MLB Preview

By kaplanssportstory
Mar. 12, 2017

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The World Baseball Classic has been talked about more right now than the actual MLB itself. In three weeks from tonight the regular season will begin. Depending where you are, the weather may feel right or not right for baseball right now. How will it all play out?

Does another team break a curse of its own this season or do the Chicago Cubs repeat? Out of the six teams that finished in last place in there divisions last year, which one of them will finish in first place this season?

NL East: 1. New York Mets: They have one of the best starting rotations in the MLB if they stay healthy. Yoenis Cespedes is the key to the Mets offense being powerful. New York will be a very dangerous contender if the young players contribute.

2. Washington Nationals: Last seasons playoff disappoint will overlap into the 2017 season. Bryce Harper will have another MVP like season, but they will get tired down the stretch.

3. Philadelphia Phillies: The young players will grow together. They won't be the best team in the world, but they will be one of the more competitive ones every night. Philadelphia has solid young pitching that could make them a .500 team this season.

4. Miami Marlins: The effect of losing Jose Ferandez to a tragic death is going to hurt this team. He was one of the best pitchers in the MLB. He was a great leader to the Marlins team and community. It will be hard to replace a player like him and the offense will struggle.

5. Atlanta Braves: Atlanta is not ready yet, but they will be very scrappy all season long. It is very possible they will lose 100 games again, but they won't be the worst team in the MLB.

NL Central: 1. Chicago Cubs: They have one of the best offenses in all of baseball. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant are two possible MVP candidates once again for the NL. The pitching needs to stay consistent once again. Very good chance they can repeat as champions.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have a big 2017 ahead and they will exceed expectations. They will have some new blood in either the starting rotation or in the lineup, and it will spark plug this team. 

3. St. Louis Cardinals: The Cardinals have always done a good job at finding replacements in the lineup. This year is going to be a little different. They will not have enough power in the lineup and it is going to comeback and bite them again. St. Louis usually has a difficult time staying healthy.

4. Milwaukee Brewers: They will be good for the first few games and then they will falter like they usually do. The only positive about this team is Ryan Braun. 

5. Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto and Billy Hamilton are the only main franchise guys they have left on the team. Well Adam DuVall is also pretty good. The pitching will be the reason why they will finish in last and the Reds will be going through a rebuilding phase.

NL West: 1. Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado is one of the most underrated players in the MLB. Colorado can score runs in bunches. Trevor Story is also a solid player with the bat. The pitching should be a lot better this season.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers: Dave Roberts did a great job managing this team last year. They have a World Series talent roster, but they can't seem to get it done when it matters most. Maybe this season it will change, but the odds are it will not.

3. San Francisco Giants: It is Buster Posey and everybody else offensively for the San Francisco Giants. They did a good job last year making it to the playoffs, but they can't live off their pitchers forever. At some point they might get burned it and it will catch up to them.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt will single handedly keep the Diamondbacks out of the cellar. The pitching was roughed up last year and it could very well again this season. AJ Pollock was also injured last year and it didn't help Arizona's cause.

5. San Diego Padres: They haven't been relevant in a while and they won't be again this season. Wil Myers will be one of the best players on the team, but the pitching staff is mediocre.

AL East: 1. Boston Red Sox: Chris Sale will make the Red Sox starting rotation even more dangerous with David Price and Rick Porcello. They also have one of most underrated lineups in the MLB. Boston also begins the post David Ortiz ERA.

2. Baltimore Orioles: Baltimore is one of the most underrated teams in the MLB. Manny Machado is a possible AL MVP candidate. If the starting pitching can be consistent, they will most likely be back in the playoffs this season. It also helps when they have Zach Britton as a closer. 

3. New York Yankees: They could be one of the surprises in the MLB this season. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and Greg Bird will be the power house hitters on the team. The starting rotation is very questionable. They are hit or miss and that is not good for a team with a potent offense.

4. Toronto Blue Jays: Toronto is going to take a step back this season. They have had two consecutive years of being runner up in the AL. They will show fatigue throughout the season. Losing Encarncion will hurt this team.

5. Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria will keep the team competitive, but the division is too stacked for them to compete in.

AL Central: 1. Cleveland Indians: They were one of the surprises in the MLB last year. Cleveland had an underrated pitching staff and if they are healthy, it could be very lethal once again. They played small ball very well last season and they probably will again this season. The addition of Encarncion will help.

2. Kansas City Royals: With Kansas City missing the playoffs last year, they will have a chip on their shoulder. The bullpen needs to bounce back after having a rough year last season. That is one of the Royals blueprint to being successful. Playing small is also an effective weapon for them.

3. Chicago White Sox: Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu will be the heart of the White Sox lineup. Can Yoan Moncada be a force right away as well for the rebuilding White Sox? How will the young pitchers progress as well?

4. Detroit Tigers: Michael Fulmer was a sensation as a rookie last season. He will be a solid number two or three starter this season. Justin Verlander will also pitch well this year. The problem with the Tigers is they really didn't get better in the offseason and they don't have enough depth. Maybe Miguel Cabrera can make all of it up.

5. Minnesota Twins: They were very bad last year. They can't be any worse. Maybe the young talent will play better but who knows.

AL West: 1. Houston Astros: The Astros had to dig themselves out of a hole last year. They almost made the playoffs. If it wasn't for the bad start, they probably would have made the playoffs. Dallas Keuchel needs to pitch out of the gate strong. If he does that, it will set the tone for the rest of the rotation. Jose Altuve is one of the most underrated players in the game.

2. Seattle Mariners: Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano will be valuable leaders in the clubhouse this season. Felix Hernandez should get help in the rotation. It is very possible they could be a wild card team this season.

3. Texas Rangers: The playoffs disappointment from the past two seasons is going to haunt them this season. They will be tired. The pitching staff won't be as strong this season.

4. Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout and Albert Pujols will be a powerhouse in the middle of the lineup. They don't have a whole lot otherwise.

5. Oakland Athletics: Sonny Gray will probably be traded at some point during the season because they will probably be out of contention early on. They will be one of the worst teams in the MLB.

Playoffs: Wild Card: AL: (4) Baltimore over (5) Seattle NL: (5) Los Angeles over (4) Pittsburgh

Divisional Round: AL: (1) Boston over (4) Baltimore and (2) Cleveland over (3) Houston NL: (1) Chicago over (5) Los Angeles and (2) New York over (3) Colorado

Championship Series: AL: (1) Boston over (2) Cleveland and NL: (1) Chicago over (2) New York

World Series: (1) Boston over (1) Chicago.

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