that is also making moves in an effort to improve upon 2015’s last place finish.
Despite not being all that close in terms of wins, the NL East was still competitive, as the second place Nationals—a wildcard playoff team—still had 31 wins in the division compared to Miami’s 39, while also scoring more than 23,000 points, a number that I will touch on later in this article. Despite a vast improvement in Philadephia, going from 17 wins to 45, that seems to still be a team that is in the process of rebuilding. The Mets, on the other hand, had a tough go of it, as they went down in wins from 67 (A 1st place finish in 2015), to 45 in 2016. Much like the real-life counterpart, these Mets were bit with injuries to a number of key players.
Unlike last year in the NL West, where the top three teams were within 7 games and less than 1,000 points of one another, this year was not as close. The Arizona Diamondbacks (My team, if anyone is wondering), led the pack with 20 more wins than the second place Dodgers, as well as nearly 4,500 points. Still, things can change quickly, and as I work to get under budget for 2017, nothing is taken for granted.
Next we go over to the juggernaut-led NL Central, which had the highest scoring team, the Cubs, and the third-highest scoring team, the Brewers. While the Brewers were once again a dominant force, the Cubs were something else this year. At 83-10, the best record in the league, the Cubs were also tied for second with Houston (Behind Boston) for division record, at 44-4, while also scoring the most points in the league by 1,365 points. More on the Cubs later, but the two-headed monster at the top of the division didn’t leave much room for the Cardinals, Reds, or Pirates, all of which fell under the .500 mark while failing to reach 19,000 points for the year. Looking torward the future though, let’s not count any of these teams out. If you take a look at the jump that Cincinatti made from 2015-2016 (more on this later), there is room for optimism going into 2017.
Shifting back over to the AL, where the AL East was among the least competitive division in 2015. To put it into perspective, the second-place Rays sold off major MLB-level talent and a slew of prospects all for one top 5 prospect (more on this deal later), and yet still somehow almost made the playoffs. But it’s not really the Rays we should be talking about here, in terms of 2015, as the Boston Red Sox once again had a dominant season, running through the competition all the way until he fell to the Cubs—the second year in a row in which Boston had made the finals, only to fall short. Will 2017 be his year?
Lastly, we had the AL West, which had one of the league’s two 80-game winners in Houston, leading the pack. Behind them was the Texas Rangers, also a 2015 playoff team, who despite having 16 less wins that the division leader, was not a team to be taken lightly. In fact, Texas made it into the playoffs and managed to beat KC in the opening round, then upset rival Houston by less than 4 points in the second round, only to fall to Boston Round 3. Still, an impressive season by both teams. The other teams in the division, Oakland, Los Angeles, and Seattle, will look to improve upon disappointing seasons in 2015.
At this point, I’d like to give out a few different awards from the season. I took a look back at the season from a high level and reached these conclusions, so do try your best to not get mad at me for them!
Let’s get started.
Oakland Athletics send:
Kansis City Royals send:
For my money, the best trade of the year, and one that helped Kansas City make it into the playoffs. At $1.2 and having scored more than 552 points on the year, Villar may be one of the top value-output players in the league, this side of Mookie Betts.
I should be clear in stating that I think this trade was a win for KC. From the Oakland side, I don’t really understand it is as much, as he received 0 prospects from the top 100. Jorge Bonifacio looks like a decent prospect and is ranked #2 in the KC system, whild Tyler Mahle is likely the second best player coming back in the deal, and he is #7 ranked in the Astros system. Villar, on the other hand, was the 25th ranked overall player last year.
That said, prospect rankings are not necessarily gospel, so who knows, maybe this trade looks nice for both teams this year or soon. But in looking right now, it’s a clear win for the Royals.
Biggest /most controversial trade:
I hate to involve myself in any of these superlative mentions, but I would say that this was most likely, in fact, the biggest and perhaps most controversial trade, given the amount of players.
In the deal, I sent Dansby Swanson over to Tampa Bay, who set back:
As well as the following prospects:
Now, to put this deal into perspective, Malcolm and I were engaged in trade talks for a while before it got to this. I basically told him I wasn’t going to trade Swanson to him, but he countered with a deal that I just could not refuse.
If you boil this down, I’ve already dropped Bethancourt and Giavotella, and I traded Chris Davis last year for Todd Frazier, who I traded this year for catching prospect Austin Hedges and Jedd Gyorko. I also plan to keep Greinke. But in return, Malcolm has (what we both believe to be) a young, cheap, cornerstone player at a premium position. Yes, it looked big on the surface, and it was, but ultimately, we both though it to be more than fair.
Least active trader:
This award goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who made 0 in-season trades, and only one offseason trade that involved the swapping of draft picks. Still, this is a team that won 55 games last year, so maybe with a few strategic moves, they will be right back in the thick of things in 2017.
Most active trader:
This goes to the New York Yankees. Christian Tobler, who took over in 2015, made a whopping 59 trades. This includes activations of players from the minors to majors, but upon closer look, a vast majority of these moves are actual trades. In 2015, the team was 8-85, and this year, 37-56. A 29-game improvement is a big one, and these moves played a big role in that.
How many more games can the Yankees win this year?
Speaking of big turnarounds, nobody had a bigger one than the Cincinnati Reds, who went from 3-90 in 2015 to 37-56 in 2016.
This was also a team that made a good deal of trades last year. Again, can the rebuild project continue, and gain momentum into 2017? Time will tell.
Lastly, I wanted to recognize the teams that scored 23,000 or more. I chose this number because all teams reaching this mark won money, and were right at the top of the standings throughout basically the entire season. Whether or not this number will be a similar benchmark for 2017 is yet to be seen, but there is no denying that the following teams, which all scored 23,000 or more, had success this year: Cubs, Astros, Brewers, Marlins, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Nationals.
In terms of making predictions for next year, that will come in a separate article later in the offseason. This article was meant to provide a year-in-review type of retrospective, and to hopefully motivate teams who are either looking to repeat upon past success, or to achieve it for the first time.
Regardless of which category you fall into, the 2016 season is now over, and we are looking into 2017 with new hope and optimism. Good luck to everyone in their offseason preparations, and thanks for a great year.