Tank’s 2017 Preview

EASTERN DIVISION

New York Mets 95-67

Last season was one of trial and tribulations for the New York Mets as they dealt with a never-ending series of injuries. Some of the injuries came from their prized pitching staff suffering a World Series hangover due to the number of innings they pitched. However, the Mets found a way to fight through and win 87 games to reach the playoffs for a second straight season. Along the way, the Mets discovered depth and talent in their farm system and come in armed, rested and ready for another run. With Yoenis Cespedes locked up to a long-term contract the Mets offense appears to finally have a settled form. The pieces seem to be in place for the Mets, the only concern is health, if the Mets can somehow stay healthy for most of the season, their potential for success is unlimited. No team has stronger starting rotation and come October that could be the key to bring home World Series title.

Washington Nationals 93-69*

Armed with a solid pitching staff and a deep lineup, there are few weaknesses on the Washington Nationals. Once again, they should be in the mix for the Eastern Division as they battle the Mets. It is hard to imagine both not getting in the playoffs as the Wild Card is a likely runner up prize. Expect Bryce Harper to resemble the 2015 MVP numbers, while Daniel Murphy will have a hard time equaling his 2016 season. Trea Turner should be a big spark at the top of the lineup and Max Scherzer will again challenge for the Cy Young, but the health of Stephen Strasburg is a concern after he broke down last season. In addition, the Nationals bullpen could be a concern as they turn to Shawn Kelley as their new closer.

Atlanta Braves 74-88

As the Atlanta Braves open their new suburban home SunTrust Park, the focus remains on the future. Although the Braves are not going to roll over as they signed a number of veterans to fill in and tutor the coming generation of Braves. While, success will continue to elude Atlanta in 2017 the future is strong as they have Dansby Swanson on the way. One thing to keep an eye on is the veterans the Braves added, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey Brandon Phillips, and Jaime Garcia are all only signed up to 2017, meaning the Braves could be in position to land more prospects at the trade deadline using the game blueprint of the Yankees. Don’t be shocked if by 2019 the Braves are again a powerhouse in the National League.

Philadelphia Phillies 72-90

After languishing at the bottom of the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies are starting to turn the corner. While, the losses will still outnumber the wins in the City of Brotherly Love, the Phillies are finally heading in the right direction with a rebuilding plan. The farm system still needs a few years to get enough prospects to take Philadelphia seriously, but they are beginning to bring players up with talent. The Phillies do have some solid bats, led by Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco, the pitching staff leaves plenty to be desired with Jeremy Hellickson and Clay Buccholz each trying to prove they can still win games after mediocre 2016 seasons.

Miami Marlins 71-91

No news was more devastating in baseball, than the sudden death of Jose Fernandez in a boating accident. The Miami Marlins, were a pesky team that was nearly a playoff contender, with a star slugger and a true ace, but with the death of Fernandez there is just a giant hole in the hearts of the Marlins that will be difficult to replace. The Marlins can be a pesky ballclub, with a strong lineup led by Giancarlo Stanton, who when healthy is one of the most dangerous hitters in the game. The trouble is Stanton always seems to be dealing with nagging injuries. The Marlins have a strong bullpen, but the rotation is one of the weakest in the National League. Expect it to be another depressing season in South Florida as the Marlins sink into last place.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago Cubs 96-66

What do Wrigleyville faithful do now? After 108 years of frustration, the Chicago Cubs are finally World Champions, rallying from down 3-1 in the World Series to cap a dream 2016 season. Now the Cubs play the role of champions, with 29 other teams taking aim. The Cubs will be tough to knock off the mountain, but it is equally tough to repeat as no team has won back-to-back World Series, since the 2000 Yankees. The Cubs lineup once again is stacked with Kris Bryant likely to only get better, and the starting rotation should again be one of the best in baseball. Unless something goes wrong, the Cubs will be there in October, as they are by far the best team in the Central Division, the only thing is what happens when they run into that team that can outpitch them.

St. Louis Cardinals 87-75

Players come and players go, but the St. Louis Cardinals are always in the mix when the season comes down to an end. One of baseball’s best run franchises, the Cardinals seem to have a never-ending supply of prospects that come up and contribute. While Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright remain the stalwarts of St. Louis, new stars like Aledmys Diaz and Carlos Martinez will be the leaders of the future. The Cardinals don’t have the weapons that the Cubs have, but the can make a run at the Wild Card. However, unless they can get more reliable efforts out of the bullpen they will fall just short of making the playoffs again.

