That time has come around again. The week before a season… So much hope, speculation and optimism in the air and only 162 games to put it all to bed.
The 2017 Major League Baseball season is right around the corner, and excitement doesn’t even come close to the feeling baseball fans across the globe have inside their bodies right now. Five days is all thats remains of Sprint Training, and whilst people are still watching preseason ball, wishing it was April 3rd, we’re making season predictions and most probably getting it all wrong.
Predicting how a season is going to unfold in any sport is pretty ridiculous, but a baseball season, thats something else. 30 teams, 162+ games, no one, and I mean no one can sit there and predict how things will unfold… But thats right, we’re stupid enough to give it a go.
The American League East is easily the hardest division in baseball to predict, and probably has been for a very long time. This season however, might see a little more separation at the top than seen in previous years.
The Red Sox are, and should be seen as the clear favourites in the AL East. They have the perfect mix of speed and power from the lead-off spot to the tail end of the batting order. A very strong starting rotation with the addition of (another ace) Chris Sale, and even with David Price out until May, everything should still run smoothly. Their roster is one of the deepest in baseball, and with a farm system which is second to none, this team will only continue to grow. Oh, and they have wealth on their side too, which aways helps.
After so many years without post-season baseball, the Blue Jays have visited the wonders of the playoffs two years in a row now, and with that rotation they shouldn’t have a problem getting there again. The only down side, their team isn’t getting younger and they rely upon a lot of older players, which down the stretch might work against them. This team still makes the playoffs and still has the ability to go deep in the post-season.
The Orioles have made a fair amount of noise in this division for a decent number of years, and they’ll still be around this season. They have the power and home-run ability that many teams lack. So runs won’t be an issue, they’ll score that a for sure. But they also concede too many. It doesn’t matter whether you hit 3 or 4 homers a game, if you’re giving up 5 or 6, you’re gonna end up with a L. A mediocre season in store, unless they can solve their pitching issues.
Defense. The Rays‘ defensive outfield is second to none in the AL East, so they won’t have a problem giving up many runs. But the guys on the other side of the ball need to produce runs also. Defense is good, but offence is pretty great also, and without that you aren’t going to win many games. This Rays team is progressing year by year, they won’t be the bottom feeders of this division this season, but they won’t make much noise either.
The Yankees, a very unfamiliar place for them to be placed. Bottom of the AL East, but they won’t be there again. They don’t have a hell of a lot to offer this season, but they’ve produced and farmed a great number of young prospects that’ll set them up for some time. The heavy, bad contracts that have dragged them down will soon be an after though. The Yankees will be back amongst it soon, just not yet.
The AL Central used to be a given. The Detroit Tigers used to rule the roost of that division, until the Royals came on the scene and won a World Series. Since then the Cleveland Indians have been on the rise, losing to the Cubs in last years October Classic. Theres no doubt that the Indians are the divisions favourites.
The Indians would have been tipped to win this division before singing Edwin Encarnacion, now they’re probably World Series favourites, or at least favourites to represent the American League. This team is pretty stacked in every department; pitching, hitting and defense. Another strong season for Tito’s boys.
Sometimes in life, there are things that are bigger than baseball, bigger than sports. The untimely death of Pitcher Yordano Ventura was one of them. A player who will be deeply missed on and off the field, no doubt. But this team will rally. The Royals have a lot to deal with, including pending free agents… if they can get their guys locked up early, it could be an impressive season for them.
A team you can always count on to be amongst it all, all season, is the Tigers. A brilliantly run organisation that might have slightly over achieved last year. If they can stay healthy and get production out of the guys they paid a lot of money for, a good season could be on the cards, but if not, they’ll continue to slide.
Both the White Sox and the Twins are in the same boat. Both starting fresh. Both rebuilding. Giving up Chris Sale was a bold move, but the prospects they got in return will help them in the long run, and they’ll be much better for it. The Twins have to keep relying on their farm system, keep growing players and they’ll make some noise soon enough.
Like the AL East, this is a difficult division to predict. Three teams could easily finish 1st in the AL West, while the other two teams in the division certainly aren’t pushovers. You could even argue that this division is unpredictable.
The Rangers have history on their side. They’ve won the last two division titles, and for a team that was supposedly rebuilding, they’ve done alright for themselves. They have a knack for winning close games, and relied upon it a lot last season. Are they clutch, or just lucky? It could go one of two ways for them, but they’re a reliable pick to win this division.
The Mariners have a nice a mix of power and speed, and are capable of hurting opposing teams in many ways. The rotation is pretty good, and the bullpen is relatively strong in support also. Whether that’s enough to pull the strings in the West, thats yet to be decided.
