Yankeemetrics: Bombers back in the Bronx (July 25-26)

(NJ Advance Media)
(NJ Advance Media)

Threes are wild
The Yankees had a successful homecoming on Tuesday as they kicked off a critical nine-game stretch in the Bronx with a win over the Reds.

Todd Frazier, wearing the traditional pinstripes for the first time, had perhaps the most unforgettable and unusual Yankee Stadium debut ever. In his first at-bat, he lined into a triple play — which would be quite memorable on its own — but turned into a statistical bonzai when Matt Holliday scored a run as Didi Gregorius got caught in a rundown for the third out.

Let’s run through some Triple Play #FunFacts:

  • Frazier was the 27th Yankee to hit into a triple play and the first since Russell Martin on September 27, 2011 against the Rays.
  • Before Tuesday, the last time the Yankees managed to win a game despite hitting into a triple play was May 29, 2000, when A’s infielder Randy Velarde turned the trick by himself, the only unassisted triple play ever recorded against the Yankees.
  • The play was scored 6-3-5-6 in the official boxscore, just the second triple play in MLB history with that sequence. The other was on June 6, 1970 by the Pirates against the Dodgers.
  • This was only the eighth time in the Live Ball era (since 1920) that a team scored on a triple play, and the first since the Mariners did it against the Twins on May 27, 2006; the Yankees had never scored on a triple play before Tuesday.
(Getty)
(Getty)

Didi redeemed himself after his triple play TOOTBLAN by driving in two runs, including his 15th home run of the season, five shy of the career-high he set last year. In the long and storied history of the franchise, Gregorius and Derek Jeter are the only shortstops with multiple 15-homer seasons.

Jordan Montgomery bounced back from his career-worst performance against the Twins last week to throw one of his best games as a major-leaguer. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and finished with this stellar pitching line: 6⅔ innings, one run, two hits, six strikeouts, one walk.

It was the second time Monty has pitched that deep into a game while giving up no more than two hits, as the 24-year-old became the youngest Yankee since Dave Righetti in 1981 with two such starts in a season.

Aroldis Chapman threw a scoreless ninth for his 12th save but he was hardly dominant, failing to record a strikeout for the sixth time this season. Four of those outings have come since the All-Star break, making this the first time in his career he’s had a two-week stretch with at least four zero-strikeout games.

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

Summer of Severino
In a throwback performance to the scoreboard-dominant days of April and May, the Yankees used their tried-and-true formula of brilliant starting pitching and pinstriped power to complete the mini-sweep of the Reds.

Luis Severino tossed another brilliant gem, going seven strong innings while allowing only two runs (both unearned) with nine strikeouts, and added to his ace-like resume:

  • It was the fourth time this season he’s pitched at least seven innings, gave up zero earned runs and struck out at least six batters; the only other pitchers in baseball that have done that four times this season are Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and James Paxton.
  • And it was the eighth time he’s lasted at least seven innings and allowed zero or one earned runs — Scherzer (8 starts) and Clayton Kershaw (11 starts) are the only guys in MLB that can match Severino in that stat.
  • He’s now had three starts in a row of at least seven innings and no more than one earned run, becoming just the third AL pitcher with a streak like that this season. The others: Corey Kluber and Dallas Keuchel.

Severino was in peak-dominant form, generating 20 swings-and-misses, the second-most in any start in his career. He climbed the ladder with his fastball to get four of the whiffs, but mostly buried his changeup (5) and slider (11) below the knees to make the Reds look like little-leaguers at the plate.

chart-10

Six of his nine strikeouts came with his filthy hard slider, giving him 85 on the season with that pitch, the fourth-most in baseball behind Chris Archer, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer.

Clint Frazier continued to shine on the big-league stage, as he delivered two key run-scoring hits with men on first and second in the third and fifth innings. He’s now 6-for-14 and has 10 RBIs with runners in scoring position, nearly matching the output of Jacoby Ellsbury (7-for-40, 12 RBI) in those situations for the entire season.

Didi Gregorius’ scorching-hot bat provided more fireworks on Wednesday. He went deep in the seventh inning, extending his homer streak to a career-best three games, and also etched his name alongside some Yankee legends. Didi is just the fifth shortstop in franchise history to hit a home run in back-to-back-to-back games: Derek Jeter (twice in 2012), Tom Tresh (1962), Gil McDougald (1957) and Tony Lazzeri (1927) are the others.

