There are very few people that love baseball more than me, but this year I flipped on the TV with utmost excitement for baseball being back and was greeted with an extensive amount of rookies I have never heard of, after about two innings without seeing a familiar face, I flipped over to HULU to watch a Seinfeld episode I have already seen 10 times. So I am very excited to see the regular season start on April 2nd of this year, so in honor of that, here are my 2017 MLB season predictions.
- Boston Red Sox
There has not been a repeat division winner in the brutal American League East since the 2011 and 2012 Yankees, but the Red Sox are basically a lock for 2017. General Manager Dave Dombrowski pulled off the biggest trade of the entire 2016 offseason when he sent prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz to Chicago in a blockbuster trade for Chris Sale. This means that the already dominating pitching staff now consists of Chris Sale, David Price, and 2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello.
Along with having three legitimate aces in their starting rotation, the Sox also have a fantastic outfield with 2016 MVP runner-up Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and possible Rookie of the Year winner Andrew Benintendi. Along with that, they have a sound infield with Xander Bogarts at shortstop, Dustin Pedroia at second, Ramirez at first, and Pablo Sandoval at third. Of course, no one can replace Big Papi, but Mitch Moreland will do a decent job of filling the DH role as the Red Sox cruise to an easy AL East victory.
- Baltimore Orioles
I think that we can all agree that no team in 2016 ended their season on a sourer note than the Orioles. If you are unfamiliar with the reason, here is why, the O’s lost the American League Wild Card game in the 11th inning when Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion hit a walk-off three-run round tripper. This may not sound too bad, but when you consider the fact that manager Buck Showalter refused to use one of the most dominating closers in the game, Zach Britton because the O’s didn’t have a lead, you realize how heartbreaking the loss was for Baltimore.
This year, the Orioles are hoping to get back to where they were, and this time, not make the same stupid mistake. The Orioles have a very good infield with Manny Machado at third, J.J. Hardy at short, Jonathan Schoop at second, Chris Davis at first, and the 2016 home run king Mark Trumbo at DH. The outfield is OK with Adam Jones in center field. The Orioles, who only stole a combined 19 bases in 2016, will have to power their way into second place in the AL East.
- Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have not reached the World Series since 1993 when Joe Carter hit a Walk-off home run to win it all in game six. It looks to me like the Jays are going to continue their World Series drought.
The Jays lost some valuable assets this offseason when they traded power hitter Edwin Encarnacion to the Indians and pitcher R.A. Dickey who will now play in a Braves uniform, but they still have a very good lineup nonetheless. The Blue Jays have a fantastic third baseman in Josh Donaldson and an outstanding center fielder in Kevin Pillar. They also have Russell Martin who is one of the best catchers in the game today. They traded to get Kendrys Morales at DH to replace Encarnacion, and if Bautista can go back to the way he was in 2014-15 with 30+ home runs, the Blue Jays may be looking at a Wild Card spot.
- New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers played rather poorly in 2016 going 84-78 and with the retirement of Mark Texiera and Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees are now swimming in youth. As a matter of fact, it is expected that the everyday lineup will consist of five players under 27. The best of the young players is catcher Gary Sanchez who in just 53 games last season, hit 20 home runs, 11 of them came in a 15 game span in which he also drove in 18 runs. There is certainly a lot of expectation for Sanchez in 2017. Sanchez isn’t the only youth phenom on the Yankees, Greg Bird at first and Aaron Judge in right field with Sanchez make up the Baby Bombers.
The Yankees also have, along with Aaron Judge in right, Brett Gardner at left, and Jacoby Ellsbury at center. Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro will make a nice duo in the infield, and veterans Matt Holliday and Chase Headley will help lead this young team. If all the cards work in their favor, they may best the Blue Jays and maybe even the Orioles, but until then I say that the Yankees will place fourth in the strongest division in baseball.
