I started with my National League predictions. Here are my predictions for the American League, playoffs and awards in 2017.
American League West
Houston Astros: 92-70
Houston had a productive offseason while also not going crazy in the process. Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick are all veteran additions who fill needs and aid an extremely impressive crop of young players. Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa are legitimate superstars under club control and head a potentially lethal offense. The starting staff doesn’t feature any aces but Dallas Keuchel leads a group of 5-7 starters who can all profile as #2-4 starters. The bullpen is also very strong, which will boast 7-8 and possibly more relievers who will be above average or good relievers. Some pundits feel the team didn’t do as much to separate themselves from the AL West pack but this is a team that could win the World Series, especially with a move or 2 near the trade deadline.
Seattle Mariners: 87-75
Jerry Dipoto went bonkers again this offseason(surprise, surprise). Jean Segura and Drew Smyly headline a huge addition of new players to a group that appears to be all in on 2017 and 2018. The Mariners are right at the fringes of playoff contention and look like they’ll be in the same spot this year. There are legitimate rotation concerns with Felix Hernandez not pitching like an ace anymore but there’s enough talent to survive, if the injury bug doesn’t bite that is. These new Mariners are going to slug once again with a rejuvenated Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz and should be a very solid offensive unit. The rotation and bullpen concerns are real and could either sink or save their season.
Texas Rangers: 82-80
Texas completely outperformed their expected win totals in 2016, winning 95 games with a +8 run differential. Regression is almost inevitable this season but there are concerns beyond that as well. After Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, it’s a heap of questions in the rotation, with Martin Perez being the only semblance of reliability beyond the front 2. The bullpen has a lot of intriguing arms yet the group didn’t perform well last year. The Rangers should hit, field and run well again and they have just enough resources to make a deadline move if needed but a slow start could move them into a seller’s mode too. Texas should still be competitive in 2017 but it feels like their run of luck will come to an end in 2017, prompting possible trades of to be free agents Jonathan Lucroy and Yu Darvish.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 80-82
The Angels are being viewed as a dark horse sleeper by many and there’s merit for it. Garrett Richards is all clear to give the team 150+ innings, his right elbow permitting. New additions Luis Valbuena, Cameron Maybin, Ben Revere and Danny Espinosa add depth to a roster that desperately needs it. Mike Trout is amazing, the Angels will be an elite defensive unit and the rotation should be better in 2017 but there is a lot of risk involved here. The top 3 starters all have injury concerns and there just isn’t a lot of reliable depth beyond those guys. The bullpen is also entirely underwhelming at present. If the rotation stays healthy, the Angels will be a contender for a Wild Card spot. I’m not ready to take that bet, however.
Oakland Athletics: 68-94
Outside of the San Diego Padres, the A’s might be baseball’s most boring team entering 2017. With Sonny Gray already experiencing health issues, it’s possible this team doesn’t have any players reach the 3 WAR bar this season. Marcus Semien and Khris Davis are solid role players but they represent the best position players for Oakland. The rotation and bullpen do have a collection of interesting arms, including Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs, but there’s very little reliability or upside in this unit. It’s almost inevitable that Oakland will sell off at the trade deadline, bringing their win total even further down.
American League Central
Cleveland Indians: 91-71
2016 was both heartbreak and a success for Cleveland, as they were a break or 2 away from winning Game 7 of the World Series at home. The Indians balled out last year, scoring plenty of runs while throwing elite arms Corey Kluber and Andrew Miller at playoff foes. This team can defend, run the bases, hit the snot out of the ball, have 3 frontline arms start and finish the game with a ridiculous bullpen. As if this team wasn’t good enough, they signed Edwin Encarnacion and Boone Logan and may see star Michael Brantley return. If there’s a concern, their outfield might not be all that great but the rest of the roster is undeniably loaded. Cleveland could very well find themselves back in the World Series in 2017.
Detroit Tigers: 83-79
Disclaimer: The AL Central isn’t very good and it’s possible the Indians win the division by 10+ games. The Tigers, however, still have one or two more good runs in them before their window closes for good. Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are still chugging along and there’s some new young talent that has popped up to support them. Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and 2016 Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer help form a surprisingly interesting rotation. However, the bullpen has question marks, the farm system won’t supplement any help this year and there’s big question marks at catcher and in center field. A bounce back from Justin Upton and a healthy rotation could keep the Tigers in the hunt(get it?) for a Wild Card spot.
