When the Kansas City Royals won the American League Central last year, it was their first division title in 30 years.
Don’t expect the Royals to wait that long for their next title.
With their nucleus of Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Wade Davis back in place, the defending World Series champions appear to be in the driver’s seat to win the AL Central for the next two seasons.
Who will join the Royals in the 2016 playoffs?
AL East Division winner: New York Yankees
Stealing a line from the Royals, the Yankees added flame-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman in hopes of building an elite bullpen.
AL West Division winner: Houston Astros
The Astros, who won 86 regular season games last year and were a couple of innings away from eliminating Kansas City in the ALDS, should take another step forward.
The loss of David Price will hurt the Toronto starting pitching rotation, but the Blue Jays’ batting order will remain one of the best in baseball.
Mike Trout and the Angels are poised to return to the postseason after being absent last year.
NL East Division winner: Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper will be determined to give owners a reason to pay him a $500 million-plus contract in the near future.
NL Central Division winner: Chicago Cubs
The Cubs were one of the best teams in baseball last year. Offseason acquisitions like Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist should only make them better.
NL West Division winner: San Francisco Giants
It’s an even year, and you know what that means. I’m not saying the World Series is a lock for the Giants in 2016, but you have to pay attention to a team that won the championship in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
For the second year in a row, the NL Central will be the best division in baseball.
The Cardinals lost some good players in the offseason, but many of the key pieces return from a team that has advanced to the postseason in six of the past seven years.
The Pirates have won 280 games over the past three seasons but haven’t won a playoff series. Andrew McCutchen and company will be determined to get back to the postseason for another opportunity.
Mark Schremmer has been a sports reporter since 2000 and has covered games at the professional, college and high school levels for the Topeka Capital-Journal and The Joplin Globe.
Share this post