7/25 to 7/26 Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Votto and Cozart. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
Votto and Cozart. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees have won a series for the first time in well over a month, finishing up an eleven games in ten days stretch with a 6-5 record. Monday’s off-day was well-earned, and almost undoubtedly a necessity as they head into another lengthy stretch without a day off – they’ll play for thirteen straight days beginning this evening. And the Reds are up first.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Cincinnati for two games back in May, splitting the series a game apiece. That was way back when the Yankees were the best team in baseball, owning the game’s best record and best run differential. Some notes on the series:

  • The Yankees offense was at the height of its powers in the first game, plating ten runs and going a combined 13-for-36 with a couple of home runs and more walks (7) than strikeouts (5). Masahiro Tanaka was the only starter that did not reach base, but he got in on the action with a sacrifice bunt.
  • Didi Gregorius hit his first home run of the season in the second game, which was his eleventh game of the season. He went 4-for-8 with 4 RBI in the series.
  • CC Sabathia was knocked around in his start, pitching to the following line: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. It was his fourth straight subpar start, which left him with a 5.77 ERA on the season. Since then, however, he has a 1.62 ERA in 50 IP (9 starts).

For more factoids about the series, check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post.

Injury Report

Four-fifths of the Reds rotation is currently on the disabled list, with Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Finnegan out for the rest of the year, and Anthony DeSclafani and Scott Feldman recovering from injuries. Neither DeSclafani nor Feldman will be back in time for this series; though, Feldman could be on the Yankees radar as a deadline acquisition, should he recover quickly from his knee injury.

Their Story So Far

The Reds were atop the NL Central when these teams faced in May, with a half game lead over the Chicago Cubs. They were 17-14 with a +22 run differential at that time, with a borderline-elite offense and a league-average pitching staff. That was then; they’re now sitting at the bottom of their division at 41-58, with a -84 run differential – the fifth-worst mark in the majors.

This is a rebuilding team, so such a stark backslide isn’t entirely surprising. And, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, this team may well be even worse in a week’s time.

For more on the Reds, check out Red Reporter or Redleg Nation.

The Lineup We Might See

As was the case when these teams last met, the Reds lineup is fairly consistent on a game-to-game basis. Manager Bryan Price will play for the platoon advantage a bit, but he does so by swapping his fifth and sixth hitters in the lineup – and that’s about it. The only real wrinkle that we will see is his choice for designated hitter. We’ll probably see a lineup along these lines:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Zack Cozart, SS
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Adam Duvall, LF
  5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  6. Scooter Gennett, 2B
  7. Scott Schebler, RF
  8. Patrick Kivlehan, DH
  9. Tucker Barnhart, C

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Luis Castillo

Castillo has the odd distinction of being dealt twice by the same team in a six month span. The Marlins attempted to send him to the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea at last year’s trade deadline, only to nix the deal due to Rea’s undisclosed injury (even though he appeared in a game for the Marlins). He was subsequently dealt to the Reds in January, as a part of the deal that sent Dan Straily to Miami. Castillo was called-up for his big league debut on June 23, and has been in the Reds rotation ever since – and he’s done quite well. He has a 3.86 ERA (116 ERA+) in 35.0 IP, with a ridiculous 29.5% strikeout rate and a well above-average 55.7% groundball rate.

The 23-year-old Castillo is a power pitcher, with a three-pitch arsenal. His four-seam fastball sits in the upper-90s, and he complements it with a mid-80s slider and an upper-80s change-up.

Last Outing (vs. ARI on 7/20) -6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Wednesday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Homer Bailey

Bailey is the longest-tenured member of the Reds, having made his MLB debut a bit less than three month before Joey Votto. He was the 7th overall draft pick back in 2004, a top-10 prospect in 2007 and 2008, and an exciting young pitcher in 2012 and 2013, but injuries have derailed his career these last three years. Bailey has appeared in just 14 games since the beginning of 2015, pitching to a 7.30 ERA (60 ERA+) in 61.2 IP. He returned from the disabled list on June 24, and has mixed three good starts with three atrocious ones. And he’s still just 31.

