We turned to our favorite sports guru T.J. Bryce to get a prediction on where every team in the MLB will wind up in October. Will the Mets take it all? Will the Chicago Cubs repeat? Can the Astros manage to topple the Windy City in the World Series? It’s time for Major League Baseball 2017. Let’s dive right in, beginning with the National League.
1. New York Mets (98-64) – The Mets didn’t make a lot of serious additions this off season, but they did finally get Yoenis Cespedes to commit long term to the club. He is all set for a huge season, and the Mets will benefit as a result. Also, the rotation appears healthy for the first time in two years. There is no rotation better than this one when it is healthy.
2. Washington Nationals (92-70) – The Nationals made headlines this off season when they emptied the rest of their farm for center fielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox. Many considered this an over pay, but still, he gives the Nationals what they need, a defensive anchor in center field.
3. Atlanta Braves (78-84) – Whoa, let’s slow down Braves fans. I know this is super good farm, and there is nothing not to be happy about in Atlanta at the moment (Other than you know, that Super Bowl meltdown. Okay that was low, but still), but let’s be reasonable first. Before we talk about winning the World Series, let’s finish somewhere other than last place to start with.
4. Miami Marlins (73-89) – The Marlins looked on the verge of breaking through a year ago. But, issues in the front office and the death of ace pitcher Jose Fernandez have this franchise reeling.
5. Philadelphia Phillies (68-94) – It appears so long ago now the Phillies had the biggest payroll in the National League and were one of its elite teams. Now, the Phillies are into a long rebuild. Hang in there Phillies fans; it’s going to be a while.
1. Chicago Cubs (95-67) – The Cubs finally broke the curse a year ago. Yeah, that’s nice. They enter this season loaded again, but without closer Aroldis Chapman, who signed with the Yankees in the off season. The Cubs are still good, but they might not be as good as they were a year ago.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (93-69) – The success of the Cubs a year ago is not sitting well in St. Louis. They signed Dexter Fowler in the off season and they are banking on Carlos Martinez to take that next big step forward. Also, look for rookie catcher Carson Kelly to make things interesting at the trade deadline if he gets playing time early and performs. If he plays well, the Cardinals could look to move Yadier Molina. Yes, you just read that right.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74) – Once again, the cash-strapped Pirates had a quiet off season. Jung Ho Kang could not get his work visa due to DUI convictions and the Pirates now need to replace his production in the lineup, on the fly. They are also hoping Tyler Glasnow develops into an ace sooner rather than later. The Pirates are fading, that is no secret. 2017 is basically now or never in Pittsburgh.
4. Milwaukee Brewers (64-98) – The Brewers have a nice collection of young position players. They still have a ways to go though. They need a franchise cornerstone, other building blocks, an ace, and oh yeah, and a new pitching staff. But, they are headed in the right direction. Just hang in there Brewers fans, I can tell you from personal experience watching the Twins go through this same nightmare in the second half of the 1990’s that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
5. Cincinnati Reds (56-106) – These Reds are just bad. They should have the number one selection in 2018 though, so that is some good news.
1. San Francisco Giants (93-69) – Another year, more talk of the Giants and the World Series. Oh yeah, it’s their pitching that is going to get them there too. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before. I’m going to stop right now because there is really no point in saying anything else that the general public doesn’t know already about the Giants.
2. Los Angeles Dodgers (88-74) – The Dodgers are trying to be financially intelligent for a change. Instead of splurging this off season, they focused on locking up their own young talent, such as Jacob Turner. Their rotation is still Clayton Kershaw and not much else. If the Dodgers continue to fade, I wonder how long before Kershaw asks out of Los Angeles.
3. Colorado Rockies (80-82) – The Rockies are improving, albeit quietly. The same question that has been asked since this team came into inception needs to be asked again. Will they be able to pitch enough to contend? The answer is no.
4. San Diego Padres (75-87) – The Padres, seeming forever stuck in fourth place, are there once again. Not much to say here. Move along.
5. Arizona Diamondback (68-94) – Well that was once of the shortest lived front office eras ever. Tony La Russa and Dave Stewart both came and went just like that. In their short time in Arizona, they flubbed it up big time. Expect Zach Grienke to start complaining soon.
Rookie of the Year- Dansby Swanson/SS/Braves- Swanson will be a big part of the Braves inevitable climb out of the cellar.
Cy Young: Carlos Martinez/SP/Cardinals- I could be boring, and pick Kershaw, Cueto, Bumgarner, Arrieta, Scherzer, or any of the other big name starting pitchers in the National League. But I’m not going to. Instead, if the Cardinals are going to get into the postseason, Martinez will be a big reason why. Welcome to the over-paid elite of the National League aces Carlos Martinez.
MVP: Yoenis Cespedes/OF/Mets- All signs point to a “monster” season from Cespedes.
National League Playoffs
Wild Card Game: (Cardinals over Nationals) The Cardinals move onto the National League division series when third basemen Matt Carpenter doubles off the left field wall to score two runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to win the game 4-2.
Cardinals over Cubs: The Cardinals have some unfinished business in the Windy City. They are still bitter over the Cubs World Series win last year. There will be no repeat in Chicago. Cardinals will win in four games.
Mets over Giants: This is going to be a fantastically pitched series. Scoring will be at a premium. Mets will win in five.
Mets over Cardinals: The Cardinals enter this series piping hot, and that’s one thing to note. So are the Mets. Carlos Martinez, the regular season Cy Young Award winner, struggles in the big moment, and the Mets win this series in six games. The NLCS MVP award goes to second basemen Neil Walker, who has a good series, and puts the Mets ahead for good in the 7th inning with a two run home run in game six.