Kansas City Royals: 76-86
For what it’s worth, I think the Royals would finish near .500 if they kept their roster together the whole year. I don’t see this happening. With numerous key players in their final years before free agency, it’s very likely that the team will sell if the team isn’t in contention in late July. There doesn’t look to be enough on the pitching side of things and offensively for this team to make one final playoff run with their World Series winning core. It’s a bit sad that this organization finally found success and now will enter another rebuilding phase but it’s inevitable being a small market team losing this much talent at one time. If the Royals start hot, this narrative could totally change.
Minnesota Twins: 71-91
Coming off an absolutely horrible season, the Twins should rebound but there’s too much uncertainty across the roster to think big things are coming this year. If Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Jose Berios all decide to break out, this team could find itself in a playoff hunt. That’s very unlikely but the team could very easily push near 80 wins, just as it’s possible they finish under 70 wins again. There might not be a ore volatile team in the American League and this prediction will probably look too light or too rosy in the end.
Chicago White Sox: 67-95
The White Sox will be very bad in 2017 and for all the right reasons. General Manager Rick Hahn finally pulled the trigger and dealt Chris Sale and Adam Eaton for a monstrous collection of young talent, headlined by Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito. This was done without moving other premier talents(yet) like Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Nate Jones. When teams come calling this summer, Hahn will likely pull the trigger again and reap another bundle of young talent. It’ll be an ugly couple of seasons but the White Sox could be setting themselves up for a very nice young foundation, that is if they actually strike gold with these prospects.
American League East
Boston Red Sox: 90-72
Dave Dombrowski officially hit “DGAF” mode in Boston, dumping a lot of the farm to supplement an already great roster. Chris Sale and Tyler Thornburg are big adds to a team that was already likely to win the division. As we’ve seen in the past, Dombrowski knows how to get his teams to a World Series and that could very well happen this season. David Ortiz’s retirement hurts but this team is more than capable of handling his loss, with a star studded roster making up for his loss.
Toronto Blue Jays: 87-75
After making the ALCS in back to back years, the consensus is the Blue Jays will take a step back after Edwin Encarnacion bolted for Cleveland. Don’t count on that. Josh Donaldson is still one of baseball’s elite players and the Jays have a very underrated and balanced rotation. The depth beyond the starting 5 is a real concern and the bullpen is a bit sketchy but the team should mash once again and be in the mix for a playoff spot.
New York Yankees: 83-79
It’s very easy to dislike the Yankees and 2016 was the perfect example. After trading Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran for a gigantic return of prospects, the team somehow stayed in the playoff race near the end, thanks to Gary Sanchez going full on Babe Ruth for half a season. The current MLB roster isn’t spectacular but the bullpen is good, theres upside in the rotation and there’s a good blend of young and old position players. The health concerns for the rotation and lack of high upside position players, outside of Gary Sanchez, will likely keep the Yankees out of the playoffs but this team is set up for a big run in the coming years. With a top 10 farm system, finances no team can match and an upcoming all time great free agent class afar 2018, the Yankees could be really good, really quick.
Tampa Bay Rays: 78-84
Tampa Bay is in a state of flux after Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon bolted in recent years. The Rays still boast a talented rotation, headlined by Chris Archer, and some fun position players like Kevin Kiermaier but they have the disadvantage of being a small market team competing with gigantic market teams. It’s hard to envision the Rays being a bad team any time soon but it’s just as hard to see them winning the division given the state of the Yankees, Red Sox and Jays right now.
Baltimore Orioles: 77-85
Baltimore has continued to defy expectations so this projection could look way off but the magic has to die off, right? They’ll slug home runs with the best of them and their bullpen is electric but they don’t get on base, they’re slow as molasses and their rotation looks disastrous. Buck Showalter has managed his team extremely well(2016 Wild Card Game excluded) so a few extra wins wouldn’t be surprising but it’s very difficult to see them competing for a playoff spot this year. If they continue to outperform beyond what their run differential says, then maybe there some voodoo devil magic the Orioles are performing in Baltimore.
MVP: Carlos Correa HOU
Cy Young: Chris Sale BOS
Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi BOS
Manager of the Year: Scott Servais SEA
Wild Card Games: SEA>TOR, STL>SF
Division Series: HOU>SEA, BOS>CLE, LAD>WAS, CHC>STL
Championship Series: HOU>BOS, LAD>CHC
World Series: LAD>HOU(6 games, Justin Turner WS MVP)