The sun beats down on the hard, numbered seats. Peanuts and popcorn are everywhere. The smell of the fresh cut grass makes me smile. Spring is here! Baseball is here! My hat is right where it is meant to be, on my head. The large, red P is perfectly centered and my freshly polished leather glove is causing my hand to sweat. I cannot wait for the first white ball, kept together by the red and blue stitching, to fly across the beautifully gleaming plate. I feel like I am 5-years old all over again. Baseball season is finally here and I just cannot sit still...
Ah, we just can't wait for that feeling!
April 4th came and went in a flash, just like the entire 2016 baseball season. Opening day, the All-Star break, the World Series. The exhilaration, the ecstasy of the walk-off homer, the depression of number 13 sliding in safely, just beating the throw from right field. All of the 162 amazing games came and went like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Opening day feels like it was just yesterday, but in reality, we are already two weeks removed from one of the greatest World Series in the 177-year history of America's pastime.
Now that we have had a while to get over how amazing the Cubs and Indians' World Series Game 7 was, it is time to look ahead to the 2017 Major League Baseball season. There are so many possibilities! Every team is now 0-0 and anything can happen. One trade or one free agent signing could shake up the entire league. We will now look at 15 Way-Too-Early 2017 Major League Baseball predictions.
15 Yankees Sign Aroldis Chapman
Winning the World Series must be thrilling. So many players live to play and play to win. Now that Aroldis Chapman has won though, he is going back to the New York Yankees. Sure, the league has changed a lot since the Yankees were THE team and ruled Major League Baseball, but at the end of the day, the New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees. They are effectively what the Dallas Cowboys are to the NFL. They are America's Team. Millions love them, millions hate them, but undeniably, everyone watches them.
14 The Rockies Win the NL West
Maybe a bold prediction, but if you look at the Colorado Rockies, you start to understand where I am coming from. A young star in Trevor Story, a perennial all-star and MVP candidate in Nolan Arenado, and a still extremely effective Carlos Gonzalez, the Rockies have the pieces to compete. Charlie Blackmon will always be a solid outfielder with a consistent bat and the pitching staff has begun to improve.
13 The Twins win 100 games
Is it likely to happen? No, but it is definitely possible. They play in a very tough division, but the promising youth on this team is just undeniable. The Minnesota Twins look like the Chicago Cubs of a few years ago. They have a still extremely promising Byron Buxton who is bound to come around. Ervin Santana, Trevor Plouffe, and Phil Hughes are true Major League starters and in a good year could all be legit number 1's. The Twins are an extremely young team that have another number 1 draft pick coming this year.
12 The Mets Have Three 15 Game Winners
11 Yoenis Céspedes to the Nationals
The Washington Nationals will sign Yoenis Céspedes. Crazy, I know, but possible. The Nationals do have Jayson Werth, Trea Turner, and Bryce Harper, but could you imagine a 1-2 punch of Bryce Harper and Yoenis Céspedes? The Washington Nationals would be scary good. They already have the pitching with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. If the Nationals sign Céspedes, they will be even more of a World Series contender than they already are.
Maybe it is wishful thinking, but the Nationals seem poised to do whatever it takes to win and signing the likes of Yoenis Céspedes would be a huge step in the right direction.
10 Chris Sale to the Nationals
Okay okay. Maybe the bold predictions for the Washington Nationals are getting old, but it is hard to argue that Mike Rizzo, the Nationals' GM, does not love a bold move. Remember when he surprised the baseball world and signed Max Scherzer to a seven-year $210 million deal? Yea, this prediction is legitimate. The Nationals already have a great pitching staff, but they only have 1 lefty (Gio Gonzalez), leaving the door open for Chris Sale. With Yoenis Céspedes and Chris Sale, the Washington Nationals would most likely become the favorite to win the 2017 World Series, and remember (see above), the Nationals are looking to win and win now.
9 The Braves Earn a Wild-Card Spot
The Atlanta Braves have arguably the best farm system in the game. They drafted well and traded Shelby Miller to the Arizona Diamondbacks for some great prospects featuring Dansby Swanson, the 2015 1st overall pick. This prediction may be a year too early, but the Braves feel like they could be a surprise contender this year out of the National League East. They just signed Bartolo Colon and R.A. Dickey, who are both old pitchers, but who have shown they can be effective. Pair them with an already proven starter in Julio Teheran and you have yourself a fairly decent pitching staff.
8 The Astros Win the AL West
7 The Red Sox Will Win the AL East
The Red Sox won the American League East in 2016 and they will win by an even larger margin in 2017. The Red Sox are good, period. They will be good for a long time, given their newfound youth. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Xander Bogaerts are all future all-stars and future MVP candidates. They still have David Price who should come back with a vengeance after a very mediocre year by his standards. Besides Price, the Red Sox also found a gem in Rick Porcello and if they can get even close to the same production that they did from him in 2016, they will be for sure contenders in 2017.
6 The Blue Jays Will Lose 90 Games
The Toronto Blue Jays have gotten so close to great success. The force that is the Blue Jays offense had another great 2016, but it is undeniable that they are getting old. Five of their nine starters are now over 30 years old and have seen their production decline. It is unfortunate, but true. While I could be wrong if Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are both back for 2017, the fact is that both would have to continue putting up monster numbers, which both are not poised to do. Bautista is 36 and coming off a down year, while Encarnacion looks to be leaving Toronto.
5 Giancarlo Stanton Wins the NL MVP
4 Francisco Lindor Wins the AL MVP
Did anyone see Francisco Lindor in the playoffs this past year? Yea, he is legit and he is going to be good for a long, long time. At only 23 years old, Lindor put up a .310 batting average in the postseason, and was not too far off in the regular season, putting up a .301 average. Lindor can field, he can hit, and he can run. Lindor has the looks of a Mike Trout, but has already done more in terms of team success.
3 Gerrit Cole Wins the NL Cy Young
2 Chris Archer Will Win the AL Cy Young
1 The Cubs Will Repeat
Woah. Bold right? The last team to win back-to-back World Series was the 1998-2000 New York Yankees. The MLB has become a tough league for teams to have continued success. Every year there is a new player and a new team that surprises everyone (take this year's Indians as a great example). Unfortunately for the rest of the MLB, these Chicago Cubs look like an old Yankees team. They have the looks of a dynasty team that could win 3-plus championships.
Not only did the Cubs just win the World Series, but they just won it with a bunch of young players., who haven't even hit their prime yet. These guys are not just perennial all-stars in the making, but they are soon to be perennial MVP candidates. They have the pitching, they have the hitting, and they have the youth. The Cubbies are going to win and going to win for a long time. The suffering of Wrigley Field is over and now it's time for the Cubs to make up for a century of woes.
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