Bailey is a three-pitch guy, with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, an upper-8s slider, and a mid-80s splitter. When he’s on, both the slider and splitter can be devastating.

Last Outing (vs. MIA on 7/21) – 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K

The Bullpen

Way back in May, I noted that the Reds bullpen was showing signs of competence after being absolutely horrific in 2016. That has held mostly true, as they remain in the middle-of-the pack in terms of run prevention, and currently sit in the top-ten in WPA and meltdowns. There isn’t a great deal of name value in this group, but they’re getting the job done.

Closer Raisel Iglesias leads the way, with a 1.46 ERA (306 ERA+) and 31.2 K%; he’s 17 for 18 in save opportunities. Wandy Peralta and Drew Storen are the set-up men, and both have been solid in their roles, as well. A lack of rest may be an issue for the bullpen as a whole, though, as they’ve yet to have a day off since the All-Star break.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Scooter Gennett made headlines when he cranked out four home runs and 10 RBI on June 6. That feat was made even more amazing by the fact that, heading into that, Gennett had hit just 38 HR in 1754 PA – so those 4 home runs represented 9.5% of his career total. As a result, he seemed like the sort of player that would pop-up for a historical moment, and then fade into the background as a neat bit of trivia. Instead, Gennett has slashed .323/.385/.623 (158 wRC+) since that game, with 11 HR in 143 PA.

Why bring this up here? Simple – he’s a LHH whose spray chart looks like this:

(FanGraphs)
(FanGraphs)

I will also add a token reference to Joey Votto, who remains one of the most interesting hitters in all of baseball, and one of my favorite non-Yankees.

Yankeemetrics: Post-Chicago hangover (May 8-9)

Gardy goes yardy. (AP)
Gardy goes yardy. (AP)

No sleep, no problem
The Yankees arrived bleary-eyed in Cincinnati just as the sun was rising on Monday morning, but there was no hangover from Sunday’s epic marathon game when they took the field against the Reds later that night.

They put up a three-spot on the Reds in the top of the first inning and cruised to a 10-4 win, giving them a remarkable 21-9 record. There is obviously a ton of baseball to be played, but it’s still worth putting their win total in perspective at this point in the season.

This is the 17th time in franchise history the Yankees have won at least 21 of their first 30 games. Here’s the breakdown of how the previous 16 seasons ended up:

  • Won division/league – 15 (all except 2010)
  • Made World Series – 15
  • Won World Series – 12

A look at their run differential (currently +58) through 30 games tells a similar story. This is 15th time in franchise history the Yankees have outscored their opponents by at least 58 runs through 30 games. Here’s the breakdown of how the previous 14 seasons ended up:

  • Won division/league – 12 (all except 2010 and 1931)
  • Made World Series – 12
  • Won World Series – 11

Back to Monday’s game … the Bronx Bombers continued to do Bronx Bomber things, belting two more homers to give them 50 on the season. This is the second-fastest the Yankees have reached the 50-homer milestone, behind only the 2003 team that that hit their 50th longball in their 28th game.

Masahiro Tanaka was good but not great, though the most important number he tallied was seven – his innings pitched – ensuring that Joe Girardi wouldn’t have to dig deep into his very tired bullpen. Since Tanaka’s debut in 2014, he has 39 outings of seven innings or more. That nearly three times as many as any other Yankee has produced in that span (CC Sabathia is second with 15).

Gary Sanchez was the most consistent offensive threat for the team in this game, getting on base all five times he came to plate, as went 3-for-3 with a walk and hit-by-pitch while driving in two runs. It had been more than five years since a Yankee catcher reached base five times in a game: the last guy to do it was Jesus Montero on September 22, 2011 against the Rays.

The first inning was fun. (AP)
The first inning was fun. (AP)

Zero heroes
The Yankees six-game win streak came to an end on Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Reds, as they capped off their five-game road trip on a disappointing note.

You can’t win ’em all, especially when you’re starting pitcher gives up five runs in the second inning to cough up a 2-0 lead. Aside from that horrible inning, CC Sabathia held the Reds scoreless, but the damage was done. He’s now allowed at least five earned runs in three consecutive starts, matching the second-longest streak of his career, and his ERA has ballooned to a rotation-worst 5.77.

Gary Sanchez put the Yankees on the board first, launching a 448-foot homer in the first inning, the longest home run of his career. He bookended that blast with a game-ending double-play in the ninth inning, drilling a 110.2 mph line drive into the glove of Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez.

