THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
DODGERS at SAN DIEGO
Details/TV: Monday at 4 p.m., ESPN, SportsNet LA
ANGELS vs. CHICAGO CUBS
Details/TV: At Angel Stadium, Monday at 7:05 p.m., ESPN2, FSW
Among all the things consumable prior to the launch of the 2016 MLB season, let’s touch on something ESPN did. The all-sports network that employs dozens of in-house “MLB experts” decided to poll 30 of them on a variety of topics. The results were then presented in a website story because, at the very least, it creates some buzz for the “Baseball Tonight” shows.
Among the things they “discovered,” but without attribution as to who really said what:
= Which will be the “most disappointing team?” The Dodgers won this by a grand margin. With more than one-third of the votes (11), there’s a gap between them and – well look at this – the Angels, who, with three votes, are tied with St. Louis for second on this list. And that’s almost aside of the fact the Dodgers are generally picked to win the NL West. The “disappointment” comes in the fall, when they’re predicted to fall short of capturing their first World Series since most of the experts were even born.
= Who is the most likely to break down during the season? The Angels’ Jered Weaver is tied for first (with ex-Angel John Lackey) with three votes, and teammate Albert Pujols is tied for second. Somehow, the entire Dodgers’ roster was not included.
= The first “major” player traded? Two said Yasiel Puig. No hint as to whom the Dodgers will go out and get in their annual July 31 roster revision.
= Player who will have the highest WAR? Mike Trout, with more than half of the votes (16), over Bryce Harper (9).
Looking then at ESPN The Magazine’s MLB preview, the Dodgers, with a projected finish of 88-74, are slotted as the 10th best team in the game. But the NL West rival San Francisco Giants, projected to finish second at 85-77, are voted third-best? Yes, it’s all about that every even-year superstition (no matter that the Cubs and Astros are the sexy picks to meet in the World Series). Sports Illustrated also put the Giants on its March 28 MLB preview cover because of the “every other year magic” they seem to have. The SI projection has the Dodgers winning the West (at 93-65) but the Giants taking the wild-card (at 88-74) in its calculations. SI then picks the Dodgers to lose this time to the Cubs in the NLCS, after defeating the Mets in the NLDS.
Meanwhile, back at ESPN, the Angels are slotted at No. 16 overall (projected: 80-82) with the usual first sentence of their rundown: “Poor Mike Trout.” His projected future WAR is 84.2. The rest of the team combined is 79.6. Win the battle, lose the WAR.
SI also writes that the Angels’ “best path to glory would have to involve cloning technology” since Trout is on a “weak roster and the worst farm system in baseball.” Hey, what about Andrelton Simmons?
So while Trout remains everyone’s All-American, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager is everyone’s projected NL Rookie of the Year. And Clayton Kershaw is the consensus to win another ERA title, and be in the top three of the Cy Young voting.
And then the season begins. And a lot of this won’t even happen.
But on the bright side, everyone’s undefeated. Until at least Tuesday.
Also this week for the Dodgers: At San Diego: Tuesday at 7:10 p.m., Wednesday at 6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA; At San Francisco: Thursday at 1:35 p.m., Friday at 7:15 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1:05 p.m., SportsNet LA
Also this week for the Angels: Home vs. Chicago: Tuesday at 7:05 p.m., FSW; Home vs. Texas: Thursday at 7:05 p.m., FS1, Friday at 7:05 p.m., Saturday at 6:05 p.m., Sunday at 12:35 p.m., FSW
ALSO THIS WEEK:
The 80th Masters begins Thursday on ESPN and ends Sunday on Channel 2 … North Carolina and Villanova won the right to play in the 78th NCAA men’s final in Houston (Monday, 6 p.m., TBS) … The Lakers and Clippers have two Staples Center meetings before the season ends (Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., TWCSN, Prime Ticket) … The Kings and Ducks have one more regular-season meeting at Staples Center (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSW, Prime) before the playoffs start … the 80th Santa Anita Derby highlights a huge day of Kentucky Derby prep races (Saturday, 3:45 p.m., NBCSN) … Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley have one more fight to the finish (Saturday, 6 p.m., PPV) … More at this link