- Tampa Bay Rays
It looks like it will be another long season for Rays fans as the Rays fail to reach the playoffs for their third consecutive year. They will continue to disappoint fans as the only player to provide any considerably decent numbers will be Evan Longoria who as a matter of fact, was the only Rays player in 2016 to collect more than 135 hits. The only other player that would considerably improve the Rays is catcher Wilson Ramos who will be out for most of the 2017 season with a torn ACL. Long story short, they are just not good enough to have a fighting chance in the AL East.
- Houston Astros
The Houston Astros have one of the best young teams in baseball. As a matter of fact, if they can get off to a better start than they did last season, then the Astros will be the team to beat in the AL West. George Springer, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa will help the Astros stay in the top 3 in baseball in fielding percentage and will make the Astros lineup very difficult to face. The Astros also have two-star catchers in Brian McCann and Evan Gattis and a possible future hall of fame DH in Carlos Beltran who will be the voice of experience on this youthful team.
To win the AL West, the Astros’ pitchers will have to have a bounceback season in 2017. Houston will especially need a bounceback season from 2015 Cy Young award recipient Dallas Keuchel who posted a 4.55 ERA with a 9-12 record in 2016. He was not the only Astros pitcher that had a poor 2016 campaign as only one pitcher in their rotation (Lance McCullers) had an ERA lower than 4.15 (yikes). If the Astros can get bounce back seasons from their pitchers and have all their young talent play at the level they are capable of, they will have no trouble topping the rest of the AL West teams.
- Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are a puzzle right now (bare with me here), they have been missing a few pieces for a while, but they have found them again and just need to put it together. The Halos have been looking to fill spots at both left field and second base, and GM Billy Eppler did a pretty good job this offseason filling in those holes. Eppler made a trade with the Tigers to receive outfielder Cameron Maybin, and he also received shortstop Danny Espinosa via an acquisition with the Nationals and Espinosa will be playing second for the Angels in 2017.
In addition to Espinosa and Maybin, Eppler picked up Jesse Chavez from the Dodgers. Chavez will be a nice addition to a pitching staff that has had many struggles in the past. Nonetheless, Garret Richards, Tyler Skaggs, and Matt Shoemaker are healthy again. Richards, who will lead the starting rotation, was diagnosed with a tear in his ulnar collateral ligament in October of 2016 and is now recovered. Skaggs and Shoemaker were also injured in 2016 with Skagg’s forearm strain and the injury to Shoemaker’s head after being hit by a comebacker off the bat of Kyle Seager. Now that these three pitchers are healthy in 2017 they, along with Chavez and Rickey Nolasco, will make a big impact on the Angels this season.
As usual, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols will provide much of the offense along with right fielder Cole Calhoun and the power hitting C.J. Cron. Hopefully, for the Angels, the catching platoon with Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez will provide considerably good offensive numbers along with the decent power of Espinosa and Maybin. If the Angels can keep their pitchers healthy, and all of their hitters provide slightly above average offensive numbers, you will possibly see the Angels in the Wild Card game or even better, in the race for first in the West.
- Texas Rangers
The Rangers have a way of absolutely coming out of nowhere and winning the division, and you can see why since they did collect 49 come from behind victories in 2016 (leading the Majors). They have won the AL West twice in the last two years and in 2016 they lead the AL in wins with 95. In 2017, I just don’t see the Rangers making it into the playoffs with the Astros almost a lock for first and the Angels finally filling in the spots they have been needing to fill for too long.
Nonetheless, they have a powerful lineup with future Hall of fame third baseman Ardian Beltre leading the pack offensively and defensively, while Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor continue to compile the most double plays in baseball as they did in 2016. Yu Darvish had a bounceback year in 2016 after recovering from Tommy John surgery and he, along with Cole Hamels, should be a force to be reckoned with in 2017. Although Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish will be a great duo together, they do not have any other pitchers that had a better than 4.00 ERA.
