In 2016 I broke down the MLB season over three blogs. Not going to be nearly as intense this year. Mainly because I haven't been paying attention to spring training that much with the exception of early Tebow time, but even that lost it's luster quickly. Also I'd like people to actually read it.
Even with 20 minutes of research and going with my gut I still feel like my picks will still be on par with all the so called "experts". Last year I correctly (lets-take-a-look-back-at-my-mlb-preview.html) picked the Cubs to end their World Series drought, the NL Rookie of the year, and AL Manager of the year. Although I did have Joey Gallo (who?) as my AL Rookie of the Year and he had one hit (granted it was a homer) all season.
With real games a few days away I think it's time to give my official predictions
AL East Champs: Boston Red Sox
Injuries on the pitching staff scare the shit out of me. I think things with David Price are not going to end well. Who knows what to expect from the back end of the rotation? I think Rick Porcello will come back to earth and pitch like a #3. Luckily with Chris Sale that might be enough. I honestly think Chris Sale may win 25 games with this line-up.
Even without David Ortiz with all the young talent on this roster, mixed with Pedroia and Hanley I expect the Red Sox offense to pick up right where it left off. Wouldn't be surprised to see a bounce back year from Sandoval. Mookie Betts is a top 5 position player in all of baseball. I am so excited to see what he does this year. I really think he got screwed on MVP last year and this year he takes it home. A full season of Andrew Beinitendi should be awesome to watch. Between him, JBJ and Mookie Betts the Red Sox have the best defensive outfield in all of baseball IMO.
I'm sure I seem biased picking my team to win the East, but between this offense, Chris Sale, and the depth of pitching, this year will find a way to win the East. I still don't know if this team has what it takes to win in October after the disappointment of last season but I sure as hell expect them to be playing then.
AL East Standings:
1. Red Sox
2. Blue Jays
AL Central Champs: Cleveland Indians
Everybody on earth is picking the Indians to win the AL Central which kind of scares me picking them. Plus it's Cleveland, this city has been disappointing it's fans for 60 years. Don't let one miracle comeback by the Cavs (aided by the suspension of Draymond Green) fool you. The way the World Series ended last year is peak Cleveland. That's how things really go. 3-1 lead, going home, lose in heartbreaking fashion.
However the Indians are so loaded the only way I think they miss the playoffs is if their plane crashes. Top to bottom this team is stacked.
Between their rotation, which is getting Carlos Carrsaco back and their line-up which just happened to add the best available bat in free agency, Edwin Encarnacion. The Tribe with the likes of Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis (once he comes back) are poised to return to the Fall Classic in 2017.
This team was a win away from a championship last year and between all the guys they're getting back healthy in 2017 and the addition of Edwin Encarnacion this team may wrap up the division in August. They also will have Andrew Miller for a full season. I just hope Cleveland actually shows up and supports this team because they are going to be really fun to watch in 2017.
AL Central Standings:
4. White Sox
AL West Champs: Houston Astros
After a disappointing 2016 I expect this young and hungry team to return to the postseason. I don't expect the same sort of down year from Dallas Keuchel in 2017. The pitching staff as a whole really was a let down after a fun 2015 that saw the Astros nearly knock off the eventual World Series champion Indians.
This team added some veteran leadership in Carlos Beltran, Josh Reddick and Brian McCann, in a line-up that already features to MVP candidates in Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. In an exciting race between the Rangers, Mariners and Astros I think Houston finds a way to get back to October.
AL West Standings:
Wild Cards: Toronto Blue Jays & Seattle Mariners
The Blue Jays have one of the best rotations in baseball. While losing Edwin hurts, this team still has guys like Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Jose Bautista and Kevin Pillar. I don't think they're gonna be nearly as exciting as the last two seasons, but I do think the Blue Jays find a way to be competitive, mainly due to their pitching to at least make the wild card game.
As for the Mariners, they hold the longest active playoff drought in Major League Baseball, it's been since their record setting 116 win 2001 season since Seattle made the postseason. I think this is the year that changes. I want to see King Felix pitching in the postseason. The Mariners cannot waste one of the best arms of this generation any longer.
NL East Champs: New York Mets
I loveeeee the Mets starting rotation. When healthy it's the best in baseball. Three legitimate number 1's between Thor, Matt Harvey, and deGrom. Zac Wheeler is back as well, and fellow long haired fire thrower, Robert Gsellman will fill out the rotation, who is expected to do big things in his first full year in the majors.
While the Nationals are the sexy pick to win the East and even the World Series, I think that the Mets pitching will keep them in the hunt all year long. The only question is will they be able to score enough? Last year Curtis Granderon, (who I know is usually their leadoff man and it's a different game in the NL) had 30 HR last year with only 59 RBI. How that is possible blows my mind.
