Box-Toppers picks the Blue Jays over the Cubs in the 2016 World Series

Box-Toppers picks the Toronto Blue Jays to beat the Chicago Cubs in the 2016 World Series.

Wait, you are saying, didn’t you not long ago say the Cubs were Box-Toppers’ top-ranked team and the Blue Jays were second-ranked? How can it be that you are picking your second-ranked team to beat your top-ranked team?

Box-Toppers 2016 preseason predictions

Box-Toppers picks the Blue Jays to beat the Cubs in the 2016 World Series. Here is the predicted order of finish of all 30 teams in their divisions and their projected win total.

American League
1 Blue Jays 111 Indians 98 Angels 94
2 Red Sox* 96 Royals* 96 Mariners 93
3 Orioles 86 White Sox 82 Rangers 91
4 Yankees 84 Tigers 75 Astros 89
5 Rays 76 Twins 68 Athletics 62
National League
1 Nationals 94 Cubs 107 Dodgers 99
2 Mets* 89 Cardinals* 98 Dbacks 88
3 Marlins 73 Pirates 84 Giants 87
4 Braves 56 Brewers 53 Rockies 60
5 Phillies 45 Reds 41 Padres 56
* Wild card
ALCS: Blue Jays over Indians
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers
World Series: Blue Jays over Cubs

Good question.

The Cubs are the top team based on accumulated Box-Toppers points players on the roster earned in 2015. Cubs players had 124.1 Box-Toppers points while Blue Jays players had 123.5.

But when picking winners each season, Box-Toppers looks at more than just last year’s statistics—it takes into account players’ Box-Toppers point totals from previous years (although point totals from recent years and especially last season are weighted more heavily).

So while the Cubs have the best team based on its roster’s 2015 Box-Toppers points, the Blue Jays have the best team based on its roster’s 2011-2015 combined Box-Toppers points and the Kansas City Royals have the best team based on its roster’s combined career Box-Toppers point total.

The Blue Jays win Box-Toppers’ coveted World Series pick (and ask the 2015 Washington Nationals just how coveted that pick is) because they rank second in 2015 Box-Toppers points, first in 2011-2015 points and second in career points. The Cubs rank first in 2015 points, second in points over 2011-2015 and 10th in team career Box-Toppers points.

This year, Box-Toppers is also projecting win totals for each team based on Box-Toppers numbers. Both the Blue Jays and the Cubs have projected win totals of more than 100. Nine other teams are projected to have 90-win seasons.

Here’s where Box-Toppers’ win projection formula breaks down a little bit—there are six teams, all in the National League, that have fewer than 60 or fewer projected wins, including the Cincinnati Reds, who are only projected to win 41 games, which would be one of the worst winning percentages (.253) by a Major League team, on par with the 1962 Mets, who won 40 (.250).

Also, while all 30 teams’ wins add up to 2,430 (the number of Major League games scheduled), a disproportionate amount of winning is being done by AL teams—1,301 to 1,129. That would mean AL teams would win 236 of the 300 interleague games, giving them a winning percentage of 0.787, shattering the previous best interleague winning percentage of 0.611 set by the AL in 2006.

The Blue Jays projected World Series victory is all the more remarkable given that they lost one of Box-Toppers’ top players in the offseason. David Price had 21.1 Box-Toppers points in 2015, a season he ended with the Blue Jays, ranking second among AL pitchers. He signed in the offseason with division rival Boston Red Sox, helping boost them to a projected second-place finish in the AL East and AL Wild Card playoff spot.

The Blue Jays picked up pitcher J.A. Happ from the Pirates (13.1 Box-Toppers points in 2015) and pitcher Jesse Chavez from the Athletics (8.4 points in 2015). Plus, their roster boasts three of Box-Toppers’ top 10 AL batters from 2015—Edwin Encarnacion (ranked fifth with 10.4 Box-Toppers points), Jose Bautista (sixth with 10.0 points) and Josh Donaldson (seventh with 9.9).

The projected National League champion Cubs had Box-Toppers’ top player in 2015—pitcher Jake Arrieta had 29.1 Box-Toppers points. 

The Cubs overall roster is fairly stable from the team that lost the National League Championship Series to the Mets in 2015. The Cubs lost a couple of players in the offseason—pitcher Dan Haren (5.0 Box-Toppers points) to retirement and shortstop Starlin Castro (4.5 points) to the Yankees. Cubs key offseason acquisition: John Lackey (9.7 points) from the Cardinals.

The Cubs roster is still young. That actually hurt them in this rating system, which gives some weight to long-term Box-Toppers points. They rank 10th among all teams in combined career Box-Toppers points.

In the American League, Box-Toppers projects the Blue Jays to win the American League Championship Series over the Cleveland Indians. The Indians roster holds fairly steady and is boosted by two of the AL’s top 10 pitchers in Box-Toppers 2015 rankings—Carlos Carrasco (ranked fifth with 18.0 Box-Toppers points) and Corey Kluber (ranked 10th with 13.4). 

The Indians are projected to finish ahead of AL Central rival Kansas City Royals, who won the World Series in 2015. While the Royals are projected to earn a Wild Card playoff spot, they had several key losses from their roster in 2015—pitcher Johnny Cueto (12.8 Box-Toppers points in 2015) is now with the Giants, closer Greg Holland (8.0 points in 2015) is an unsigned free agent and out for the season with an injury, outfielder Jonny Gomes (4.5 Box-Toppers points in 2015) is playing in Japan and pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (6.7 points) is with the Astros.

The Los Angeles Angels are projected to win the AL West, in which four teams—the Angels, Mariners, Rangers and Astros—are predicted to finish within five games of each other.

The Red Sox are predicted to pick up one of two AL Wild Card spots, a boost from their lackluster 2015 season. The Red Sox fortunes are boosted by the addition of David Price from the Blue Jays (21.1 Box-Toppers points) and closer Craig Kimbrel (6.0) from the Padres.

In the National League, Box-Toppers projects the Cubs to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers remain strong despite the loss of pitcher Zack Greinke (20.7 Box-Toppers points in 2015, fifth among NL pitchers). Greinke signed with the Diamondbacks in the offseason and Box-Toppers projects he will help that club reach second place in the NL West, behind the Dodgers.

The Washington Nationals are projected to win the NL East, ahead of last year’s NL champion New York Mets. The Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals are projected to be the two NL Wild Card teams.

In 2015, Box-Toppers projected the Nationals to beat the Royals in the World Series. While the AL champion was correctly predicted, the eventual NL champion Mets were projected to finish fourth in the NL East.

So, Box-Toppers picks are mostly wrong, as are most preseason picks. But in 2009, Box-Toppers did correctly make the preseason pick that the Yankees would beat the Phillies in that year’s World Series (but then, that year, so did everyone else).

About Box-Toppers—Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.