A look ahead to the MLB season
On April 2, the quest for a World Series for all 30 MLB teams officially begins.
Though it is a 162 game season and anything can happen, there are some things that are much more likely than others. For instance, USA Today predicts a very similar finish to last season, with the Red Sox, Indians, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers all winning their divisions again.
The only difference from last year is the Houston Astros jump from a disappointing third place AL West finish to a division championship and with good reason. Second Baseman and reigning AL batting average leader Jose Altuve looks primed to carry the Astros back to the top of the west.
The AL Central, according to mlb.com, looks to be the least competitive division race of the year. The Cleveland Indians, fresh off a World Series run, will have a healthy starting rotation and have improved
at first base with the offseason addition of Edwin Encarnacion. Though the Red Sox are the
heavy favorites in the AL East, the Orioles and Blue Jays look to challenge them again, as do the younger Yankees. However, what sets the Red Sox one step ahead of the other contenders is their outfield – a three headed monster of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and rookie Andrew Benintendi. The Red Sox outstanding outfield, coupled with their improved starting rotation, gives them a strong chance to repeat at the AL East champs.
Looking to the National League, the East is a two horse race between the Nationals and Mets, however, with the Mets aging and rotation injuries, it looks like the Nationals will repeat. Fueled by perennial MVP candidate Bryce Harper, the dynamic offense will likely be too much to handle for the rest of the east to contend with.
The NL Central is Cubs territory, with bleacherreport. com predicting a 93 win season. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo power the Cubs’ monstrous
offense, and with Javy Baez looking to have a breakout year offensively and Jason Heyward to bounce back from career lows, it only looks to get even better. With the offseason addition of closer Wade Davis to help mitigate the loss of Aroldis Chapman, the Cubs are the odds on favorite to repeat as World Series Champions.
Finally, the NL West looks to be a battle between the Giants and Dodgers like usual. With neither team making large changes to their rosters this year, it will likely come down to the final weeks of the season as it has the past few seasons. However, the Colorado Rockies have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of baseball and look to vie for at least a Wild Card spot this year.
According to Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, the Chicago Cubs have the greatest odds to win the World Series, at 7-2, with the Boston Red Sox, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Cleveland Indians at 6-1, 7-1, and 9-1 respectively.
Yet, anything can happen in baseball, and it usually does.