I feel like the Mets entire line-up is guys that hit for low averages, strike out a ton and have power. It's a roll of the dice to pick these guys but I have a soft spot in my heart for the Mets. I think they make the playoffs for a third straight season and just edge out the Nats. Plus I think the Nats have their own JV Giants thing going where they win their division and lose in the NLDS every even year so next year they'll be back atop the NL East.
NL East Standings:
NL Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
After winning it all for the first time in 108 years, the Cubbies enter the season as defending champs for the first time since Teddy Roosevelt was in office.
The Cubs are the best team in baseball and I'm not going to waste my time here. Rizzo, Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, Zobrist, Biaz, Lester, Arrietta, Hendricks do I need to keep going?
They may disappoint in the playoffs but the Cubs are going to be fantastic in 2017. They may win the Central by 15 games.
NL Central Standings:
NL West Champs: San Francisco Giants
If the Giants had any bullpen last year they might've kept their even year tradition going. Instead they lost in 4 to the Cubs in the NLDS. They were the best team in baseball in the first half, and one of the worst in the second half. Now that they've addressed the closer situation by adding one of the best in baseball, Mark Melcacon, I don't believe the Giants will be blowing as many games as they did last year where they had something crazy like 30 blown saves a team.
With a core of proven winners like Posey, Belt, Crawford, and Pence I think the Giants pull off the minor upset and edge out the Dodgers.
NL West Standings:
NL Wild Cards: Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers
Many have these teams winning their divisions, but I believe too many people are sleeping on the Mets and Giants. In a rematch of the NLDS last year it'd be awesome to get Scherzer v Kershaw again. Both teams will make the playoffs and if they end up winning their respective divisions it wouldn't shock me.
Wild Card Games:
American League: Blue Jays over Mariners
National League: Nationals over Dodgers
(1) Indians over (4) Blue Jays in 4
(2) Red Sox over (3) Astros in 4
(1) Cubs over (4) Nationals in 5
(3) Giants over (2) Mets in 4
Indians over Red Sox in 6
Cubs over Giants in 7
Indians over Cubs in 7
I think these are hands down the two best teams in baseball, while they both will have targets on their backs, both have vastly improved and have all the fire power to return to the Fall Classic. I think the American League is a two team race between Cleveland and Boston and with all the question marks the Red Sox have, right now I have to give the edge to the Tribe. I feel like picking a rematch is kind of lame, but we haven't had one since 1957-58 between the Braves and Yankees (who split) so it's not like it's a common occurrence in baseball.
American League Rookie of the Year: Andrew Beintendi LF Boston Red Sox
Killed it in his time with the big club last year. Now he's expected to come in and be a huge part of this team's success. I really hope dumb ass John Farrell doesn't platoon him because this kid is going to be a star and should be playing every day.
My made up projected stats:
.311 22 HR 84 RBI 22 SB
National League Rookie of the Year: Dansby Swanson SS Atlanta Braves
#1 overall pick that the Braves basically stole from the D-backs for Shelby Miller. Great flow. Swanson is going to be a star on a team that may not be a bad as everybody expects.
American League Manager of the Year: Scott Servais Seattle Mariners
Going all in on the Mariners making the Wild-Card game and technically ending their playoff drought. If they do so their manager by default wins the award.
National League Manager of the Year: Bud Black Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies have been a hot pick to make some noise this season. Bud Black despite not having a great record was highly respected for what he did in San Diego. I think the Rockies may be low key contenders this year given their offense. It's also not a huge deal when Joe Maddon or Bruce Bouchy makes the playoffs so I don't expect them to be in the running. This usually doesn't go to the team with the best record, but more so a manager who got the most out of his team. I think Bud Black does that this season.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale Boston Red Sox
Chris Sale has perennially been a top 5 Cy Young vote guy on a horrible White Sox team. I think with the added run support from the Sox his record may be inflated, but given the stuff he has I expect a mid 2's ERA with a million strikeouts. Red Sox need him to be a Cy Young caliber pitcher to have any chance this year.
National League Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard New York Mets
Thor is one of my favorite players in all of baseball. While most experts are penciling Kershaw yet again, I think Syndergaard has a huge year for the Mets. I picked him last year and am going to pick him every year until he wins, which shouldn't be very long.
American League MVP: Mookie Betts RF Boston Red Sox
Mookie Bett had a break out year last year finishing 2nd to Mike Trout in AL MVP voting. I know I've picked Red Sox in 2 other major awards, but they all have a very legitimate chance of winning. I think MVP should go to a player on a team in contention, not just the best player in the league. Trout had a good year last year but I still think Mookie deserved it more given how much he mattered to a division winning team. Mookie may go 40-40 this year so I'm picking my guy and don't want to be lame like everybody in America saying Trout.
National League MVP: Bryce Harper RF Washington Nationals
2015 NL MVP. Had a down year in 2016, expect a bounce back from one of the best players in the game. Plus he can't let Mookie take his crown as best RF in baseball, so for his sake he better win MVP.