USA Today Projections Have Dodgers in Second Place

Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick

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They make predictions for every division with win-loss records. So where do the USA Today boys think the Dodgers will finish in 2016?

They’re projecting the Dodgers to finish second place in the NL West, with the Giants finishing first and the Dbacks coming in third. According to Lacques the Giants will win 90 games and finish two games ahead of the Dodgers who will finish with an 88-74 record. He thinks the Dbacks will finish with 86 games, two games behind the Dodgers. He has the Padres and Rockies finishing fourth and fifth respectively. If these standings reflect reality then the Dodgers would finish tied for the second wild card with the Pirates. They would play a one-game playoff, and the winner would face the wild card leading Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Yikes. The Cubs were picked to win the NL Central with 101 wins and Washington will edge out the Mets in the NL East.

So what reasoning does the USA Today boys give for picking the Giants over the Dodgers? Lacques writes….

Cohesion matters. Defense matters. Pitching matters. We like all of it better up north. Don’t weep for the Dodgers (88 wins), however. Sure, they’d be better off if the rules allowed a 35-man roster. But they still have Clayton Kershaw, and all that depth will pay off – perhaps even in October.

I still think the Dodgers have good defense and pitching but we’ll have to wait and see about that cohesion part with a new manager and coaching staff. As for the Giants, They made improvements with their acquisitions of Jonny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Denard Span was signed to be the Nori Aoki replacement. He’ll take over center field and lead-off with the aging Angel Pagan moving to left. Otherwise the rest of the Giant’s roster is basically the same as last season. The Giants still have injury question marks at the backend of their rotation with Matt Cain and Jake Peavy. The Giants will rely heavily on Buster Posey (who should see some time at first base) and Hunter Pence on offense.

I’m guessing the reasoning behind choosing the Giants is because they signed Cueto and all that even year nonsense. I can’t stand watching these even year Giants championships anymore. That has to end this year. Please god let that end this year. Otherwise I may have to commit Harry Carry.

All joking aside, I think the Dodgers are still the best club in the NL West. Lacques talks about the Giants consistency over the last few years, but fails to mention the Dodgers. Since 2012, the Dodgers have won 86, 92, 94, and 92 games. That includes three consecutive NL West division titles. I say the Dodgers win 91 games with the Giants coming in second with 87 wins. Arizona will come in a close third with 86 wins, and the Padres and Rockies bring up the rear.

All of the betting odds, and advanced statistics mean nothing, because as we’ve see before many times is that baseball is very difficult to predict. Anything can and usually does happen. Did anyone think the Cubs and Mets would be in the NLCS last season? Or what about the Blue Jays winning the AL East for the first time since 1993? Or how about the Dodgers losing the NLDS on a ball four defensive shift stolen base. Former zany Cardinal’s pitcher Joaquin Andujar used to have a saying. He would say, (with a very thick Dominican accent) “You never know!” Of course with his accent the words kind of all jumbled together and sounded more like “Junevaknow” but you understand. So when the Rockies surprise the universe and win the division with a 94-68 record, it’ll be hilarious.

What are your projections for the 2016 season?

Scott Andes

Scott Andes

Scott Andes: Longtime writer and Dodger fanatic Cheap MLB Tickets

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27 thoughts on “USA Today Projections Have Dodgers in Second Place

  1. Harry Carry? Booze, broads, and bullshit? What else do you need?

    My prediction? 3 way tie for first place.

    It is hard to predict. The Dodgers aren’t done with the rebuild yet. Maybe most of the next 300 moves will be similar to the last 298, meaning very little actual affect on win outcomes. Or maybe the Dodgers do something big bI think 88 is a good guess. So is 91, as it is under 92. Not knowing if the roll over of coaches and managers will cause then players to change anything, and losing Greinke’s wins, how would anyone know? The talent is there for maybe 90. The division rivals are better. So… the team as is, with so many question marks…….. under 92 over 86. How’s that?

  2. The Dodgers won 92 games last year with Zach on the staff going 19 – 3, 1.66. Without Zach? With all of the questionmarks? It will be fewer than 92 – but 88 seems a little conservative. I agree with Dodger Dog – they’ll win 90, one game back of the hated Giants.

