Can Any Team Stop the Cubs in October?

After making the playoffs last season following a seven-year drought, many felt that the time had finally arrived in which the Cubs would break their historic curse and win the World Series title that has eluded them for over a century.cubs However, despite making it all the way to the National League Championship series for the first time since 2003, the Cubs were promptly swept in four games by the Mets.

This season, the Cubs are setting themselves up nicely once again. They have a great team, which has been evident all season long, allowing them to be the first team to officially clinch a postseason spot, as well as run away with the division title by a whopping 17 games over the Cardinals.

But the big question is, are the Cubs setting themselves up for a magical finish to the year or yet another disappointing conclusion?

One of the key differences from the team the Cubs put on the field last season and the one they have this time around is their overall dominance. From week one of the season, the Cubs put their talent on full display, taking the division title with ease (they wound up in third place last season), having never been out of first place since the first few games of the year.

Their offense is extremely good, despite the collective team stats saying otherwise. The Cubs don’t sit in the top few slots in either home runs or batting average for their team, but with 30+ homer guys such as Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo — who are both considered top MVP-candidates — the Cubs have plenty of thump to get the job done.

But as good as their lineup is, it’s their pitching that puts them in historic territory.

Four of the Cubs’ rotation options from this season hold ERA’s below 3.00, with all of their starters having recorded ERA’s less than 3.60, chapmanall adding up to a collective team ERA (including the bullpen) of just over 3.00 — by far the best in all of baseball.

On top of their fantastic starting pitching, holding an elite closer in Aroldis Chapman to get the job done at the end of the game gives the Cubs a great chance at a win day in and day out.

However, as has been proven in the past, a win isn’t guaranteed by any means in the month of October, no matter how good of a roster any team may possess. All it takes is for an under-the-radar team to get hot at just the right time and come along to kill the dreams of any given team.

But does any team actually have a chance of beating the Cubs when the postseason rolls around in less than three weeks? Obviously, the answer is yes — anything can and usually does happen in October. But although it remains a possibility, I — along with a great number of people around the baseball world — believe that this could actually end up being the year the Cubs win it all (I said that in 2015, too).

No team could stop the Cubs in the regular season.

Only time will tell if the same will hold true in the postseason.

Time Running Out for Teams Looking to Make Playoffs

There comes a point in every baseball season when teams who have kept hope alive all year long for a turnaround that would see them subsequently powering their way to the playoffs have to face the reality that time has simply run out.cole

For the Braves and Twins, that point in the season has already come and gone, as they have both officially been eliminated from playoff contention. For another nine squads still technically in the race, a shot at the postseason is looking very slim, as they’ve already been eliminated from the possibility of winning their given division, with their elimination number to grab even a wild card spot growing smaller and smaller everyday.

Eight teams have elimination numbers in the single digits (the Rays are just two loses away from complete elimination) with just under twenty games left in the regular season. With things slowly begin to wind down, a rough idea of the teams that will make up the postseason is already starting to take shape.

The Cubs are well on their way to a 100-win season, and should become the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the coming weeks. Likewise, the Nationals and Rangers are approaching 90-win seasons, and look to be postseason-bound.

However, on the flip side, teams such as the Marlins, Pirates and Rockies in the National League, and the Astros, Mariners and Royals in the American League, are going to have to go on major runs to have any shot at a Wild Card spot. Given, baseball is a game in which any team can go on a major run at any point in the year and make the postseason in spectacular fashion (the Mariners have won six straight), the chance of doing so with so few games left is a major feat to attempt to accomplish.

But even if a team or two does shock the world and make the playoffs, the most difficult part of their journey won’t be complete. They’ll then have to go up against powerhouse teams such as the Cubs, who seem determined to make the World Series and end their century-long World Championship drought. For that reason, it’ll be interesting to watch all the teams around baseball to see what goes down over the next few weeks.

Time may be running out, but the fun is just beginning.

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – August 31st)

With the first five months of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.

But instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads that particular category. I’ve done lists like these for the past several years, and they have been well received, so I decided to do it again.

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but not AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played – Alcides Escobar, Jonathan Schoop and George Springer (133).

