When you walk outside right now, the temperature isn’t freezing cold, but it isn’t blazing hot. It’s that temperature right in the middle and you can smell that it is finally Spring. That can only mean one thing, it’s Baseball season once again. We had an unforgettable 2016 season that saw the Chicago Cubs finally end their 108 year drought beating the upstart Cleveland Indians for the World Series crown. It would be tough to top last year, but 2017 looks like it could do that and then some and we’re going to break down what I think is going to happen this season. Like last year we’re going to do this division by division giving out our projections for the 2017 season. We’ll also be projecting who I think is going to win your major awards along with my dark horse picks. So I think it’s time to play ball now!
1. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets
3. Florida Marlins
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Philadelphia Phillies
1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Cincinnati Reds
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Arizona Diamondbacks
5. San Diego Padres
1. Boston Red Sox
2. Baltimore Orioles
3. New York Yankees
4. Toronto Blue Jays
5. Tampa Bay Rays
1. Cleveland Indians
2. Detroit Tigers
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Minnesota Twins
5. Chicago White Sox
1. Texas Rangers
2. Houston Astros
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Los Angeles Angels
5. Oakland A’s
NL Wild Cards: San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals
AL Wild Cards: Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers
NL Wild Card Game: San Francisco Giants over St. Louis Cardinals
In a matchup between Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Martinez, the Giants have the clear edge with Bumgarner, who have not forgotten the heartbreak of last year and want to face the Cubs again. The Cardinals would put up a good fight, but Bumgarner’s clutch ability as a playoff starter will be too much.
AL Wild Card Game: Houston Astros over Detroit Tigers
The Tigers will have the more experienced starter in Justin Verlander here, but Dallas Kuechel will continue a strong bounce back year by going 7 strong innings and the lethal Astros lineup eventually gets to Verlander boosting them past the Tigers
NL Divisional Series: Chicago Cubs over San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals
In rematches from last year’s NL Divisional Round, the same results will come of that this year. The Cubs offense and strong overall pitching staff will be enough to get by the Giants. As for the Dodgers, unless the Nationals eventually can fill that closer’s spot sometime during the year, the Dodgers will have no problems taking down the Nationals again.
AL Divisional Series: Houston Astros over Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians over Texas Rangers
Houston’s offense is too much for the Red Sox, especially with the Red Sox rotation a little skeptical after Chris Sale. Houston wins the series in 5 games backed by Dallas Kuechel winning 2 games. The Indians take care of the Rangers in 4 games thanks to outstanding pitching and timely hitting by Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Brantley. Also Jonathan Lucroy admits his mistake to turn down the Indians after the series loss.
NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Chicago Cubs
Sweet revenge for the Dodgers in 2017 as the Dodgers really suffered through injuries in 2016 that really effected the Dodgers against the Cubs. As long as they stay healthy, the Dodgers will be an extremely big threat for the Cubs as long as they can get enough out of their bullpen. The Cubs are extremely talented, but I think the bitter taste in the Dodgers mouth from 2016 will push them past the Cubs and finally puts Clayton Kershaw into the World Series.
ALCS: Cleveland Indians defeat Houston Astros
This is a matchup nightmare if you’re an Indians fan. The Astros have a lethal lineup and if they can get just enough pitching can be a matchup nightmare for the Tribe. This could potentially be a classic 7 game series if the Astros can get the pitching. As it stands now I would give the Indians the edge over the Astros because of their overall pitching from Rotation to Bullpen. The Indians should have enough offense as well to counter the Astros lineup as well, putting the Indians back in the World Series
World Series: Cleveland Indians defeat Los Angeles Dodgers
The more I debated over this, the more I kept coming up with the Indians. History has shown us recently in Baseball that the team with the biggest chip on their shoulder in that season is most likely going to win the World Series. For the Indians, they match up extremely well with the Dodgers and would cause headaches for them. As long as the Indians can get to Kershaw once, it’s over. This isn’t what you call a, “homer” pick, this is going by recent trends of World Series champions and seeing the Indians have made the moves to position themselves to get back here. The Indians finally win their first World Series in 69 years in 2017.
NL MVP Darkhorse- 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies- The Rockies have looked to be on the rise for the past few years and it’s because of Nolan Arenado. Arenado is a Gold Glove 3B, but is one of the most productive hitters in baseball. Most may say that his numbers are inflated because he plays at Coors Field, I disagree. Arenado is a special hitter who can hit for average and for power and most importantly just knows how to drive in runs. If the Rockies take that next step, it will be in part to this guy and would definitely be in strong consideration of the MVP.
AL MVP Darkhorse- SS Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians- The Cleveland Indians haven’t had an MVP winner in 64 years the last being 3B Al Rosen (although Albert Belle should’ve won in 1995), that might change in 2017. Francisco Lindor has turned into one of the faces of the game itself with his talent with his glove and bat, but more importantly his energy and love for the game. Frankie is going to take his game to another level in 2017 and be the leader of the Indians in every aspect of the game.
NL Cy Young- SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers- Okay…IF he stays healthy, should I really pick anyone else? Nope…next!
AL Cy Young- SP Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox- If Chris Sale had pitched the whole year, there probably was a good chance even on the White Sox he would run away with the Cy Young. As long as he stays healthy, with the Red Sox he could almost be a lock for 20 wins, 2.50 ERA and 200 Ks which would almost certainly get him a Cy Young.
NL Rookie of the Year Darkhorse- CF Lewis Brinson, Milwaukee Brewers- Much like Swanson, Brinson is going to get a lot of playing time this year on a rebuilding Milwaukee team. Brinson compared to Swanson might have the higher ceiling for what he’s capable of. He has more power than Swanson and I’d say he slightly edges him in baserunning. The question is he’s dominated the minors and we’ve seen nothing in the majors, unlike Swanson. Will Brinson put it all together to give Swanson a run for his money?
AL Rookie of the Year Darkhorse- OF Bradley Zimmer, Cleveland Indians- Although Zimmer was sent down to the Minors to begin the year, Zimmer has 5 tool ability and if he gets a June call-up I won’t be stunned if he tore up the Majors from what I saw in Spring Training. The big question would be if there is already a Rookie of the Year standout by the time he arrives. That’s never a given and a lot of things have to fall into place, but Zimmer has a great opportunity if the cards fall his way.
In 2016 we truly learned anything was possible in the game of baseball and that it truly is a 6 month journey to determine a World Champion. What 2017 promises to be is a season where the fans will remember why Baseball is the greatest sport of them all. The game finally has some fresh faces on teams that normally aren’t your typical teams with the icons of the game. The game always changes, but the moments never go away. For those who say they will wait until the All-Star Break, you’re missing out because this year I wouldn’t miss a single day in what promises to be a memorable year in baseball.