With the 2017 Major League Baseball season right around the corner, let’s take a look at some early predictions and favorites for this season.
On paper, the Chicago Cubs have the best odds to make it back to the Fall Classic and repeat as World Series champions, though the pressure usually makes it tough for teams to win one, much less two in a row.
The Cubs bring back one of the best rotations in baseball, highlighted by Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. We also can’t forget about the return of Kyle Schwarber, who made a miraculous comeback to make it onto the World Series roster last fall.
The bullpen will bring some questions for the Cubs, who lose Alrodis Chapman to the New York Yankees, an ultimately I believe the Cubs will fall short of a return trip to the World Series.
The Boston Red Sox made one of the biggest splashes this offseason with the acquisition of starting pitcher Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox. The rotation also features David Price and Rick Porcello, making it one of the top trios in the game. Combine that with a solid young offensive core and the Red Sox will have a real shot to not only make, but also win the World Series.
The Washington Nationals are always in the hunt for the crown, and this year will be no different. Washington added an impact outfielder in Adam Eaton and while they may have overpaid, playing alongside Bryce Harper automatically makes the National’s outfield one of the best in the bigs.
The San Francisco Giants added Mark Melancon to bolster what was one of the weakest parts of their roster at the back end of the bullpen. If the Giants can keep a healthy lineup throughout, they’ll make a strong push for a deep playoff run.
Their counterparts, the Los Angeles Dodgers, will also make a strong push to take the division crown and make a playoff push. They have plenty of options for the starting rotation and outfield, scenarios that will be decided during spring training.
Moving back into the American League, the Cleveland Indians are a strong suitor to make it back to the World Series and for good reason. Terry Francona’s club has one of the best overall lineups in the game.
The use of the deep bullpen combined with the consistent hitting across the lineup are a reason the Indians made it to the World Series in the first place and will be a major reason if they can make a return trip in 2017.
The hard hitting Toronto Blue Jays will miss the impact of Edwin Encarnacion, but with one of the better starting rotations in the game, they’ll make a push in the playoffs.
The St. Louis Cardinals missed the postseason for the first time since 2010 and while they don’t have the best rotation, the depth that comes from their bullpen could carry them during the important games in the dog days of summer.
The Houston Astros may have been one of the most active teams this offseason with the additions of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran, and Josh Reddick, joining Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa to create one of the better lineups in the majors.
Ultimately, it should be a relatively competitive season in most divisions and health will again be the determining factor in who makes a deep playoff push. Based on offseason acquisitions, I predict the Washington Nationals and Cleveland Indians will square off in the 2017 World Series.
[Featured Image by Rob Tringali/Getty Images]