We’ve almost made it, friends. Another offseason is finally almost in the books, and the 2017 Major League Baseball season is right around the corner.
I’m usually one of those overly-positive, rah-rah guys when it comes to the start of the season. It does bring hope and I always love to repeat my favorite movie line that “hope is a good thing.”
But in putting together these rankings while also seeing the predictions posted all over the internet, I’m a bit worried. Is baseball too predictable these days?
Even if you made the case that the Nationals will be pushed by the Mets and the Dodgers pushed by the Giants, well, those were the two wild cards in the NL. We could probably say the same about the Orioles and Blue Jays in the AL East.
So are we really only left with the AL West? It seems as though many believe the Rangers take a step back while the Mariners and Astros get better -- and some even like a nice improvement from the Angels.
It seems that every season brings with it surprises, and this one will be no different. I’m sure something out of the ordinary will happen in terms of teams being in contention or falling out of contention unexpectedly. Last year at this time, everyone was sure the Astros would win the AL West, and we had previously learned our lesson about not picking the Royals.
Here’s the issue, though. My predicted playoff teams are as follows: Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Orioles, Mariners, Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Cardinals.
Outside of fan biases, what is there to be overly excited about? The Mariners breaking the longest playoff drought, sure, but that’s only been since 2001. Perhaps the Astros winning their first division title in the AL. The Cardinals are technically a “new” playoff team compared to 2016, but they were in the previous five postseasons.
I have no doubt that the season will bring us several roller coaster rides, and we will all still enjoy the hell out of it. But if the playoff turnover is so minimal, I worry that we’re getting to a rather predictable place in baseball.
Now, before we get to the rankings, it’s time for our annual reminder that spring training records mean absolutely nothing. Just as a jumping off point, the Diamondbacks, Angels and Phillies were awesome in the spring in 2016 while the Cubs sucked. So please ignore the 2017 spring records.
Past those, though, I’m looking ahead to the season, not back at spring results.
All judgments made by myself are 1) Correct; and 2) Based upon what I expect to see this season. Spring training results have no bearing on the latter. If I have changed anything from my pre-preseason rankings, it’s because I’ve changed my mind. That’s allowed. Mind-changing based upon spring training results is not, however, permitted. That would be really dumb.
As always, feel free to hit me up at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattSnyderCBS. I’m always open to hear the incorrect opinions of readers who disagree with me.
|While I would hit Ben Zobrist leadoff, I've started to fall in love with the idea of Kyle Schwarber being the leadoff man.||--||34-26|
|Adding lefty Boone Logan to an already-great bullpen was one of the sneaky-excellent moves of the offseason.||--||35-25|
|I'm calling Bryce Harper to win MVP in a gigantic bounce-back season. If that's the case, it's hard to see the Nationals as being any worse ... and they won 95 games last year.||2||26-34|
|I don't love the Dodgers here, but it's hard to really justify a top five other than these five and the Dodgers haven't lost a frontline starting pitcher to start the season like the team below has.||--||43-17|
|The David Price injury lingers, and it costs the Red Sox a few spots here. I know he didn't have a great year last year, but he's still fully capable of being a Cy Young contender. Losing that guy for any stretch is a big blow.||2||24-36|
|I like the offseason moves, but this spot is contingent on Dallas Keuchel bouncing back and Lance McCullers avoiding injury to solidify the rotation.||--||29-31|
|I don't think Jose Bautista is cooked. I'm calling for him to have a huge year.||--||32-28|
|The Mets won 87 games last year despite James Loney getting into 100 games, injuries to three of their young stud pitchers and multiple other issues. They are the second-best team in the NL East, sure, but this is a clear-cut playoff team.||--||26-34|
|I'm done betting against Buck Showalter (in the regular season, at least).||2||25-35|
|They could use past versions of Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, but otherwise I really like how this team looks right now. There's a decent chance the longest playoff drought in MLB gets snapped.||3||27-33|
|In looking at their current left field situation, I might pick 53-year-old Barry Bonds as the best option.||2||29-31|
|Memo to Mike Matheny: Yadier Molina is 34 years old. Do not start him behind the plate 142 times again.||--||30-28|
|The entire outfield is a question mark, as is the rotation behind Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. There's obviously a lot of talent here, but also some reason for concern.||3||22-38|
|Calling a big Andrew McCutchen bounce-back season.||1||19-41|
|The J.D. Martinez injury timing is awful, as the Tigers have little margin for error and probably need to get off to a fast start. The good version of Justin Upton better storm out of the gate.||1||23-35|
|I don't like the last two spots in the rotation and I hate the Didi Gregorius injury. It's hard to see this team making the playoffs as currently constructed.||2||33-27|
|I love Danny Duffy, but the rotation behind him leaves a lot to be desired. The defense is a few steps slower than it was two years ago, too.||--||26-34|
|Don't be worried about the losses. Chris Archer had a 3.25 ERA with 103 strikeouts against 19 walks in 91 1/3 innings after the All-Star break last season. He'll be fine, so long as no one expects him to become a Cy Young winner. He's top 30, not top 10.||2||40-20|
|Contention is possible, but the Angels have to see an awful lot of question marks answered in the affirmative. How much good fortune can all happen at once?||1||26-34|
|I was all excited to be calling the Rockies a fringe contender and then they lose one-third of their starting lineup in Ian Desmond, David Dahl and Tom Murphy -- not to mention starting pitcher Chad Bettis going through chemotherapy. Rough spring.||1||26-34|
|I think I was too harsh on them last time. I do expect them to trade more veterans during the regular season, but it hasn't happened yet.||4||35-25|
|It's hard to see everything going nearly as poorly as it did last season. Maybe they hop up into the mid-teens, even.||1||25-35|
|Not yet, guys. Not yet. It will be a fun season in SunTrust Park, though.||1||35-25|
|As much as I love the upside of the outfield, that's how much I hate the rotation.||3||31-29|
|I'm holding out hope the September version of Byron Buxton sticks. That dude can be a top-five player to watch in terms of entertainment value. He's got all the tools.||3||36-24|
|There are few players I'm more excited to see this season than Eric Thames. He didn't really get an extended look in America and then absolutely crushed it in Korea the past three years. How does it translate? Same old guy, or new guy as far as the majors is concerned?||1||29-31|
|Youngster Sean Manaea was 3-1 with a 1.05 ERA in his last six starts as a rookie. The 25-year-old lefty provides some excitement for the season in Oakland.||1||36-24|
|Scott Feldman is their Opening Day starting pitcher.||1||31-29|
|It's a big year in Philly, but not because they'll contend. No, they need answers on a lot of young players, including some prospects (such as J.P. Crawford).||1||28-32|
|I think the Padres will steal a lot of bases and that's fun. So there's that.||--||37-23|