The 2017 World Baseball Classic was an enormous success, and it has got fans incredibly excited about the 2017 MLB season, and after the Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years in 2016, this season will be must-see. This will be the first season without David "Big Papi" Ortiz in many years, the Yankees prospects are ready to take on the MLB and there are still many hot rivalries to be capitalized on, so this season will be a great one to watch. Some teams are very hard to predict, and others have their obvious places within the standings, but today we are going to rank each team and where they will be standing at the end of the thrilling 162 game marathon.
30 Milwaukee Brewers
Ever since the Milwaukee Brewers let go of Prince Fielder, the team has struggled to compete in a stacked NL Central, and with the Pirates, Cardinals and Cubs set to do battle again in 2017, the struggles will continue for the Brew Crew. The team is lacking stars, and if they decide to move on from their talented outfielder Ryan Braun, they will enter full rebuilding mode. In the majors, that could take upwards of five years before they become competitive again. That’s the future, but the present doesn’t look any brighter, as their lineup and rotation just doesn’t match up with the elite in the National League. This year may just be a look toward that future, more than a will to compete in 2017.
29 Cincinnati Reds
Just five short years ago, the Cincinnati Reds had the likes of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman all on their roster, and only Votto remains on a team that expects to struggle mightily in 2017 in quite possibly the toughest division in all of baseball. With Billy Hamilton in center field, the Reds do have some talent on their team, but when you’re matched up against the Pirates, the Cubs and the Cardinals many times a year, you are always going to struggle with less than elite talent. Their future lineup pieces are quite uncertain at this point, but with a good draft over the next couple of years and some good development, the team may be able to compete with the elite, but for now, the team has no hope in the immediate future.
28 San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres made some huge moves before the 2016 season in order to gear up for a playoff run, but that failed miserably. Heading into 2017, their outlook is nowhere near as positive. They’ve got some great prospects who may be viable talents within the next few years, but in the immediate future, they will do nothing but struggle, especially against the might of the rest of the National League West. After their efforts before the 2016 season, they went into a rebuild at the trade deadline, and with assets like Wil Myers still left on their roster, don’t be surprised if the team goes into a complete rebuild mode at this year's trade deadline, as they could build a great club around their current top prospects if given the right patience.
27 Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks have always been one of the most overlooked teams in baseball, and they looked close to making a name for themselves a few years back. But that failed, and before the 2016 season, the team geared up with Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller to get back to the playoffs, and that also failed. With those two, Archie Bradley and Patrick Corbin making up their rotation, they should be ready to succeed, but something has always held them back. If they struggle again in 2017, they might opt out and try to rebuild, as those four and Paul Goldschmidt are all tradeable pieces, so don’t be surprised if they hit the rebuild bvutton during this upcoming season.
26 Atlanta Braves
The Braves in 2017 are a tough team to predict, as they looked like one of the worst teams in recent memory a season ago, but with some new signings and a star shortstop on the rise, this team may slowly be rising behind the young Dansby Swanson. Those signings of course included the aging Bartolo Colon and R.A Dickey, but pairing such aging veterans with a young core may not work out. Still, they will do much better than anyone expects in 2017. With Matt Kemp, Brandon Phillips and Swanson making up the best parts of their lineup, they could have some great, promising stretches throughout the season. Still, the team will just fall short against the better pitching teams in the National League. An 11th- place finish isn’t fantastic, but in comparison to their last few seasons, their first season away from Turner Field may be promising to the dedicated fan base of the Braves.
25 Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies are certainly excited about their young stars, but with too many holes in both their lineup and rotation, you can’t expect them to be anything more than 10th place in the 2017 season. That may be a bad thing at the present, but this will allow their core to grow and learn together, and if they can develop at the rate that many are predicting, they should be set to lead the Phillies back to what they once were with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels at the helm. This isn’t going to be a quick or easy process, but the year 2017 should present the first real positive result in the rebuild of the Phillies franchise, and things should only get better from here.
24 Miami Marlins
The Miami Marlins were set to explode in 2017, but the passing of their youngest star Jose Fernandez has left a hole at the top of the rotation, meaning their development and ascent to the upper echelon in the National League will be delayed a little. They still have a young, impressive rotation ready to go out and match up with any team out there, but without a strong presence at the top, they may struggle in the big games, even with the big bats like Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton. Despite predicting a ninth-place finish in the National League, this should be a positive year for the Marlins, and if their young players can continue to develop, the team may be able to lure a big time free agent to their team, which will no doubt propel them into a playoff battle in 2018.