Most At-Bats – Mookie Betts (559)

Most Hits – Jose Altuve (184)

Highest Average – Jose Altuve (.351)

Highest OBP – Mike Trout (.436)

Highest SLG – David Ortiz (.622)

Most Runs – Kris Bryant (111)

Most Doubles – David Ortiz (42)

Most Triples – Brandon Crawford, Cesar Hernandez and Chris Owings (9).

Most Home Runs – Mark Trumbo (40)

Most RBI’s – Nolan Arenado (115)

Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (95)

Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (181)

Most Stolen Bases – Billy Hamilton (54)

Most Caught Stealing – Jonathan Villar (16)

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (16)

Most Hit By Pitch – Brandon Guyer (29)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Francisco Lindor (11)

Most Total Bases – Mookie Betts (315)

Most Extra Base Hits – David Ortiz (74)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – David Ortiz (22)

Most Ground Outs – Alcides Escobar (200)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Paul Goldschmidt (2,488)

Most Plate Appearances – George Springer (612)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Rick Porcello (18)

Most Losses – Chris Archer (17)

Best ERA – Kyle Hendricks (2.09)

Most Games Started – Eight players tied for most (28).

Most Games Pitched – Zach Duke and Hector Nerris (67).

Most Saves – Jeurys Familia (44)

Most Innings Pitched – Max Scherzer (190)

Most Hits Allowed – Jered Weaver (187)

Most Runs Allowed – Patrick Corbin (107)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – James Shields (97)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Josh Tomlin (35)

Most Strikeouts – Max Scherzer (238)

Most Walks – Francisco Liriano (79)

Most Complete Games – Chris Sale (5)

Most Shutouts – Clayton Kershaw (3)

Best Opponent Avg. – Jake Arrieta (.185)

Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (56)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (35)

Most Wild Pitches – Mike Fiers and Sonny Gray (15).

Most Balks – Matt Andriese and Antonio Bastardo (4).

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (41)

Most Pickoffs – Julio Urias (5)

Most Batters Faced – David Price (765)

Most Pitches Thrown – Justin Verlander (3,012)

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – July 31st)

With the first four months of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.

But instead of talking about the events that have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads that particular category. I’ve done lists like these for the past several years, and they have been well received, so I decided to do it again.

The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but not AL or NL:

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING

Most Games Played – Odubel Herrera (106)

Most At-Bats – Mookie Betts

Most Hits – Jose Altuve (145)

Highest Average – Jose Altuve (.356)

Highest OBP – Jose Altuve and Mike Trout (.425)

Highest SLG – David Ortiz (.643)

Most Runs – Josh Donaldson (87)

Most Doubles – David Ortiz (35)

Most Triples – Jake Lamb (8)

Most Home Runs – Mark Trumbo (30)

Most RBI’s – Edwin Encarnacion (89)

Most Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (80)

Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (144)

Most Stolen Bases – Jonathan Villar (38)

Most Caught Stealing – Jonathan Villar (12)

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (16)

Most Hit By Pitch – Brandon Guyer (23)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Francisco Lindor (11)

Most Total Bases – Mookie Betts (235)

Most Extra Base Hits – David Ortiz (61)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Yunel Escobar (19)

Most Ground Outs – Alcides Escobar (169)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Mike Trout (1,984)

Most Plate Appearances – Mookie Betts and George Springer (469)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Five players tied for most (14).

Most Losses – Chris Archer (14)

Best ERA – Clayton Kershaw (1.79)

Most Games Started – Chris Tillman (23)

Most Games Pitched – Travis Wood (54)

Most Saves – Jeurys Familia (37)

Most Innings Pitched – Madison Bumgarner (150.2)

Most Hits Allowed – Mike Pelfrey (152)

Most Runs Allowed – Patrick Corbin (90)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (75)

Most Home Runs Allowed – R.A. Dickey, Ian Kennedy and Chris Young (26).

Most Strikeouts – Max Scherzer (187)

Most Walks – Francisco Liriano (69)

Most Complete Games – Johnny Cueto (4)

Most Shutouts – Clayton Kershaw (3)

Best Opponent Avg. – Marco Estrada (.181)

Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (48)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (28)

Most Wild Pitches – Sonny Gray (15)

Most Balks – Matt Andriese (4)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (30)

Most Pickoffs – Five players tied for most (4).

