MLB 2016 Predictions: Ranking Top 15 Predicted Opening Day Lineups

It’s Spring Training time! Pitchers and catchers are reporting, and I’m feeling like making predictions and rankings lists. Here’s how the top lineups stack up, with projected WAR (wins above replacement) next to each player’s name according to Fangraphs’ FANS and Depth Charts projections (note: Dexter Fowler is presumed to be an Oriole and Ian Desmond a Rockie in this exercise):

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (32 projected WAR):
    1. Michael Saunders LF  (1.3 WAR)
    2. Josh Donaldson 3B (7.4 WAR)
    3. Jose Bautista RF (4.8 WAR)
    4. Edwin Encarnacion DH (3.6 WAR)
    5. Troy Tulowitzki SS (5.0 WAR)
    6. Chris Colabello 1B (0.5 WAR)
    7. Russell Martin C (4.4 WAR)
    8. Kevin Pillar CF (3.5 WAR)
    9. Ryan Goins 2B (1.5 WAR)
  2. Chicago Cubs (33.2 projected WAR)
    1. Jason Heyward CF (5.5 WAR)
    2. Ben Zobrist 2B (3.3 WAR)
    3. Kris Bryant 3B (6.5 WAR)
    4. Anthony Rizzo 1B (5.5 WAR)
    5. Kyle Schwarber LF (3.1 WAR)
    6. Jorge Soler RF (2.2 WAR)
    7. Miguel Montero C (2.2 WAR)
    8. Pitcher
    9. Addison Russell SS (4.9 WAR)
  3. Houston Astros (27 projected WAR)
    1. Jose Altuve 2B (4.3 WAR)
    2. George Springer RF (4.8 WAR)
    3. Carlos Correa SS (6.3 WAR)
    4. Carlos Gomez CF (3.9 WAR)
    5. Colby Rasmus LF (2.0 WAR)
    6. Evan Gattis DH (0.5 WAR)
    7. Luis Valbuena 3B (2.0 WAR)
    8. Jon Singleton 1B (1.4 WAR)
    9. Jason Castro C (1.8 WAR)
  4. Boston Red Sox (26.4 projected WAR)
    1. Mookie Betts RF (5.1 WAR)
    2. Dustin Pedoia 2B (4.0 WAR)
    3. Xander Bogaerts SS (4.7 WAR)
    4. David Ortiz DH (2.3 WAR)
    5. Hanley Ramirez 1B (1.3 WAR)
    6. Pablo Sandoval 3B (1.2 WAR)
    7. Rusney Castillo LF (1.6 WAR)
    8. Blake Swihart C (2.3 WAR)
    9. Jackie Bradley Jr CF (3.9 WAR)
  5. Detroit Tigers (29.3 projected WAR)
    1. Ian Kinsler 2B (3.6 WAR)
    2. Justin Upton LF (3.9 WAR)
    3. Miguel Cabrera 1B (6.1 WAR)
    4. JD Martinez RF (4.8 WAR)
    5. Victor Martinez DH (0.9 WAR)
    6. Nick Castellanos 3B (2.5 WAR)
    7. Cameron Maybin CF (1.7 WAR)
    8. James McCann C (2.2 WAR)
    9. Jose Iglesias SS (3.6 WAR)
  6. Texas Rangers (21.9 projected WAR)
    1. Delino DeShields CF (3.4 WAR)
    2. Shin Soo Choo RF (2.9 WAR)
    3. Adrian Beltre 3B (4.0 WAR)
    4. Prince Fielder DH (2.2 WAR)
    5. Mitch Moreland 1B (2.0 WAR)
    6. Josh Hamilton LF (0.5 WAR)
    7. Rougned Odor 2B (3.1 WAR)
    8. Elvis Andrus SS (2.0 WAR)
    9. Robinson Chirinos C (1.8 WAR)
  7. Baltimore Orioles (27.5 projected WAR)
    1. Dexter Fowler RF (3.0 WAR)
    2. Manny Machado 3B (6.7 WAR)
    3. Adam Jones CF (4.4 WAR)
    4. Chris Davis 1B (4.1 WAR)
    5. Matt Wieters C (3.0 WAR)
    6. Mark Trumbo DH (0.4 WAR)