23 Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates struggled for decades, but they finally broke through into the playoffs a few years back. Now with a few wild card game losses they look to again be on the outside looking in. With Andrew McCutchen potentially on the move, the team may not be able to compete for too long, as they have holes all over their team. The year 2017 may be their last shot within their current World Series window. Unfortunately for the Pirates and their dedicated fans, their last shot will come up just short, and after a 162-game battle with the top two teams in their division, they will come up short of the playoffs, and they may send them straight into rebuilding mode.
22 Colorado Rockies
The Colorado Rockies have had great promise over the last few years, but have struggled to pitch consistently, and that has left the stars like Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado playing their hearts out for no result. With a deeper lineup and some potential in their rotation, 2017 could be the year that the Rockies turn their franchise around. With a breakout season from Trevor Story in 2016, and the signing of veteran Ian Desmond, the lineup is now deeper and more complete, and with Jon Gray at the head of the rotation, the team could surprise some fans. Unfortunately they have two very good teams in the NL West ahead of them, and with neither the Dodgers or the Giants falling off too much in the off-season, it might just be one season too early for the Rockies to get back into the playoffs.
21 St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals vs. the Dodgers for the final spot in the 2017 postseason was a tough call to make, but while the Cardinals have a fantastic and deep team, they just lack a star quality which is vital for a team when it comes to the biggest game and the biggest moment. That isn’t to say that the team won’t have a great year, as they have some great players and play in front of some of the most dedicated sports fans in America, but it will unfortunately mean that baseball’s most consistent team over the past decade misses the playoffs for two straight seasons. Whether this results in massive personal overhaul is up for debate, but if the Cardinals want to regain their old form which saw them become a fixture in the playoffs come October, they need to get some star power in either their rotation or the lineup.
20 Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have become infamous for dominating throughout the regular season, but coming up short when it matters most, as they have gone to the postseason in each of the past four years and not put up much of a fight. With a starter like Clayton Kershaw at the top of their rotation, that has to stop, because there is no one in the game better throughout the 162-game marathon, and that is what the Dodgers will rely on to again send them to the postseason. With the Giants again looking strong, this will continue to be the best rivalry in all of baseball, but with an older and unproven rotation behind the amazing Kershaw, it will be the Dodgers who have to win a one-game playoff to make it further in October this year.
19 Washington Nationals
It has been declared the "Nationals year to make the World Series" so often since Bryce Harper arrived that it has become a cliché during every spring training, but the year 2017 truly looks like the year the Nationals could go all the way, and with stars at almost every position, it is very likely. With studs like Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and Stephen Strasburg anchoring the rotation, it’s up to the offense to carry the team, and if Bryce Harper can be the MVP we know he is, this team can go a long way. Unfortunately, they may just come up short against their rival Mets. This will be a battle all season between the elite in the East, but the Mets just have more depth in their rotation, and it will force the Nats into a one game playoff with the Dodgers. Whichever team comes out of that will be a force to be reckoned with.
18 New York Mets
The Mets have been on the verge of a World Series victory for a few years now, and if their young rotation can finally stay healthy for a season, this should be the year that they achive that feat, and head into October as the NL East Champions. Sure, we all know that the rotation consisting of Noah Syndegaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom and Steven Matz will be fantastic, but if their young players such as Michael Conforto and Travis d’Arnaud can step up alongside their veterans, this team may be unbeatable in a seven-game series. They have to get there first, and it may be a battle with the Washington Nationals that goes down to the final stretch of the season. The Mets have been good enough for the past three years, and this will be the one which they finally achieve their potential.
17 San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants have carved out a dynasty of sorts since 2010, with four playoff appearances and three fantastic World Series victories, but the team has rarely been one of the elite teams in the National League. In 2017, that should change. With Ty Blach set to settle into the fifth rotation spot behind the likes of Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner, the team will have one of the deepest rotations in the game of baseball. Also, with Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey both coming of success in the WBC, it’s easy to see the lineup as one of the deepest in the game. With the calmest and some would say best manager in the game, this team is always primed for a season-long battle with the rival Dodgers, and while both teams will again feature in October, it is the Giants this year who will do it as NL West Champions.
16 Chicago Cubs
This one is probably not a secret, as the Cubs team played outstanding baseball all throughout the 2016 season, and they were missing one of their best young stars in Kyle Schwarber. Sure, they may have lost their leadoff guy in Dexter Fowler, but their rotation is just getting better with the emergence of Kyle Hendricks, and with the development of stars Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, it’s hard to see the lineup production dropping off too much. With the Cardinals getting better and the Pirates not far behind them, they may be in a battle for the NL Central title throughout the year, but with Joe Maddon steering the ship, the Cubs should cruise safely into the number one seeding in the National League. If their form holds, they should be featured in their second straight World Series.
