2017 MLB Preview
April 4, 2017
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As the 2017 MLB season begins, the logical step is to make bold predictions about the way it will unfold. Plenty of parity exists in Major League Baseball, and many clubs have the players to make deep runs. The offseason has ended, the players have proved themselves in spring training, and now the stage is set for the race to the pennant.
In my opinion, the AL East is the deepest division in baseball. The Red Socks have the players to put together a serious world series run, especially with the addition of Chris Sale and the pop of Andrew Benintendi, AL ROY favorite. Throughout the rest of the division, talent remains in a more subtle fashion. The Orioles always seems to be in the hunt even with a rotation that has struggled the past few years; the Rays have an underrated lineup with Dickerson, Longoria, and Wilson Ramos (currently injured); also, the Yankees may see their young guys piece it together as they transition their top minor league system to their majors roster. However, the biggest threat to the Red Sox is the Blue Jays who have consistently had a strong lineup led by Donaldson and Bautista and are now seeing young electric arms have great success in Stroman, Osuna, and Aaron Sanchez.
Prediction: Red Sox
For a division with much parity a few years ago, the Cleveland Indians seem to be the clear favorite. This year, they have added Edwin Encarnacion and hope for better health in October from Carrasco, Salazar, and Michael Brantley. Elsewhere in the AL Central, the Tigers and Royals are in tricky spots since their cores are aging and dwindling in numbers. The White Sox and Twins seem to be a step behind of these three teams as they cultivate young talent.
Prediction: Cleveland Indians
The AL West has four teams viewed as contenders with the Oakland Athletics being the exception. With Mike Trout being the annual MVP candidate he is, the Angels can definitely make a run, but the team around him is lacking compare with the rest of the division. The Mariners always seem to have a strong core composed of Robinson Cano, Kyle Seager, and others but have had trouble living up to the preseason hype the past few years. This leads me to the Texas battle between the Astros and Rangers. The Rangers have a strong balance of young talent in Mazara, Odor, and Gallo that is supplemented with veterans such as Lucroy, Choo, Napoli, and Hamels. On the other hand, the Astros had an active offseason adding veteran influence to their young core. The additions of Beltran, Reddick, and McCann are sure to benefit their cause, but the Rangers may benefit from a stronger rotation highlighted by Hamels and Darvish.
Prediction: Texas Rangers
Other AL teams to watch out for
Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, and Seattle Mariners
As Philadelphia and Atlanta focus on gathering young talent, this race may very well be again a duel between the Nationals and Mets. The Nationals are coming into the season focused on the current potential, signing Adam Eaton to add to an outfield corps consisting of Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth. While the nationals continue to make moves towards playoff success, the Mets are hoping to ride a healthier rotation into the playoffs this year. As these two teams battle, the Miami Marlins may be able to make a run after signing some key relievers, Tazawa and Ziegler, to shore up their bullpen.
Prediction: Washington Nationals
The NL Central seems to be controlled by the Chicago Cubs for many years to come given their young core culminating their success under the management of Joe Maddon. Led by the reigning MVP in Kris Bryant, and having a plethora of strong bats and arms in the likes of Rizzo, Schwarber, Arrieta, Lester, and more, they seem potent to yield off any challenger. The Cardinals present the biggest threat after additions of Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil augmenting a strong and young core. Also in consideration is the Pirates who have one of the strongest outfields with Marte, McCutchen, and Polanco who seem destined for a top-three finish in the division with Cincinnati and Milwaukee rebuilding.
Prediction: Chicago Cubs
The NL West has two perennial teams seeking the division crown in the Giants and Dodgers. Both have pitching staffs headed by some of the best in the game. The Giants have Bumgarner, Cueto, and Moore headlining their starters whereas Kershaw, Maeda, and Hill are leading Los Angeles. While both of these teams also have potent lineups, the edge goes to the Dodgers who set in stone their bullpen by retaining closer, Kenley Jansen. Meanwhile, the Giants are looking to stop blowing late leads (devastating bullpen issues), but they succumbed to yet another loss when entering the ninth up on Opening Day against Arizona. Outside of these two teams, both the Rockies and Diamondbacks are strong. The Diamondbacks need strong comeback years from Shelby Miller, Zack Greinke, and AJ Pollock to get in the hunt. Colorado may surprise some as their rotation is young and strong even as the numbers are skewed for Coors Field.
Prediction: Los Angeles Dodgers
Other NL teams to watch out for
St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and San Francisco Giants
Photo Cred: http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/mlb-opening-day-chicago-cubs-vs-st-louis-cardinals-pictures-1.13352653