B/R Predicts MLB Playoff Teams, Award Winners and More, 1 Month Out
The final month of the 2016 MLB season has arrived, but there is still a lot to be sorted out before the regular season wraps up and another postseason begins.
As many as 18 teams can still be considered contenders for at least a wild-card berth. As for individual accolades, September performances will decide several major awards.
With that in mind, some of the top MLB writers at Bleacher Report have decided to try their hands at predicting the league's 10 playoff teams, major award winners and a few other notable things.
These six writers made up our panel of prognosticators:
David Ortiz's Final Career HR Total
Total entering September: 534
Gruen (543): He has 10 homers in 24 games against the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees. Boston has 14 combined games against both clubs during which Ortiz will get to feast.
Knobler (543): That would give him 40 this year, for his first 40-homer season in 10 years, and make him the first 40-year-old to hit 40 home runs.
Reuter (544): Big Papi has a career .940 OPS in September. Considering how well his farewell season has gone so far, he should close out the regular season with a bang. We'll go big and say he hits 10 over the final 29 games.
Rymer (540): He has 534 now and has been averaging about six per month without showing any signs of slowing down, so the rudimentary arithmetic adds up.
Shafer (542): For what it's worth, that puts him exactly six ahead of Mickey Mantle and exactly six behind Mike Schmidt on the all-time list.
Weiner (544): He won't catch Manny Ramirez (555 HR), but is anyone going to bet against Big Papi putting together a big September to close out his final regular season?
Impact September Call-Up (Pitcher)
Gruen (Glasnow): Sure, Glasnow is in the minors rehabbing an injured shoulder. But he's still a prospect (only two MLB starts) who will be with this team in September and help Pittsburgh keep contact in the NL wild-card race.
Knobler (De Leon): Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said they will only call De Leon up if there's a need, per David Vassegh of AM 570 LA Sports. The way the Dodgers go through pitchers, isn't it a sure thing there will be a need? Oh, and did you see he struck out 13 batters the other day in Triple-A?
Reuter (De Leon): The way the Dodgers have churned through starters this year, it's surprising that De Leon hasn't already gotten the call. Whether he's used as a multi-inning guy out of the bullpen or steps into the rotation, he could be an X-factor in a tight NL West race.
Rymer (De Leon): The Dodgers need fresh starters at the same rate Spinal Tap needs new drummers, and De Leon's mix of good control and serious swing-and-miss stuff should allow him to make an immediate impact.
Shafer (Giolito): Giolito was sent down Monday after yielding four runs in five innings in his fourth MLB start on Sunday, but he will be back. And since Washington is in control of the NL East, the stud right-hander should have plenty of opportunities to help the Nats' postseason push.
Weiner (De Leon): A strikeout artist with terrific control, De Leon gives the Dodgers another big-time arm to slot into their pitching staff. De Leon's arrival will give the Dodgers another edge over the rest of their competition for a playoff spot, whether he replaces, say, Julio Urias in the Dodgers rotation, allowing the team to turn the teen into a one-inning reliever down the stretch to keep his innings under control, or winds up in relief himself.
Impact September Call-Up (Hitter)
Gruen (La Stella): La Stella was hitting .295/.388/.457 before he was sent down to Triple-A Iowa because he still had options. He initially refused to report to Iowa but has since joined the club and is sure to be a valuable pinch hitter as the Cubs try to secure home-field advantage in the NL playoffs.
Knobler (Moncada): Boston third basemen are 28th in the majors in OPS (.703) and have been even worse than that in the second half. Moncada, who had been playing second base in Double-A, was just moved to third base. Hmm, think he could make a difference?
Reuter (Moncada): It won't be hard for Moncada to be an upgrade over the current third-base tandem of Travis Shaw and Aaron Hill, both of whom are hitting under .200 since the All-Star break. He could be this year's version of Corey Seager, stepping into a starring role over the season's final month.
Rymer (Moncada): The Red Sox clearly don't want to get anyone's hopes up, but Moncada's recent move to the hot corner highlights him as a potential solution to a problem position. He could be this year's Seager.
Shafer (Moncada): After Red Sox skipper John Farrell indicated it would be a strong possibility, the club made Moncada's promotion official for Friday night's game against the A's. Now, he'll lend his enviable tools to a Boston club battling for supremacy in the wide-open AL East.
Weiner (Gallo): With Shin-Soo Choo sidelined and the recently signed Carlos Gomez a shell of the All-Star he once was, Gallo could see regular playing time in an outfield corner for the Rangers.
Upcoming Free Agent Who Will Boost His Stock Most in September/October
Gruen (Desmond): Most point to Desmond's offensive resurgence as the reason he'll cash in big this winter. But he's playing center field for the first time in his career—very well, I might add—and has proved he has the kind of defensive versatility MLB managers increasingly value.
Knobler (Desmond): He was great in the first half and has not been so great so far in the second half. But the market seems set up for him (a few power hitters, not many shortstops or center fielders), and he'll have a national stage to make his case.
Reuter (Saunders): A .298/.372/.551 first-half line made Saunders an All-Star for the first time in his career. He's gone ice-cold since the break, though, hitting just .195/.309/.432. It might take a strong final month and postseason to solidify his case for a three- or four-year deal this winter.
Rymer (Cespedes): There's no way he doesn't use his opt-out after a season such as this. And ever since he came off the disabled list a couple of weeks ago, the dude's been hotter than Johnny Storm.
Shafer (Trumbo): If he can keep the power stroke going, Trumbo has a shot at a 50-homer season. Set aside his pedestrian on-base percentage and defensive shortcomings; someone will pay handsomely for that kind of pop.
Weiner (Bautista): If he can stay healthy and help power Toronto into the playoffs, Bautista can recoup some of the value he's lost with two trips to the disabled list and an un-Joey Bats-like .230/.351/.460 triple-slash line.