The MLB season is shaping up to be a big one in 2017, with the Cubs looking to go back-to-back after a 108-year drought between World Series victories. But with many new, exciting challengers, it won’t be easy. With the Yankees and Red Sox both looking strong and the Rockies, Astros and Mariners all looking to assert themselves into the playoff picture, every series throughout the 162 game marathon of a season will be crucial. Baseball is a very unpredictable sport, however, and any predictions we make today could be worthless by season's end, but we are going to try anyway and give you 15 bold predictions for the 2017 MLB season.
15 The Rockies Make A Strong Push In The NL West
The Rockies have always had a dangerous lineup, but their 2017 version is unlike anything we’ve seen in previous years, as they’ve got great hitters all over the park from Ian Desmond to Nolan Arenado to the young Trevor Story and the always dangerous Carlos Gonzalez, and this might be the year that a complete Colorado team steps up. The difference on this year's squad is pitching, as Jon Gray looks to be leading an impressive young rotation which is backed up by a fairly impressive bullpen made up of several veteran stars. All told, this team looks to be very complete. Coors Field in Colorado is always a hard park to pitch in, but if the team can put it all together, don’t be surprised if they challenge the Dodgers and Giants at the top of the NL West till the season's end.
14 The ‘Baby Bombers’ Solidify Themselves As A Huge Threat
The Yankees have been a playoff threat ever since their “Big Four” came together in the late '90s, and after several World Series, all of them have retired, and opened the door for a new generation. As such, 2017 may be the year that they all arrive and assert themselves as a future threat. With names like Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, Greg Bird and Aaron Judge all ready to explode (in the case of Sanchez, he already did in 2016), they could make themselves into one of the best and most impressive lineups in baseball. Their bullpen is also looking incredibly dominant, and if these guys can all play up to the expectations of the Yankees organization and their fans, they may just make a playoff push this season.
13 The Astros' Young Core Takes The Team On A Deep Playoff Run
After the Astros struggled for the better part of a decade, they managed to stockpile high draft picks, and it’s a credit to the organization, as they have put together an impressive young core that are now ready to lead the team into the future, and take them to extended playoff success. That core includes George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Dallas Kuechel, and after leading the team to the playoffs in 2015, they are ready to go deep into October in 2017. With the addition of a veteran power source in Carlos Beltran, this team could be as good as any in the American League, and even if they fall short of Texas in the West, expect them to succeed in this year's Wild Card game, leading to a potential AL Championship Series berth, at the very least.
12 Young Stars Take The Next Step
The MLB is full of young, rising stars, and a few of them stepped up in 2016, and heading into 2017, we will see a lot of them cement themselves in the upper echelon. From Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant to Noah Syndegaard, the stars who have shown potential have now proven that they can play at a consistent, elite level, and this year they should become household names. While you've still got older stars like Miguel Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, and the proven, younger stars like Mike Trout, Buster Posey and Paul Goldschmidt still around, these younger stars that are emerging will push them, and give the MLB even more marketability. There are players like Gary Sanchez who are ready to make that step in the next few years, but in the year 2017, expect some other stars to cement themselves at the top of the game.
11 The Red Sox Improve After Losing Big Papi
2017 will be the first year in over a decade that the Red Sox will play without David Ortiz, and although there is no one that can step in and directly replace the Boston legend, the team won’t see too much of a drop in production without him. Mitch Moreland has been signed from the Rangers to take the DH position from Papi, but it will be the core of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley that will replace his production. While they may not step up and directly replicate Papi’s amazing power numbers, they will make this team better in their own way. Ortiz will still always be remembered as a huge personality and one of the best hitters in Red Sox history, but his mentoring of the young core that now have to take over from him was immaculate, and the team will continue its success now that he’s gone.
10 The Mariners Finally Succeed With Robinson Cano
The Seattle Mariners managed to lure Robinson Cano away from the Yankees, and even though the team around him has improved year after year, they have always fallen short of the playoffs.But in the year 2017, all they’ve worked for will pay off. As all their stars are aging significantly, their World Series (and in fact, their playoff) window is rapidly closing, so they need to make the most of it this year. The road won’t be easy at all, as they have to battle with the playoff-hardened Rangers and the young-gun Astros, but if they can stay healthy, expect to see the Mariners battling for a Wild Card berth by seasons end. I don’t predict them to win the World Series this year, but for Seattle, a playoff berth and maybe a series win or two should be considered a positive outcome in itself.
9 The Cardinals' Playoff Absence Extends To Two Years
The St. Louis Cardinals have been the San Antonio Spurs of the MLB for a decade now – a model of consistency, and no matter how much roster turnover there is, you can always count on them to be around come playoff time. Then the Cubs arrived, and in 2016, for the first time in recent memory, the Cardinals didn’t feature in the playoffs. Without making a major splash in this past offseason, this streak will continue into 2017, as there is just too much talent ahead of them. That’s not to say that the team won’t have a good year, as I believe they will be battling until the last week of the year. But with the Dodgers, Giants, Cubs, Nats and Mets all ahead of them, they will unfortunately be sitting at home again during October.
