American League Expectations
AL East Champion: Boston Red Sox
I’m going to begin this by congratulating the Red Sox on making one of the best trades of the offseason in their acquisition of Chris Sale. Sure they had to give up a very valuable prospect in Yoan Moncada, but with Price and Sale leading an already effective pitching staff, it seems like all it’s gonna take for this team to win it all is for the hitters to keep doing what they’ve already been doing. After all they do have arguably the most talented roster in the league as it’s stacked with potential MVP’s as well as a possible rookie of the year. If the Chris Sale trade told us anything it’s that the Red Sox aren’t in the mood to wait for young players to blossom, they’d rather trade for polished arms and experienced bats and make a run for it all. Watch out baseball, here comes the Red Sox.
Contenders: Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central Champion: Cleveland Indians
A lot of people see the Cleveland Indians run last year as simply a team getting hot at the right time. Well, I’m here to tell you those people are wrong, even though they probably already know that. The Indians will enter this season with the same core of players as last year with the addition of Edwin Encarnacion, an invaluable power hitter who will facilitate the teams redemption goals tremendously. Outside of their star studded lineup, Cleveland faithfuls should also look forward to getting a full season out of reliable bullpen arm Andrew Miller, who arrived in a trade from the Yankees last July. A lot of teams lack of success usually arises in the middle of games when the bullpen arms just can’t seem to stay strong throughout the season. Cleveland should have no worries however as they have one of the most dangerous pitching staffs in the league. As for the rest of the AL Central, prepare your white flags, these Indians are starting right where they left off.
AL West Champion: Houston Astros
It’s only a matter of time before the Astros wow the MLB. After losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2015 after a 10 year postseason drought, one could say that the Astros are a bit hungry for some October baseball. I believe that their cravings will be more than satisfied. After making offseason moves such as the additions of Brian McCann, Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran, the front office succeeded in taking a little pressure off their young talents shoulders. Of course I’m referring to the tandem of Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman. These six men along with the rest of the roster – which also includes even more trusted players like Altuve and Keuchel – the Astros will continue to make noise and give the rest of the west a run for their money.
Contenders: Angels, Rangers
AL Wild Card Winner: New York Yankees (vs. Toronto Blue Jays)
Now I know right off the bat this prediction seems doubtful, but how, as baseball fans, can we ignore the impressive spring display the Baby Bombers have been putting on in South Florida. Not only is the team as a whole hitting the ball well, but the arms of the organization are also making a statement this pre-season. New York was top 5 in the spring in earned runs average and strikeouts, totaling 3.60 and 261 respectively. Strikingly, they’re also allowing opposing batters to hit a mere .218 against them, tops in the league by a sizeable margin. So you see, this isn’t purely the rebuilding Yankees we saw towards the end of last season, but an ambitious team rejuvenated with young and promising talent that has hopes of reaching playoff status. If it weren’t for the Red Sox abundance of elite players, the Yankees might have been mentioned in another part of this article. Nonetheless, they’ve got the talent and coaching to make a statement in the regular season and give some teams trouble in the playoffs.
- Mookie Betts
In the race: Mike Trout, Francisco Lindor
AL Cy Young
- Chris Sale
In the race: Cole Hamels, Corey Kluber
AL Rookie of the Year
- Andrew Benintendi
In the race: Aaron Judge, Yoan Moncada
AL Manager of the Year
- John Farrell
In the race: A.J. Hinch, Terry Francona
Comeback Player of the Year
- Michael Brantley
In the race: Garrett Richards, Mike Moustakas
National League Expectations
NL East Champion: Washington Nationals
To me, the Nationals are a team that compare to the Houston Astros in that it is finally time for this team to wreak some havoc. Sure they’ve made the playoffs frequently as of late but with players like Scherzer, Harper, and Murphy on your roster you should have aspirations of reaching the realms of the league championship series. However, unlike Houston, the Nationals are reaching the end of their opportunity to pull through in the playoffs as a lot of their standout stars are nearing the end of their deals and will soon be free agents, some at the end of this very season. So the way I see it, the Nationals could do two things by the end of this season. One, make a run late in the year and reach the world series, or two, see another talented group of players sent home after yet another disappointing first round. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see just how it all plays out.
Contenders: Mets, Marlins
NL Central Champion: Chicago Cubs
There really isn’t much to say here. At the end of last year the Cubs were the best team in baseball and accomplished so after a thrilling world series comeback. What if i were to tell you that these young Cubs have yet to even get started. With a plethora of young proven players coupled with an excellent coaching staff, I don’t see the Cubs letting up anytime soon. In fact, I see them ending this season exactly how they ended the last, as the best team in baseball. Will they win it all? No one can say for sure, but you’d be foolish to ever, for even one second, rule this team out, even if they’re down 3-1.
Contenders: Cardinals, Pirates
NL West Champion: San Francisco Giants
This pick was quite difficult for me to make as it could easily be the Dodgers claiming the west crown instead of the Giants. The reason I chose the Giants however is for two reasons, coaching and experience. In terms of coaching, Bruce Bochy has proven that he can get the most out of all his players, even if they aren’t highly regarded. Also, people forget that if you look at the last 10 years of baseball, the Giants have been one of the dominant franchises in the sport, winning 3 of the last 6 world series. Having not won it in the last 2 seasons, the Giants are going to come into this season with some of the players they won those world series with, and they’re yearning for another shot to win it all.
Contenders: Dodgers, Diamondbacks
NL Wild Card Winner: New York Mets (vs. St. Louis Cardinals)
I found this pick extremely interesting due to the fact that both of these teams could win their divisions given the right circumstances. The circumstances being that the Cubs and Nats don’t live up to their expectations. In any event, I do think that if these teams meet in the wildcard round it could go either way. Each team has exceptional lineups and pitching staffs that can compete with the highest caliber competition. Despite their equal talents, I still think the Mets will go through to the playoffs solely because of their filthy young pitching staff. We’ve seen just how dangerous they can be and taking into account that they’re also just starting to develop into primetime talent, no one can pinpoint just how high their ceilings truly are.
National League Season Awards
- Bryce Harper
In the race: Kris Bryant, Nolan Arenado
NL Cy Young
- Noah Syndergaard
In the race: Madison Bumgarner, Clayton Kershaw
NL Rookie of the Year
- Dansby Swanson
In the race: Hunter Renfroe, Tyler Glasnow
NL Manager of the Year
- Dusty Baker
In the race: Joe Maddon, Dave Roberts
NL Comeback Player of the Year
- Kyle Schwarber
In the race: Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Pollock