It’s time for another Major League Baseball season. And with Opening Day on Sunday, that means it’s also time for my predictions.
But first, let me just say that I’m glad we no longer have to wonder if this is “the year” for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs won the World Series last year in dramatic fashion, breaking a 108-year championship drought. Good for them. But let’s move on.
Back here Boston, the Red Sox are looking to improve on a 2016 in which they were swept in the ALDS by the eventual American League champion Cleveland Indians. Chris Sale’s presence will help, but will it be enough to overcome the absence of David Ortiz? We shall soon find out.
Here are my predictions for the 2017 MLB season:
AL East: Boston Red Sox
-I realize this pick might make it look like I’m not doing justice to Big Papi’s retirement. And it also might make it look like I’m simply ignoring the multiple pitching injuries that the Sox will open the season with. But I’m trying to give credit to players like Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Andrew Benintendi, who represent both the present and the future. Plus, the addition of Sale makes David Price’s injury less of a concern. If I’m wrong, the sneaky play here would be the Baltimore Orioles, but I’m not completely sold on their pitching. The Toronto Blue Jays will feel the effects of losing Edwin Encarnacion, the New York Yankees might be a year or two away, and this will probably be the season in which the Tampa Bay Rays trade Chris Archer.
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
-The reigning American League champs lost Mike Napoli, but they added Encarnacion. And to go along with a rotation that might end up being the best in the AL, I don’t see why the Indians can’t win 94 games again. I don’t see anyone in this division giving Cleveland a true challenge. If their rotation can stay healthy, the Indians will be the best team in the American League, if not the best team in all of Major League Baseball.
AL West: Houston Astros
-The Astros had 84 wins last year and finished third in the division behind the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. But the addition of veteran Carlos Beltran is the perfect move for an Astros team that seems ready to make a playoff run if they can just get back into the tournament. A mix of young, exciting players with a solid pitching staff will be even better having Beltran in the mix. The guy turns 40 in April, but you wouldn’t know it, as he’s coming off a season hitting .295 with 29 home runs and 93 RBI. Texas is an obvious contender here. But I think Houston could be one of the most exciting teams in the league in 2017.
AL Wild Cards: Texas Rangers over Baltimore Orioles
NL East: New York Mets
-Putting money on the Mets’ rotation to stay healthy doesn’t seem like a very wise thing to do, but the reward is just too good to turn down. The Mets’ pitching can be devastating, if healthy. And I don’t care just how good the defending NL East champion Washington Nationals are. If Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom are available all year, then the Mets will be borderline unstoppable. Keep an eye on starter Zack Wheeler, who missed the last two seasons after Tommy John surgery, is back throwing in the mid-90’s. As if the Mets needed another weapon in the rotation.
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
-The Cubs won 103 games last year and won the World Series, and there’s truly no reason to pick any other team to win this division a year later. It’s as simple as that.
NL West: San Francisco Giants
-The Giants were a Wild Card team last year with 87 wins, but I’m picking them to win the division and knock off the defending NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers, who finished with 91 wins last year. And the only reason I’m doing that is because of one man: Madison Bumgarner. Keep an eye on the Arizona Diamondbacks though, as Zack Greinke is poised for a bounce-back year.
NL Wild Cards: Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals
-Cleveland Indians over Texas Rangers
-Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox
-Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers
-New York Mets over San Francisco Giants
-Cleveland Indians over Houston Astros
-New York Mets over Chicago Cubs
-Cleveland Indians over New York Mets
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