As the final weekend of the off-season quickly arrives, Scout.com takes you inside some of their writers boldest predictions for the upcoming season. Taylor Blake Ward of InsideTheHalos.com takes his hacks at assuming the outcome of the 2017 season. Predictions and pre-season assumptions should always be taken with a grain of salt, as they are based on opinion and with each team at full health over the season.
Below are the predictions for the 2017 Major League Baseball season, from the opinion of Taylor Blake Ward of Scout.com. (Listed in parentheses will be the over/under number of wins Ward predicts each team will win.)
- Boston Red Sox (93.5)
- Toronto Blue Jays (84.5)
- New York Yankees (82.5)
- Tampa Bay Rays (79.5)
- Baltimore Orioles (78.5)
It came at a hefty cost, but the addition of arguably the best pitcher in baseball turned Boston into the deadliest team in the American League. Then came the news that David Price has an elbow injury and that turned, but not drastically. The entire division is loaded on offense, excluding Tampa Bay who has the best rotation of the bunch, which means pitching will take a team to the promised land. New York is in the midst of a youth movement and one or two years away from glory, while Toronto and Baltimore didn't do much to prove they're better than they were last year. Boston did such, and now contrast the likes of Mookie Betts and Xander Boegarts with a rotation with two perennial Cy Young candidates, and when healthy, a third.
- Cleveland Indians (96.5)
- Detroit Tigers (86.5)
- Minnesota Twins (79.5)
- Kansas City Royals (74.5)
- Chicago White Sox (65.5)
This is Cleveland's year. I said it last year, and they missed it by one run in extra innings during one of the most thrilling World Series matchups in the last decade. With the addition of Edwin Encarnacion to boast one of the best offenses in baseball, they also have a healthy Michael Brantley and pitching core which makes them even better. It's doubtful anyone will contend with the Tribe, but keep an eye on the Tigers. The Twins will be better and are two years removed from an 83 win season. Don't worry much about the bottom two teams, who are in the midst of contract year scenarios or a full franchise rebuild.
- Houston Astros (90.5)
- Seattle Mariners (86.5)
- Los Angeles Angels (86.5)
- Texas Rangers (85.5)
- Oakland Athletics (72.5)
The AL West, along with nearly every other division, will come down to pitching. Each team has a loaded lineup, and it could turn any of those four teams around on each other depending on health. The Astros look great after some key veteran additions but there's too many questions. The Mariners look great after some key veteran additions but there's too many questions. The Angels look great... need I carry on? Each team improved in one way or another, and it's seemingly a crap shoot for who will stay healthy and just simply win more games. It's a four-team race and things will not be quiet on the Western Front.
AL WILDCARD: Mariners and Angels
If you take a look at the over/under column I place following each team, there's six teams within 82.5 to 86.5 wins. That's a four-win margin for error between them which really isn't that big until the end of the season comes and only two have the majority of victories. In short, I believe the wildcard will be an open race to the final week, just like it has been over the past three seasons. Maybe it's my bias of covering the Angels and seeing the AL West more, but it seems there will be a trio from the division in the postseason.
SURPRISE TEAM OF THE AL: Detroit Tigers
I may not have them in the playoffs, but I have them with the same over/under as the two teams I chose as wildcard winners. They have veterans all over the field, along with youth commanding the mound. Michael Fulmer and Daniel Norris are a special breed of pitchers and are ready to blossom beyond their rookie status. Nick Castellanos seems ready to break free, and the postseason may come down to whether Brad Ausmus makes better decisions on the bullpen than his opponents over the course of a four-game spread as noted above.
AL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Mike Trout, Angels
AL CY YOUNG AWARD: Chris Sale, Red Sox
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
AL BREAKOUT PLAYER: Daniel Norris, Tigers
- Washington Nationals (93.5)
- New York Mets (88.5)
- Miami Marlins (73.5)
- Atlanta Braves (70.5)
- Philadelphia Phillies (69.5)
It's going to be fun seeing whether or not Bryce Harper was fighting health last year or if it was a reality he isn't the second coming of Babe Ruth. There's plenty of enjoyment in pondering the Nats' and Mets rotation fighting against each other 16 times over the year, the team aspect of a more talented Nats' offense will prevail, but will the bullpen hold up? The Braves and Phillies are improving steadily, but are still in the midst of rebuilding their franchises and aren't ready to contend just yet. The Marlins are only an average team, and with the tragic loss of their ace, sympathy is on their side, but that doesn't mean more victories.
- Chicago Cubs (95.5)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (85.5)
- St. Louis Cardinals (80.5)
- Cincinnati Reds (66.5)
- Milwaukee Brewers (65.5)
The best team in baseball is likely in the worst division in baseball. Don't be stunned if Joe Maddon and the Cubs rattle off another 100-win campaign in 2017 and make their march towards back-to-back titles. The Cardinals just don't do it for me and the Reds and Brewers are among multiple teams just remolding their franchise. That leaves the pesky Pirates and their band of misfits. Andrew McCutchen will be better, and one of the best outfields in baseball will be helped with youth on the rest of the diamond, along with help from Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow.
- Los Angeles Dodgers (90.5)
- San Francisco Giants (88.5)
- Colorado Rockies (79.5)
- Arizona Diamondbacks (77.5)
- San Diego Padres (62.5)
Baseball needs rivalries and with the Red Sox and Yankees not going blow-for-blow for the past half decade, that leaves the door open for the West Coast. The Dodgers and Giants rivalry dates back to before Vin Scully was around and will prove to last after he's gone from the booth. A pair of rock solid rotations with grinding offenses is going to make this division very fun to watch. As for the rest, it's a pair of teams on the verge of breaking out of their shell and shock the baseball world - Rockies and DBacks are probably better than I have them. The Padres, well, at least you got to stay in beautiful San Diego.
NL WILDCARD: Giants and Mets
These are two teams who could easily win their division and force the Dodgers and Nationals into this wildcard race. They're both very good with pitching being the key pieces to success. The baseball world would be drooling once again if a wildcard game saw a pitching match up of Madison Bumgarner and Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard once again.
SURPRISE TEAM OF THE NL: Pittsburgh Pirates
I called them an island of misfits earlier because that's exactly what they are. John Jaso, David Freese, Josh Harrison. Those guys are exciting! Not to mention Andrew McCutchen seems to have his swing right and health back, along with Starling Marte, Gregor Polanco and Austin Meadows waiting in the lurks. I shutter at the thought of Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, Ivan Nova and Tyler Glasnow taking the mound four of five days. Josh Bell is a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. I mean, c'mon. This team is going to be really fun to watch and they're going to make noise. Whether it's enough or not is only to be seen come September.
NL MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Bryce Harper, Nationals
NL CY YOUNG AWARD: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Dansby Swanson, Braves
NL BREAKOUT PLAYER: Jon Gray, Rockies
AL WILDCARD: Angels over Mariners
NL WILDCARD: Giants over Mets
ALDS: Indians over Angels; Red Sox over Astros
NLDS: Cubs over Giants; Dodgers over Nationals
ALCS: Indians over Red Sox
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers
WORLD SERIES: Indians over Cubs in SEVEN (Hoorah!)