Could this be the Cubs’ year?

Courtesy of Trending Top Lists

Courtesy of Trending Top Lists

Ryan Bremer, Contributing Writer

It is that time of the year again. The 2016 Major League Baseball season is just under way, and following a roller coaster 2015 season, this season will be a continuation of that wonderment and adrenaline. So, which teams are contenders for the title?

The last time we saw the New York Mets, they were grudgingly retiring to the showers of Citi Field after a twelve-inning Game 5 World Series loss to the Kansas City Royals. However, after this disappointing finale to an otherwise great season, the Mets are poised to be top contenders in the 2016 season. This is especially due to their array of young pitchers. Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Steven Matz have a combined total of zero major league seasons with 200 or more regular-season wins, but if they overcome this inexperience and stay fit, the team could have one of the top rotations in the MLB. The inimitable Bartolo Colon rounds out the five for the team until Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery.

It seems unlikely for the World Champion Royals to be visiting the Series for a third straight year. Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA prediction system foresees Kansas City at the bottom of the AL Central with a sub-.500 record of 76-86. However, the Champs are no strangers to prediction-busting. Last year, the same system pegged them to win a measly seventy two games, finishing just ahead of the consistently last-place Minnesota Twins. Yet they went on to finish the regular season with ninety five wins, and take the World Series in five games. Whether you call it “luck” or “timely clutch hitting,” the Royals certainly had something going on during their late-season heroics last year, and will most definitely need some more of it this season if they are looking for the repeat.

Of the other teams in the 2015 postseason picture, the Chicago Cubs look the strongest to again be playing October baseball. Manager Joe Maddon is back after commanding his team to the NLCS last year, as is his team of rookies who are not so young anymore. First baseman Anthony Rizzo (who is only 26 years old and played in 160 games last year) is ready to lead his team into contention behind a dominant rotation, consisting of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester, among others. The Cubbies could prove to be the top competitors in a tough National League Central.

So, at the end of all of this, where do we stand? Well, in October, I foresee a rematch of last year’s NLCS between the Cubs and the Mets, this time with the Cubs coming out on top. Facing Chicago in the World Series will be an American League East team (either the Toronto Blue Jays or the Baltimore Orioles) that will ultimately fall to the Cubbies in a nail-biting Series. That’s right: the championship trophy will be coming to the Northside of Chicago for the first time in 108 years. Back to the Future Part II’s prediction was just one year too late.

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