Arguably one of the best catchers in the game is behind the plate for the Rangers (Jonathon Lucroy), and along with Beltre, Odor, and Andrus, they have Jurickson Profar and Joey Gallo who will be alternating between DH and first, and Shin-Soo Choo will accompany Carlos Gomez and Nomar Mazara in the outfield as the Rangers just miss out on a playoff spot in 2017.
- Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners have not made it to the Postseason since 2001 and have not made it to the World Series since the franchise began in 1977. It is pretty safe to say that that streak will continue in 2017.
The Mariners did not have a good offseason this year, and the only addition to their lineup that is worthy of recognition is the acquisition of Jean Segura. There are two notable subtractions to their lineup, Taijuan Walker, and Ketel Marte. Seattle has a half decent pitching rotation that is headed by once great but now average Felix Hernandez, and unfortunately for Seattle, in 2016 they did not have a single pitcher with an ERA less than 3.78 which will spell out trouble in 2017.
They have a decent projected batting order with the speedy Jean Segura hitting leadoff, Seth Smith hitting second, Robinson Cano hitting third, and Nelson Cruz in the cleanup, following him is Kyle Seager. The Mariners do have a weak bottom of the order, but it does not really matter because Seattle will, again, fail to reach the playoffs.
5. Oakland A’s
This is a pretty obvious choice as the A’s have been fifth in the AL West two consecutive years and show no signs of changing that.
Their Ace and 2015 All-Star Sonny Gray is coming off a horrendous 2016 in which he had an ERA of 5.69 and a win-loss record of 5-11. As a matter of fact, none of the A’s pitchers in 2016 that had at least 100 innings pitched, had more wins than they did losses.
The Athletics are as weak of a hitting team as they could possibly be, ranking 26th in the MLB in batting average, total bases, and slugging percentage, while they are 28th in the MLB in OPS and runs. They also had the third-most runners left on base in 2016.
It is pretty safe to say that the A’s will not surprise us despite having a new stadium name in 2017.
- Cleveland Indians
The Indians fell just short in 2017, losing game 7 of the World Series to the Cubs, and the Tribe is now looking to break their own 68-year Championship drought. They could look to their division rivals the Kansas City Royals for inspiration (the Royals lost the 2014 Series to the Giants, and came back to beat the Mets to win it in 2015).
The Indians’ lineup looks exactly the same in 2017 as it did in 2016 since there was not much offseason action, but there was one addition that is going to make Cleveland much better than they were in 2016, Edwin Encarnacion. The Tribe managed to get the most prized power hitter on the market this offseason, and he will fit in perfectly at DH for the ballclub in Cleveland.
Jason Kipnis and Fransisco Lindor will make a fantastic duo in the middle infield and Jose Ramirez at third and Carlos Santana at second will make for a fantastic infield in 2016. The outfield looks good with Michael Brantley in left, Tyler Naquin in center field, and Lonnie Chisenhall in right. Oh ya, I forgot to mention that they have arguably the best relief pitcher in the game in Andrew Miller. The Indians look even better in 2017 than they did in 2016 and that basically spells out playoffs or more…World Series.
- Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals looked unbeatable in 2015 and went on to beat the New York Mets in the World Series. Despite a fantastic 2015 season, the Royals seldom performed to expectations, finishing third in a rather weak AL Central.
The Royals are still trying to adjust to losing hurler Yordano Ventura, and their pitching staff took a big hit with his loss. Their staff now consists of Danny Duffy (12-3 in 2016), Ian Kennedy (11-11), Jason Vargas (0-0), Jason Hammel (15-10), and Travis Wood (4-0). They also have a fantastic closer with a 100 MPH fastball who’s name is Kelvin Herrera.
An impactful newcomer in 2017 will be Jorge Soler who will replace Kendrys Morales who will now be DHing for Toronto. Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez will lead the team in 2017, and Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar will make for one of the best shortstop-third base combos in baseball. Speedy Lorenzo Cain will join Alex Gordon and Paul Orlando in the outfield as he did last year, and despite the talent on this team, there is no chance for them to beat the Indians this year and they will most likely not even get a Wild card spot.