  3. I think I said 88 and bounced in 1rst round again. If things go right 92-95 and playing for pennant. If everything goes right – and- Dave Roberts and staff remake the mindset of the squad and turn them into laser focused RISP mashing professionals, 92+ and WS contenders.

    Interesting position comparison on MLB.com http://m.dodgers.mlb.com/news/article/164611824/tale-of-the-fantasy-tape-giants-vs-dodgers

    Things that need to go right:

    Ryu needs to return to form and pitch like the #2 he did the first two years. That’s the only way the Dodgers match up to the 1-2 the Gnats have with Cueto. Kazmir matches up better with Smarjaja. Maeda is an unknown, but if he somehow is solid he could tip the balance. Could happen. Ryu wasn’t projected all that highly coming over and he’s been a near stud. If Peavy gets a year older and Cain doesn’t regain his old form, the back end is where the Dodgers have the edge.

    We’ve talked endlessly about Joc and Puig needing to get it together. The Giants have the edge here. Get it together Joc and Puig.

    I still think Kike will be one of the more valuable members of the team, and he doesn’t show up on these kinds of position comparisons. Having a super utility guy who can hit and be plugged into any position in any game is now more than an afterthought, it makes a team better.

  4. I believe in utility guys too. I don’t believe in 24 year old utility guys. My utility guy is a 30+ year old veteran, A 24 year old who can hit and can run should be playing HIS position every day. My infield utility guy is Utley, and frankly he wasn’t my first choice. Turner is. Or Turner was. I don’t trade Uribe. But I’m not running this show.

    1. I am pretty sure they are thinking that too. But if Turner is healthy, the infield is set..so they will have 2 utility guys, Hernandez and Utley. Kike does not hit RHP all that well, so since most of the pitchers in the bigs are RH, he is not really an everyday guy.

      1. It’s true Kike hasn’t hit RH pitching. I would the word yet. He’s had a total of 215 at bats against them. And a career .247 is considerably better than Joc hit them, which is irrelevant now that think about it. What is more relevant are Kike’s numbers against RH Starters – career .253 .726 OPS in 129 at bats. That ain’t bad. Kid just needs to see more pitches. He’ll figure it out. I like him. Play him dammit.

        1. No room Badger…you know they are not going to play him over Joc or Kendrick. He is not a natural OF. Even though he did a good job out there. Does not really have the power they are looking for…..

  5. MLB just weighed in on today’s topic:

    Final verdict: By the narrowest of margins, the Giants have emerged as 6-5 winners over their divisional foes. San Francisco’s offseason additions of Span, Cueto and Samardzija gave it the three positional wins it needed to surpass the 2015 National League West champions.

    1. I read that just a few minutes ago. I think it was pretty spot on. A lot could change if Puig bounces back and Pederson improves. The pitching rotation itself is a work in progress, so like they said, after Kershaw, there are a lot of questions. What I did find interesting is that they list Cain as their #5. Behind Peavy. How the mighty have fallen……..anybody sign the Freak yet?

      1. A lot will change if Puig and Pederson find their game. With those thumping everybody in that lineup gets better.

        I can Lincecum coming out of a bullpen.

  6. In the Bay Area, I, too, will gag and then start throwing things if the giants win an even # championship. I hope that their new personnel puts a dent in their cohesion. After all, they don’t bleed orange and black. I don’t know what kind of club house guys Cueto and Samarjia? are. I hope they stink and at the first loss, they start pouting. Our fortunes turn, again, on #66. I said it last season and will repeat it for 2016, if he gets 600 at bats and can put that potential in the real world of MLB, we win going away. He is the one guy who can make or break the team. He must have a solid spring, with no injuries, and come out of the box hot. We play the giants 7 times in the first month. Those will be statement games. Frankly, if we don’t show up in those games (like last year) it will be a long season, and second place will be a reach.

    1. Yeah, I hear you. Not the even year b.s..

      Tell you what I honestly think, Samardzija is a good fit up there. I’m not as convinced Cueto will be but he could very well flourish under Bochy. Of course I don’t wish either one of them success, but realistically I can see both doing well there. Don’t know about Span. That’s a big center field. He might like that. He can still run.

      I think they are better, which means they will more than the 84 they won last year.

