Big Innings takes a look at the four divisions to see what each team has and where each team will finish.
In 2015, the AWD sent two teams to the playoffs - and one went to the World Series. The Goofs were the surprise team to make the post season where they lost to their AWD brethren, the Sidewinders. The Snakes then went to the World Series, where they blew a 3-1 lead in what Bob Costas referred to as the "greatest blow job in NASOMA history." What lies in store for the AWD in 2016? Will the Snakes repeat as division champs? Will they return to the World Series for the third straight year? And if so, who will kick their ass this time? Can the Goofs get back to the post season? Can the Tweeners ride their starting pitchers to the playoffs? Can the Bees field a team? Read on, faithful readers...
The Tweeners continue to have the best rotation in the division with Gray, MadBum, King Felix, and Miller. The Snakes have pared their rotation down to just the top 3: Sale, Cueto, and Lester. Still pretty dang good. The Goofs have 2 aces in deGrom and Tanaka, but not much else. The Bees are loaded with talent (Teheran, Zimmermann, Jose Fernandez, AWood), but they're all coming off either injuries or so-so years.
The Sidewinders (Davis, Miller, Kimbrel, Chapman) have the best pen in NASOMA again (although the Wahoos could argue this point). The Goofs are a long way behind the Snakes, but still better than the Tweeners or the Bees. In fact, the Bees have no relievers right now.
1. Vogt/Gomes, Tweeners
2. Grandal, Sidewinders
3. Chirinos, Bees
4. Salty/Rivera, Goofs
Not exactly a stellar group. When the "run on catchers" happens, look for these teams to be involved.
1. Belt, Sidewinders
2. Freeman, Bees
3. Duda, Goofs
4. Lind, Tweeners
Not a lot of difference between these 4 left-handed first sackers, but Belt gets the nod over Freeman.
1. Gordon, Sidewinders
2. Zobrist/Schoop, Tweeners
3. Phillips, Goofs
4. Solarte/Gyorko, Bees
The Sidewinders had a really good draft last year, getting Dee in the 1st, Wade Davis in the 2nd, and David Peralta in the 3rd. Another reason the Snakes are so good.
1. Arenado, Tweeners
2. Longoria/Wright, Sidewinders
3. Freese/Espinosa, Goofs
4. Solarte/Gallo, Bees
Despite anything the Shredder might have come up with, there aren't a lot of 3b who could be ranked ahead of Arenado.
1. Iglesias/Cozart, Tweeners
2. Gregorius, Sidewinders
3. JPeralta, Bees
4. ARamirez, Goofs
The injury to Iglesias two years ago is probably what cost the Tweeners in 2015. Now he's back. And when the Tweeners lead going to the 9th, he can always pull an "Oiler" and yank his ss-1e16 to bring in his ss-1e10.
1. Brantley/Marte/Ruggiano, Sidewinders
2. Byrd/Zobrist, Tweeners
3. DeAza, Bees
4. Hamilton, Goofs
So what's better: a lf-2 and cf-2, or a lf-1 and cf-3? Either way, the Snakes have the top ranked guy at both positions.
1. Brantley/Marte, Sidewinders
2. Pagan/Span, Goofs
3. Pillar, Tweeners
4. umm..., Bees
Pillar could easily be #2 here. He's the best fielder in the division. Well, until the Snakes bring in Billy Hamilton to pinch run and take his 1e0 out to CF.
1. Cruz, Tweeners
2. DPeralta/Ruggiano, Sidewinders
3. Choo, Goofs
4. Polanco, Bees
This is the deepest position in the AWD.
1. Ortiz/Wright, Sidewinders
2. Springer(?), Tweeners
3. Trumbo(?), Bees
4. Cuddyer(?)/CJohnson(?), Goofs
Other than Papi, there's no guessing who the DH's will be in the AWD. But Papi will still be #1.
The AWD will have almost half of the 1st round picks. The Snakes have 3 picks in a row near the end of the round. The Bees pick #2, but the Tweeners have picks 10 and 16.
The Snakes will again win the AWD. Only the Tweeners are capable of putting any pressure on them, but they should at least be a favorite for a wild card spot. The Goofs will finish 3rd. They just don't have enough to play with the Tweeners. The poor Bees are in for a really long year. But... they'll be back.