- Detroit Tigers
The Tigers are making many attempts to make one of the oldest lineups in baseball young and may be making some massive trades involving Miguel Cabrera and Jordan Zimmerman if they continue to fail to accomplish this goal. This could mean rebuilding, and this could make the next few seasons in Detroit pretty hard to watch for Tigers fans.
The Tigers are going to need Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, Justin Upton, and J.D. Martinez to step up in 2017 so that Miguel Cabrera isn’t trying to do everything himself offensively. Also, they will need to find a good replacement for Cameron Maybin who was traded to the Angels with no real plans of replacing him. DH Victor Martinez will provide a good amount of offense for the Tigers, but the real concern for Detroit is Jordan Zimmerman.
Jordan Zimmerman had a rough 2016 campaign with a 9-7 record with a 4.87 ERA. Detroit will need a bounceback year from him to accommodate 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer who will possibly have decreasing numbers as he enters his sophomore season. If Fulmer does not have an issue in his second year, and Zimmerman is healthy, they will have a powerful trio in their pitching staff as Justin Verlander leads the pack in 2017.
- Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins had a less than unimpressive 2016 as they topped all of the MLB in losses and batting average against, and any baseball fan will tell you, that there are some problems there. Their season was absolutely dreadful to watch but their 2017, but the only good part about being at the bottom is that the only place to go is up.
The Twins made a nice addition this offseason by trading for Jason Castro who will be behind the plate for Minnesota in 2017. The Twins will also need the power bats of Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier to lead their lineup. They have a decent lineup to accommodate Mauer and Dozier, but there is not mutch else to mention. Minnesota is not expected to do great, but they will at least surpass the White Sox.
- Chicago White Sox
The White Sox made some very bold moves in 2016, trading their five-time All-Star left-handed pitcher Chris Sale to Boston for four prospects, and trading scrappy outfielder Adam Eaton for a trio of prospects. What is the trend here? The Sox are obviously sick of their typical losing ways and are willing to make big trades to turn their franchise around. Though I do like it how they are finally starting to go into a rebuilding process, this means they will be pretty bad for the next 2 or 3 years which is why I have them in the five spot in the Central.
AL WC1: Baltimore Orioles (this time they will use Zach Britton in the WC game)
AL WC2: Los Angeles Angels
AL MVP: Mike Trout (who else?)
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL ROY: Andrew Benintendi
AL Manager of the Year: Terry Francona
- Washington Nationals
This is a team that knows how to get it done. With one of the best pitching trios in baseball with Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzolez, and Steven Strasburg, They ranked second best in the MLB in 2016 in ERA, wins, and opposing team batting average. Daniel Murphy had the best season of his career batting 3.47 and when you put him at second, to the left of star shortstop Trea Turner, you have got something special there. The Nats now have Adam Eaton in center field with Jason Werth in left and superstar Bryce Harper at right which makes for one of the best outfields in the MLB.
- New York Mets
in 2016, injuries absolutely killed the Mets, but in 2017, with everyone healthy, you can expect a lot from the Mets. I would give you a list of all the injuries the Mets suffered through, but I feel like Noah Syndergaard sums it up way better…
Now with everyone healthy, they can return to 2015 form (they won the Pennant). They have a fantastic pitching staff and some great hitters in Cespedes and Neil Walker, they are definitely good enough to make it to the Wild Card this year, and possibly further.
- Atlanta Braves
The Braves are in a rebuilding process and everything is going according to plan. In 2017 they will be relying on Freddie Freeman and rookie Dansby Swanson to lead the team offensively, while Julio Teheran and R.A. Dickey lead the pitching staff. Even though things are going according to plans, Atlanta has not had a winning season since 2013, and I do not forsee one in 2017 despite the shiny new stadium.
