2017 MLB Season Preview and Predictions

In 2016, the Chicago Cubs made history and won their first World Series since 1908. Even after losing key pieces, such as Dexter Fowler and Aroldis Chapman, they are still among the league’s best and are widely considered favorites to win it all once again in 2017.

The question is, who will be able to stop them?

In the American League, the AL Champion Cleveland Indians are looking even stronger for this upcoming season than they did for the last and will be one of the top contenders in the AL. The Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers both made it to October in 2016, and are likely to return there this season.

The National League is slightly more complex. There are the usual contenders such as the Dodgers, Giants and Nationals. After them are the Mets and the Cardinals, who missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2010.

The 2017 regular season begins on Sunday, April 2 with an ESPN triple-header. It then concludes on Sunday, Oct. 1.

Without further adieu, here are the divisional predictions and outlook for the 2017 MLB season.

AL Central

  1. Cleveland Indians 96-65
  2. Detroit Tigers 83-79
  3. Kansas City Royals 80-82
  4. Chicago White Sox 69-93
  5. Minnesota Twins 63-99

After a surprisingly strong 2016 campaign, the Indians are once again one of the league’s top contenders. The addition of 34-year-old slugger Edwin Encarnacion and the return of outfielder Michael Brantley gives Cleveland one of the stronger lineups in the game, adding to a sharp rotation. While they’ll be looking to return to the World Series, the Tigers and Royals will be contending for second in the AL Central, as they both have too many question marks in their rotations that will cost them a spot in the playoffs. The White Sox bolstered their farm system after trading ace Chris Sale to Boston and outfielder Adam Eaton to Washington, in return for top prospects Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito. Chicago will be joining the Twins in both the rebuilding stage and at the bottom of the division.

AL East

  1. Boston Red Sox 96-66
  2. Baltimore Orioles 90-72
  3. Toronto Blue Jays 85-77
  4. New York Yankees 78-84
  5. Tampa Bay Rays 68-94

In a busy offseason, the Red Sox stunned the MLB and acquired Chris Sale from the White Sox in order to add more firepower to a rotation that was already headlined by David Price. Even after their former star David Ortiz’s retirement, Boston has both the offense and pitching to top the AL East. Right behind them is Manny Machado and the Orioles, who were led by the deep ball to a wild card spot in the 2016 season and are expected to do the same in 2017. The Blue Jays finished in the second wild card spot and later got to the ALCS, but will have trouble getting back there after losing Encarnacion to Cleveland. The Yankees re-signed Aroldis Chapman and then signed veteran OF Matt Holliday to a one-year deal, which will keep them around .500. Playoffs may not be in line for the league’s most prestigious club this season, but a strong farm system gives New York fans a reason to be optimistic for the near future. And lastly, there are the Rays, who are lacking on both sides of the ball. They will be an interesting watch come the trade deadline in July as they could look into trading 3B Evan Longoria.

AL West

  1. Texas Rangers 91-71
  2. Houston Astros 89-73
  3. Seattle Mariners 87-75
  4. Los Angeles Angels 72-90
  5. Oakland Athletics 66-96

One of the more competitive divisions in the MLB, the AL West is a three-horse race between the Rangers, Mariners and Astros. It’ll most likely come down to the final weeks of the season with the Rangers outlasting Houston behind their balanced lineup and rotation led by Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. The Astros will need their ace Dallas Keuchel to bounce back from his disappointing 2016 season (4.55 ERA) and try to return to a Cy Young-caliber level if they want to make it to the playoffs. The Mariners were one of the biggest surprises in the league a season ago, just missing the playoffs and are expected to barely miss out again behind a shaky lineup outside of 2B Robinson Cano. The Angels, yet again, failed to build around reigning AL MVP Mike Trout and have one of the league’s worst rotations, keeping them near the bottom of the West with the athletics.

NL East

  1. Washington Nationals 96-66
  2. New York Mets 90-72
  3. Miami Marlins 81-81
  4. Atlanta Braves 76-86
  5. Philadelphia Phillies 69-93

Into the National League, the Nationals are one of the favorites to make a deep run into October. They have NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer leading the rotation, superstar Bryce Harper as the focal point in the lineup, and recently acquired Adam Eaton rounding out an overall strong squad that ranks among the league’s best. The Mets will be in the thick of a heated wild card race, but a rotation consisting of the Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Jacob DeGrom trio will lead them to finishing in the first wild card spot. Miami doesn’t have the pitching to compete with the top two teams in the East, and even with a solid lineup, they’re expected to end up right at .500. The Braves are nearing a break-out with one of the younger squads and brighter futures in the game, while the Phillies round out the division in the rebuilding phase.

NL Central

  1. Chicago Cubs 98-64
  2. St. Louis Cardinals 90-72
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates 82-80
  4. Milwaukee Brewers 65-97
  5. Cincinnati Reds 63-99

For a team that wins the World Series, their main goal in the following offseason is to hold onto a majority of the key pieces that led them there. The Cubs did just that. Despite losing Dexter Fowler to the rival Cardinals, Chicago still has arguably the best lineup in the National League, with the dynamic duo of NL MVP Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo in the center of it. Look for the Cubs to make another strong push in the postseason. After missing the playoffs altogether last season, the Cards addressed their biggest needs by signing Fowler and Brett Cecil. St. Louis suffered a tough blow in their rotation as top prospect Alex Reyes is expected to be sidelined for the entire 2017 season, but they have enough talent to return to October as the second wild card. The Pirates are in need of a bounce back season from their star Andrew McCutchen if they want to get back over .500 and compete for a wild card spot. At the bottom of the Central are the rebuilding Brewers and Reds. Ryan Braun from Milwaukee and Joey Votto from Cincinnati are two players who could both be moved by the trade deadline.

NL West

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers 93-69
  2. San Francisco Giants 88-74
  3. Colorado Rockies 79-83
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks 76-86
  5. San Diego Padres 61-101

The key for the Dodgers to return to the NLCS is Clayton Kershaw. He missed over half of the 2016 season with a back injury, and LA’s playoff hopes hinge on the ace’s health. A 100 percent Clayton Kershaw is not just the clear front-runner for the Cy Young award, but also an MVP candidate and could lead the Dodgers all of the way to the World Series. As long as Bruce Bochy is still managing, the Giants are one of the top contenders in the NL. A lack of depth, however, puts them just behind the Mets and Cardinals in the tightly-contested NL wild card race. The Rockies have as stacked of a lineup as anyone in the majors, but a relatively weak pitching staff keeps them in the middle of the NL West. The Dbacks will be getting back OF AJ Pollock after he missed most of last season due to an injury. Arizona will rely heavily on him and 1B Paul Goldschmidt to keep them around .500. Last in the division are the San Diego Padres. With no clear-cut star in the lineup or in the rotation, the Padres simply don’t have enough to create an impact in the NL West.

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