By MARIN MURPHY
I predict that the Boston Red Sox will play against the L.A. Dodgers in the 2017 World Series based on the following insight.
The American League predictions:
All five teams in the AL East look as though they will be decent in the 2017 season, but the Red Sox have the most potential and are the strongest team of the five by a long shot. One new challenge for Jon Farrell will be building a line-up without the game-changing David Ortiz in the DH spot. However, their strength lies in their pitching staff, with the addition of Chris Sales and his funky delivery. His presence on the team benefits Cy Young winner Rick Porcello by easing up some of the pressure he felt last season. Porcello’s strength lies in his ability to throw two pitches in the zone: his fastball and curveball. Steven Wright’s tricky knuckle ball is another pitch for opposing teams to look out for. Craig Kimbrel is one of the best relievers in baseball, although he struggled late last season. The kids, Bogaerts, Betts, Benintendi, and Bradley Jr., will most likely lead the Red Sox through an epic season!
The Cleveland Indians of the Central Division stand out as the favorite, with their strong pitching likely to lead them deep into the playoffs. Corey Kluber puts a nasty spin on his breaking pitches and Carlos Carrasco throws an effective split-finger fastball and slider. Danny Salazer delivers at high velocities and has the potential to be a number one starter, while Andrew Miller throws near 100mph. Picking up Edwin Encarnacion will benefit them, and Carlos Santana is another valuable hitter who has the ability to switch-hit with power. Francisco Lindor is expected to compete for MVP with the extra pop in his bat, and Michael Brantley has the unique ability to hit against lefties and righties. The combination of an effective pitching staff with unique hitting skills will most likely drive this team’s success.
The young team of the AL West, the Houston Astros, added some experience by signing Carlos Beltran. This team has a lot of young, talented hitters and fielders, but they lack strong, effective pitching. Dallas Keuchel has a high ERA, and Lance McCullers is more impressive, but has health issues. Signing Josh Reddick is beneficial to them, especially in the Astros’ hitter-friendly park. He should hit high numbers out of the park. Overall, this team is still developing because of all the young players on the roster, so the question comes down to whether they are too young and need more time to develop skills before becoming a scary team.
The National League predictions:
The Washington Nationals of the NL East could push deep into October with a healthy Bryce Harper. After his shoulder injury last season, he fell out of rhythm, which affected the performance of whole team, but with him back and feeling healthy he has the potential to dramatically change the dynamic of the team. Although he is disliked by many fans, his swing is one of the nastiest and he has the skill to put the ball in play when needed. Acquiring Adam Eaton in a trade over the winter strengthens the top of their batting order and their outfield. A healthy Harper and some new additions to the team could lead to a sound playoff spot.
The Chicago Cubs will be the team to beat in the NL Central; however, their pitching could take a step back since so many of their pitchers have reached their 30s, such as key starters, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and John Lackey. Their season was so perfect last year, with 103 wins, that it will be highly unlikely that they will play at that level again in 2017. A possible change from five starters to six will likely give them a boost in competition by placing Mike Montgomery and Brett Anderson in the 5th and 6th spots for starting pitchers. Adding depth to their pitching staff should keep them in first place in their division, although they might suffer from some negative effects of aging.
In the west, the depth of the L.A. Dodgers will most likely lead them to success, since they are far superior to the Cubs in that regard. Re-signing Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen was key, because they make up the core of the team. With strong hitting, the legendary pitching of Clayton Kershaw, and the developing pitching of Julio Urias, this team should stand out as the best in not only the NL West division but in all of the National League. Expect the Dodgers to stick around late into the Fall!