Pittsburgh Pirates 79-83

After three straight playoff appearances, the Pittsburgh Pirates took a step backward last season as they endured a season of injuries and disappointment. One player who has something to prove is Andrew McCutchen who appears to be in a sharp decline after a lackluster 2016 season. The Pirates attempted to deal McCutchen in the off-season, but could not find anyone willing to give up a top prospect. The Pirates have a team option for Andrew McCutchen in 2018, so he has some motivation to get a new deal from the Pirates. If McCutchen is able to return to All-Star form the Pirates can challenge for the Wild Card, if not they will again struggle just to reach .500.

Cincinnati Reds 66-96

Other than Joey Votto, there is little for fans of the Cincinnati Reds to cheer for these days. Votto is one of baseball’s best pure hitters, who if he played for a contender would get serious MVP consideration. However, with the rest of the Reds lineup leaving much to be desired, Votto will often be pitched around in big spots as the Reds again top 90 losses. Making matters worse the Reds have one of the worst pitching staffs in all of baseball, which lead to another summer of watching balls fly out of Great American Ballpark from opposing teams.

Milwaukee Brewers 65-97

When it comes to playoff hopes, there are none to be found in Miller Park, as the Milwaukee Brewers have been swimming upstream for several years. A team of pieces, without a true star, the Brewers are among the worst teams in the National League. There is some talent at the top of the lineup thanks to players like Jonathan Villar, and Ryan Braun still has some ability but there is little else for fans in Milwaukee cheer about as the Brewers pitching staff is mediocre at best and so desperate to find a bat in the middle of the lineup the Brewers signed Eric Thames to a three-year contract. Thames who struggled to make it in the majors became a star in the Korean Baseball League.

WESTERN DIVISION

Los Angeles Dodgers 93-69

There is a sense that this is the year that the Los Angeles Dodgers can break through and win the World Series. After becoming an October regular the Dodgers have the lineup and the pitching and unless they have a catastrophic season are the team to beat in the National League West. However, to go far in the playoffs the Dodgers must come up with another pitcher who can be as reliable as Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda so the Dodgers ace can avoid making those starts on short rest in the postseason. Expect Kershaw to have another dominant year as he is by far the best pitcher in baseball, while Corey Seager is only likely to get better. If the Dodgers can get Yasiel Puig back on track things could really take off.

San Francisco Giants 88-74*

Last season the San Francisco Giants saw an end to their even year magic, but this year could oddly flip the script as they made significant improvements to the bullpen which was their Achille’s Heel last season by signing Mark Melancon. The Giants rotation is the deepest in the Western Division with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardija backing up Madison Bumgarner. The Giants lineup though does have some concern as other than Buster Posey and Hunter Pence there is not a whole lot of consistency. The bench also is not very deep. The Giants should get enough pitching to make a run at the Wild Card, but they likely don’t have a long postseason run in them.

Colorado Rockies 87-75

Don’t look now, but the Colorado Rockies could be serious players in the National League Playoff chase. They have perhaps the best lineup in the Western Division and are always good at wearing out opposing pitchers, especially at Coors Field. The only thing that seems to get in the way for Colorado as it does every year is their own pitching staff. The thin air has played havoc on the Rockies pitching staff’s ERA and this year won’t be any different. However, with players like Charles Blackmon, Nolan Arenando, Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story leading the way with the addition of Ian Desmond the Rockies should be able to put up enough runs to keep them in the thick of the race all season.

Arizona Diamondbacks 76-86

The Arizona Diamondbacks have some pieces, like Paul Goldschmidt who is one of the best sluggers in baseball and Zack Greinke who is a solid top line pitcher. However, they have made some seriously bad trades over the recent years and have been spinning their wheels. As the Diamondbacks begin 2017 they have a new General Manager in Mike Hazen and a new Manager in Torey Lovullo and the sense is a fire sale could be in Arizona’s future. The Diamondbacks as built now don’t have enough pieces to compete in 2017 and the farm system appears to be a mess, so a rebuild could be the quickest way to the top and that means Goldschmidt and Greinke might both end up in new cities by the end of the season.