Most Batters Faced – David Price (602)

Most Pitches Thrown – Justin Verlander (2,354)

Revisiting My 2016 Preseason Predictions

I’ve been making preseason predictions for each of the past five years for how I feel each team will fare at the end of the season, and it never fails that I come up a long way from reality when all is said and done. This year is certainly no different.

In the American League East, I wasn’t too far off, but I still picked the Orioles to finish fourth, who are now currently in first place in the division. Likewise, in the American League Central, the Tigers have underperformed in my mind, but not as much as the Royals, who I picked to finish first, but are in third. The AL West has seen things going close to how I saw them, but I thought the Angels would be much better than they have been. Even so, I once again have been way off.

Things have gone a little better for me in the National League, however.

I haven’t done terribly in the East, where my pick of the Mets to be leading the division has been the only pick to go a little off track. For the Central, things have gone even better, with the top three teams lining up exactly where I saw them. In the West, I bought into the hype of the Diamondbacks, who sit in last place, despite me selecting them to come in first. But the Giants look destined to finish in first, so I would seem to be right with that one at least.

At the end of the day, there’s still a good amount of season left. Anything can and will happen as teams look to make their powerful pushes towards the postseason. Your guess is as good as mine as to where they’ll line up.

2016 Award Frontrunners at the All-Star Break

Sunday marked the last day of MLB games until Friday, and although the baseball world is currently focused on San Diego and the All-Star game that is set to take place tonight, I wanted to quickly focus my attention on the players who have posted amazing performances throughout the first half of the season.

For this post, I’m covering the players who I feel stand the best chance right now (given, it’s still early) of winning the three major awards of Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. All three awards have multiple players who can be argued as being deserving, but I have my own opinion as to who deserves each award the most at this point in the season.

Most Valuable Player Award

American League: Mark Trumbo

Sitting as the league leader in home runs at the All-Star break, there is no true competition for Mark Trumbo when it Mark Trumbocomes to American League MVP. Trumbo has been absolutely tremendous for the Orioles all season long, batting .288 while driving in 68 runs with 28 homers, and is a huge part in them sitting in first place. Unless things fall apart for Trumbo, he should easily walk away with the award at season’s end.

National League: Kris Bryant

There are far more options to choose from when picking for the National League MVP award, but I’m going with Kris Bryant at the moment. Like the Orioles, the Cubs are in first place large in part due to Bryant’s stellar numbers for yet another season. With 25 home runs, including a three-homer performance earlier in the year, Bryant is truly showing how much of an impact he is in the National League.

Rookie of the Year Award

American League: Nomar Mazara

All season long, Nomar Mazara has wowed fans with his immense power displays that he has been able to put on withMazara each of his eleven home runs. He may not have overwhelming stats, but Mazara has done enough to earn him the American League Rookie of the Year award, in my mind. But even so, there’s a young Tigers’ rookie pitcher by the name of Michael Fulmer who is pressing to overtake Mazara. If Mazara doesn’t keep things going, he may lose out in the end.

National League: Corey Seager

This was one of the most difficult awards to decide upon. From Trevor Story to Kenta Maeda, there are several great options to choose from. But I wound up going with Corey Seager, who was the favorite to win the award even before the season began. With so many top notch NL rookies, this award could truly come down to the wire, but with Seager having blasted 17 homers with 42 RBI’s, all while hitting .297, I’ll go with him for now.

Cy Young Award

American League: Steven Wright

The most recent knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young award came back in 2012 when R.A. Dickey took home theKershaw honor. However, it appears that things may play out that way again this year. Steven Wright has been extremely consistent throughout this season with the Red Sox, breaking out as their true ace of the staff, despite David Price being on the team. Although his strikeout totals aren’t that high, Wright’s AL-best 2.68 ERA really stands out.

National League: Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is currently on the disabled list, but as long as it doesn’t impact the rest of the season, Kershaw looks to be in line for yet another Cy Young award. His closest competition at the moment, Madison Bumgarner, has been just as good as Kershaw, having notched three more starts than Kershaw and holding a 1.94 ERA to Kershaw’s 1.79. When it comes down to it, though, I still see Kershaw pulling out the award win.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with my picks for who deserves each award at this point in the season, one thing is for sure: there is still a lot of season left where any player can have anything happen. With 19 of the 30 teams at .500 or better, in terms of wins-losses go, regardless of the award races, the games following the mid-summer classic are sure to make for an exciting second half.

