The Chicago Cubs will win the NL Central. The Minnesota Twins will remain basement-dwellers. Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw will be in the MVP and Cy Young races. Come on, man. Nobody wants to read that. And if you do, you’re in the wrong place. What people really want is some drama, a Cinderella story or maybe even a complete team meltdown. Well, with opening day less than a month away (April 2), it’s time for me to deliver.
To crank the enthusiasm up to 11, I’m going to reveal my bold predictions for the 2017 MLB season. These forecasts are so daring and audacious, they’d make Jose Altuve buckle at the plate.
5 Bold MLB Predictions
1. Jose Bautista is the home run king
When healthy, Bautista has proven capable of hitting 40-plus home runs. The Jays outfielder also has a knack for theatrics. After Toronto and the rest of the league refused to award the slugger with the money he felt he deserved, we’re going to see a pissed-off player with something to prove.
The departure of Edwin Encarnacion will allow Bautista to slide back into a power role in the lineup. The 36-year-old will take full advantage and make the league feel his wrath.
2. The Colorado Rockies make the playoffs
The Rockies added Ian Desmond to a team that scored the second-most runs in the majors last year, yet only won 75 games. Pitching held them back, with the staff posting a horrid 4.91 ERA (fourth-worst).
The addition of left-handed reliever Mike Dunn is a big boost to the bullpen, but their rotation remains very suspect. The good news is there isn’t a single pitcher in their projected rotation who is over 27 years old. Tyler Anderson looked promising in 19 starts last season (3.54 ERA), while German Marquez and Jeff Hoffman are highly-touted prospects. The Rockies just need their rotation and pen to be average in order to compete in the NL. They’ll pull that off, even in the thin Denver air.
3. Clayton Kershaw posts his lowest single-season ERA
The Dodger ace suffered a major hiccup in 2015 when he posted an astronomical 2.13 ERA. He responded with a more respectable 1.69 ERA in 21 starts last season, his career-best. (The italics denote sarcasm, in case you couldn’t tell.) Kershaw will turn 29 before opening day, suggesting he is nearing the end of his prime. But I believe he builds off his incredible 2016 season.
4. The Boston Red Sox do not win the AL East
Now that we know David Price won’t require Tommy John surgery, this prediction qualifies as bold again. Price will pitch in a Red Sox rotation that also features Chris Sale, Rick Porcello (2016 Cy Young winner), Steven Wright, and likely Drew Pomeranz. In case that wasn’t enough to be optimistic, Boston also scored 878 runs last year, 101 more than any AL team.
But not everything will play out as expected for the heavy favorites in the AL East. Without David Ortiz, the Red Sox offense will have less (big) pop(i). I also expect Porcello and Wright to have disappointing seasons. Either the Blue Jays or Yankees will dethrone the reigning division champs.
5. Three Mets starters post an ERA lower than 2.60
Noah Syndergaard hasn’t even reached his prime yet. Jacob deGrom has proven he can be dominant. And Matt Harvey is one of the best in baseball, when he has feeling in his fingers (which he’s apparently regained). Steven Matz is also a budding young arm.
Syndergaard’s 2.60 ERA in 2016 was the best among Mets starting pitchers, as the rest spent much of their seasons dealing with various injuries. With the unit back to full health and all the bad luck out of the way (that’s how luck works, right?), New York’s rotation will prove they’re the best in the bigs.
Photo credit: Arturo Pardavila III [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.