American League Standings
1. Boston Red Sox (94-68) – The Red Sox made big headlines this off season when they dumped their farm, including mega-prospect Yoan Moncada, to the Chicago White Sox for Chris Sale. The Red Sox, with Sale, Price, and 2016 AL Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello, now have a rotation that can compete with the best. Their bullpen still has issues though.
2. Baltimore Orioles (88-74) – The Orioles always seem to be right there, but not all the way there. 2017 will be no different. The good news is they got Mark Trumbo to stay in town and he should lead the league in home runs and RBI’s again.
3. Toronto Blue Jays (84-78) – The Blue Jays played hardball all off season with franchise anchors Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. It cost them the latter. Still, this is a solid team, but not solid enough to contend.
4. Tampa Bay Rays (69-93) – The Rays are headed into a long rebuild, and they can no longer ignore the need to trade franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria. It’s time Tampa Bay, it’s time.
5. New York Yankees (63-99) – I can sense Yankees fans seething as they read this, but the Yankees, for the first time in a long, long, time, might be the worst team in the American League. I know you’re not torn up about it as you are reading this. I’m not either. Still, the Yankees are headed in the right direction, as it is 2017, and they can no longer simply wait for other team’s best players to hit the open market, and over-pay for them.
1. Cleveland Indians (96-66) – The Indians were one game away from stunning the world. Still, this is a great team with a lot of young talent, especially in that rotation. Yowser. Another AL Central title is in the books for this bunch. But how much father can they go?
2. Kansas City Royals (85-77) – The Royals are not as good as they were a couple of years ago, but they are still good enough to make some noise. It won’t be enough though. How much longer can they wait before they have to start making decisions on who to keep, and who to trade?
3. Detroit Tigers (81-81) – The Detroit Tigers. Baseball’s new over the hill, old, mediocre team. I don’t think it could be any more obvious what they need to do. Now that Mike Illitch has passed away, and his son Chris spent the off season establishing control over the franchise, maybe now the Tigers can do what they need to do, and rebuild.
4. Minnesota Twins (76-86)- Okay, maybe we got a little ahead of ourselves a year ago, and jumped the gun on this team. Still, they had one of the most inexplicable starts ever a year ago, and they’re not that bad. They are farther along in their rebuild than that shows. They need an ace, and to be honest, had it not been for the bad start a year ago, they were going to go get Jose Fernandez via trade.
5. Chicago White Sox (68-94) – These White Sox made their intentions clear in the off season, and made two big trades to prove it. It’s rebuild time on the south side. First thing they have to do is find a way to get a handle on Yoan Moncada, and maybe get control of his checkbook too. My goodness, that man needs to learn to control his spending habits. Even the lavish “car guy” in Miami he went to, after he got his signing bonus had to tell him to chill.
1. Houston Astros (93-69)- The Astros were the hot young team along with the Cubs a year ago, and many, including myself, were licking our chops at the thought of a Cubs-Astros World Series. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Still, this is a great young team. Come on Houston, show me something.
2. Texas Rangers (87-75) – The Rangers are a good club, a really good club. But they are not good enough to win the division. Still, a wild card is in play.
3. Seattle Mariners (80-82) – All those moves and the best they were able to muster was third place the last few years. Once again, a third place finish is on the tab for the Seattle. How long until Felix Hernandez, who has been patient, loyal, and uncomplaining, finally starts to complain?
4. Oakland Athletics (63-99) – I think Billy Beane has gotten a little too tricky for his own good in recent years. He is starting to outsmart himself, and not in a good way. I think it’s time for a different direction in the Bay Area in their front office.
5. Los Angeles Angels (59-103) – The Yankees would be the worst team in the American League entering 2017 if it weren’t for these guys. This is Mike Trout, and a bunch of nothing. It might be time to trade Trout one of these days.
Rookie of the Year: Yoan Moncada/SS/White Sox- He will start the year in Triple A, but he will be called up towards the end of April (Teams do that with rookies to save a year of service time). He is wild, a loose cannon, but very talented.
Cy Young: Corey Kluber/SP/Indians- This Indians rotation is really good, and their ace is due for another CY Young award.
MVP: Jackie Bradley Jr./CF/Red Sox- Elite two-way center fielders that have great bats, are defensive anchors, and have five-plus “WAR’s” don’t grow on trees. Bradley wins his first MVP.
Wild Card Game: Orioles over Rangers- Unlike the National League wild card game, this one will be an offensive affair, with Mark Trumbo hitting a bomb deep into the Baltimore night in the bottom of the 9th inning to win the game for the Orioles 8-6.
Indians over Orioles- The Orioles have a lot of bats. October is about the pitchers though. Indians in four games and it’s really not much of a contest.
Red Sox over Astros- The Astros will be simply over matched in this series. It’s the same situation as the other one, not much to look at. Red Sox win in four games.
Indians over Red Sox- The Red Sox have three great starting pitchers. The Indians entire rotation is great. On top of that they have the much better bullpen, and that bullpen is on full display in this series. Indians win in six games. Series MVP is first basemen/DH Carlos Santana.
Indians vs. Mets- This is going to be the best pitched playoff series in baseball history. There is no trying to go around that. The pitching is going to be phenomenal. This series is going to go the full seven, and every single game is going to be a low scoring nail biter. Mets win game seven, when Jacob DeGrom pitches a complete game shutout, ala Jack Morris, the Mets win the game 2-0, and DeGrom wins the World Series MVP award. The Mets will be world champions.