Sunday, April 2, 2017

Annual predictions

Every year before Opening Day I do a post where I predict each division's standings. Last year I picked both the Cubs and Indians second - not too bad I guess. This post is illustrated with cards from 2002 Fleer Maximum. Why? I bought another huge collection today, and this set is coming up quite a bit as I go through it. Will be plenty to trade from here when I am done.

AL East

I'll always pick the Yankees, even when their own General Manager says they likely will be going through some growing pains at best. But hey, if the rookies live up to their potential and the veterans stay healthy and solid, they could sneak into the playoffs. That's a lot of ifs though.

2. Red Sox
They have an awesome lineup and some big names in their rotation, but pitching health is already a concern and the season hasn't even started yet.

3. Blue Jays
Still a dangerous team with some quality young pitching.

4. Orioles
Hard to remember that they were a playoff team last year.

5. Rays
Not a bad team but this is a very tough division.

AL Central

1. Indians
They almost won the World Series last year despite losing their best position player and most of their rotation. Just having a return to normal health could make them a juggernaut.

2. Royals
The window is closing, but this group of players had a very good run.

3. Tigers
With the passing of their win-now owner, Mike Ilitch, a teardown of this team seems probable.

4. White Sox
Their teardown is already underway.

5. Twins
This seems like a team content in its mediocrity.

AL West

1. Astros
They retooled quite a bit and added some depth to a good young core.

2. Rangers
Good solid team but probably overachieved last year.

3. Mariners
They made some moves this offseason but didn't seem to really improve the team.

4. Angels
The best player in baseball and not much else.

5. A's
Billy Bean did one smart thing once fifteen years ago and is been coasting on that reputation ever since.

NL East
1. Nationals
This is a pretty good team, the class of a weak division. No bullpen though and the big question is, will Bryce Harper rebound?

2.  Mets
If the rotation stays healthy and the hitters do their job they could win 100 games. The track records for both of these things happening are slim though.

3. Phillies
Some good young talent like Herrera and Franco, they could surprise this year.

4. Braves
I guess they were jealous of the Mets having quirky old pitchers, so they brought R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon so the fans in the new ballpark can be entertained even if the team isn't very good.

5. Marlins
A year ago they looked like a team on the rise. Injuries and tragedy have made the future in Miami a lot dimmer.

NL Central

1. Cardinals
They took one of the best players off their biggest rival this offseason, which could be enough to tip the balance in the Central.

2. Cubs
Everything went right for the Cubs last year - everyone stayed healthy and played to the top of their potential. Even so they just barely won the World Series. Unlikely they have no issues two years in a row.

3. Pirates
A lot of the best young ballplayers in the National League had disappointing seasons last year, like Stanton, Harper and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen. Seems like the fortunes of this team rest on how well he bounces back.

4. Brewers
Seems like this team is always in rebuilding mode.

5. Reds
Joey Votto's Reds look a lot like Mike Trout's Angels, both in uniforms and in team construction.

NL West

1. Dodgers
This was an exciting team to watch last postseason, and this year's team is likely to be even better, particularly with the resources to upgrade during the season as necessary. Could be this year's Cubs.

2. Giants
Like the Royals, the window is starting to close on this talented team.

3. Rockies
They are building up some good young talent and might be just a year or two away from serious contention.

4. Diamondbacks
Hard to see them being competitive in this pretty tough division.

5. Padres
Seems like everyone is picking them to be last. Who am I to argue?

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