    7. Jonathan Schoop 2B (2.6 WAR)
    8. JJ Hardy SS (1.6 WAR)
    9. Hyun-Soo Kim LF (1.7 WAR)
  8. Kansas City Royals (27 projected WAR)
    1. Alcides Escobar SS (1.8 WAR)
    2. Mike Moustakas 3B (3.9 WAR)
    3. Lorenzo Cain CF (6.0 WAR)
    4. Eric Hosmer 1B (3.3 WAR)
    5. Kendrys Morales DH (2.1 WAR)
    6. Alex Gordon LF (4.7 WAR)
    7. Salvador Perez C (3.4 WAR)
    8. Omar Infante 2B (0.0 WAR)
    9. Jarrod Dyson RF (1.8 WAR)
  9. Washington Nationals (21.2 projected WAR)
    1. Ben Revere CF (1.4 WAR)
    2. Anthony Rendon 3B (4.5 WAR)
    3. Bryce Harper RF (7.7 WAR)
    4. Ryan Zimmerman 1B (1.5 WAR)
    5. Jayson Werth LF (2.o WAR)
    6. Daniel Murphy 2B (1.9 WAR)
    7. Wilson Ramos C (1.7 WAR)
    8. Danny Espinosa SS (0.5 WAR)
    9. Pitcher
  10. Los Angeles Dodgers (21.7 projected WAR)
    1. Howie Kendrick 2B (1.9 WAR)
    2. Corey Seager SS (2.9 WAR)
    3. Justin Turner 3B (2.3 WAR)
    4. Adrian Gonzalez 1B (2.8 WAR)
    5. Yasiel Puig RF (4.4 WAR)
    6. Andre Ethier LF (1.6 WAR)
    7. Yasmani Grandal C (2.5 WAR)
    8. Joc Pederson CF (3.3 WAR)
    9. Pitcher
  11. San Francisco Giants (31.2 projected WAR)
    1. Denard Span CF (3.3 WAR)
    2. Joe Panik 2B (4.7 WAR)
    3. Matt Duffy 3B (3.9 WAR)
    4. Buster Posey C (6.5 WAR)
    5. Hunter Pence RF (4.1 WAR)
    6. Brandon Belt 1B (4.5 WAR)
    7. Brandon Crawford SS (4.2 WAR)
    8. Angel Pagan LF (0.0 WAR)
    9. Pitcher
  12. Colorado Rockies (16.2 projected WAR)
    1. Charlie Blackmon CF (2.1 WAR)
    2. DJ Lemahieu 2B (1.9 WAR)
    3. Nolan Arenado 3B (4.6 WAR)
    4. Carlos Gonzalez RF (2.0 WAR)
    5. Ian Desmond SS (2.5 WAR)
    6. Mark Reynolds 1B (0.8 WAR)
    7. Gerardo Parra LF (0.6 WAR)
    8. Nick Hundley C (1.7 WAR)
    9. Pitcher
  13. Arizona Diamondbacks (19.6 projected WAR)
    1. AJ Pollock CF (5.6 WAR)
    2. Jake Lamb 3B (2.2 WAR)
    3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B (6.4 WAR)
    4. David Peralta RF (2.6 WAR)
    5. Welington Castillo C (1.9 WAR)
    6. Yasmany Tomas LF (-0.2 WAR)
    7. Chris Owings 2B (0.2 WAR)
    8. Jean Segura SS (0.9 WAR)
    9. Pitcher
  14. New York Mets (27.8 projected WAR)
    1. Curtis Granderson RF (3.6 WAR)
    2. David Wright 3B (3.3 WAR)
    3. Yoenis Cespedes CF (4.0 WAR)
    4. Lucas Duda 1B (3.0 WAR)
    5. Michael Conforto LF (4.4 WAR)
    6. Neil Walker 2B (2.9 WAR)
    7. Travis d’Arnaud C (4.5 WAR)
    8. Asdrubal Cabrera SS (2.1 WAR)
    9. Pitcher
  15. Minnesota Twins (20.9 projected WAR)
    1. Byron Buxton CF (2.7 WAR)
    2. Brian Dozier 2B (3.5 WAR)
    3. Joe Mauer 1B (1.5 WAR)
    4. Miguel Sano RF (4.3 WAR)
    5. Trevor Plouffe 3B (2.7 WAR)
    6. Byung-Ho Park DH (1.9 WAR)
    7. Eddie Rosario LF (2.2 WAR)
    8. John Ryan Murphy C (1.1 WAR)
    9. Eduardo Escobar SS (1.0 WAR)

