Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called “expert” predictions for the upcoming season (this was originally going to run tomorrow, but with three regular-season games today, I moved it up). If you have been here for the last 11 years, you’ll find this prediction format familiar — and yes, you’ll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.

I started this format more than 20 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you’re here I don’t need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs’ best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you’ll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the thirty contenders for October glory.

I’m also not going to “predict” award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master-of-the-obvious by telling you that Bryce Harper is a top choice to repeat as N.L. MVP or that Clayton Kershaw has a chance to with the N.L. Cy Young? Just before the 2015 season started, would you have predicted that Jake Arrieta would win the N.L. Cy Young Award? Last March, did you predictDallas Keuchel would win the A.L. Cy Young in 2015? (No. No, you did not.)

And in any case, anyone using the search function here can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was. Further, looking back at the six years of predictions herefrom 2004-2009, I note that I picked the Cubs to make the playoffs every year and to winthe World Series every one of those years except 2006. Obviously, that was the optimist in me, not the realist, and although they did make the postseason in two of those years, those predictions were… well, not so smart. I didn’t make that choice the last six seasons, but now that the Cubs are an excellent team… well, read on.

I didn’t do too well last year, not managing to get a single one of the A.L. playoff teams right (I had them third, fifth, third, fourth and fifth in their division), although I did pick right by selecting the Cubs as the second wild card. (Ignore the fact that I picked thePirates to finish fourth.)  So, take these seriously, but not too seriously. I sure don’t.

Without further ado, here are my choices for 2016. You are all welcome to leave your own picks in the comments.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1) WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Hitting: Impressive
Pitching: Deep
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Dusty Baker

2) NEW YORK METS (2nd wild card)
Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Excellent
Defense: Uh... next question please
Intangibles: Can they defend their league title?

3) MIAMI MARLINS
Hitting: Young
Pitching: Young
Defense: Young
Intangibles: Third by default

4) ATLANTA BRAVES
Hitting: What...
Pitching: ... is ...
Defense: ... this team doing?
Intangibles: The last year at Turner Field

5) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
Hitting: New
Pitching: Mixed-up
Defense: Pretty good
Intangibles: Spiffy new management

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CHICAGO CUBS
Hitting: Depth everywhere
Pitching: Solid
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Joe Maddon, as always

2) PITTSBURGH PIRATES (1st wild card)
Hitting: Good
Pitching: Troubling
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: Can't seem to get past the wild-card game

3) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Hitting: Uncertain
Pitching: Uncertain
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Is this the year it falls apart in St. Louis?

4) CINCINNATI REDS
Hitting: Traded away
Pitching: Rookies
Defense: Mediocre
Intangibles: Saved from last by the Brewers

5) MILWAUKEE BREWERS
Hitting: Traded away
Pitching: Uh...
Defense: Okay, I guess
Intangibles: They'll fight it out with the Reds for last place

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