15 Minnesota Twins
The Minnesota Twins have struggled mightily over the past few years, and with no real roster change before the 2017 season, this probably won’t change anytime soon. They’ve got Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton who both look like phenomenal prospects, but outside of them, there is no real bright spot for the Twins. The team may be closer to success than anyone knows, as the two aforementioned players can make up the middle of the lineup for many years to come. They also have some solid rotation pieces, but this year will be just for looking at those young players. The Minnesota fan base is a loyal one, and with some patience, this team could build around Buxton and Sano, but for the foreseeable future, there is no hope for them to make a push for the playoffs.
14 Oakland Athletics
A few years ago, it looked like the Oakland Athletics were going to begin a dynasty out West, led by Sonny Gray and their seven All-Stars, but for some reason, GM Billy Beane decided to take the team apart through trades, and they haven’t ever looked the same since. With Gray the only player from that playoff squad left on the team, the A's don’t look likely to be anything more than cellar dwellers in 2017. And with the West also looking incredibly strong, with Seattle, Texas and Houston all primed for a playoff run, that will hurt Oakland’s chances even more, so it looks like the city of Oakland will be losing more than their beloved Raiders in 2017.
13 Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox looked again like they were geared up for a playoff push in 2016, but outside of Chris Sale, the team struggled mightily, and they moved their top pitcher for some of the Red Sox best prospects, meaning they will use 2017 to prime themselves for the future. They still have a lineup that is led by Todd Frazier and Jose Abreu, but outside of that, the team just doesn’t have the depth of the better lineups in the majors, and they will have to struggle throughout the year while they watch their cross-town rivals again dominate the National League. Don’t expect either of those two to be on the roster by the end of the year though, as the team will no doubt look to go into full rebuild mode at the trade deadline. Both Frazier and Abreu would be fantastic additions to playoff bound teams.
12 Los Angeles Angels
It’s crazy to think that a team with a player the caliber of Mike Trout leading them would struggle to make the playoffs, but the Angels just can’t surround him with the necessary talent to be a playoff forc. When this continues in 2017, the team will get closer and closer to losing by far the best player in baseball. Sure, they have Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun, but outside of them and Trout, the lineup just doesn’t have any great players, and with the Mariners, Rangers and Astros all looking strong in the West, this will contribute further to their struggles. The team looked like they put together a great rotation a few years ago, but they’ve again been passed over by greater teams, and unfortunately for Mike Scioscia and his team, they will struggle to get off the bottom of the American League.
11 Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals went to back-to-back World Series, coming out victorious in 2015, but in 2016 they suffered a major drop off, and that will continue on into 2017 as both the Tigers and the Indians look to take them over in the American League Central. Don’t expect them to struggle the entire way through the season, but when the elite teams step up around the midway point of the season, the Royals will drop off, and they may even look to be sellers at the trade deadline. With Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain still playing like All-Stars, they may look to go into rebuilding mode by moving those two, but whether they do it or not, the team just won’t be able to compete in the American League.
10 Tampa Bay Rays
The Tampa Bay Rays have been among the elite in the American League for quite some time now, but ever since they traded David Price away, they have struggled to compete due to their lack of rotation depth. In 2016, they struggled to hit and they went through some down periods throughout the year, but got better via several trades that brought Matt Duffy over and added to their already crowded outfield. Unfortunately, that won’t help the team too much, as they are now not only behind the Yankees and the Red Sox in the East, but they are also behind the Orioles and Blue Jays. However, with the culture they have created over the last decade, they won’t drop to the bottom of the AL, just further down then they are used to.
9 Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles have looked like a team primed for a deep playoff run over the past few years, and while they’ve played well in the regular season, they’ve never been able to put it together in the playoffs, and that’s due to their lack of star power in their starting rotation, despite the major stars it boasts of. They’ve got a decent rotation, but in this day they just don’t stand out enough, and this means they struggle even though their lineup includes players like Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Adam Jones. Expect this to be the year that the core will start to fall off. With the improvement from other teams both in the American League and the AL East specifically, this team just won’t be able to keep up over the 162-game season, a real letdown for a team that has been a threat throughout the past few years.
