The weather is getting warmer (somewhat). Baseball fever is in the air. 2016 saw history for generations of baseball fans. The Chicago Cubs ended a 108-year drought to defeat the Cleveland Indians in seven games in a historic World Series. 2017 will have a difficult time beating out 2016 in terms of the history books, but we might just see a rematch of an all-time classic World Series this year.
USA Today MLB columnist Bob Nightengale joined me this week on The Jake Brown Show on CBS Radio’s Play.it to preview the 2017 season. Coincidentally enough, Bob and I had the exact same World Series prediction. Here’s our picks for each division, the wild cards, and who will come out on top when it’s all said and done.
It would truly be a shocker if anyone besides the Boston Red Sox wins the AL East this season. Even with David Price out for at least a month or so. With the addition of Chris Sale, Boston has so many arms to go along with a young, talented lineup. While the Blue Jays will be right behind them, nobody has the depth the Red Sox do. The Yankees are in a rebuilding year, the Rays just aren’t that good, and the Orioles don’t have enough pitching.
Brown: Red Sox
Nightengale: Red Sox
The Indians enter this season as the clear-cut favorites to run away with the AL Central. After surprising people last year winning the AL pennant and coming a game away from a World Series title, they have a full season of Andrew Miller and now Edwin Encarnacion in the mix. The Tigers and Royals just don’t have the firepower Cleveland does to be in the running. The White Sox and Twins are still in rebuilding mode. The Indians could clinch the AL Central in mid-September.
The AL West should be a pretty strong division with the potential of a three-team race. The Astros and Rangers should duke it out for the top spot with the Mariners right behind them. Houston made some key veteran additions by getting Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Josh Reddick. Those moves put them over the top of the Rangers, who essentially did nothing this offseason to get better. The Mariners hope the additions of Jean Segura and Danny Valencia will have them in the Wild Card conversation, but their pitching is still suspect.
AL WILD CARDS
Brown: Blue Jays, Rangers
Nightengale: Rangers, Mariners
The NL East is a two-team race followed by sub-.500 teams in the Marlins, Phillies, and Braves. The Mets and Nationals will fight it out until the final games of the season. The Mets just have more depth than the Nationals. Seven starting pitchers, five outfielders, and depth in the infield, especially if David Wright can play even 50-75 games. The Nationals bullpen is inept. For that reason, it’s hard to pick them to beat out the Mets for a second straight season.
The Cubs are the defending World Series champions. Wait, what? It’s been over a century since we have said that. The internet wasn’t even close to being invented at that point. It’s almost impossible to pick against them. They replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis and Dexter Fowler with Jon Jay. While both are downgrades, they aren’t big enough to have them lose the division. The Cardinals and Pirates should be right there behind them in the Wild Card chase, but there’s no question it’s the Cubs division to lose.
Another year and another fight to the finish coming between the Dodgers and Giants in the AL West. The Rockies could be sneaky good with an impressive lineup, but pitching will once again be their demise this season. Los Angeles and San Francisco bring back nearly identical rosters this season, which should equal identical results. The Diamondbacks and Padres are both in rebuilding mode.
NL WILD CARDS
Brown: Nationals, Giants
Nightengale: Dodgers, Cardinals
It’s a rematch of the 1986 World Series! Look for the same result too. The Mets and Red Sox bring arguably the two best starting rotations to the table this season. The Mets rotation is a bit deeper though, if healthy. With a stacked starting five, plenty of power in the lineup, and a solid back-end of the bullpen with Addison Reed and Jeurys Familia, the Mets will capture their first World Series title in 31 years, when they took down the Red Sox in one of the most memorable Fall Classics ever.
Brown: Mets over Red Sox
Nightengale: Mets over Red Sox
Jake Brown is the Digital Program Manager at CBS Sports Radio and a columnist for CBS Sports Radio, CBS Local Sports, and CBS Local. You can catch him on The Jake Brown Show on CBS Radio’s Play.it, iTunes, and Spotify. It’s a weekly sports show mixed in with a bit of entertainment and interviews as well every week. He occasionally hosts SportsTalk1240 on WGBB in Long Island, and formerly hosted Brown and Scoop, Brown and Troupe, and on ESPN Radio NH. Jake lives in Queens and being a Mets fan may finally be paying off.