MLB 2017 Preview: Cubs Will Not Repeat; Divisional Breakdowns and World Series Prediction

Theo Asher

Baseball season is upon us, and the 2017 season is sure to live up to the hype that was the 2016 season. Here, I will highlight certain teams and players that will shine this year and eventually make a World Series prediction.

To start, the National League East division may be the single toughest division race, but I give the razor-thin edge to the Washington Nationals. I think the New York Mets have an empirically better pitching staff and higher ceiling than most other teams. However, the crippling offensive inconsistency is difficult to remedy, and it’s hard for me to envision a Mets rotation that is completely healthy. Washington’s lineup is among the best in baseball. There are legitimately three MVP candidates in their midst – Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Daniel Murphy. Their rotation is just as good if not better than New York’s; Max Scherzer is the second best pitcher in baseball, and Stephen Strasburg (when healthy) has the best stuff in the league.

The Cubs won 103 games last year, have essentially the same team returning to the diamond in 2017 and are riding the wave of confidence after their World Series title. I would bet a Monday 4 p.m. reslife lottery spot that the Cubs win the NL Central.

The NL West is another tough call, but I think my hometown Los Angeles Dodgers have it locked up. Riddled with injuries last season, they still beat the Nationals in the first round of the playoffs and pushed the Cubs to six games in the NLCS. Coming off a 26-home run, .308 avg 2016 Rookie of the Year campaign, Corey Seager will blossom into superstardom. Pitching-wise, we know about Clayton Kershaw, but the Dodgers actually had one of baseball’s best bullpens last year, leading the majors in ERA and strikeouts.

My NL Wildcards are the Mets and the (surprise!) Colorado Rockies. Yup. Their

offense and defense are nearly flawless, and their young pitchers will improve with time.

The Boston Red Sox will take the American League East again. In my opinion, they unquestionably have the best rotation and lineup in the AL. Chris Sale, touted by many as the number-one free agent from this offseason, joins Cy Young winners Rick Porcello and David Price on the pitching staff. 2017 Rookie Andrew Benintendi is an elite fielder, hits for contact consistently and has what scouts believe to be the best eye in baseball. Sluggers Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez round out my pick for the AL East and American League pennant.

After winning the AL in 2016 and coming one victory away from winning the World Series, Cleveland Indians will easily take the AL Central. Their offense is great, their rotation is young and healthy and their bullpen rivals the Dodgers’ as baseball’s best. Edwin Encarnacion, signed this past offseason, will inject valuable power into the offense.

In the West, I like the Houston Astros. Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve are the best middle infield duo in MLB. They both hit with absurd consistency, play gold glove defense and can run like hell. The only question is if their pitching can rebound from a terrible 2016 season. 2015 Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel can’t give up so many home runs, and the bullpen needs to keep their cool. For my wildcards in the AL, I’ll take the Texas Rangers (AL West winner last season) and the Toronto Blue Jays (Josh. Donaldson. Enough said).

What I love about baseball is the unpredictability of the World Series. Last year, many people had the Cubs winning it all, but basically no one even thought the Indians would make it to the playoffs. So, my (probably horribly incorrect) World Series pick: Dodgers over Indians in a thrilling six-game series. Kershaw should take home MVP honors, winning two games.