This is a wonderful time of year, a time when everyone and their mother comes out with baseball predictions (I'll have mine soon enough), and of course, Sports Illustrated is no different.
Another thing about Sports Illustrated? There's that whole cover jinx.
Sorry, Houston Astros fans, but you might want to cross your fingers and not uncross them until October.
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The magazine put the Astros on the cover of its baseball preview issue and predicted the Astros would beat the Cubs in the World Series after winning 94 games and winning the AL West. While they had the Astros winning the division and the world title, they like the Rangers, as well.
SI predicts the Rangers will win 90 games and earn an AL Wild Card spot before losing to the Astros in the ALDS.
In case you forget, the same issue last year featured the Washington Nationals, dubbing them as a "super team" with good reason — Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, etc. Of course, they won just more than 80 games and missed the playoffs altogether.
Here's what SI had to say about the 2016 Rangers:
It wasn't that long ago that the Rangers seemed to have a dynasty in the making, with two AL pennants on the wall, one of the best offenses in the majors and a crop of young pitchers set to take over. Well, that pitching went sideways as Derek Holland, Martin Perez and Matt Harrison saw their careers derailed by injury. Last year Harrison was dealt to Philadelphia while Holland and Perez combined for 24 starts and a 4.66 ERA.
Texas won the AL West despite those performances, but if it's going to win it all it will be because those two southpaws get back on track. The Rangers' rotation has been their weak spot, the worst in the AL over the past two seasons. A full season of Cole Hamels and four months of the rehabbing Yu Darvish, expected back by June, will help that. It's essential though, that the products of their farm system — Holland and Perez, Nick Martinez and Chi Chi Gonzalez — pitch better in 2016 than they did last year.