(Image courtesy of STL Baseball Weekly, 2017 MLB Predictions)

The 2017 season is finally here, ladies and gentlemen! After a long and eventful offseason, Major League Baseball has returned. Our panel of baseball writers has teamed up once again to provide you with our predictions of award winners, division champs, and postseason heroics. Check out LMBF’s pre-season analysis of each division if you haven’t already:  AL EastAL CentralAL WestNL EastNL Central, NL West.

And now, for the LMBF 2017 MLB Predictions…

Awards:

AL MVP

Charlie Wooding

  1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
  2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
  3. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

Not picking Mike Trout to win MVP is a tough pill to swallow, but that’s how bullish I’m on 3rd year Correa. After a plateau in year 2, its time for Correa to blow up. Batting 3rd in that loaded Astros lineup Correa breaks out a 30 HR, 110 RBI season on way to the MVP.

Steve Campbell

  1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
  2. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
  3. Francisco Lindor, SS, Cleveland Indians

Why Trout: Isn’t it obvious? He’s been the best player in the AL fairly consistently and that isn’t going to change anytime soon. Add in the fact that the Angels actually have a chance to play .500 ball or better this year and it’s a done deal. However, definitely keep an eye out for HUGE years from Correa and Lindor combined with their teams both looking like good bets for the playoffs to make this year’s ballot especially challenging for the voters.

John Hayes

  1. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
  2. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros
  3. Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles

Correa has a monster year, but an improved Angels team and a normal (amazing) season from Trout ensure him another well-deserved MVP award.

NL MVP

Charlie Wooding

  1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
  3. Starling Marte, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates

Your 2017 MLB HR’s leader right here, Harper is going to put last year’s injury filled year behind him and drive Trea Turner and Adam Eaton in a few hundred times. Hopefully he doesn’t get the Joe Maddon treatment all summer.

Steve Campbell

  1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Why Harper: Although Bryant and Goldschmidt can both be expected to put up some seriously huge numbers, I really see Bryce coming back with a vengeance this year. I don’t know if it was multiple intentional walks he received in the four-game series against the Cubs that put him over the edge and messed up his rhythm last year. But, if that was the case, I think he ought to get used to getting put on for free with the monstrous comeback he’ll be making this year.

John Hayes

  1. Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
  2. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
  3. Kris Bryant, 3B, Chicago Cubs

Bryce Harper looks poised to put a disappointing 2016 season behind him. Expect Harper to Make Bryce Fun Again in 2017.

AL Cy Young

Charlie Wooding

  1. Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
  2. Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians
  3. Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays

He has been the AL’s best pitcher for some time now, and he finally gets a season where his starts matter. The ultra-competitive Sale will enjoy the new found organizational competence and offensive around him and put together a unanimous AL Cy Young season.

Steve Campbell

  1. Aaron Sanchez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Chris Sale, SP, Boston Red Sox
  3. Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians

Why Sanchez: When is the last time the Blue Jays had a dominant pitcher? I’ll wait. Combine that with Chris Sale in an unfriendly batters’ park and Corey Kluber continuing to age. Sanchez is certainly not the favorite, but I could easily see him running away with this race if Sale runs into trouble and Kluber regresses.

John Hayes

  1. Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
  2. Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians
  3. Aaron Sanchez, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

After losing 19 games in 2016, Archer looks poised for one of the biggest comeback seasons in recent history.

NL Cy Young

Charlie Wooding

  1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
  3. Carlos Martinez, St. Louis Cardinals

Duh. Unless injured Clayton Kershaw is the very best the world has to offer at hurling a baseball. This is a no brainer.

Steve Campbell

  1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
  3. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

Why Kershaw: Next question please. Just go ahead and read what Hayes and Wooding have to say about the best pitcher of his generation. This is an easy call.

John Hayes

  1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
  3. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants

A full season of a healthy Kershaw pushes the Dodgers to another division title and another Cy Young for the best pitcher of this generation.

AL Rookie of the Year

Charlie Wooding

  1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
  2. Jharel Cotton, SP, Oakland A’s
  3. Reynaldo Lopez, SP, Chicago White Sox

#1 is such an easy choice I’ll instead use my blurb to hype up two small righties due for big years. Cotton and that nasty changeup will have a full season of starts compared to a mid summer call-up for Lopez, but I expect both of them to really impress here in 2017.

Steve Campbell

  1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
  2. Greg Bird, 1B, New York Yankees
  3. Yoan Moncada, 2B, Chicago White Sox

Why Benintendi: Andrew is the early favorite for good reasons after seeing how seamlessly he transitioned to next-level pitching at the end of 2016. Like Kershaw to the Cy Young, he is the clear favorite if he stays healthy and performs even half as well as he’s shown capable of.

John Hayes

  1. Andrew Benintendi, OF, Boston Red Sox
  2. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
  3. Reynaldo Lopez, SP, Chicago White Sox

This will be a two-man race between AL East rivals despite Lopez showing dominance after a mid-year call-up.

NL Rookie of the Year

Charlie Wooding

  1. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
  2. Manny Margot, OF, San Diego Padres
  3. J.P Crawford, SS, Philadelphia Phillies

Well done Dave Stewart. Swanson and his lettuce will be the staple of Atlanta Braves baseball for the next 15 years. The South’s Derek Jeter is here to stay.

