American League first seed: Cleveland Indians
The big number on everyone’s lips when remembering the 2017 baseball season is 22 — that’s how many consecutive matches the Cleveland Indians won over the span of three weeks in late summer when they achieved the longest major league streak since 1916. Corey Kluber’s Cy Young-worthy year and Francisco Lindor and José Ramírez’s outstanding offensive and defensive play make this Indians team an even bigger threat than they were last year.
A special note for Blue Jays fans: Edwin Encarnacion led the team with 107 RBIs and 38 home runs.
What to look out for: Cleveland’s team earned run average (ERA) of 3.30 lead the majors in 2017. Last year, the Indians rode their stellar pitching all the way to the World Series, where they came close to being champions. Expect a similar run this year.
American League second seed: Houston Astros
When Justin Verlander joined an already-hot Houston team in late July, baseball fans everywhere knew the Astros were in an all-or-nothing run.
What to look out for: Houston’s speed and power on the base path is unrivalled. José Altuve and Cameron Maybin each collected over 30 stolen bases, and the dangerous lineup has power throughout. Good pitching is going to be supported by their powerhouse bats.
American League third seed: Boston Red Sox
Boston repeated their reign of the AL East, not quite letting the New York Yankees catch up to them in a tight and late berth-clinching season finish. Though riddled with injuries — including Dustin Pedroia and David Price, to name a few — the team mustered enough power, both through their offensive and defensive play, to clinch one of the most competitive divisions in baseball.
What to look out for: no player on the team hit over 25 home runs in 2017, so expect Chris Sale and Drew Pomeranz to pitch their team to victory. As far as other pitchers go, it will be interesting to see whether David Price can finally shake the monkey off his back.
American League first wild card: New York Yankees
With pitchers Sonny Gray and Luis Severino and powerhouse hitters Aaron Judge, Gary Sánchez, and Didi Gregorius, the Yankees have a team that, if consistent, can go all the way. Having home field in the Wild Card Game will give advantage to an already dangerously powerful team.
American League second wild card: Minnesota Twins
You’d have difficulty finding someone who would have predicted a Twins-Yankees Wild Card matchup, yet here we are. Pitcher Ervin Santana and second baseman Brian Dozier will make the game interesting, though the Twins’ hitters don’t quite match up to those of the Yankees.
A special note for Blue Jays fans: the Twins’ manager Paul Molitor won a ring with the Jays in 1993.
National League first seed: Los Angeles Dodgers
Though the most impressive win streak of 2017 belonged to the Cleveland Indians, the Dodgers winning 52 out of 61 games at one point in the season was a close second. Slightly diminished by the 11-game losing streak that opened up the month of September, the Dodgers bounced back, finishing the season with over 100 wins.
A special note for Blue Jays fans: pitcher Brandon Morrow has an ERA of 2.06 in 43.2 innings pitched.
What to look out for: Clayton Kershaw taking the mound is always a danger, but this year’s Dodgers team will rely on its powerful bats: expect those of Justin Turner, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger to make some noise.
National League second seed: Washington Nationals
The Nationals clinched the NL East berth for the second year in a row. And with undeniable star Bryce Harper back from injury, the Washington Nationals can go all the way. Ryan Zimmerman’s power at first base only adds to the argument.
What to look out for: it’s hard to ride an ace to a World Series win. Good thing the Nationals have three: pitchers Max Scherzer, Gio González, and Stephen Strasburg all have ERAs below 3.00.
National League third seed: Chicago Cubs
Last year’s World Series Champions are looking to repeat. Yet, lacking the heat and intensity of 2016, the Cubs’ clinching of the Central berth was lacklustre. However, newly acquired pitcher José Quintana can introduce a new surge of energy for the playoffs.
What to look out for: though not stellar or record-breaking in either pitching or hitting, the Cubs have a consistent enough roster, with pitchers Jake Arrieta and José Quintana and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, to make a deep run.
National League first wild card: Arizona Diamondbacks
With Zack Greinke officially being named as the starter for the Wild Card Game, the Diamondbacks can rely on newly acquired J.D. Martinez to bring the power.
National League second wild card: Colorado Rockies
No word as to who will start the Wild Card Game, but sluggers Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon will challenge the Diamondbacks’ Greinke in what will surely be an exciting precursor to the playoffs.
Final predictions: an Indians-Astros ALCS and a Dodgers-Nationals NLCS will see an Indians-Nationals World Series, where Cleveland will finally get their rings.
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber of the Cleveland Indians
With a 2.27 ERA, is there really any doubt as to who deserves the award?
AL MVP: José Altuve of the Houston Astros
His AL-leading batting average of .346 and his on base percentage of .410 make Altuve the unquestionable frontrunner for the award.
Honourable mentions: the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz.
AL Rookie of the Year: Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees
In 1987, Oakland Athletics’ Mark McGwire hit 49 home runs, establishing a record for home runs hit in a rookie season. In 2017, Aaron Judge hit 52. Enough said.
NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals
With a 2.51 ERA and a walks plus hits per inning pitched under one, need I say more? This is Scherzer’s year once again.
NL MVP: Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies
In what is sure going to be a close race, Charlie Blackmon — and his 212 hits — takes the cake for me. An impressive on-base plus slugging of 1.000 and 37 home runs only solidifies the argument.
Honourable mentions: Blackmon’s teammate Nolan Arenado and the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton.
NL Rookie of the Year: Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers
Similar to the AL, the NL also saw rookies breaking records: Cody Bellinger now holds the NL record for most home runs hit in a rookie season at 39, beating Frank Robinson and Wally Berger.