- Miami Marlins
Before the loss of Ace Jose Fernandez, the Marlins looked like they would be serious contenders in 2017, but now that Fernandez is gone, other teams won’t really have anything to worry about until the bullpen goes to work.
I’m calling that Stanton comes in and leads baseball in home runs hitting 30 in the first half, but in the second he will be injured and that will be that (like every year). Along with Stanton, Justin Bour is healthy and Dee Gordon is back. I was really looking forward to watching the 2017 Marlins, but it just wasn’t meant to be.
- Philadelphia Phillies
What more can be said about the Phillies besides how poorly the team has played for years and how many years they will play so poorly? As a matter of fact, in the last four years, they have never placed higher than fourth in their division.
They have a very nice young pitching staff but the rebuilding process has hit their offense like a truck, in 2016 they were last or almost last in the MLB, in every offensive category. It is pretty safe to say that 2017 will be a long season for the ballclub in Philly.
- Los Angeles Dodgers
For the Dodgers in 2017, the question is not, “Will they win their division?”, it is “Will they finally win it all this year?” If you are unfamiliar with the Dodgers, they do the same thing every year, win their division lose in the postseason, repeat. This might be the year that the Dodgers break out of their shell and find a way to make it to the World Series.
The Dodgers have a very powerful pitching staff headed by Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda. They also have one of the best closers in baseball in Kenley Jansen. When you put that together with A-Gon, Joc Pederson, Justin Turner, Yasmani Grandal, and 2016 Rookie of the Year Corey Seager, you have something special.
- San Francisco Giants
In 2016, the ‘every even year’ World Series Championship tradition was ended in 2016 when the Cubs took the Giants out of the Postseason with one swift stroke. Now the Giants need to focus on getting in the Wild Card game and getting back into the playoffs.
Their starting rotation is a strong one with Mad Bum and Johnny Cueto heading the pack and as a result of an offseason transaction in 2016, they now have Mark Melancon as a closer. San Fransisco has the best fielding team in baseball with the best shortstop-second base combo and the best catcher in baseball. Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik make for a lethal middle infield and Buster Poesy just flat out makes baserunner’s lives hard. The Giants are a great team with outstanding hitters and a fantastic defensive lineup, and they will be fun to watch as they attempt to overthrow the Dodgers in the NL West.
- Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks placed fourth in their division in 2016 so there will be some improvement, but not much.
The Diamondbacks had a huge problem with their pitching staff in 2016, posting the worst team ERA in baseball and not having a single starter with a better-than-4.oo ERA. In 2015 the D-Backs paid big money for Zach Grenkie and they desperately need a bounceback season from him. They also need improvement in their fielding, posting one of the worst fielding percentages in baseball. They have very few offensive forces besides Paul Goldschmidt and will not be a very relevant team until their pitching staff, defense, and offense improves greatly.
- Colorado Rockies
It looks like another disappointing year in Colorado as the Rockies continue to dominate as one of the best hitting teams in baseball as a result of their stadium, and still fail to do well in their division.
The Rockies, as usual, have a fantastic lineup that consists of DJ Lemahieu, Trevor Story, Carlos Gonzalez, and Nolan Arenado, but they continue to fail as far as pitching. They only had two pitchers with a better than 4.00 ERA which is not good by any standards. The Rockies would be fantastic if you combined all of their talents with some good pitching, but unfortunately for them, this won’t be the case in 2017.
- San Diego Padres
The Padres have a good future, but in 2017, they are just going to be a mediocre ball club. They have prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot who are starting to emerge, and Wil Myers has high expectations for himself in 2017, but the same can not be said about the Padres as they have a poor pitching staff and team alike. Despite their bright future, they will not be a contender in 2017.
- Chicago Cubs
Yes, folks, the Cubs won the 2016 World Series to break their 108-year Championship drought, now that the burden has been lifted, the Cubs now are trying to be the first team since the Yankees in 1999 and 2000 to win two consecutive World Series, and they are fully capable of doing so.
