All photos of Brewers final homestand of 2016 available on Flickr.
Another season has already come and gone and what looks to be one of the most intriguing playoff fields in some time kicks off on Tuesday. The Blue Jays are in it once again and with that lineup and all of Canada at their back, it is hard to root against them. It's always exciting to see Terry Francona and Buck Showalter make the postseason and they have both fielded very under the radar clubs that are quite good. You'd be hard pressed to name even half the players on each of their rosters, but the O's have the homerun leader in Mark Trumbo, a Cy Young candidate in Zach Britton who finished the season perfect in save opportunities and an ERA under 1.00, and the Indians had the best rotation in baseball at least until half of them got hurt in the last month. The Big Papi swan song Red Sox and the Jonathan Lurcoy-led Rangers round out the AL field. On the National League side, the Mets snuck in once again despite having 3/5ths of their rotation and their captain David Wright on the DL for much of the season, not to mention Terry Collins running Jeurys Familia to the mound seemingly every night. It's an even year, so of course the Giants made it. And even though the Cubs led all of baseball with 103 wins, the Cardinals missed the playoffs for the first time this decade, so I could not be more thrilled about that. The Strasburg-less Nationals and the Vin Scully-less Dodgers round out the NL side. Will this finally be the year the Cubs break the curse? Will David Ortiz go out on top? Will the real Bryce Harper finally show up in the playoffs? There are lots of exciting storylines to follow and it should be an exciting postseason.
The Brewers finished at 73-89 in Year 2 of the Rebuild. They certainly exceeded expectations for a lot of pundits and I had them pegged for about 70 wins when the season began. The young players showed substantial improvement as the season went on, and they secured a top 10 draft pick - I consider both of these things to equal a successful season. Jonathan Villar, Chris Carter, and Keon Broxton all emerged as steals on the free agent market for GM David Stearns. "Market" implies that there was even competition to sign these guys - what Stearns was able to see in these players and the coaching staff was able to do with them is nothing short of remarkable. Orlando Arcia got to dip his toes in the water a little bit and while he mostly struggled at the plate in his first couple of months, his defense has lived up to the hype. The lone veteran Ryan Braun even had a fantastic bounce-back season, batting over .300 with 30 homeruns, and he deserved to be an all-star. The rotation was one of the best if not the best statistically in the NL since the all-star break, and Kyle Davies had a breakthrough year. Wily Peralta even showed vast improvement after spending most of the year in AAA. The biggest disappointment on the team for me was Jimmy Nelson. He really had a chance to take the reigns and be the ace this year and most folded at every opportunity. Hopefully he can bounce back and come to spring camp next year ready to prove himself again. Speaking of bouncing back, hopefully I can do better than my total of 33 ballgames this year, my lowest total since I've started keeping track 9 years ago. I'm better than that!
I've made a lot of dumb preseason picks, but I may never live down that I picked the Minnesota Twins, the team with the worst record in baseball, to win the AL Central. I also continued to pick the Cardinals and Royals this year with secret hopes that I would jinx them, so those were two picks I was happy to get wrong.
PLAYOFFS START 10/4/16
NL Wild Card - #4 Mets v. #5 Giants
NLDS - #1 Cubs v. WC winner
#2 Nationals v. #3 Dodgers
AL Wild Card - #4 Blue Jays v. #5 Orioles
ALDS - #1 Rangers v. WC winner
#2 Indians v. #3 Red Sox
World Series Prediction: Red Sox defeat Giants in 7
Rooting for: Blue Jays v. Nationals
#1 Blue Jays
#5 Red Sox
World Series - Giants defeat Blue Jays in 6
FINAL STANDINGS 2016:
Brewers 73-89, -30.5, 4th NL Central
Reds 68-94, -35.5, last NL Central
Twins 59-103, -35.5, last AL Central
FINAL 2016 GAMES ATTENDED:
Erik - 13 (+30 worked)
Peter - 33