The 2017 Major League Baseball season is nearly upon us, and around the sports world there is only one question on the minds of fans: who will win it all?
To help answer that question, we’ll be offering our predictions for which teams will make the playoffs in 2017, and which players will help them as they strive to get to the promised land.
1 Washington Nationals
2016 Record: 95-67
Key Additions: Adam Eaton, Matt Wieters
Key Losses: Danny Espinosa, Mark Melancon, Wilson Ramos
The National League East has the look and feel of a two-way race, and we’re picking the Nationals to narrowly outpace the New York Mets. One would have to make an assumption that the team will try to bolster its bullpen at some point after the loss of Mark Melancon in the offseason, and players like White Sox hurler David Robertson will likely be at the top of their shopping list. In order to win, their offense will need better production out of Bryce Harper, and they’ll have to hope that Trea Turner doesn’t have a sophomore slump.
*2 New York Mets
2016 Record: 87-75
Key Additions: n/a
Key Losses: Bartolo Colon, James Loney
Every team experiences at least some turnover in the offseason, but the Mets experienced a comically-small amount of it, as they didn’t add any players to their big league roster. Although that could conceivably be a scary thing in a league where teams are constantly remaking themselves trying to climb the standings, the Mets have a really strong roster, and they have to be optimistic that the injury woes that they were saddled with last year will be a thing of the past.
3 Atlanta Braves
2016 Record: 68-93
Key Additions: Bartolo Colon, RA Dickey, Jaime Garcia, Brandon Phillips, Sean Rodriguez
Key Losses: AJ Pierzynski
Banking on the Braves to make a surge forward may seem like a fool’s errand, considering how bad the team has been in recent years, but there are plenty of young propsects like Dansby Swanson and a slew of new starting pitchers that should help the team get off to a more successful start in its new ballpark. Add Brandon Phillips and Sean Rodriguez to that mix, and suddenly the young and upstart Braves really do have a ton of veterans, and that group certainly won’t be satisfied with another last place finish.
4 Miami Marlins
2016 Record: 79-82
Key Additions: AJ Ellis, Edinson Volquez
Key Losses: Andrew Cashner, Fernando Rodney
With talented players like Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon in the mix, the Marlins should by all rights be a contender, but there are some serious rotation questions that need to be answered first. The death of Jose Fernandez really impacts the team on the field, and there really isn’t an heir apparent that is going to be able to come close to the electrifying presence that he helped inject into their rotation.
5 Philadelphia Phillies
2016 Record: 71-91
Key Additions: Howie Kendrick, Pat Neshek
Key Losses: AJ Ellis, Charlie Morton
The big issues for the Phillies last season were that their bullpen couldn’t record outs, and their starting rotation couldn’t stay healthy. Adding players like Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit will certainly help with the former issue, but will the latter issue resolve itself as the team rebuilds a rotation around Jeremy Hellickson and company? That’s the big question that will dictate how successful the Phillies will be next season.