The 2017 MLB regular season is right around the corner with five weeks until America’s pastime begins. Let’s take a look at one thing that each team can look forward to this season.
The 2016 baseball season supplied us with some fantastic highlights throughout all 30 MLB clubs. An absolute stellar end to the season happened when the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years in dramatic, extra-inning fashion.
Now the focus shifts to the 2017 season. Players have reported to Spring Training and games have already begun. Whether it is the World Baseball Classic or Spring Training contests, the regular season is inching closer and closer.
Each team enters the season with the hope of winning as many games as possible, but not all teams win enough to compete for the playoffs. Nonetheless, each team has something to look forward to in 2017.
Whether it’s winning a certain amount of games, watching a young player develop or any other exciting factor that comes during the season, the baseball season never seems to disappoint.
Let’s take a glance at each individual team and one storyline to look forward to from them in 2017.
Buck Showalter made the rotation work last year. The Orioles made the playoffs but the division rival Blue Jays knocked them out in the Wild Card Game. Baseball fans can look forward to seeing how that rotation does this season.
Toronto Blue Jays: Let that rotation go to work
The Blue Jays’ starting rotation is one of the best in baseball. Aaron Sanchez exploded onto the map in 2016, and the team expects good things to come from Marcus Stroman. J.A. Happ had the best season of his career, and veteran Marco Estrada has also been strong the past two years.
Last season, 24-year-old Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene for the Yankees. He hit 20 home runs and knocked in 42 runs in just 53 games.
Now as the Yankees’ full-time catcher, it’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez fares in his first full season in New York. Is a sophomore slump in store or is Sanchez going to explode on offense again? We’ll find out soon enough.
Tampa Bay Rays: Who’s next to go?
The Rays dealt Matt Moore at the trade deadline in 2016. During the offseason, they traded both Drew Smyly and Logan Forsythe. It’s clear in a tough division that the Rays are the weakest link.
The real question is, who will they trade next? Will it be veteran Evan Longoria, ace Chris Archer or somebody else? If the Rays get off to a rough start in 2017, they’ll more than likely ship off quite a few players.
Cleveland Indians: No more “Party at Napoli’s” but Edwin is here
So, the Indians were one one win away from claiming a World Series in 2016. They failed to do so but added one of the most powerful bats in the game in Edwin Encarnacion. The 34-year-old finished 2016 tied for third in home runs with 42 and tied for second in RBI with 127.
Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are healthy again and the offense got deeper. Bank on the Indians going back to the playoffs and possibly the World Series in 2017.
Detroit Tigers: Time to win or rebuild
Word spiraled at the Winter Meetings about whether the Tigers planned on trading away some key pieces or not. The biggest trade they made was Cameron Maybin to the Angels.
This Tigers team isn’t getting any younger, though. If they don’t do well in the first half, perhaps they sell some players at the deadline.
Another missed trip to the postseason may result in a rebuild for Detroit.
Royals: The Moose is back
After a devastating collision with outfielder Alex Gordon, third baseman Mike Moustakas missed a majority of the 2016 season. He was a catalyst for the Royals during their two trips to the World Series in 2014 and 2015.
Without Moustakas, the Royals struggled in 2016 and failed to finish above .500. He’ll be back for the start of 2017.
Can the Royals make a run at another World Series before some big-time names become free agents next season? Moustakas gives them a better shot.
Chicago White Sox: Waiting for the prospects
The White Sox made some big moves in the offseason. They traded Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Victor Diaz and Luis Alexander Basabe. They also traded Adam Eaton to the Nationals for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning.
Sure, they won’t compete in the AL Central right now, but give them a few years and they’ll be up top. MLB.com’s 2017 Pipeline Prospect Watch ranks Moncada at No. 2, Giolito at No. 11, Kopech at No.16 and Lopez at No. 46.
Expect to see Moncada, Giolito and Lopez all join the White Sox at some point in 2017.
Minnesota Twins: How long will Dozier last?
The Twins put second baseman Brian Dozier on the trade block during the offseason but didn’t get an appealing offer.
The Twins set out to show that 2015 wasn’t a fluke year. If they struggle like last season, expect them to deal Dozier before the 2017 trade deadline.
Glance at the Rangers’ lineup, and you’ll see the power that they possess. Last season, Texas hit the seventh-most home runs in the league with 215.
A majority of the lineup didn’t change, but the team added powerful slugger Mike Napoli. This is Napoli’s third stint in Texas. After a career-high in home runs last season (34), the Rangers might hit the most combined homers in 2017. The summer months should see plenty of long balls in Texas.
Seattle Mariners: Can Felix Hernandez return to “king form”?
Felix Hernandez struggled a bit in 2016. He also suffered a nagging calf strain injury last season. He certainly didn’t look like King Felix.
Seattle hasn’t made the playoffs in the Hernandez era. They currently have the longest playoff drought in MLB.
Was it a mix of struggles and injuries that caused the down year or are the Mariners’ struggles getting in the head of Hernandez? Hopefully, it’s the former.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The return of G-Rich
Just six starts into the 2016 season, Garrett Richards exited with an elbow injury. He suffered a tear in his UCL. Instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery, Richards banked on stem-cell therapy.
Flash-forward to 2017 and the stem-cell therapy worked. The Angels need him to return to 2014 status, where he was a Cy Young candidate.
Similarly, Matt Shoemaker is ready for 2017 too. He suffered a scary head injury from a line drive comebacker that caused a fractured skull and internal bleeding. The Angels need all the pitching help they can get.
Oakland Athletics: The rise of Ryon Healy
Another rough season is ahead for the A’s. They’ll struggle in a tough AL West division. A lot of players go unnoticed out in Oakland.
Two players impressed there last season. One was Khris Davis and the other was Ryon Healy. In 72 games, Healy hit 13 home runs and drove in 37 RBI with an average of .305.
Healy will more than likely act as the A’s DH this season. Big numbers are in store for Healy in 2017 and future seasons too.
What’s next for the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs? (That still feels weird to type.) After a 108-year World Series drought, the Cubs celebrated the greatest moment for the franchise in over a century.
The Cubs don’t look satisfied with one. They want more and a potential dynasty. But will they struggle in 2017? Many World Series winners struggle to make the playoffs the following season.
Let’s not forget, this Cubs team isn’t like most other World Series teams. An unbelievable amount of talented players mixed with Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein equals a lot of success.
St. Louis Cardinals: Dexter Fowler on a different NL Central team
Last year, Dexter Fowler played a huge role in the Cubs’ championship. In the offseason, Fowler signed a deal with the division rival Cardinals. The exact opposite of the previous season when Jason Heyward left the Cardinals for the Cubs.
The Cardinals are hoping Fowler performs better in his first season with the team compared to Heyward’s first season in Chicago.