We offer our take on the top teams in baseball heading into the 2017 season, and where we think the season will take us.
Baseball season is upon us. As sports observers and fans offer their predictions for the 2017 season – one which follows a historic, curse-breaking 2016 season for the Chicago Cubs – NTK Network is putting in its two cents.
Here are our predictions for each division, and the bottom-line for what’s bound to be an exciting October.
This is a Red Sox-vs.-everyone-else fight. Boston boasts the best rotation and lineup in the division, though the Blue Jays’ lineup and the Yankees’ young stars can make them dark horses and Wild Card contenders.
Prediction: 1) Boston, 2) Toronto (Wild Card berth), 3) New York, 4) Tampa Bay, 5) Baltimore
The Indians are reigning AL Central champs, so expect big things from them. Look for the Tigers, with a few veteran mashers and a resurgent Justin Verlander, to compete as well though. This can be a photo finish in September.
Prediction: 1) Cleveland, 2) Detroit (Wild Card berth), 3) Kansas City, 4) Minnesota, 5) Chicago
The Rangers have an intimidating front two of Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, along with a young and powerful lineup. The key question for the Rangers, and the division: can Darvish stay healthy? Look out for the Astros’ young core and the Mariners’ rotation as well.
Prediction: 1) Texas, 2) Houston, 3) Seattle, 4) Los Angeles, 5) Oakland
This will be a horse race between the Nationals and the Mets. Both have stacked rotations, and we give the Nats a slight edge on hitting. What may make the difference: how each team’s bullpen shapes out during the season.
Prediction: 1) Washington, 2) New York (Wild Card berth), 3) Atlanta, 4) Miami, 5) Philadelphia
The reigning world champions, the Cubs, are the best team in baseball. Also watch for the resilient Cards and the scrappy Pirates, but the Cubs are the team to beat in the NL Central – and the entire league – going in to 2017.
Prediction: 1) Chicago, 2) St. Louis (Wild Card berth), 3) Pittsburgh, 4) Milwaukee, 5) Cincinnati
The spend-happy Dodgers, led by baseball’s best pitcher Clayton Kershaw, are the favorites heading in to April. The Giants, always clutch in October, can also threaten for a playoff berth.
Prediction: 1) Los Angeles, 2) San Francisco, 3) Colorado, 4) Arizona, 5) San Diego
PLAYOFFS? YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT PLAYOFFS?
As a D.C.-based publication, we’d feel wrong counting the Nationals out for a Championship Series run. The health of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and just about everyone else will play a major role. Then there’s the Cubs buzzsaw. We predict Cubs over Nationals, in five.
As for the American League, the Indians seem ready to fight their way back to the Championship Series. We predict a rematch with the Red Sox, but Boston will do better as its young roster gets another year under its belt. Red Sox over Indians in six.
As for the World Series, bound to be ratings-heavy with two major cities fighting for the crown? We say the Cubs over the Red Sox, in seven, for the repeat.
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