The Cubs looked so good in 2016, that it is difficult to find a weakness on their roster. They have one of the best rotations in baseball, with the best ERA in baseball and the lowest opposing team’s batting average. Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, John Lackey, and Mike Montgomery all in the same rotation makes their pitching staff very feared among MLB teams, not to mention how great of a team GM Theo Epstein has created.
Their team is led by young superstar third baseman Kris Bryant and veteran first baseman Anthony Rizzo. the two stars are surrounded by three-star players in the infield as well with, Javier Baez at second, Addison Russell at short, and Wilson Contreras behind the plate. The outfield consists of Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber (from right to left) to top off a lethal team that generates one question among all baseball fans, “Can they be beaten?”
- St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals are used to just flat out picking on all the other teams in their division, and 2016 was most likely a huge wake-up call as they did not even make it to the Postseason.
St. Louis has a decent pitching staff headed by Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright, but with Alex Reyes out with Tommy John Surgery, the Cardinals will need Michael Wacha to step up and be the pitcher he once was.
The team is led by veteran catcher Yadier Molina who is one of the best catchers in baseball, and they have one of the best hitting lineups in baseball. This is a team that you can expect to see in the 2017 Postseason and that is almost a guarantee.
- Pittsburgh Pirates
I believe that the pirates will be much better in 2017 than they were in 2016, Pittsburgh placed third in the NL Central in 2016 partially as a result of one of, if not the worst seasons of Andrew McCutchen’s career.
The reason that McCutchen’s down year affected the Pirates so much is because he makes the whole team better and without their captain, the Pirates are pretty much on their own (I just wanted to clarify that because I know there are some of you readers that would love to go on an endless debate with me as to why one player does not make their team good or bad, so I just wanted to get that out of the way to save me a boatload of time). Anyways, in 2017 McCutchen will most likely be back to his regular star form, and when you put him in the outfield with Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco, you get arguably the best outfield in baseball. The Pirates also have a nice infield that consists of, Francisco Cervelli (catcher), Jung Ho Kang (third), Jordy Mercer (shortstop), Josh Harrison (second), and Josh Bell (first).
Pittsburgh has a nice young pitching squad, and the fact that it is led by Gerrit Cole makes it that much better. Their pitching staff took a hit in the offseason when they traded mark Melancon to the Giants, but Tony Watson will do a good job taking over in his place. You can definitely expect a much better season from the Pirates in 2017.
- Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have placed fourth in their division for two consecutive years, and there is absolutely no reason as to why they won’t do it for the third year in a row.
The Brewers are in a major rebuild and they are a very young team, led by veterans Matt Garza and Ryan Braun. Their pitching staff is super young and will be ready to break out in two or more years, and the same can be said about the Brewers overall.
- Cincinnati Reds
The Reds are in a rebuilding process, and like every other rebuilding team, it will be a few years until they can even come close to contending.
The Big Red Machine is not really a Machine at the moment as the only offensive category they were higher than 15th in baseball was stolen bases and they can thank Billy Hamilton for that. Their pitching staff is awful leading baseball in home runs allowed, walks, and hit batters (not good). There are only three players on the team that are recognizable to most fans are Joey Votto, Adam Duvall, and Billy Hamilton, after that there are a whole lot of guys you’re going to need to Google.
NL WC1: St. Louis Cardinals
NL WC 2: New York Mets
NL MVP: Kris Bryant (yes, both Bryant and Trout will repeat)
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer
NL ROY: Dansby Swanson
NL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon
Mets beat the Cardinals in the NL Wild Card
Angels beat the Orioles in the AL Wild Card
Nationals beat Dodgers in the NLDS
Indians beat Astros in ALDS
Cubs beat Mets in NLDS
Red Sox beat Angels in ALDS
Cubs beat Nationals in NLCS
Red Sox best Indians in ALCS
RED SOX BEAT CUBS TO WIN THE 2017 WORLD SERIES!!!