  7. Hi all! I’ve been coming to this site every day for years but this may be the first (or second) time I left a comment. I just love coming here. Scott: you’ve done a wonderful job taking over the site. I like the direction and I’m glad the main commenters keep commenting. This is my favorite part of my lunch break!
    Now on to some thoughts. First, I keep hearing about Jeff Samardzjia as if he’s a huge upgrade for the Giant staff. I just don’t see it. Sure he’s pitching in SF now but that’s only half his starts. He’s had one, maybe two decent seasons in his career?
    As for the Dodgers yes, we lost Greinke. I LOVED Greinke! I was just as surprised and disappointed as everyone else…especially to the D-Backs! However, our 3-5 starters in 2015 were just awful! It was Brett Anderson and a bunch of minor league depth. It was rare that any of those starters went 5 innings. That’s also part of why the bullpen was so bad. With the (quality) starting depth we have now we won’t need a Greinke to win 19 games as those wins should be spread though out the rest of the pitching staff. We won’t have to hope and pray Bolsinger can get past the 4th inning this year. maybe all of this was said before. I just had to throw that in. Again, I love the site. Keep up the wonderful work!

    1. Thanks Kenyatta! Welcome!

      I agree about the overall depth being much improved over last season. Not sure why the Giants are rating so highly this spring. I would guess it’s because of Cueto and even year garbage, samardzjia not so much. Considering he’s been inconsistent the last couple of years.

    2. The problem with the starting pitching isn’t really remedied by this year’s staff. We still have Kershaw as #1. Kazmir replaces Greinke at #2 – a real downgrade. I don’t really know what we have after that.
      As I have posted before, last years #5 became #3 (Anderson) due to injuries to McCarthy and Ryu. Anderson pitched 180 innings for the first time in a 7 year career last year. Can he do it again? Don’t know.
      Ryu was great in his 1st 2 seasons for the Dodgers. Early reports are good about his condition now but the Dodgers aren’t committing to him being ready to start the season. If he is, he will be #3 guy. Not really depth that has been added as he has been on the team for 3 seasons already.
      McCarthy pitched 4 or 5 games last year. He was supposed to be #4 guy. He had Tommy John and won’t be back at earliest until the Summer. There is a 25% chance that he will never throw another pitch and a 50% chance that he won’t throw 100 innings the rest of his career. (http://www.hardballtimes.com/tommy-john-surgery-success-rates-in-the-majors/)
      Kenta Maeda had such a bad elbow MRI that no one else would touch him, so he signed an 8 year/$25mil contract. Doesn’t give a lot of security that he will be around all year.
      Mike Wood doesn’t inspire any confidence in me. I have seen him pitch and I don’t think that his delivery is consistent enough to allow for consistent release points and good control.

      So much for the depth. We are really looking at the same cast of injured characters that we were looking at last year, plus the Bolsingers, Friases, Lees, etc who occupied the back of the rotation last year – but this time without Zach Greinke. I’d say 90 wins is a pretty optimistic projection and it assumes that several of last year’s underperformers (Puig, Pederson, Grandal) are better this year and that we score more runs than last year. (The Dodgers only scored 3.5 runs/game after May last year and will have to do much better to win this year.)

  8. Geez! I’m guessing that I’m nearly alone (as often am) where I see the offense raking big time. I go completely with the ‘eye test’. Well eye-gut test, that is. And my gut tells me that the poison is removed or remedied. Rightly or wrongly I saw whatever the poison was was the Dodgers biggest problem with the team. If the team kept playing last season the way they started early they were on coarse for 104 wins, wasn’t it? All’s I’ve got to say is I’m at 94 wins bottom. The ‘Puig issues’ will be either resolved or removed as were the coaching issues

  9. It’s not very often that USA Today, SI, TSN, Street & Smith’s, Athlon Sports, PECOTA or any other outlet gets it right. How many you win, how far you go and what happens to a team depends upon a lot more than who they acquired or who they lost!

    It depend upon luck, injuries (both to your team and others), attitude, the maturation process and team chemistry. Of course, talent and depth are also very important. One reason the Giants spent a lot in Free Agency in the off-season was because of their entire HOME GROWN infield which is very good (Gold Glove Caliber) at every position, including Catcher. It is also very INEXPENSIVE which allowed them to spend money elsewhere.

