Big Innings takes a look at the four divisions to see what each team has and where each team will finish.
2015 was a big year for the BUD. Two teams in the playoffs. One upset a higher seeded team in the 1st round, and the other won it all. In fact, neither team lost to a team outside the BUD. So what do they do for an encore? Can the Pigs capture another Higdon? Can the Wahoos win their first? Can the FFTs keep adding the players they need to win before the veteran guys get old? Can the DVs upset Donald Trump and win the Republican nomination? Read on, faithful readers...
The Wahoos' solution to surpassing the Pigs lies on the mound. Jake Arrieta is, of course, the best starting pitcher out there, but his supporting cast of Estrada, Iwakuma, and Verlander is also good. The Pig staff (Richards, Wacha, Leake, Dickey, Peavy) was hurt by the early season injury to Wainwright. The DVs have a promising group led by Strasburg and Ventura.
The Wahoo bullpen can challenge the Sidewinders for the best in the league. Betances, Melancon, McGee, Watson, and Familia are the class of the BUD for sure. Not far behind is the deep staff of the Pigs, with Strop, O'Day, Maurer, Pomeranz, Bastardo, and Clippard. The FFTs' Adam Warren and Danny Duffy may combine for 200 appearances.
1. Cervelli/Molina, Warpigs
2. Wieters/Realmuto/Ellis, FFTs
3. Norris, Wahoos
4. WCastillo/McCann, DVs
Cervelli has the best bat of the bunch; Yadi has the best glove/arm.
1. Cabrera, FFTs
2. Fielder/Morneau, Warpigs
3. Encarnacion, Wahoos
4. Pujols, DVs
Miggy has another great card. Encarnacion and Pujols play in homer parks, which probably puts them ahead of the Pig pair.
1. Kinsler/Kipnis, Warpigs
2. Panik, DVs
3. Pedroia, Wahoos
4. Cano, FFTs
Pretty good group when you have to put Cano last. Kipnis will probably DH for the Pigs, but Kinsler can hold his own (so to speak). Panik will need some AB help.
1. Moustakas/CSeager, DVs
2. Beltre, FFTs
3. KSeager/Turner, Wahoos
4. Prado, Warpigs
If Turner were the Wahoo starter at 3b, he'd be #1. But chances are he will DH, and the elder Seager brother didn't have his best year.
1. Bogaerts, DVs
2. Hechevarria/Simmons, Warpigs
3. Tulowitzki, FFTs
4. Crawford, Wahoos
Another good group, with the NL Gold Glove winner bringing up the rear. All 4 are excellent with the gloves. It's even better when you consider Corey Seager is a DV, as well.
1. Grichuk/Holliday/RCastillo, DVs
2. Inciarte/Van Slyke, Warpigs
3. Blanco/Aoki, Wahoos
4. BHolt, FFTs
It's hard to guess where Grichuk might play. The #1 ranking is based on him being the starter in LF. If it's somebody else, Inciarte moves up to the top spot.
1. Pollock, Warpigs
2. Fowler/Grichuk, DVs
3. Eaton, Wahoos
4. Pederson, FFTs
Eaton getting a cf-4 was a devastating blow to the Hoos. If he were a 2 - or even a 3 - he'd be ahead of Fowler.
1. Stanton/Grichuk/RCastillo, DVs
2. Cain, Warpigs
3. Pence/Reddick, FFTs
4. Granderson/Aoki, Wahoos
Stanton and Pence missed big chunks of the season. When Stanton is in the lineup, though, he will mash.
1. Kipnis/VMart, Warpigs
2. Turner, Wahoos
3. Holliday/CSeager, DVs
4. Headley(?)/HanleyR(?), FFTs
As always, it's not easy projecting who will DH. But if these are the guys, this is the order.
The DVs and Pigs are higher mostly because the other two don't have picks in the 1st round.
This should be a tightly contested race, but the pitching staff of the Wahoos will be the difference. The Pigs' defense and bullpen should keep them in the mix for a shot at a wild card. The DVs have lots of young talent; they just need a big year from their pitchers. The FFT batters are not on the young side like the DVs, but they still have plenty in the tank. The FFTs also need to hit on some pitchers to challenge the Hoos and Pigs.