He’s now just 2-for-6 (.333) when hitting a ball with an exit velocity of at least 110 mph (league batting average is .743). His four outs on batted balls with an exit velocity of 110-plus mph match the total number that the rest of the Yankees have produced this season.

Brett Gardner extended his hit streak to a career-best 12 games with a fifth-inning single. That’s the second-longest hit streak by a Yankee left fielder over the past decade, behind only a 13-gamer by Ichiro in 2012.

Dellin Betances walked the first two guys he faced in the seventh inning but then — unsurprisingly — recovered to strike out the side and end the threat. His third strikeout lowered his career batting average allowed with runners in scoring position (RISP) and two outs to .137 (21-for-153), breaking a tie with Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen for the lowest mark among active pitchers (min. 100 at-bats).

5/8 to 5/9 Preview: Cincinnati Reds

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)
(Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)

A month ago, few would have expected this to be a meeting between two first place teams – but here we are. On the strength of a five-game winning streak (and the Yankees sweep of the Cubs), the Reds are in first place in the NL Central. And the Yankees, on the heels of an 18-inning, 6-plus hour affair, have the best record in baseball.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees swept the Reds in a three-game set in the Bronx in July of 2014. They managed to avoid Joey Votto back then, as he was on the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps (an injury that limited him to 62 games that year). As for what happened on the field:

  • Brian McCann hit a walk-off single against Aroldis Chapman in the final game of the series. Jacoby Ellsbury played an integral role, as well. He lead off the ninth with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
  • Ellsbury had a heck of a series on the whole. He went 6-for-12 with two runs, a double, a home run, three RBI, and three steals.
  • Billy Hamilton went 1-for-12 with five strikeouts and no steals. He hit .285/.319/.423 before visiting the Bronx, and .206/.263/.261 afterward. That may mean a whole lot of nothing, but it was viewed as a turning point in his season by Reds writers at the time.
  • David Phelps, Brandon McCarthy, and Hiroki Kuroda were the starters for the Yankees in the series. They combined to pitch to the following brilliant line: 19 IP, 15 H, 5 R (3 ER), 3 BB, 22 K. Kuroda is the only one that didn’t pick up the win.

Injury Report

The Reds have a great deal of pitching on the disabled list right now, which makes their recent success all the more impressive. Anthony DeSclafani (their de facto ace since they dealt Johnny Cueto to the Royals) is out until July thanks to a sprained UCL, and he was recently joined on the DL by reliever Tony Cingrani and the 24-year-old Brandon Finnegan (the prize of that Cueto deal). Finnegan was a solid-average starter last season, and looked great through three starts this year – he’s not expected back until June. And, despite the fact that he has made made all of eight starts since the beginning of 2015, it bears mentioning that Homer Bailey is on the 60-day DL. Bailey was near the top of the same prospect lists as Phil Hughes back in the day, and is owed a minimum of $68 MM through the end of 2019.

Their Story So Far

Cincinnati is in the midst of a rebuilding effort that began in earnest on July 26, 2015, when they shipped Cueto to Kansas City. They won 68 games last year, and most projection systems saw them within spitting distance of that in 2017, with the mean falling right around 72 wins. Such is life for a team whose offense was expected to be Votto and little else, and with a pitching staff that was best described as young and questionable. Several injuries and six Bronson Arroyo starts later, and the rotation sounds even worse than that. And this on the heels of having one of the worst pitching staffs ever.

A month and change into the season, however, the Reds have been a more than competent team. They’re third in the majors in runs scored and fifth in run differential (+22), and they have a league-average park-adjusted ERA. There are a few reasons to expect them to fall off (updated projection systems still have them finishing below .500), but they’ve looked good so far.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Bryan Price has been fairly consistent with his lineup configuration this season. The seventh spot in the lineup is the only one that isn’t locked-down by one particular player (or position, in the case of the nine hole), and that’s mostly due to Zack Cozart moving up the lineup as his bat heated up. Based on that, the Yankees pitchers will probably see a lineup like this:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Zack Cozart, SS
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Adam Duvall, LF
  5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  6. Scott Schebler, RF
  7. Jose Peraza, 2B
  8. Devin Mesoraco, C or Tucker Barnhart, C
  9. [Pitcher]

The Pitchers We Will See

Monday (7:10 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Rookie Davis

It was a year and a half ago that Rookie Davis was considered one of the best prospects in the Yankees organization, garnering a bit of hype before being sent to Cincinnati in the Aroldis Chapman deal. He reached the majors for the first time this year, and made one of the worst starts of the young season just three weeks later. Davis has just 24 IP at Triple-A, but the injuries to DeSclafani and Finnegan make his presence on the big league roster a necessity; given the team’s rebuilding efforts, though, this is almost certainly a legitimate chance for him to prove his mettle.