Just missed: Yankees, Angels, Cardinals, Pirates, White Sox


NBA Power Rankings, Post All-Star Break

The NBA All-Star Break is about to end, and here are your power rankings as of this moment (note: not an NBA expert, so my opinions are more surface-level than most):

  1. Golden State Warriors (48-4)- As of right now, Golden State is on pace to break the record for the most wins by any team in NBA regular season history, which would break the record of the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. With the MVP play of Stephen Curry, an outstanding supporting cast including All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, and a deep bench, this team has shown its ability to beat the NBA’s elite, and thus are favorably positioned for a historic second half.
  2. San Antonio Spurs (45-8)- While the Warriors may be the best team, if they lose focus at all, San Antonio is quite close behind. They are on pace for the best scoring differential in NBA history, outscoring opponents by 13.3 points per game, and have an All-Star frontcourt of Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, mainstays Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, and deep bench that looks poised to challenge the Warriors for best in the West for the rest of the season
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder (40-14)- Possibly the second-hottest team besides the Warriors heading into the All-Star break, the Thunder, led by outstanding play by excellent frontcourt-backcourt duo Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, are rolling teams offensively in a way that only the Warriors can challenge. They also gave the Warriors the biggest scare in their recent win streak, and although they lost, a rematch in OKC is one to watch for the second half
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers (38-14)- With the coaching switch from David Blatt to Tyronn Lue, the Cavs have definitely played better and remain the class of the East. What remains to be seen is what happens to Kevin Love or Timofey Mozgov at the trade deadline, and how the Cavs can hold off the challenging Raptors. But, with LeBron James on the team, anything is possible.
  5. Toronto Raptors (35-17)- The biggest challengers in the East to the Cavaliers, the Raptors have the East’s best backcourt with All-Stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan, and now that the Toronto All-Star game has passed, the Raptors must stay relevant by continuing to chip away at the Cavalier’s lead. Their true test, however, will not be passed unless they contend deep into the Eastern Conference playoffs.
  6. Boston Celtics (32-23)- The Celtics had been one of basketball’s hottest teams going into the break, and can possibly rise in these rankings if they improve significantly after the trade deadline.
  7. Los Angeles Clippers (35-18)- Clearly the fourth-best team in the West, the Clippers are waiting for the return of Blake Griffin from injury and suspension. However, with the strong performance of the team without him, there is a possibility he may be changing teams at the trade deadline.
  8. Memphis Grizzlies (31-22)- They were playing well prior to the break, but the loss of Marc Gasol could lead to a clear tumble down the rankings
  9. Atlanta Hawks (31-24)- It remains to be seen whether they trade Al Horford or Jeff Teague, but the Hawks remain strong contenders in the East for the time being.
  10. Portland Trail Blazers (27-27)- The strong play of Damian Lillard has led to a leap into strong for the Blazers into playoff contention as long as their hot streak continues
  11. Miami Heat (29-24)- The injury to Chris Bosh may be devastating, but Miami’s decisions at the trade deadline could aid their issues
  12. Utah Jazz (26-26)- Like the Trail Blazers, recent strong play by their stars such as Gordon Hayward have brought the Jazz into contention in the West with a hot streak
  13. Dallas Mavericks (29-26)- A cold spell has hurt the Mavs, but with a return to health for Dirk and trade deadline activity possible, they are still contenders
  14. Indiana Pacers (28-25)- The recent cold stretch hasn’t put the Pacers out of contention in the East, but Paul George and his teammates need to refocus and play better
  15. Charlotte Hornets (27-26)- A hot stretch brought the Hornets back over .500 and into contention, but it remains to be seen how they will replace Michael Kidd-Gilchrist once again
  16. Detroit Pistons (27-27)- A three game losing streak prior to the All Star break dropped their record to .500, but due to many injuries to key players of East playoff contenders, the Pistons are very much still in contention
  17. Houston Rockets (27-28)- While James Harden continues to be one of the game’s best offensive players, the lack of team defense and cohesiveness has led to a fall for the Rockets, and their trade deadline seems to be focused on how to get a good return for Dwight Howard before he bolts into free agency
  18. Washington Wizards (23-28)- In spite of the pre-All Star Break cold streak, their schedule, easiest in the NBA post-break, combined with injuries throughout may allow for Washington to sneak into playoff contention if John Wall can gain the necessary help and get the team on a hot streak
  19. Chicago Bulls (27-25)- This team has gone from playoff contender to disaster due to the injury to their All-Star shooting guard and best player Jimmy Butler sidelining him for about 4 weeks. The Bulls are not built to survive injuries as large as this, and thus will continue to slide out of playoff contention without Butler
  20. Orlando Magic (23-29)- A strong start led to promise for the Magic, but a massive cold streak has led to them slipping out of contention. But, if they can play like they were early on, the Magic have a chance
  21. New York Knicks (23-32)- They may have just fired their head coach, but with All-Star Carmelo Anthony and dominant rookie Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks certainly have the ability to play spoiler in the East
  22. Denver Nuggets (22-32)- Unlike other teams in the bottom tier, the Nuggets have been playing better and thus are in the top half of the bottom 10
  23. New Orleans Pelicans (20-33)- In spite of the presence of All-Star forward Anthony Davis, injuries and poor play have led to a lost season for the Pelicans. Trade deadline deals may be necessary to rebuild the team around Davis
  24. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-37)- The dominant play of rookie Karl-Anthony Towns, the unbelievable dunking skills of Zach LaVine, and potential for Andrew Wiggins give the T-Wolves a bright future, but for now, maximizing the value of Ricky Rubio at the trade deadline could lead to contention sooner than later for a developing team in need of even more young talent
  25. Milwaukee Bucks (22-32)- The one positive for the Bucks this season: they somehow were the first team to beat the Warriors. Otherwise, not much else to say
  26. Sacramento Kings (22-31)- The team’s strong offense, led by All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, has been undermined by horrific defense. Decisions at the trade deadline will be crucial for this team’s future
  27. Brooklyn Nets (14-40)- The team is in all-out sell mode as they try to recover from a horrendous season
  28. Los Angeles Lakers (11-44)- Kobe’s farewell tour continues, as his final All-Star weekend has ended. The team, however, should sell other veterans and remain in contention for a high lottery pick as they remain at the bottom of the West
  29. Philadelphia 76ers (8-45)- The process continues, and the trade deadline will bring much intrigue
  30. Phoenix Suns (14-40)- They will sell off Markieff Morris, and they will continue to lose

