Jun 4, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; A Seattle Mariners hat sits on top a mitt during a game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Rangers won 10-4. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports. MLB.
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Nearly three months ago I put together my very early 2017 playoff predictions. Now, with the off-season practically over, and spring training underway, lets look at the changes from then to now.
Predicting the MLB playoffs so soon can be a risky thing, as you are risking looking like a fool. At the beginning of the off-season I put together a prediction that I thought was pretty accurate. Now, months later and some deals later, the landscape of my prediction is different. While the same general baseline will still be intact, there are several teams that might move up or down in the rankings.
Therefore, lets jump right into the predictions and attempt to predict our playoff teams for next season.
Seattle Mariners (Up 2)
Houston Astros (Down 1, WC #1)
Los Angeles Angels (Up 1)
Texas Rangers (Down 2)
Back in November I predicted the Houston Astros to win the division with no other playoff team coming out of the AL West. Now, after a multitude of moves, the AL West shall see two playoff teams, with the Astros moving down to the wild card spot. Since the last prediction, the Astros have not done much significantly, as the Mariners have increased drastically. While the Astros still have improved, not as much as the already better Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners have dealt and swapped some key prospects and have brought in some key contributors. Since the last list the Mariners have acquired Jean Segura, Jarrod Dyson, Chris Heston, and Drew Smyly to name the few. While they did not bring in any superstars, they did fill out their team as a whole and will definitely improve from their 86-76 record last season.
The Los Angeles Angels also moved up to number 3, as I believe they will go over .500. The Angels brought in more depth with in with Danny Espinosa, Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere, and Luis Valbuena. If they stay healthy the Angels can achieve this 3rd place finish, and potentially could see themselves in wild card contention.
As for the Rangers, well they have lost more this off-season than they have gained. I have preached time and time again why they will regress, with the overall idea being they shouldn’t have been as good as they were last year, and will only get worse. The A’s just aren’t on track to do much, while they have a surplus of young guys full of potential, they are not quite there yet.
The AL Central remains practically as I predicted, as the Indians have only gotten better and the Royals have gotten slightly worse. Three months ago I predicted that the Royals would land the second wild card spot, now that prediction seems absurd. The Royals will likely fall down to third in the division, but the Tigers won’t secure a wild card spot. The Indians will dominate this division, and likely see themselves be 100 game winners.
The Tigers haven’t really done much to get better, but have avoided getting worse like the Royals. It was rumored in the beginning of the off-season that Detroit was looking to rebuild, but obviously they are content with the talent they currently have.
The Kansas City Royals have been pretty active, yet I don’t think there moves are enough. The Royals were devastated by the horrible loss of Yordano Ventura which is just such a tragic loss to the game of baseball. Outside of that the Royals have flipped certain players for replacement level players, and have failed to really do anything. While they aren’t much worse, they aren’t what they were a few months ago.
Then there is the Twins and White Sox who seem to be at a loss on what to do. The Twins are waiting for their young talents to fully develop, and the White Sox have entered complete rebuild mode. Neither team is ready to contend, and neither team will contend next season.
I think the AL East will be the best division in baseball and be the most competitive. I think the difference between the fourth place Yankees and second place Blue Jays will be within 5 games, and the Rays are only a last place team in this division. The Red Sox will likely dominate the MLB, much like the Cubs did last season and that may cause the other teams records to diminish. However, these teams will still be some of the best in baseball.
The Red Sox will dominate, that is no doubt. Unless they are struck with horrible luck, it will be extremely shocking to not see the Red Sox come October. With the additions of Chris Sale, Mitch Moreland, and Andrew Benintendi the Sox are looking as good as ever. The Blue Jays took a big hit in losing Edwin Encarnacion, however somewhat filled that void with Kendrys Morales. Morales many not be up to par with Encarnacion, but he definitely is better than not having any replacement.
As for the Orioles, they managed to bring back slugger Mark Trumbo while bringing in Seth Smith. While they are a few arms short of a good rotation and bullpen, they can again rely on their power to get them through the season. The Yankees will be right behind the Orioles, as they have made some good signings (Matt Holliday) and some head scratchers (Chris Carter). They do have a young core, but they are not quite ready to break through.
The Rays have improved by signing Wilson Ramos and getting Jose De Leon. While the loss of Forsythe outdoes the gaining of De Leon, their young staff has potential. However, in this division they won’t find themselves thriving.
As for the National League West, the standings actually remain exactly the same in my eyes. Although, back in November I did not predict that the Giants would make the playoffs, however I think that Mark Melancon could be the piece to get them there. Without a second half meltdown led by a disastrous bullpen the Giants very easily could have had the best record in baseball. Now, although Melancon won’t fill all of their holes, he will fix the closer role at least for a season or two.
As for the Dodgers, they retained their key pieces in Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner, and managed to fill the second base gap with Logan Forsythe. The Dodgers have nice depth in their pitching, however they did not get much better. However, perhaps they are done juggling with players and want to build a core of players that build off each other. Regardless, they are still the best team in the west.
The Rockies are actually making moves, and pair a pretty terrible pitching staff with a great offense. While Coors Field is a big reason for this, they still can float around .500 ball and be a dark horse for a wild card spot. The Diamondbacks haven’t been able to prove their worth, and likely won’t next season. And the Padres, well the Padres are easily one of baseball’s worst teams.
Nothing much has changed in the NL Central either, except that the Giants took away the wild card spot that originally was going to the Cardinals. This is because the Giants filled that need, and the Cardinals took a huge hit with the loss of Alex Reyes. Sure, they still do have a great team, and it will be a very close run for the National League Wild Card, but the Giants will prevail.
As for the Cubs, they will do business as usual and be one of the best teams in baseball. While I do think the Red Sox and potentially another NL team will be better, the Cubs will coast to a division title.
Originally I had the Pittsburgh Pirates sliding all the way down to fourth, but upon further evaluation I realized that won’t be the case. I doubt Andrew McCutchen will have another dud of a season, and top prospect Josh Bell will do great things. Austin Meadows could potentially find himself on the team this year, and a young rotation led by Gerrit Cole and James Taillon has potential.
The Brewers have a surplus of great prospects, but 2017 will be too early for them to realistically compete for a playoff spot. Just like the Padres as well, the Reds are not a good team in any way and will not see themselves successful in 2017 – they need to rebuild further.
Like most of the National League, the way the standings play out isn’t much different from I first anticipated. There isn’t much movement, instead some teams are making certain playoff spots that otherwise weren’t. This is the case for the Washington Nationals, as now they are my favorites for the NL East and to have the best record in the National League.
The Nationals just seem to be the second best team in baseball to me behind the Boston Red Sox. With the additions of Adam Eaton and Derek Norris there isn’t any significant deficiency in their line-up. Adam Eaton is an underrated, great outfielder, and now the Nationals moved Trea Turner to his natural shortstop where he will likely thrive. Overall, the Nationals look deadly.
The Mets look very good as well. They were able to resign Yoenis Cespedes, and if their pitching staff stays healthy they can be one of baseball’s best. If they stay healthy they can likely give the Nationals a run for their money, but that is never a guarantee.
I am a huge fan of the Braves, and with studFreddie Freeman and a possibly reinventedMatt Kemp they only look better. The Marlins seem to be so close to success, however the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez is an unfortunate blow to the franchise. The Phillies as well have some promising aspects, but need years before they are able to contend.