A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

A student-operated publication at Santa Rosa Junior College.

The Oak Leaf

2016 MLB awards predictions

Courtesy of sfgate.com
Oakland Athletics’ pitcher Sonny Gray finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2015. Gray’s career stats include a 2.88 ERA and 419 strikeouts.

The 2015 Major League Baseball season ended with the Kansas City Royals defying the odds and winning the World Series. Many MLB writers and fans didn’t believe the Royals would reach the World Series in back-to-back seasons. This shows you can’t fully predict sports. Spring Training games are in full swing, and that means the 2016 MLB season is less than a month away. So grab your peanuts and Cracker Jacks, it’s time for some predictions.

American League MVP: Carlos Correa

The Houston Astros shocked the baseball world last season by finishing with not only a winning record, but a playoff appearance as well. The Astros resurrected their team in 2015, increasing their wins from the previous season by 16. One of the main reasons Houston found success last season was due to the stellar play by rookie shortstop Carlos Correa. The Astros selected Correa first overall in the 2012 MLB player draft. Correa was called up from the Minor Leagues in June. Despite playing for just four months of the season, Correa put up some of the best numbers in the league. He finished with a .279 batting average, 22 homeruns and 68 RBIs. Correa earned AL Rookie of the Year honors last season and will finish the 2016 season receiving AL MVP honors. He’ll complete the season with a .285 batting average, 45 homeruns and 132 RBIs.

National League MVP: Paul Goldschmidt

For the past few seasons, the Arizona Diamondbacks have remained in the bottom half of the NL West division. This off-season they made key acquisitions, including pitchers Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, to strengthen the club. Arizona’s first baseman Paul Goldschmidt suffered mightily from the team’s down seasons. Despite the Diamondbacks not producing wins, Goldschmidt proved to be one of the best players in the game. Goldschmidt finished second in the MVP voting both last season and in 2013. He already boasts a strong resume with two Silver Slugger awards, two Gold Glove awards and three All-Star Game appearances. Since being called up from the Minor Leagues in 2011, Goldschmidt has a career .299 batting average, 116 homeruns and 412 RBIs. He also plays a tremendous defensive first base to back up his stellar numbers at the dish. Goldschmidt will finally take home first-place honors as NL MVP in 2016. He’ll finish with a .330 batting average, 41 homeruns and a league-leading 143 RBIs.

American League Cy Young: Sonny Gray

Oakland Athletics’ fans will tell you 2015 was a letdown season. After making the postseason the past three seasons, the A’s finished dead last in the AL West Division. Prior to the 2015 season, the A’s traded away their best player in 2015 AL MVP winner Josh Donaldson. With the trade, A’s pitcher Sonny Gray became the team’s best player. Gray was one of the few bright spots for Oakland last season, posting 14 wins, a 2.73 ERA and 169 strikeouts. He also finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting last season. In three seasons, Gray has a career ERA of 2.88, 33 wins and 419 strikeouts. The A’s are likely to struggle again this season, but they’ll lean on Gray to carry the team in a very strong AL West. Gray also pitches in O.co Coliseum, well-known for being an extremely tough hitter’s park. He will dominate in 2016 with a 2.37 ERA, 20 wins and 187 strikeouts along with winning the AL Cy Young Award.

National League Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best pitcher in baseball and it’s not even an argument. Southpaw Clayton Kershaw has dominated the game ever since he entered the league in 2008. Kershaw won the 2011, 2013 and 2014 NL Cy Young Awards and the 2014 NL MVP Award. He also finished the 2015 season in third place for the NL Cy Young award. Kershaw, well-known for his knee-buckling curve, surpassed the 300-strikeout plateau last season. He became the first pitcher since 2002 to record 300 strikeouts in a season. His 2015 stats included a 2.13 ERA and 16 wins. There are a lot of great pitchers in the NL to choose from, but it’s too difficult to bet against Kershaw. He’ll win the 2016 NL Cy Young Award and finish with 23 wins, a 1.95 ERA and 313 strikeouts.

American League Champion: Houston Astros

The American League bolsters many teams with strong rosters this coming season. The Houston Astros made the postseason in 2015 as a wild card seed. They defeated the New York Yankees in the Wild Card Game, but ultimately lost to the World Series Champion Royals in the American League Division Series. The Astros look to remain strong again this upcoming season. They feature a strong starting rotation led by last season’s AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel. Along with Keuchel is Collin McHugh and Lance McCullers, both solid middle of the rotation starters. With Doug Fister and Mike Fiers at the back end of the rotation, the Astros contain one of the best rotations in the AL. The Astros lineup is also well-equipped. With Correa and three-time All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve, the Astros have an above average middle infield combination. Add in power hitting right fielder George Springer and all-around star center fielder Carlos Gomez to the mix, and Houston’s lineup looks scary for any opposing pitcher. The main key to its success in 2016 will be the offseason acquisition of the flame-throwing Ken Giles. Houston ends up winning the AL West division in 2016 and coasts through the playoffs, making them the 2016 AL champions.

National League Champion: Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs were one series away from advancing to the World Series in 2015. The New York Mets railed them in the National League Division Series. The Cubs entered the offseason with the bitter taste of defeat, but winning is on their minds. They acquired the best outfield free agent on the market in Jason Heyward. They also signed utility man Ben Zobrist and veteran-pitcher John Lackey. Chicago had a powerful lineup last season that consisted of young, talented players including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, NL Rookie of the Year third baseman Kris Bryant and catcher Kyle Schwarber. Add Heyward and Zobrist into that already fierce lineup and you have one of the best offenses in the past decade. The pitching staff is no easy task either with 2015 NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and veterans Jon Lester and Lackey. They also have one of the best managers in baseball: Joe Maddon. The Cubs will win the NL Central division and crush their way into the World Series.

World Series Champion: Houston Astros

The 2016 World Series will feature two young star-studded teams. The Cubs will appear in the World Series for the first time since losing to the Detroit Tigers in 1945. The Cubs have an insane championship drought. They haven’t won a World Series since 1908 — 107 years. For the Astros, they lost the 2005 World Series to the Chicago White Sox. The series will draw a record amount of viewers and go the distance in seven games. Cubs’ fans suffer another heartbreaking season and continue to wait for that elusive championship as the Astros pitching staff provides them with their first World Series victory in team history. The powerful arms of Houston stifle Chicago’s bats and provide the game seven victory. The 2016 World Series MVP belongs to Keuchel, finishing the series with a 1.36 ERA and 29 strikeouts.

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Anthony Sosa
Anthony Sosa, Sports Editor

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