With the 2017 baseball season officially underway, a few of us here at Minor League Ball are taking a blind stab at predicting winners, losers, award winners, etc. Funny thing is, one of us could be absolutely spot-on.
It probably won't be me.
Anyway, I'm staring into my cracked, dusty and somewhat glitchy crystal ball...
AL Cy Young Award: Aaron Sanchez, RHP, Blue Jays
I can't lie: I love Aaron Sanchez. This kid has got a load of talent, and the best part of that is that he hasn't peaked yet. He's got easy mid-90's velocity on a fastball with ridiculous movement, and he'll sink or cut it as needed. His curve could become one of the best in the league with a little more consistency, and he's got a change-up that could also become a plus offering. Most of his issues at this point can be chalked up to trusting his stuff and his ability, as well as his belief that he can be the ace of this staff.
Also, keep in mind that he's 24 years old, and he'll have those moments when he's letting his emotions get the best of him. He's not a free agent until 2021, with his first year of eligibility coming next year, but the Jays might be doing themselves a favor by locking him down by the end of this season. He could lead their staff well into the decade of the '20's. He was an All-Star last year, as well as the AL ERA leader. This is the year that he snags that Cy Young trophy.
AL MVP: Edwin Encarnacion, Cleveland Indians
I'm gonna go out on a limb, here. I've heard lots of people talk about Mookie Betts or Mike Trout as this year's winner, but I'm going a different route.
If the Cleveland Indians can manage to keep their core players healthy, the 2017 AL MVP will go home with Edwin Encarnacion. At age 34, bolstered by a batting order that could be even better than they were in 2016, the 1B-3B-DH will take home his first MVP award. Expect to see him take on something of a leadership role in Cleveland, though he'll do most of his talking with his bat.
If Manny Machado stays healthy, expect a lot of vote for him, maybe even a second-place finish (apologies to Trout).
AL Rookie Of The Year: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
Is there anyone out there who doesn't think it's going to be Andrew Benintendi? Come on. This kid's got the goods: quick hands and extra-base pop at the plate, strong defense in the outfield, and enough speed to take extra bases on a fairly regular basis. What's more, after a total of 151 games in the minors since 2015 and only 34 in the ML in 2016, he seems utterly unfazed by how quickly he's made it to the big leagues. I get the feeling that he'll have no trouble playing the Green Monster, and he'll probably knock an awful lot of doubles off of it as well. Write it down: BenTen is the one to beat for ROY.
2017 American League Results:
Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
LA Angels of Anaheim
Wild Card 1: Jays
Wild Card 2: Tigers
AL Champion: Red Sox
National League: Noah Syndergaard, Mets
NL Cy Young Award: If he can manage to stay on the field, Noah Syndergaard should be a lock for the CYA in the National League. But that may be a big "if". I sincerely hope that he managed to retain his flexibility when he put on that extra muscle in his off-season workouts. If he stays healthy, he wins it.
Along with that high-90's heat, there seems to be a burgeoning aggressive streak welling up in Syndergaard; it almost reminds me of guys like Kevin Brown and Pedro Martinez, or even Nolan Ryan. So add that "get off my plate" attitude to an already-dominant repertoire and you've got a potential ace among aces.
NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs
I would love to say that this is the year for Nolan Arenado, but his counterpart in Chicago may have something to say about that. With a lineup that only stands to improve, Kris Bryant should edge Arenado for the award. It doesn't hurt that Bryant is already something of a media darling, but it's also true that he's still not nearly hit his peak offensively. It will look like a neck-and-neck race for much of the season, but Bryant will take home the trophy.
NL Rookie Of The Year: Manuel Margot, Padres
Are you ready for this? It's none other than Manuel Margot of the San Diego Padres. The 22-year old center fielder will stun the experts and win the ROY over such contenders as Atlanta's Dansby Swanson, St Louis's Alex Reyes and Cincinnati's Amir Garrett. Margot's speed, pitch recognition and untapped extra-base power will make the transition to Major League competition virtually seamless.
2017 National League Results:
New York Mets
St Louis Cardinals
San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers
San Diego Padres
Wild Card 1: Cardinals
Wild Card 2: Nationals
NL Champion: Cubs
2017 World Series:
If ever there was a year for a dream World Series, this is it. The Cubs will return to the WS, this time to face the offensive juggernaut that is the Red Sox. This one goes the distance, and it will be one of the most exciting World Series battles in memory.
However, the Cubs will edge the Red Sox in seven to repeat as champions.
So how far outside of reality am I? Thoughts?