Yesterday, I ranked the 100 players I expect the most out of in 2017. On this proper opening day, let’s take a look at how I see things shaking up, teamwise. Let’s start with standings:
If you read 100 fans’ and pundits’ opinions, this year, you’re not going to see the type of variety you usually see, particularly in the NL. Of course the Cubs are the best team in the NL Central, and probably better than the Nationals and the Dodgers. Some contrarians will pick the Mets and their stellar rotation or the “team of the ’10s” Giants to win their respective divisions, but most win slot them in as Wild Cards, with perhaps a few Cardinals and Pirates peppered in.
Cleveland, Boston, and Houston are clearly the class of the AL, but there’s a little more uncertainty here. Boston in recent years has gotten really good at loading their roster with hired guns and home-grown stars, while still thin enough that a few key injuries could be the difference between 95 wins and 70. Houston has looked like the best team in the AL West for at least three years running, but the Rangers keep creeping up and stealing the division. And the Mariners added some interesting depth pieces to a strong core.
It’s the AL Wild Card race that’s truly interesting. I’ve got Toronto taking the first one, largely thanks to their pitching (Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman are top-100 players), and Seattle taking the second despite their pitching (or at least questions about Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma at the front of the rotation). Texas has a similarly strong front of the rotation (Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels) and a solid lineup, but I feel like this is the year when the regression fairy takes her generous gifts back.
It’s foolish to predict short series that will happen six months in the future, but for the permanent record, I see Cleveland beating the Cubs in a World Series rematch after they dispense with Boston and Washington in their respective LCS.
Here are my picks for the individual awards:
|1. Mike Trout, Angels|
|2. Francisco Lindor, Cleveland|
|3. Manny Machado, Orioles|
|1. Corey Seager, Dodgers|
|2. Kris Bryant, Cubs|
|3. Nolan Arenado, Rockies|
|AL Cy Young|
|1. Corey Kluber, Cleveland|
|2. Lance McCullers, Astros|
|3. Chris Sale, Red Sox|
|NL Cy Young|
|1. Noah Syndergaard, Mets|
|2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers|
|3. Robbie Ray, Diamondbacks|