    For the Dodgers to ever match the Giants World Series record of the past 6 years, they also have to rely on home grown talent and that is starting to happen. It will be a few years until it is in full swing, but FAZ stuck to the plan to build the farm and they will do the same thing this year.

    USA Today had 6 writers picking the World Series Winners in 2015 and the six picked three teams to win the Series: Dodgers, Nationals and Mariners. A monkey throwing darts at a list of teams might do better!

    I don’t concern myself with pull it outta your a$$ predictions. 90 wins, 88 wins, 70 wins, 98 wins – who the hell knows? What I do know is that the Dodgers are in the mix to win it all. You are blind, crippled or crazy if you think they have no chance! I know they have a chance, but a lot has to go right for them and wrong for other teams. That’s true with every team. So, I will watch every night and root for them knowing that they have a good chance, that they have depth and money to make changes, but also knowing that they won’t make the dope-fiend moves so many of you want them to.

    It’s not hard to trade prospects for big names and it makes the fans happy. Never mind that it’s not the path to a Championship as a rule. I believe this will be a fun season. By not capitulating to irrational fan demands, the Dodgers Brass has begun building a powerful machine that has an excellent chance of winning both now and in the future. The uninitiated fans believe they are doing a poor job, but the reality of the situation is that they are doing a fantastic job and they have as good a chance of winning this year as most teams… actually better than most! That’s all I can ask!

  10. I do think that the Dodger’s starting pitching, will be better, then some project. Because I think that Kazmir will be a better pitcher, in the National League. And this is because most pitchers, that come from the American League, to the National League, pitch much better, because they are pitching to a shorter line up, that has no DH. And I also think that Maeda will be much better then expected. And I know pitchers in the Japan, don’t pitch as often, but Maeda did pitch 200 innings last year, and has been able to make almost all of his starts, throughout his career, and has done this consistently. And Maeda actually has has better era, then Iwakuma and the Dodgers last Japanese pitcher, when they all pitched in Japan. And these two Japanese pitchers, have been number two pitchers, when they pitched in Major League Baseball, and they both, have been able to pitch well, in major league baseball. So I don’t understand why Maeda can’t at least, pitch just as well, as these other two Japansese pitchers, that have flourished in Major League Baseball. Maeda is younger then these two Japanese pitchers, and does not have the injury history, that these other two Japanese pitchers have had. Maeda is not a big pitcher, and may not have great velosity, but he does has very good control, and is a smart pitcher. Maeda actually sets up hitters, with the same pitch that Greinke uses, and uses his smarts, much as Greinke does, to get hitters out, without having great velosity. Mainly Maeda will have to familarize himself, with the hitters he will pitch to, and to learn each hitter’s weakness, and he will have AJ to help him with this, and hopefully a great interpreter. And AJ is one of the best catchers in baseball, when it comes to knowing the hitters, and helping his pitchers, to pitch to each hitters weakness. So if Ryu is healthy, he will be the Dodger’s number two. And this might be the first time that we will see, a fully healthy Ryu, so Ryu might be even better, then before. And if Kazmir does makes the transition that most American League pitchers do, when they come to the National League, he will be more effective, and could be a solid number three. And I think that Maeda will at least be a number three. And I think once Maeda gets acclimated to Major League Baseball, he will be more a number two, so I think this rotation will be better then many think. And if the Dodger’s rotation is better then expected, the Dodgers will be even better then expected too. And that is not even mentioning our new manager, and all of the new coaches, and I think this was the biggest move in the off season, and the best move.

  11. We appear to be repeating ourselves here.

    Yes, the Dodgers are good and have a chance. All goes right, we win. And there are about 8 teams in each league saying the same thing. Yes, having a good farm system is a key part of winning. So is the financial strength to sign someone to a $200 million contract when you already have a payroll well over $200 million.

    It’s good to be king. Now, show us you know wtf you’re doing.

    1. Like Badger has said, we don’t want this front office to make mistakes. We want them to do well, because that makes the Dodgers better.

  12. Since the Japanese baseball is a tad smaller, the size of Maeda’s hand may determine how close he comes to equaling his former success.

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