2016 MLB Regular Season Predictions

Here are my predictions, division by division:

AL East:

  1. Toronto Blue Jays- 90-72
  2. Boston Red Sox- 86-76
  3. Baltimore Orioles- 84-78
  4. New York Yankees- 83-79
  5. Tampa Bay Rays- 79-83

In the tightest division in baseball, the Blue Jays come out on top due to their potent lineup and the presence of reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson. The Red Sox are much improved in the pitching staff with the additions of David Price, Craig Kimbrel, and Carson Smith to go along with their high-upside young hitters like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts the . However, the Orioles, with an underrated lineup and the assumed addition of Yovani Gallardo, will finish with a better record than the aging Yankees, who, in spite of their excellent bullpen, will not have healthy enough production from A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, or Carlos Beltran to contend. The Rays, meanwhile, may just be the best last-place team in baseball this year, and could even contend for the playoff if all breaks right.

AL Central:

  1. Kansas City Royals- 93-69
  2. Cleveland Indians- 85-77
  3. Detroit Tigers- 82-80
  4. Minnesota Twins- 79-83
  5. Chicago White Sox- 78-84

A division thought to be tightly packed next year, the AL Central contains the best team in the American League and defending World Champions, the Kansas City Royals, who look poised to repeat as division champs. The Cleveland Indians house the AL’s best rotation, led by 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, yet their offense will cause them to fall just short of the playoffs. Detroit has improved its offense and bullpen via the additions of Justin Upton, Francisco Rodriguez, and Justin Wilson, yet its starting rotation outside of Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Verlander remains highly questionable. The Twins, while a young team on the rise, were quite lucky last year, and thus regress to the mean due to growing pains. Finally, the White Sox, in spite of the additions of Todd Frazier and Brett Lawrie, still have massive holes at shortstop, right field, DH, and the back end of their rotation that will lead to their last place finish.

AL West:

  1. Houston Astros- 92-70
  2. Texas Rangers- 87-75
  3. Seattle Mariners- 81-81
  4. Oakland Athletics- 77-85
  5. Los Angeles Angels- 75-87

The AL West houses two major World Series Contenders, the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Houston, powered by its star position players Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, and George Springer, as well as reigning Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and newly acquired closer Ken Giles, will win their first division title as an American League team. The Rangers, with perennial MVP candidates Prince Fielder and Adrian Beltre as well as two aces in Cole Hamels and the returning Yu Darvish, are also a strong bet for the playoffs. The Mariners, while much improved in the offseason, are still a ways away from contention. The Athletics are the most nameless team in the American League, aside from ace Sonny Gray, and failed to improve their offense outside of trading for Khris Davis. And finally, most surprising of all, the Angels, in spite of having the modern day Mickey Mantle and face of baseball Mike Trout on their team, will finish with the worst record in the American League due to their lackluster lineup outside of Trout and Pujols, questionable and injury-prone rotation, and nameless bullpen that lost one of its best relievers in Trevor Gott.

