About a month into the season, the world of MLB baseball is starting to take shape, with a general, although hazy, picture of who will be contending come the dog days of July and August. So, of course, it is the perfect time for some way-too-early predictions on who's going to the playoffs, who is winning it all, and the winners of each prestigious individual award.
American League East
Baltimore Orioles 91-71
New York Yankees 90-72
Boston Red Sox 88-74
Toronto Blue Jays 82-80
Tampa Bay Rays 68-94
Yes, the Red Sox were preseason favorites, and they still may be. But given their rather mediocre performance thus far, especially offensively, the Orioles and Yankees were given the nod ahead of the Sox in this prediction. The Yankees lead the division right now, but the Orioles' consistent play both at home and on the road is a major key in the Orioles getting picked first here.
The Yankees have impressed at home (9-3) but a mediocre road record, even if it's early, sinks them just below the Orioles. They still snag the top wild card spot. The Red Sox finish a game out of the second wild card. In the bottom of the division, Toronto bounces back from a horrendous start to finish just above .500, while Tampa Bay fades quickly to a fourth consecutive losing season. Expect the Orioles, Yankees, and Red Sox to all be contending for the division title entering the final week of the season.
American League Central
Cleveland Indians 94-68
Minnesota Twins 83-79
Detroit Tigers 81-81
Kansas City Royals 76-86
Chicago White Sox 75-87
Not foreseeing too much competition for Cleveland atop the Central division. The Twins get the Most Improved Award, but they still trail Cleveland by 11 games and miss the playoffs by six. They'll stay in the hunt for a while but fade towards the end.
The Tigers look solid but not great in the early going, so expect them to miss the playoffs for a third straight season. Chicago and the under-performing Royals battle it out for the right to not finish last. Neither of them have terrible campaigns, but neither squad can get out of the rut, never quite getting above .500.
American League West
Houston Astros 93-69
Texas Rangers 89-73
Los Angeles Angels 81-81
Seattle Mariners 77-85
Oakland Athletics 67-95
Houston is back into the playoffs. After 86 wins were enough for a wildcard spot in 2015, 84 wins did not do the trick in 2016. In 2017, according to this prediction, Houston will surpass 93 wins, pulling away from Texas in the final week to win the title.
Texas loses out on the title, but they advance to the playoffs as the second wild-card, clinching with a Game #162 win to hold off Boston. Los Angeles shows improvement after a disappointing 2016 campaign, but they are still another year or two from serious contention. Seattle under-performs again, while Oakland continues to bring up the rear of the division.
National League East
Washington Nationals 95-67
New York Mets 79-83
Miami Marlins 70-92
Atlanta Braves 69-93
Philadelphia Phillies 66-96
Clear favorite here? This writer does not think there is a single challenger in the division for the Nationals, as they run away with the division, clinching in mid-September. Washington will have the division essentially locked up by early August over a quartet of mediocre squads. New York has the pitching to stay in the mix for a while, but the Mets' offense is suspect enough to warrant the losing record.
Miami, Atlanta, and Philadelphia have been mediocre or worse for three straight seasons at least, making this essentially a one-horse race. Who knows though? As Milton Davis Jr. said in Angels in the Outfield, "It could happen". It's early, but right now, there does not seem to be a challenger in the N.L. East.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs 94-68
St. Louis Cardinals 86-76
Pittsburgh Pirates 85-77
Milwaukee Brewers 79-83
Cincinnati Reds 64-98
Despite scuffling slightly out of the gate, the defending world champs have gotten back on track for the most part, leading the Central Division with a 16-13 record. Nobody in that division is quite strong enough to challenge the Cubs with all their young talent. However, the Cardinals and Pirates do enough to garner wild card spots in a watered-down National League.
The Pirates may be a stretch here, but after just 78 wins last year, they get the benefit of the doubt, having made the playoffs the three years previously. Milwaukee finishes stronger than most people think they will, close to a .500 record. They easily outpace the Reds for fourth in the division. The Red continue to scuffle with a fourth straight season under .500, including three straight with less than 70 wins.
National League West
Los Angeles Dodgers 91-71
Arizona Diamondbacks 82-80
Colorado Rockies 80-82
San Francisco Giants 77-85
San Diego Padres 65-97
The Dodgers have won this division easily over the last few years. No team in the division has collected 90 wins over the last four years. In fact, only the Giants and the Dodgers have had more than 81 wins over the past four years. That changes this year, as the Diamondbacks squeak past the .500 mark for the first time in years.
Meanwhile, the Rockies show improvement again, but they are not quite playoff quality yet, posting an 80-82 record. The Giants struggle, falling under .500 for the first time since 2013, but they still sit in fourth, well ahead of the floundering Padres. After an attempt to contend the last few years that failed miserably, the Padres sold at the trade deadline last year and enter a rebuilding phase. The Dodgers pull away in early September to win the crown and head to the playoffs once more.
New York Yankees defeat Texas Rangers 6-3
Pittsburgh Pirates defeat St. Louis Cardinals 8-7
New York Yankees defeat Cleveland Indians 3-1
Houston Astros defeat Baltimore Orioles 3-0
Washington Nationals defeat Pittsburgh Pirates 3-0
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Chicago Cubs 3-2
Houston Astros defeat New York Yankees 4-2
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Washington Nationals 4-3
Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Houston Astros 4-1
Note: This is the second straight year these predictions picked the Dodgers. Last year, this article correctly picked 6 of 10 playoff teams, but only 1 of 4 championship series teams.
A.L. Rookie of the Year - Andrew Benintendi
A.L. MVP - Mookie Betts
A.L. Cy Young - Dallas Keuchel
N.L Rookie of the Year - Josh Bell
N.L MVP - Ryan Zimmermann
N.L. Cy Young- Gio Gonzalez