8 The Yankees And Red Sox Get Some Fire Back Into Their Rivalry
The Yankees and Red Sox have historically the most intense rivalry in all of baseball, perhaps in all of American sports, but in the past few years, their games have seemed more slow and boring rather than fiery battles. With both teams developing young, impressive cores, it’s time that we saw some intensity and history brought back into baseball's oldest rivalry. We’ve mentioned both teams separately in this article so far, but it’s often said that baseball is at it’s best when the Yankees and Red Sox are both great, and the MLB has been great without their success lately, so everyone could benefit from this.
7 The Indians Go One Step Further
The Cleveland Indians were one of the biggest surprises of the 2016 MLB season, as they dethroned not only the red-hot Red Sox but the experienced Blue Jays on their way to the World Series, but the injury riddled squad unfortunately fell victim to history in the form of the Chicago Cubs. With Michael Brantley, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar all returning, plus the incoming Edwin Encarnacion, it’s not a stretch to say that the 2017 Indians will be a much better and much more complete team, and this will result in a World Series ring. No matter who this team goes up against, they will have the confidence and the depth to play with any style and any team, and with the legendary Terry Francona leading the way, no challenge should be too big for this team.
6 The Mets Rotation Stays Healthy And dominates At A Historic Rate
Two years ago, the MLB world was raving about the potential that was the New York Mets rotation, with Noah Syndegaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Steven Matz all fairly new to the Major League landscape and dominating. Still, they have had major troubles staying on the field since they came together. This year, not only do they have matching facial hair, but they should be able to stay on the field together, and the four young studs should dominate the NL East at a historic pace. This may or may not lead to World Series success, but expect one, if not two or three of their starters to be considered for Cy Young contention at season end, and they will prove that if they can stay together, they may be considered an all-time great rotation.
5 Some Big Names On The Move
We saw some big names move around in the offseason including Chris Sale, Adam Eaton and Dexter Fowler, and while those have shaken up some rosters and given playoff teams more confidence about their hopes, you shouldn't expect these roster moves to quiet down during the season. Names like Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen and even Mike Trout have been discussed as potential trade names, and while not all of them will find themselves in a new uniform in the coming season, don’t be surprised if we see one or two blockbuster trades. Teams like the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers will all be in play for some of these big names, so as usual, these trades, if they happen, will have a huge impact on the baseball landscape.
4 The Dodgers And Giants Finally Meet In The Playoffs
The Dodgers and the Giants have had one of the best rivalries in the past 10 years in the MLB, and over the past six years, they have each tasted regular season success, with San Fran leading LA 3-0 in World Series victories in that time. Throughout that time, the teams have had some classic series throughout the regular season, but they have yet to meet in the playoffs, and in 2017, it’s finally going to happen. When it does, it will be an intense, heated, barn burner of a seven-game series. With Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey all featured in this rivalry, it will always be exciting and great quality baseball, so don’t be surprised if these two longtime division rivals are battling to see who will represent the National League in the World Series.
3 Bumgarner And Darvish Win The Cy Young
The Cy Young is the biggest award a pitcher can win, and in 2017, despite incredibly strong competition for both awards, we will see first-time winners in both leagues, with studs Madison Bumgarner and Rangers ace Yu Darvish my predictions to take home the gold. Bumgarner has been on the precipice of this award for many years, and at 26 years old, he is only just entering his prime, meaning his best chance to take it home is within the next few years. If he can pitch more consistently and keep hitting, he will solidify himself this year as one of the best in the game. Darvish, on the other hand, is recovering from an injury that kept him out of a big part of 2016, and if he can recapture his form from a few years back, he will dominate and lead the Rangers to the playoffs on the back of his award winning year.
2 Kris Bryant Goes Back-To-Back
Kris Bryant is one of the brightest young players to step into the MLB in quite some time, and on his way to helping the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years, he won the MVP award against such players as Corey Seager, Daniel Murphy and his teammate Anthony Rizzo. Getting to the mountain top was easy though, and it’s always said that it’s harder to stay there (as the Cleveland Cavaliers are proving currently), but even if the Cubs can’t get back to the World Series, Kris Bryant will go back-to-back. The young third baseman has played in the outfield as well as his natural 3B, and he plays amazing defense wherever he is, and if he can keep up his amazing numbers at the plate, he will win way more than two MVPs throughout his career.
1 Mookie Betts Wins The MVP
The 2016 American League MVP race was wide open all year, and many people were in favor of Mookie Betts or Jose Altuve, but the award went to Mike Trout. Eventually, the lack of team success from the Angels has to catch up to Trout, and when it does, Mookie Betts will be the one to swoop in and win his first award. With Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley and the rest of the extraordinary lineup surrounding him, this team will be incredibly successful, and if Betts can play anywhere near the level he was at in 2016, he should run away with the MVP award. This will be a very tough race, as there are more players like Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor emerging, but the Red Sox have faith in Betts as the future of their lineup, and he should take home the award.