Davis is a three-pitch pitcher, mixing a 93-ish MPH fastball with a slurvy breaking ball in the 78 to 83 MPH range and a mid-80s change-up. PITCHf/x picks up two different breaking balls (a slider and a curveball), but most scouts call it a curveball.

Last Outing (vs. PIT on 5/3) – 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K

Tuesday (7:10 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Tim Adleman

Staten Island’s own Tim Adleman has had a long, winding road to the majors. He was drafted in the 24th round of the 2010 draft by the Orioles, and found himself bouncing around independent leagues by 2012. In fact, he was passed over by the first independent ballclub that he tried out for, and would spend time working in a market in between stints with three different teams. The Reds picked him up in 2014, and he made his big league debut on May 1, 2016, at the age of 28. He’s been and up-and-down guy since, posting a 106 ERA+ in 91 IP at the highest level.

Adleman is something of a junkballer, throwing a fastball that scrapes 90 MPH (albeit with excellent rising action), a big-breaking curveball in the low-70s, and a low-80s change-up. He’s been homer prone in his brier career, surrendering 1.78 HR/9; that doesn’t come as a shock, though, considering his home park, low velocity, and 35.9% groundball rate.

Last Outing (vs. PIT on 5/4) – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K

The Bullpen

The Reds have the sixth-best bullpen in baseball by park-adjusted ERA; they were 29th in baseball by that metric last year, just ahead of the Phillies. Closer Raisel Iglesias has been excellent since moving to the bullpen last year, and Drew Storen and rookie Wandy Peralta have been nearly as good this year in setup roles. They don’t really have a big name in the group, but they’ve been effective – and the worst offenders from 2016 are no longer with the team.

It’s also worth noting that the bullpen is well-rested. Scott Feldman tossed a complete game last night, and only one reliever (Robert Stephenson) was used on Saturday. In fact, none of the team’s ‘big three’ have pitched since last Thursday. After the Yankees-Cubs game last night, that seems unfair.

Yankees Connection

The aforementioned Davis was one of four players sent to the Reds for Chapman. Utility player Tony Renda and corner infielder Eric Jagielo are still in the organization, as well, at Triple-A and Double-A, respectively. The fourth player, Caleb Cotham, tossed 24.1 IP for the Reds last year, but retired this off-season. He dealt with injuries throughout his professional career, including a season-ending knee injury in 2016.

There are three former Reds on the Yankees – Chapman, Didi Gregorius, and Ronald Torreyes.

Who (Or What) To Watch

If you’re a fan of dingers, the heart of the Reds order is must-see TV. Votto, Duvall, Suarez, and Schebler have combined for 34 home runs to-date, and Cozart hit 16 last year. The team is seventh in the majors in home runs overall, with five fewer bombs than the Yankees

Should you want to focus on just one player, Votto  is always interesting to watch. Everyone knows about his ability to work the count and draw walks (he has a career 15.9 BB%, and had a .434 OBP last year), but he has changed his approach a bit this year. In addition to walking at an elite rate this year, he’s swinging at more pitches in the zone than ever before. The result of this is a ridiculously low 12.7 K%, and a .324 ISO (which would be the best of his career by a sizable margin).

Yankees claim Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds

(AP)
(AP)

The Yankees have claimed right-hander Layne Somsen off waivers from the Reds, the team announced. He’s been optioned to Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees had an open 40-man roster spot after designating Phil Coke for assignment last week, so no other moves are required.

Somsen, 26, made his MLB debut and appeared in two games with the Reds this year, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks in 2.1 innings. He struck out two. Somsen has a 2.59 ERA (3.52 FIP) with a 24.2% strikeout rate and a 10.6% walk rate in 48.2 Triple-A innings the last two years.