2016 MLB All-Star Game Rosters Revealed

The American League and National League rosters for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game, set to be held out at Petco Park, in San Diego, California, on July 12th (you can watch it on FOX at 8:00 Eastern) were released on Tuesday evening.

As always, the baseball world is hard at work discussing the rosters, debating over which players were snubbed from the teams, which players didn’t necessarily (in their eyes) deserve to make the cut, and (most importantly) which team they think will win when all is said and done. But that comes with each and every year and is part of what makes things so fun.

Here are the official All-Star rosters:

American League

Starters

C: Salvador Perez (4th)

1B: Eric Hosmer (1st)

2B: Jose Altuve (4th)

SS: Xander Bogaerts (1st)

3B: Manny Machado (3rd)

OF: Mike Trout (5th), Jackie Bradley Jr. (1st), Mookie Betts (1st)

DH: David Ortiz (10th)

Pitchers

LHP: Chris Sale (5th)

RHP: Craig Kimbrel (5th)

LHP: Zach Britton (2nd)

LHP: Andrew Miller (1st)

RHP: Wade Davis (2nd)

RHP: Marco Estrada (1st)

LHP: Cole Hamels (4th)

RHP: Danny Salazar (1st)

RHP: Steven Wright (1st)

RHP: Dellin Betances (3rd)

RHP: Brad Brach (1st)

RHP: Alex Colome (1st)

RHP: Kelvin Herrera (2nd)

RHP: Will Harris (1st)

Reserves

C: Stephen Vogt (2nd), Matt Wieters (4th)

1B: Miguel Cabrera (11th)

2B: Robinson Cano (7th)

SS: Francisco Lindor (1st), Eduardo Nunez (1st)

3B: Josh Donaldson (3rd)

OF: Carlos Beltran (9th), Ian Desmond (2nd), Mark Trumbo (2nd)

DH: Edwin Encarnacion (3rd)

National League

Starters

C: Buster Posey (4th)

1B: Anthony Rizzo (3rd)

2B: Ben Zobrist (3rd)

SS: Addison Russell (1st)

3B: Kris Bryant (2nd)

OF: Bryce Harper (4th), Yoenis Cespedes (2nd), Dexter Fowler (1st)

Pitchers

LHP: Clayton Kershaw (6th)

RHP: Jake Arrieta (1st)

RHP: Noah Syndergaard (1st)

RHP: Stephen Strasburg (2nd)

LHP: Madison Bumgarner (4th)

RHP: Jose Fernandez (2nd)

RHP: Johnny Cueto (2nd)

LHP: Jon Lester (4th)

RHP: Julio Teheran (2nd)

RHP: Jeurys Familia (1st)

RHP: Kenley Jansen (1st)

RHP: Mark Melancon (3rd)

RHP: A.J. Ramos (1st)

RHP: Fernando Rodney (3rd)

Reserves

C: Jonathan Lucroy (2nd), Wilson Ramos (1st)

1B: Paul Goldschmidt (4th), Wil Myers (1st)

2B: Daniel Murphy (2nd)

SS: Corey Seager (1st)

3B: Nolan Arenado (2nd), Matt Carpenter (3rd)

OF: Carlos Gonzalez (3rd), Odubel Herrera (1st), Marcell Ozuna (1st) Adam Duvall (1st)

Final Five

The final rosters for the 2016 All-Star game aren’t complete just yet, however. There is still one final spot up for grabs in the American League and National League. Which players fill those roles comes down to the fans. From now until Friday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, you have the opportunity to vote for either Brandon Belt, Ryan Braun, Jake Lamb, Starling Marte or Trevor Story in the NL, and Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Saunders or George Springer  the AL.

For what it’s worth, I plan to cast my vote for Jake Lamb and George Springer, who are each having somewhat under-the-radar, but superb years. You can pick whoever you want to by going HERE and casting your ballot. It should be interesting to see how the game goes a week from tonight.