8 Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers went to one World Series in 2012, and after coming up short, the team hasn’t lived up to the hype that surrounded their team, and in 2015 they fell all the way out of the playoffs. In 2016, the old Justin Verlander came back, and he came back into the form that made him a Cy Young and MVP award winner, and on the back of that, some fantastic young performers had emerged. Still, they fell just short of returning to the playoffs with a great year. With Jordan Zimmerman and Verlander leading the rotation and the ever-consistent and brilliant Miguel Cabrera leading the lineup, they may have the same outcome in the year 2017, as the lineup isn’t as a deep as the teams ahead of them in the AL, and they may struggle up against the might of the Cleveland Indians.
7 New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are the most intriguing team in baseball in the coming year, with the most exciting group of elite prospects in the game. If they can harness that youth in combination with their experienced veterans, they should come very close to the playoffs. With Tyler Austin, Greg Bird, Aaron Judge and most of all Gary Sanchez primed to break out in 2017, the team could go all the way to the playoffs, and with Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances at the back end of the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic in the Big Apple. There are some major limitations on their rotation, which will prevent them from reaching the playoffs this year, but if the team is around the playoff picture come the trade deadline, expect them to make a huge splash for an ace.
6 Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays have been a few series away from the World Series each of the past few years with their power core of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but after Edwin decided to sign with the Cleveland Indians, they look to be vulnerable for the first time in quite some time. They still have Bautista and MVP Josh Donaldson, and an improved rotation with World Baseball Classic MVP Marcus Stroman, but unfortunately that isn’t going to be enough for them to make it back to the playoffs. This one may come down to the last week of the year, and they will certainly be one of the best teams to watch in the MLB all year. Unfortunately for the country of Canada, they will fall one place short of the playoffs this year.
5 Houston Astros
The Houston Astros shocked the baseball world when they made the playoffs in 2015, but unfortunately a year later the young squad dropped off. But after their young core developed further and they made some new signings, they look primed to return in 2017. Bringing in the power of Carlos Beltran and the experience of Josh Reddick will work perfectly with stars like Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve in the lineup, and this should all help them be major players out West. If the Dallas Keuchel-led rotation can regain the impressive form that they used to propel them to the playoffs in 2015, then teams will struggle to keep up with them, and although they will end up in the wild card game playoff, they will be incredibly hard to beat in a five or seven-game series.
4 Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners have been on the cusp of greatness ever since they signed Robinson Cano, but in 2017, they finally have to make the playoffs, and with the Rangers ahead of them in the AL West, they will have to settle for a wild card berth. With a lineup that includes Cano, Nelson Cruz and improved depth from the offseason, this team should finally be able to battle it out with the elite in the AL, and with King Felix Hernandez always at the head of their rotation, they will finally fulfill those expectations. All those stars are aging however, and this means that their World Series window is closing fast. 2017 has to be the year that they take the next step, or they may never have success with Robinson Cano on the squad.
3 Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers made some serious moves towards the back end of 2016, and in most people’s minds, it made them the favorite to win the American League, but when they came up against their old foe the Toronto Blue Jays, they came up short, another failed end to a terrific season. With Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels leading the rotation, the Rangers' pitching will again be their strength, but the team has a very deep and impressive lineup, and this should help them on their way to a comfortable win in the AL West. They may have lost Ian Desmond and Carlos Beltran, who were key pieces in their lineup a year ago, but with Rougned Odor and Jonathan Lucroy anchoring the lineup this year, they may be just as good, if not better.
2 Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox looked like they would send Big Papi out on a high note in 2016, but they struggled in the playoffs and came up short in the division series against the Indians, but even after losing one of their best players of all time, they’ve managed to improve in the offseason. Despite giving away some of their top prospects, they got back Chris Sale, who has been the elite left hander in the American League for many years, and now the top of their rotation includes 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, David Price and Sale. The team also has a young core that includes Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and despite the young Yankees looking to improve and the presence of the always-tough Baltimore Orioles, the Sox will dominate the AL East, and will be tough to beat in a seven-game series.
1 Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians shocked the baseball world in 2016 by making it all the way to the World Series, and that was without two of their best pitchers and a genuine star in the third spot of their lineup. In 2017, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they take it one step further. With the return of Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Michael Brantley, this team should be even more dangerous, and when you add in the unmatched power of Edwin Encarnacion, this team will be hard to beat over the 162-game marathon, and much, much harder when it comes to a seven-game series in October. With the Tigers presenting the stiffest competition in the AL Central, this team should confidently run away with the division, and with Terry Francona managing this team, the sky is the limit.
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