Spring training 2017 is officially underway as pitchers and catchers have arrived for each squad. Just like the weather, spring brings eternal optimism for each team, but which teams are heading into the new campaign with such high-pressure expectations that 2017 is a World Series title or bust type of year?
Right off the top, it has to be the Washington Nationals, L.A. Dodgers, and Detroit Tigers.
The Nationals once again head into another season where many experts are looking for them to be the team to beat in the NL East, but winning another divisional title won’t be enough to satisfy the Washington faithful.
Coming off of a 95 win season, and winning the NL East by eight games over the Mets, 2017 will not be an easy one for the Nats. The Mets will be strong once again, and the Braves have made major improvements from last season. When you have high priced players like Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer, and Bryce Harper, you are expected to win every season. The pressure in D.C. will start to build if this team doesn’t deliver in 2017.
Next is the Dodgers.
The real question is how can there not be pressure on this team?
Spotrac indicates that the Dodgers will once again have the highest payroll in baseball at over $230 million. They also have the league’s highest paid pitcher in Clayton Kershaw. Once again, for the Dodgers to fight off the always tough San Francisco Giants, they will need Kershaw to lead the way.
While Kershaw makes a boat-load of money, he sure has proven to be worth it. In 2016 Kershaw finished with a 12-4 record with an ERA of 1.69, and he has had an ERA of under 2.00 three of the last four seasons. However, as a team, the Dodgers have been a disappointment in the postseason.
With a payroll that could easily start to flirt near $300 million soon, it is a championship or bust type season once again in L.A.
Finally, there is the Detroit Tigers.
The Freep reports that Detroit has been a better than average team over the last decade. However, it has not resulted in a single championship. Detroit made it to the fall classic in 2006 against St. Louis and again in 2012 vs. the San Francisco Giants, however, they were defeated both times.
Manager Brad Ausmus stepped into some big shoes when he took over for Jim Leyland back in 2014, and he knew the team he took over was World Series ready. Fast forward three seasons and Ausmus’ record of 250-234 just isn’t good enough for the fans’ liking in Motown.
Fair or not, the manager always takes the heat when a team is unsuccessful and with players like Miguel Cabrera, JD Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Justin Verlander at your disposal, the Tigers need to make some noise in the 2017 postseason.
Verlander believes that if Detroit can stay healthy, they will have the season fans are hoping for in 2017.
“If we can just have guys stay healthy, I really like this ballclub,” Verlander said. “We were one game away last year and we had four or five key injuries to key players, not just for a week or two but for an extended period of time.”
Now, how about those Chicago Cubs?
These guys are way overdue to start winning.
Are you kidding? The Cubbies will be the toast of the town in Chicago all season no matter what happens in 2017. After winning their first title since 1908, back-to-back would be insane! However, if they fail to do so, for once there will be no pressure on these guys.
Chicago has the talent to win another ring but repeating as a champion is always hard in any sport.
Get ready baseball fans, Opening Day is just 45 days away!
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]