San Diego Padres 59-103

The only thing worse than being bad is to be bad and boring at the same time and the San Diego Padres are bad, boring and they have no hope of getting better any time soon. For too long the Padres have been a team that has used stop gaps, signing veterans and doing little but languish in anonymity at the bottom of the National League West. The Padres can’t seem to develop any worthy talent and the atmosphere around the ballclub seems to be one of endless apathy. With the departure of the Chargers, the Padres are the only game in town and that is not much to look at as they are a team full of reclamation projects. The Padres are the worst team in the National League by far and good bet to approach 100 losses.

EASTERN DIVISION

Boston Red Sox 92-70

The Boston Red Sox have lost their leader, with the retirement of David Ortiz, but the team is still loaded top to bottom with one of the best lineups in the American League. In addition, the Red Sox added Chris Sale and now have won of the best starting rotations with a top notch closer in Craig Kimbrel. There is no doubt they are the clear favorite to win the American League East. However, getting to the World Series could be a bit tricky as they will the clutch leadership that Big Papi gave them and David Price has an ugly postseason history. One weakness the Red Sox hold is on the bench as John Farrell is not strong at in game strategy and could be on the hot seat quickly if Boston fails to live up to their lofty expectations.

Baltimore Orioles 86-76

Every year there are plenty of doubters, but somehow Buck Showalter is able to piece things together and make the Baltimore Orioles contenders for the postseason. The Orioles do have a power packed lineup as they have produced the American League home run champion in each of the last four seasons. With Manny Machado and Adam Jones each looking ready to have big years after the World Baseball Classic the Orioles will score a lot of runs once again. The problem is their starting rotation is one that you close your eyes and hope for the best as there are no sure things, the bullpen remains strong thanks to Zach Britton, but unless they can find a true stopper at the front line, it’s hard to see the Orioles getting into the Wild Card again.

Toronto Blue Jays 85-77

After two straight trips to the ALCS, the Toronto Blue Jays will have a tough time getting back into the playoffs after the departure of Edwin Encarnacion. To replace Encarnacion, the Blue Jays signed Kendrys Morales, who is a solid hitter but does not nearly have the impact of Encarnacion who is consistently among the league leaders in the power categories. The Jays also need to be concerned over Jose Bautista who appears to be in decline. If the Blue Jays are to return to the playoffs they will need somebody to produce at the rate of Edwin Encarnacion and get strong pitching from their rotation led by Marcus Stroman who is coming off a MVP at the World Baseball Classic.

New York Yankees 80-82

Late last season after a lackluster first half, the New York Yankees decided to go with a youth movement, which helped spark some excitement back in the Bronx as the Yankees nearly got back in the playoff race. Fans are already calling them the Baby Bombers, with players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge and Greg Bird they could thrill fans of the Yankees for years to come. However, with a team with so much youth there will be growing pains, and the Yankees don’t have strong starting rotation. Unless everything clicks right away and the Yankees find an ace in the hole the Yankees once again will not be a factor in the playoff chase, but with patience a year or two from now it will be a different story.

Tampa Bay Rays 70-92

The Tampa Bay Rays possess some quality pitching, but their lineup is among the weakest in the American League, with Evan Longoria being their only reliable bat. Last season the Rays experienced much frustration as Chris Archer struggled, with a record of 9-19. If they are to avoid the same fate the Rays much hit better and give Archer some more run support, before he loses his confidence and begins to lose his trade value. In fact, the Rays need to view their top players as trade bait, because they are so far away from contending, that the best option is to sell off their stars and start from scratch.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Cleveland Indians 96-66

Despite their heartbreaking loss in Game 7 of the World Series, there is a sense that the Cleveland Indians will be the next team to end a long championship drought as the addition of Edwin Encarnacion gives the Tribe the punch in the middle of the lineup they were missing last season. Armed with a solid rotation led by Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, the Indians have never looked better. Add the 1-2 punch of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller in the bullpen and the legendary managerial skills of Terry Francona and it is clear to see why Cleveland will be rocking again this October.

Detroit Tigers 87-75

If everything falls right, the Detroit Tigers could become a serious contender, but things rarely fall all in the right place in the same season and the Tigers lack of depth is stunning. With players like Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander leading the way the Tigers have the great marquee talent, but if one or both is hurt or not performing at the top level, the Tigers could again collapse and finish in last place. With such a divergence in outcomes, the best and the worst it is more likely Detroit will end up somewhere in the middle, which means the same result as last season, challenging but falling short of the American League Wild Card race.