NL East:

  1. New York Mets- 91-71
  2. Washington Nationals- 87-75
  3. Miami Marlins- 79-83
  4. Atlanta Braves- 67-95
  5. Philadelphia Phillies- 65-97

The worst division in baseball houses the defending NL pennant winners, the New York Mets, who are poised to repeat as division champions with their incredible young rotation and the return of Yoenis Cespedes. The Nationals will bounce back due to the added support around reigning MVP Bryce Harper in leadoff man Ben Revere and postseason hero Daniel Murphy as well as strong seasons by ace Max Scherzer and free agent-to-be Stephen Strasburg. The Marlins will inch closer to contention with fully healthy seasons from Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez and the addition of new manager Don Mattingly. The Braves and Phillies, meanwhile, are in continuing rebuild mode, with hopes to contend in the coming years due to the rise of their plentiful young prospects.

NL Central:

  1. Chicago Cubs- 100-62
  2. St. Louis Cardinals- 85-77
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates- 84-78
  4. Cincinnati Reds- 69-93
  5. Milwaukee Brewers- 64-98

The NL Central was the best division in baseball last year. However, the Cubs improved so drastically that they will be considered the team to beat in baseball this year and your World Series favorites, with established young superstars Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and ace and reigning Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta, as well as veterans like Jon Lester and new additions Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and John Lackey. The Cardinals and Pirates, however, lost quite a bit of talent in free agency, and thus will have down years, but still remain in Wild Card contention. The Reds and Brewers, however, will continue their respective rebuilds, with the Brewers possibly having the most barren roster in all of baseball before its prospects ascend.

NL West:

  1. San Francisco Giants- 92-70
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers- 88-74
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks- 84-78
  4. San Diego Padres- 74-88
  5. Colorado Rockies- 70-92

This division has majorly improved in the offseason, especially in the cases of San Francisco and Arizona. The Giants added a second ace behind Madison Bumgarner in Johnny Cueto, as well as top-tier third starter Jeff Samardzija and center field dynamo Denard Span, and will likely have a return to health for star Hunter Pence to supplement baseball’s strongest infield and superstar catcher Buster Posey. The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, grabbed ace Zack Greinke on the free agent market and traded for a strong #2 in Shelby Miller to supplement the NL’s second best offense and best defense in 2015, led by stars Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollock. However, the Diamondbacks will fall just short of the postseason due to the Dodgers’ unreal position player depth and the presence of all-world ace Clayton Kershaw and Rookie of the Year frontrunner Corey Seager, along with new rotation additions Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda. The Padres and Rockies, meanwhile, are both caught in between contention and rebuilding, with the Padres’ attempted free agent frenzy in 2015 having not paid off and the Rockies’ never-ending search for consistently good pitching.

Postseason Projections:

AL Wild Card- Rangers over Red Sox

ALDS- Royals over Rangers, Astros over Blue Jays

ALCS- Astros over Royals

NL Wild Card- Dodgers over Nationals

NLDS- Cubs over Dodgers, Giants over Mets

NLCS- Cubs over Giants

World Series- Cubs over Astros

Postseason Award Predictions:

AL MVP- Carlos Correa, Houston Astros

AL Cy Young- Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

AL Rookie of the Year- Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins

AL Manager of the Year- John Farrell, Boston Red Sox

AL Comeback Player of the Year- Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

NL MVP- Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

NL Cy Young- Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Rookie of the Year- Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Manager of the Year- Dusty Baker, Washington Nationals

NL Comeback Player of the Year- Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants







Hello and welcome to the Brilliant Play Sports Blog! My name is Daniel Brilliant, and I will be providing my opinions on the most relevant issues in the three major American sportss well as predictions, statistical analysis, and recaps of NFL and college football, NBA and college basketball, and MLB baseball, with a focus on the teams in the Baltimore-Washington area, but with takes on national stories as well. I hope you will all read and enjoy my takes on relevant sports news!