The young Astros have the capacity and capability to win this division, and although predicted in 3rd, don’t be surprised to see them climb up. They may see post-season baseball, but their pitching and rotation issues might cut them sort of going deep into the playoffs.
Honestly, when you have arguably the best player in baseball on your team, you should be challenging for titles. This Angles team simply can’t cut it. Stuck in limbo. They’re not challenging, but hey aren’t rebuilding either. Somethings got to give.
The A‘s manage to creative a lot of excitement for such a small market team, but simply can’t make enough noise. A farm system that’s struggled to produce any sort of real talent… Maybe they should follow the Raiders out of Oakland.
One of the best rivalries in baseball pits the Nats against the Mets. A match-up people are going to love seeing for years, as it doesn’t look like any other team in the NL East wants to join in on the fun.
The Nationals might be the best team in baseball, they certainly have the best rotation in the game. They should have Bryce Harper back firing on all cylinders this season, and if so this team easily wins 100 games.
As easy as it is to big up the Nationals, the Mets are pretty dam good also. Again, a rotation that is only rivalled by a few, if everyone pitches to their capabilities then this is one dangerous team. If they don’t, then they might be in trouble. They struggle to score runs, so without good pitching, they don’t have much to offer.
The Phillies appear to be on the right path. They’ve almost finished their rebuild, if they were ever really in one. Like a handful of teams they have the ability to win a fair few games this year, but if they do, and make the playoffs, they’d be on their way back faster than a 7 year-old being called home for dinner.
The Marlins, just like the Royals, suffered from the heartbreaking loss of Jose Fernandez last season. They’ll play with pride, and their teammate in their hearts. Although the outfield is one of the best in baseball, they have too many gaps, and not enough talent to fill them, another average season in Miami.
R.A Dicky. Bartolo Colon. This Braves team might be worth watching after all. Both those guys won’t be able to start all season, but they will still pretty entertaining to watch. The Braves might even be a better team than the Marlins, and although they may end up stuck to the bottom of NL East, they’ll still be a fun watch.
2016 World Series champions = Chicago Cubs.
The NL Central saw a World Series winner that wasn’t the Cardinals for a change! The Cubs, I repeat, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, they’ll win this division easily, and they might even get to the WS again, you never know. They’re pretty stacked and are set up perfectly for another run.
The Pirates success depends on two things… the resurgence of Andrew McCutchen, and the impact of young pitchers. If these two things come together, this Pirates team can be really good this year. If it doesn’t, well, no ones winning this division other than Chicago anyway.
The Brewers could be a little bit of a dark horse this year, with a lineup full of young talent thats definitely worth everyones attention. But once more, it depends upon performance. How many times do we say a team has good young talent, yet doesn’t live up to expectation?
The Cardinals window is closing. You can only be good for so long, right? How much longer do you keep the same old washed up catcher behind home plate? They aren’t a bad team, they certainly aren’t worse than the Brewers, but are they aren’t really that good either.
… The Reds… They will probably be just as bad as they were last year. 50, Maybe 60 wins if they’re lucky. A lot needs to be done in Cinci… A lot.
The Dodgers and Giants have slugged it out for quite some time in the NL West, and they’ll most probably continue to do so. The Rockies and D-Bakcs are very talented, but still have a ways to go. The Padres… are still the Padres.
The Giants have money, and experience. That’ll only get you so far for so long, but its still going to get them pretty far this season. Yes they’ve kept the same guys around for a while, spending a lot of money in the process, but they’re still pretty good. Arguably the window might be beginning to close, but its still being kept open for the time being. They’ll battle with LA to the very end for the division crown.
The Dodgers have money, a lot of it. They have a great farm system. They can pay who they want, what they want, whilst at the same time produce incredible young talent. Perhaps the perfect MLB franchise right now? Even if their ballpark in the second prettiest in California.
The Rockies, like the Brewers. No, even more so, have a real shot this year. In an outsiders, dark horse kind of way. For a start they have Nolan Arenado, who is simply unreal and might even have a shot at the NL MVP this year. He leads a pretty decent lineup, with some okay pitching that needs to be really good for them to be any better than a 3rd place NL West team.
Not the best baseball market… Not the best sports market in general. The Diamondbacks aren’t terrible, but they aren’t that good either. A poor farm system, and no real standouts set them up for another bog standard D-Backs kind of season.
The Padres are rebuilding, yes. It’s taking time, yes. It might even take forever.
AMERICAN LEAGUE – Seattle Mariners over Toronto Blue Jays
NATIONAL LEAGUE – LA Dodgers over New York Mets
Boston Red Sox over Texas Rangers
Cleveland Indians over Seattle Mariners
Washington Nationals over LA Dodgers
Chicago Cubs over San Francisco Giants
Boston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians
Washington Nationals over Chicago Cubs
Washington Nationals over Boston Red Sox