Rossetti’s Chrystal Ball: Picking the 2017 Baseball Season Division-by-Division and Award Winners

2017 Boston Red Sox Photo Day
With the start of the 2017 baseball season, I thought I would take a stab at predicting the outcome of the year.

(Photo of Boston’s Mookie Betts. Photo courtesy of Boston Red Sox)

Now, of course, a lot can happen of the course of 162-game season, and the playoffs are even more unpredictable – whoever thought a Rajai Davis home run would possibly curtail the Cubs from winning it all only to have a rain delay save the day?

First, a look at the divisions:

National League East

The Nationals are everyone’s favorite here, and for good reason. Washington has pitching and hitting and a good manager in Dusty Baker. But this division is loaded with the Mets great rotation and a Marlins team that may have underachieved last year not to mention a strong young core in Philadelphia. Even the Braves have upped their game bringing in some key veterans that could make them better.

1. Washington Nationals
2. New York Mets
3. Florida Marlins
4. Philadelphia Phillies
5. Atlanta Braves

National League Central

It starts with the Cubs. With the curse gone, a lot of North Siders are looking for a repeat champion. But caution should be told here, as only one National League team has repeated as World Series Champions in the past 95 years, the 1975 and 1976 Reds. But hey, when you break one curse why not go for another?

But Chicago isn’t alone in this division. The Cardinals are always strong, and the Pirates, although they slipped below .500 last year, could be right in the hunt again this season with a lot of the nucleus of the three playoff teams from 2013-15 still around.

The Brewers and the Reds? Well, it’s wait till next year for these guys in a tough division.

1. Chicago Cubs
2. St. Louis Cardinals
3. Pittsburgh Pirates
4. Milwaukee Brewers
5. Cincinnati Reds

National League West

It’s all about pitching in the West. The Dodgers feature the greatest pitcher of this generation in Clayton Kershaw. The Giants have the best post-game pitcher in decades in Madison Bumgarner. And the Diamondbacks feature a pretty good righty of their own in Zack Greinke. The Rockies made some heady moves but are looking at the injury bug right now, and the Padres, oh the Padres, great stadium, great uniforms, lousy players.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

American League East

The Red Sox are the new Yankees of the AL East spending wildly and making significant upgrades to an already tough pitching staff with the addition of Chris Sale.

The Blue Jays and Orioles played in a classic Wild Card game last year, and both teams, despite losing key offensive weapons, will be right back in the hunt. The Yankees are rebuilding, but the young kids showed the ability to make things happen when everyone thought the Bronx Bombers had thrown in the towel, and the Rays, well no one will notice since no one goes to their games, but they do have some good young pitching. Unfortunately for Tampa, the offense isn’t quite at the same level.

1. Boston Red Sox
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. New York Yankees
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Tampa Bay Rays

American League Central

The Indians were the darlings of baseball last year. No one saw Cleveland being within an inning of winning the World Series. But there they were. And then they went out and made a splash by signing Edwin Encarnacion.

At the same time, Cleveland won’t sneak up on anyone this year, and the top of the division is still talented with an aging but still good Tigers team and a Royals squad just two years removed from a World Series Championship. The Twins are in perpetual rebuild mode, and the White Sox had a fire sale.

1. Cleveland Indians
2. Detroit Tigers
3. Kansas City Royals
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

American League West

The West shall be won through Texas, or so it seems. The ultra-talented Astros and the defending division champion Rangers lead the pack. Seattle made a ton of moves, but how long will it take the Mariners to gel? The Angels have the game’s best player in Mike Trout, but do they have enough pitching? And then there are the A’s. Once the quasiessential small-market team, the A’s have fallen on hard times of late.

1. Texas Rangers
2. Houston Astros
3. Seattle Mariners
4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
5. Oakland A’s.

THE PLAYOFFS

Let’s add the Blue Jays and the Astros from the American League and the Mets and the Cardinals from the National League into the Wild Card mix.

Wild Card Games

NL Wild Card Game: Mets over the Cardinals
AL Wild Card Game: Astros over the Blue Jays

National League Divisional Series

Cubs over the Mets, 3 games to 1
Dodgers over the Nationals, 3 games to 2

American League Division Series

Red Sox over the Astros, 3 games to 1
Indians over the Rangers, 3 games to 1

National League Championship Series

Cubs over the Dodgers, 4 games to 1

American League Championship Series

Red Sox over the Indians, 4 games to 2

World Series

Red Sox over the Cubs, 4 games to 3

AWARD WINNERS

NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
AL MVP: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
NL Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo, Arizona Diamondbacks
AL Manager of the Year: Joe Girardi, New York Yankees
NL Rookie of the Year: Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi, Boston Red Sox


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