Kansas City Royals 81-81

A year ago, the Kanas City Royals were experiencing the highest of highs, coming of a World Series Championship. This year they are coming off a heart wrenching off-season after the tragic death of Yordano Ventura in December. Ventura was perhaps the Royals top pitcher, who was just beginning to reach his potential. Even when the Royals won the World Series they were a team that was put together just right and played the game just right and now some of those pieces are falling away and what is left is not much more than a .500 ballclub, that will once again need to look at retooling if it wants to return to October.

Minnesota Twins 68-94

The bad news is that the Minnesota Twins are still one of the worst teams in the American League, the good news is that some talent is starting to filter up to the Twin Cities as their now a sense that the Twins are starting to get back on the right track. Still the Twins will take their lumps as the starting rotation is a group of mid-level players that will be more valuable to the Twins if they can shop them for more front level prospects at the trade deadline. As for Twins fans looking for something to cheer, they could watch Byron Buxton who has five tools and if he is able to develop as expected could quickly become the face of the franchise.

Chicago White Sox 63-99

Even when they are at their best the Chicago White Sox are playing second banana to the Cubs. Now that the Cubs have won a World Series, the White Sox must feel like they have move to Sheboygan as they are barely a blip on the Windy City’s radar. It will seem that way on the diamond too as the Cubs are again a World Series contender, while the White Sox will have a tough time avoiding 100 losses. The White Sox have some bankable players like Jose Abreau, Todd Frazier and Jose Quintana, but their best value is likely in trade deadline deals as the White Sox are a mess from top to bottom with a big need to rebuild, which is all the more difficult with the Cubs success.

WESTERN DIVISION

Houston Astros 92-70

Coming off a trip to the postseason, the Houston Astros suffered a bit of letdown in 2016, but with so much talent and youth, growing pains should be expected. To help bolster the young Astros roster, several veterans, including Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann were signed in the off-season. The leadership that Beltran can provide will be especially helpful for Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa who are on the verge of becoming a superstar. Expect Dallas Kuechel to have a bounce back season and the Astros to survive a three-way battle to win the Western Division, and make some noise in October.

Seattle Mariners 90-72*

It has been a long time since the postseason came to the Pacific Northwest, as the Seattle Mariners have not played meaningful October since 2001. The Mariners seem to be close to ending baseball’s longest postseason drought with a potent heart of the lineup led by Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. The biggest weakness the Mariners had last season was the back of the rotation, they appear to have done a good job addressing it by picking up Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly, which should take some pressure of Felix Hernandez. This will be the difference as the Mariners battle for the West, but settle for a Wild Card berth.

Texas Rangers 88-74*

There is no doubt that the top of the American League West is loaded as anyone of three teams can win the division. The Texas Rangers who have won the West the last two seasons, will have a tough time holding that crown as both the Astros and Mariners have improved. However, the Rangers still have a solid lineup and a strong rotation and will fight until the bitter end. The one question the Rangers have to worry about is age and durability as the Texas heat can take its toll in Arlington as most of their key players like Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli and Cole Hamels are well past the age of 30. In the end the Rangers will get to the playoffs but will settle for a Wild Card spot.

LEAGUE LEADERS AND AWARDS

National League

  • Joey Votto Reds
  • Yoenis Cespedes Mets
  • Kris Bryant Cubs
  • Starling Marte Pirates
  • Charlie Blackmon Rockies
  • Nolan Arenado Rockies
  • Clayton Kershaw Dodgers
  • Clayton Kershaw Dodgers
  • Clayton Kershaw Dodgers
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Miami Marlins
  • Bryce Harper Nationals
  • Matt Harvey Mets
  • Ender Inciarte Braves
  • Julio Urias Dodgers
  • Ryan Braun Brewers
  • Stephen Strasburg Nationals
  • Mark Melancon Giants
  • Eric Thames Brewers
  • Mark Melancon Giants
  • Dansby Swanson Braves
  • Bud Black Rockies
  • Nolan Arenado Rockies
  • Clayton Kershaw Dodgers
  • Yoenis Cespedes Mets
  • Batting Crown
  • HR Leader
  • RBI Leader
  • SB Leader
  • Runs Leader
  • OPS
  • Win Leader
  • ERA Leader
  • K Leader
  • Surprise Team
  • Disappointing Team
  • Comeback Hitter
  • Comeback Pitcher
  • Breakout Hitter
  • Breakout Pitcher
  • Disappointing Hitter
  • Disappointing Pitcher
  • Best Acquisition
  • Worst Acquisition
  • Reliever Award
  • Rookie of The Year
  • Manager of The Year
  • Hank Aaron Award
  • Cy Young
  • MVP