PitchFX says Somsen, who is from the baseball hotbed of Yankton, South Dakota, throws a cutter right around 90 mph as well as a low-80s curveball. He’s a reliever, not a starter. The Reds selected Somsen in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft and gave him a chance to help out their bullpen this month. Didn’t work out.

The Yankees have been hit hard by injuries this season, most notably losing bullpen shuttle candidates Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Bryan Mitchell (toe), and Jacob Lindgren (elbow) to long-term injuries. Somsen helps replace some of that depth.

Reds return Rule 5 Draft pick Jake Cave to Yankees

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Earlier today the Reds returned Rule 5 Draft pick and outfielder Jake Cave to the Yankees, the team announced. New York’s other Rule 5 Draft loss, lefty Evan Rutckyj, was returned by the Braves last month. So the Yankees got both their players back and picked up an extra $50,000 in the process. Not bad.

Cave, 23, hit .255/.349/.364 in Spring Training with the Reds this year. He started very well, going 8-for-23 (.347) in his first nine Cactus League games, before crashing and going 6-for-32 (.188) the rest of the way. I thought Cave had a pretty good chance to make the Reds anyway given their dearth of outfielders, but I guess not.

Last season Cave hit .276/.337/.356 (102 wRC+) with 25 doubles, two homers, and 17 steals in 134 games at mostly Double-A Trenton, but also some at Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees say they’ve assigned Cave to the Thunder. He’s already cleared waivers and all that, so he is no longer on the 40-man roster.

The Yankees have both Ben Gamel and Slade Heathcott at Triple-A Scranton, plus Mason Williams is on his way back from shoulder surgery, so their left-handed hitting outfielder depth chart is pretty stacked. It’s going to be tough — but not impossible — for Cave to break through and have an impact for the Yankees.

The Rest of MLB [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The new season is upon us. Opening Day is Monday, which means it’s time to wrap up our annual Season Preview series. As always, we’ll end the series with a quick look around the league. Some of this is serious, most of it isn’t. Enjoy.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Why They’ll Suck: The middle infield is a mess and their corner outfield defense is going to be pretty bad if Yasmany Tomas plays left everyday. Also, they’ll probably trade some good players to unload a bad contract again.
Bold Prediction: Shelby Miller actually pitches well. I have no idea why so many analysts think he’s bad.

Atlanta Braves
Why They’ll Suck: Because they are trying to suck. Rebuilding is just a nice way of saying tanking.
Bold Prediction: Nick Markakis beats his ZiPS projection and slugs .370.

Chicago Cubs
Why They’ll Suck: They’re going to strike out way too much. It’s also only a matter of time until someone gets bit by some wild animal Joe Maddon brings into the clubhouse.
Bold Prediction: Adam Warren is their best starter. Boom!

Chicago White Sox
Why They’ll Suck: They lost their leader, Drake LaRoche.
Bold Prediction: We find out Adam LaRoche was the one who complained about Drake LaRoche being in the clubhouse all the time.

Cincinnati Reds
Why They’ll Suck: Their rotation is Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, Jon Moscot, and John Lamb. No, wait, that’s the list of their injured starters. Now they have to turn to the B-team.
Bold Prediction: Joey Votto finally loses his mind, but in a polite, Canadian way. He’s already doing this between pitches:

Joey Votto

Cleveland Indians
Why They’ll Suck: In all seriousness, their entire starting outfield is either hurt (Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall) or suspended (Abe Almonte). They’re a Corey Kluber or Carlos Carrasco injury away from 85 losses. Beware.
Bold Prediction: Francisco Lindor leads all shortstops in WAR.

Colorado Rockies
Why They’ll Suck: The Rockies exist in a perpetual state of suck. Fun Fact: They have never once won a division title. They’ve finished as high as second place only three times in their 23 years of existence.
Bold Prediction: They finally trade Carlos Gonzalez. I’m thinking … Orioles.

Detroit Tigers
Why They’ll Suck: They’ve punted defense at the four corner positions and, inevitably, the relievers they acquired this winter will stink.
Bold Prediction: Justin Verlander bounces back and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting.