Steve Campbell

  1. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
  2. Hunter Renfroe, OF, San Diego Padres
  3. Tyler Glasnow, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

Why Swanson: Again, a fairly clear favorite, Swanson has already proven to be MLB ready with a full arsenal of skills that cannot be ignored. With a new stadium in Atlanta this summer, his performance (and Bartolo Colon’s beloved stature) will be key to selling more tickets than the White Sox in the battle of least tickets sold.

John Hayes

  1. Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
  2. Manny Margot, OF, San Diego Padres
  3. Robert Gsellman, SP, New York Mets

Swanson’s ROY campaign serves as the marker of Atlanta’s resurgence as a NL East power for years to come.

Predictions

Divison Winners:

AL East:

Charlie Wooding: Boston Red Sox

Steve Campbell: Boston Red Sox

John Hayes: Boston Red Sox

AL Central:

Charlie Wooding: Cleveland Indians

Steve Campbell: Cleveland Indians

John Hayes: Cleveland Indians

AL West:

Charlie Wooding: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Steve Campbell: Houston Astros

John Hayes: Texas Rangers

AL Wild Card:

Charlie Wooding: 

Toronto Blue Jays

Houston Astros

Steve Campbell:

Toronto Blue Jays

New York Yankees

John Hayes:

New York Yankees

Houston Astros

NL East:

Charlie Wooding: Washington Nationals

Steve Campbell: Washington Nationals

John Hayes: Washington Nationals

NL Central:

Charlie Wooding: Chicago Cubs

Steve Campbell: Chicago Cubs

John Hayes: Chicago Cubs

NL West:

Charlie Wooding: Los Angeles Dodgers

Steve Campbell: Los Angeles Dodgers

John Hayes: Los Angeles Dodgers

NL Wild Card:

Charlie Wooding:

New York Mets

Pittsburgh Pirates

Steve Campbell:

St. Louis Cardinals

San Francisco Giants

John Hayes:

St. Louis Cardinals

San Francisco Giants

ALCS

Charlie Wooding:

Cleveland Indians over the Toronto Blue Jays

Steve Campbell:

Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians

Many people will probably be shaking their heads looking at this prediction. Call me crazy, but I think the Boston offense finds some magic this time around, even against a healthy Indians rotation and loaded bullpen. While David Price has never proven his ability to pitch in the postseason, his early-season rehab could help him to go deeper into the year. Oh, and did I mention Chris Sale? Yeah, if anyone has the motivation to prove himself this postseason…it’s definitely Sale. While he doesn’t have incredible numbers against the Indians in the last three years, you’d better believe he still remembers the book on them.

John Hayes:

Boston Red Sox over the Cleveland Indians

NLCS

Charlie Wooding:

New York Mets over the Chicago Cubs

Steve Campbell:

Los Angeles Dodgers over the Chicago Cubs

Why the Dodgers: To all Cubs fans disappointed in this pick, think of the Blackhawks’ dominance from 2013-2015. Repeating as champion in any professional sport is nearly impossible. So, after a demoralizing loss to the Cubs in 2016’s NLCS, the Dodgers will come back with a vengeance. Clayton Kershaw will not make the same mistakes again, and his two or three wins in three starts in the NLCS will be enough to send the Cubs packing after breaking their drought. Plus, Joe Blanton won’t be around to hand the Cubs games this year.

John Hayes:

Los Angeles Dodgers over the Chicago Cubs

World Series

Charlie Wooding:

Cleveland Indians over the New York Mets

After coming so close in 2016, the Indians are my clear WS favorite in 2017. The addition of Edwin Encarnacion was the best move of the off-season, and when combined with the return of Michael Brantley the Indians suddenly have an extremely formidable lineup 1-9. Add on to that one of the best starting rotations in the majors and a Shaw-Miller-Allen bullpen that added LOOGY specialist Boone Logan and you have the MLB’s best team. I see them taking out the Mets, who steal the NL crown behind a dominant postseason from Thor, DeGrom, Harvey and Matz, toppling the Cubs in the NLCS.

Steve Campbell:

Los Angeles Dodgers over the Boston Red Sox

I just don’t think the Red Sox young core is ready for a title quite yet. The Dodgers have tried and failed enough times recently to know what it takes to get where they need to be. If Kershaw remains healthy deep in the season and Rich Hill/Kenta Maeda pitch to even 80% of their potential, this team will be very tough to beat. I expect a monstrous season from Corey Seager and the support of Justin Turner, Yasmani Grandal and a potential 30+ home run year from Joc Pederson could be all it takes to take this pitching juggernaut to the top.

John Hayes:

Los Angeles Dodgers over the Boston Red Sox

The Dodgers spent the offseason building depth, retaining their core pieces, and getting healthy. Even with the record-setting number of injuries last season, L.A. came within one game of their first World Series appearance since 1988. No NL team has repeated as World Series champions in 95 years, and the Dodgers look poised to keep Chicago from breaking that streak in 2017. Kershaw earns his first ring, and the City of Angels celebrates a much-deserved championship in November.

 

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