NL East: New York Mets
Yes, I’m a Mets fan and I’m biased, but allow me to explain. I know that the Mets have uncertainty regarding the health of their starting pitchers and there are some question marks in the bullpen. But the team has a lot of depth in their rotation and in the lineup. The Washington Nationals also have health issues with their two best starting pitchers, Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The subtraction of Wilson Ramos hurts, as does the loss of Mark Melancon which leaves the team without a reliable closer. However, the Nats still have a lot of talent and Bryce Harper is most-likely going to have a bounceback year from his disappointing 2016 campaign. Washington will still make the playoffs as the second Wild Card. While both the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves have young players and prospects to be excited about, they’re both years away from competing. The Miami Marlins, still hurting from the devastating loss of Jose Fernandez, will have a tough season and finish in last.
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
No surprise here. The defending champions are the favorites to win it again in 2017. I don’t think the Cubs will repeat, but it’s pretty difficult to pick any other team to win this division. The Cubs have a surplus of talent all over the roster. The St. Louis Cardinals have plenty of talent of their own, and the addition of Dexter Fowler certainly helps. The Red Birds always manage to field a contender and while they won’t be able to overthrow the Cubs, they will take home the first Wild Card spot. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ window to win a championship is closing, and playing in the same division as the Cubs and Cardinals may mean that it has closed. Both the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds are going nowhere this season.
NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers are pretty much bringing back the same team that won the division last season. The team managed to win the West despite numerous injuries to the starting rotation. The battle between the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants may end up being the best division race this season, but I think the Dodgers will claim their fifth-straight National League West title. The Giants starting pitching is still very good and adding the aforementioned Melancon gives them a very good closer. However, I don’t think the team has enough offense to beat out the Dodgers. The Colorado Rockies will have one of the better seasons they’ve experienced this decade, but that isn’t really saying a lot. The Arizona Diamondbacks are still recovering from their questionable decision to go for it last year when they traded away their top prospects and the San Diego Padres will lose over 100 games.
AL East: Boston Red Sox
A pretty clear choice here. Yes, David Price starting the season on the disabled list is not a good way to bounce back from his disappointing 2016 campaign. But the team still has a very young offensive core and the addition of Chris Sale made an already strong starting rotation all the better. The New York Yankees are in a strange place, as they are rebuilding but also have enough pieces to contend. The Bronx Bombers’ surplus of young offensive talent will keep them in the hunt for a wild card spot late into the season, but the team will fall short. The Toronto Blue Jays still have a lot of firepower in their lineup and could boast a solid starting rotation, but their window to win a championship was the last two years and they will take a step back this season. The Baltimore Orioles had a terrible offseason and while the offense is very good, the starting rotation is atrocious. Don’t expect too much from the Tampa Bay Rays either.
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
The defending American League champions have stellar pitching both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Edwin Encarnacion is a great addition to the offense and no one else in this division has enough to overthrow the Indians. The Detroit Tigers have some good pieces, but not enough to make a run and the team seems confused as to whether or not they should rebuild. The Kansas City Royals still have a pretty good offense, but the starting rotation is not great and the sad loss of Yordano Ventura does not help. The Minnesota Twins were the worst team in baseball last season and while they do have a few young talented position players, they are far away from competing. The Chicago White Sox collected quite a few prospects over the offseason and will be very good in a few years, but not this year.
AL West: Houston Astros
After a surprise playoff appearance in 2015, the Astros had high expectations in 2016 that they did not live up to. But the young core that led them to success in 2015 is a few years older now and the team added veterans Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Josh Reddick. The Astros have a great mix of young and old players and will prove that 2015 wasn’t a fluke. The Texas Rangers didn’t have a strong offseason, but still retain a great offense as well as Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish leading the rotation. The Rangers have enough to secure the first Wild Card spot, while the Seattle Mariners will end the longest MLB playoff drought and claim the second Wild Card. The Mariners were in contention up until the last week of the 2016 season. Jarrod Dyson and Jean Segura are solid additions to the offense and expect Felix Hernandez to have a bounce back season and lead the team to a playoff berth. The Oakland Athletics always have the potential to surprise everyone, but they have not done much the past couple of years. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have Mike Trout and a bunch of players not as good as him.
World Series: Mets over Astros
It feels very odd to pick the Mets to win the World Series, but I see the Cubs having a World Series hangover and that leaves the door wide open in the National League. The Mets have so much pitching depth that will lead them to the World Series against the Astros. The American League has a lot of parity and the Astros’ young core combined with talented veterans will lead them to the pennant. But when all is said and done, the Mets’ pitching depth will come out on top. Ya gotta believe.