Houston Astros
Why They’ll Suck: Karma for doing very little in the offseason outside of adding a new closer and fifth starter. The rebuild is supposed to be over.
Bold Prediction: Carlos Correa is more Alex Gonzalez than Alex Rodriguez.

Kansas City Royals
Why They’ll Suck: They replaced Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist with Ian Kennedy and Christian Colon. Like, on purpose.
Bold Prediction: Kennedy wins 18 games and Colon hits .310. Eff the Royals, man.

Los Angeles Angels
Why They’ll Suck: The Angels have surrounded Mike Trout with as little position player talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: Jered Weaver’s fastball hits 84 mph once or twice.

Los Angeles Dodgers
Why They’ll Suck: The Dodgers have surrounded Clayton Kershaw with as little pitching talent as possible in an effort to make him look even greater by comparison.
Bold Prediction: It becomes clear Yasiel Puig peaked early.

Miami Marlins
Why They’ll Suck: The fans and players are doomed to pay for Jeffrey Loria’s evil villian-ness. Fun Fact: They’ve never won a division title either. They’ve also never lost a postseason series.
Bold Prediction: Christian Yelich breaks out and puts up Andrew McCutchen numbers. I’m serious about that one.

Milwaukee Brewers
Why They’ll Suck: They’re another team that is going to suck on purpose. Before long they’re going to trade Jonathan Lucroy too.
Bold Prediction: Ramon Flores hits 15 dingers with a .350 OBP.

Minnesota Twins
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know, but I’m sure Twins fans will blame it on Joe Mauer.
Bold Prediction: Miguel Sano plays right field better than Torii Hunter did last year.

New York Mets
Why They’ll Suck: They’re still the Mets. Case in point: the recent Matt Harvey bladder story. Last year’s pennant didn’t change anything in that regard.
Bold Prediction: They have to trade for a starting pitcher at the deadline.

Oakland Athletics
Why They’ll Suck: No joke, I can name only one A’s starter (Sonny Gray) and one A’s infielder (Marcus Semien). Is Bobby Crosby still playing?
Bold Prediction: Josh Reddick gets traded for a holy crap package at the trade deadline. I’m thinking … Royals.

Philadelphia Phillies
Why They’ll Suck: Still reeling from the 2009 World Series, obviously.
Bold Prediction: Someone not named Maikel Franco or Ryan Howard hits a home run.

Pittsburgh Pirates
Why They’ll Suck: The baseball gods will not let John Jaso’s hair go unpunished.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Bold Prediction: Mark Melancon is traded at the deadline. I’m thinking … Dodgers.

St. Louis Cardinals
Why They’ll Suck: The Cardinals will never suck. The only thing they suck at is sucking. Their ace made four starts and their highest paid position player hit four home runs last season, and they still won 100 games. The Cardinals, man.
Bold Prediction: Three years after learning to play second base and one year after learning to hit for power, Matt Carpenter picks up pitching and saves 46 games.

San Diego Padres
Why They’ll Suck: I’m not entirely convinced the Padres exist at this point. Are we sure MLB still lets them into the league? What an amazingly nondescript franchise.
Bold Prediction: Someone throws the first no-hitter in franchise history. I’ll go with Colin Rea, who is a real player and definitely not someone I just made up.

San Francisco Giants
Why They’ll Suck: They buy into the “even year trend” a little too much and give Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner weeks off at a time this summer.
Bold Prediction: Bumgarner out-slugs the starting outfield.

Seattle Mariners
Why They’ll Suck: I don’t know how it will happen exactly, but they’ll suck. The Mariners are the Wile E. Coyote of MLB. Every time they looked poised for success, they crash into the mountain with a tunnel painted on the side of it.
Bold Prediction: Bob Cano mashes 30 taters and finishes in the top three of the MVP voting. I’m expecting a big year from Robbie.

Texas Rangers
Why They’ll Suck: They won’t suck. They’ll be just good enough to get thisclose to winning something meaningful before having it ripped away again. Think Game Six of the 2011 World Series, or the seventh inning of Game Five of last year’s ALDS. That’s how the Rangers roll.
Bold Prediction: Josh Hamilton leads the team in home runs.

Washington Nationals
Why They’ll Suck: They’re the NL version of the Red Sox. They have talent and everyone buys the hype. It should work! But it doesn’t.

Homer Simpson

Bold Prediction: Bryce Harper is even better this year.