American League

  • Jose Altuve Astros
  • Edwin Encarnacion Indians
  • Edwin Encarnacion Indians
  • Jarrod Dyson Royals
  • Mookie Betts Red Sox
  • Mike Trout Angels
  • Corey Kluber Indians
  • Masahiro Tanaka Yankees
  • Justin Verlander Tigers
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Michael Brantley Indians
  • Dallas Kuechel Astros
  • Greg Bird Yankees
  • Dylan Bundy Orioles
  • Jose Bautista Blue Jays
  • David Price Red Sox
  • Edwin Encarnacion Indians
  • Danny Espinosa Angels
  • Craig Kimbrel Red Sox
  • Andrew Benintendi Red Sox
  • Scott Servais Mariners
  • Edwin Encarnacion Indians
  • Corey Kluber Indians
  • Edwin Encarnacion Indians

National League

  • Joey Votto RedsBatting Crown
  • Yoenis Cespedes MetsHR Leader
  • Kris Bryant CubsRBI Leader
  • Starling Marte PiratesSB Leader
  • Charlie Blackmon RockiesRuns Leader
  • Nolan Arenado RockiesOPS
  • Clayton Kershaw DodgersWin Leader
  • Clayton Kershaw DodgersERA Leader
  • Clayton Kershaw DodgersK Leader
  • Colorado RockiesSurprise Team
  • Miami MarlinsDisappointing Team
  • Bryce Harper NationalsComeback Hitter
  • Matt Harvey MetsComeback Pitcher
  • Ender Inciarte BravesBreakout Hitter
  • Julio Urias DodgersBreakout Pitcher
  • Ryan Braun BrewersDisappointing Hitter
  • Stephen Strasburg NationalsDisappointing Pitcher
  • Mark Melancon GiantsBest Acquisition
  • Eric Thames BrewersWorst Acquisition
  • Mark Melancon GiantsReliever Award
  • Dansby Swanson BravesRookie of The Year
  • Bud Black RockiesManager of The Year
  • Nolan Arenado RockiesHank Aaron Award
  • Clayton Kershaw DodgersCy Young
  • Yoenis Cespedes MetsMVP

American League

  • Jose Altuve AstrosBatting Crown
  • Edwin Encarnacion IndiansHR Leader
  • Edwin Encarnacion IndiansRBI Leader
  • Jarrod Dyson RoyalsSB Leader
  • Mookie Betts Red SoxRuns Leader
  • Mike Trout AngelsOPS
  • Corey Kluber IndiansWin Leader
  • Masahiro Tanaka YankeesERA Leader
  • Justin Verlander TigersK Leader
  • Seattle MarinersSurprise Team
  • Kansas City RoyalsDisappointing Team
  • Michael Brantley IndiansComeback Hitter
  • Dallas Kuechel AstrosComeback Pitcher
  • Greg Bird YankeesBreakout Hitter
  • Dylan Bundy OriolesBreakout Pitcher
  • Jose Bautista Blue JaysDisappointing Hitter
  • David Price Red SoxDisappointing Pitcher
  • Edwin Encarnacion IndiansBest Acquisition
  • Danny Espinosa AngelsWorst Acquisition
  • Craig Kimbrel Red SoxReliever Award
  • Andrew Benintendi Red SoxRookie of The Year
  • Scott Servais MarinersManager of The Year
  • Edwin Encarnacion IndiansHank Aaron Award
  • Corey Kluber IndiansCy Young
  • Edwin Encarnacion IndiansMVP

Postseason

NL Wild Card
2
0
AL Wild Card
7
4
NLDS
3
3
2
1
ALDS
3
3
0
1
NLCS
4
3
ALCS
4
3

Managers to be Fired

  • Kevin Cash-Rays
  • Craig Counsell-Brewers
  • John Farrell-Red Sox
  • Don Mattingly-Marlins
  • Bob Melvin-Athletics
  • Bryan Price-Reds
  • Mike Scioscia-Angels

World Series


4

2017 World Champions
New York Mets

2

Predicions Made on 4/3/17 at 12:00 PM ET.

1 Comment

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