I am a very big baseball fan as many in my life know.
Major League Baseball is in Spring Training now. There is quite a bit of time until the World Series Champion is crowned.
Quite a few of the playoff teams from last year have added even more fire power to already potent lineups.
I have yet to judge the potential individual awards for who will be candidates for MVPs, Cy Youngs, and Rookies of the Year. However, I have seen other predictions about who will win the World Series.
Some say that with the addition of Giancarlo Stanton, the NL MVP, that the Yankees will win the World Series. I laugh at them. He likely will see his strikeout total rise but will not top his new teammate Aaron Judge, who will lead in that department. The Yankees will get to the playoffs. But the Red Sox added J.D. Martinez, who had a really good last year and will likely help Boston return to the playoffs likely as the AL East Champions. However, neither will make their way to the World Series. The AL West Champion, and defending World Champions, Houston Astros, added strength to their already formidable rotation with another ACE Pitcher. This gives the Astros 4 ACES: Kuechel, Verlander, Cole, and McCullers. Likely the best one through four staff in the majors. The lineup of the Astros saw no shakeup in the offseason, only minor role players left or were let go.
Thus I see the American League Playoffs shaping up this way:
WildCards: New York and Minnesota
AL East Champs: Boston
AL Central Champs: Cleveland
AL West Champs: Houston
AL Champs: Houston beating Boston
The NL is likely to come down to the pitching overall. With Arrieta still not with a home, the Cubs will finds a way to slide into the playoffs in a really weak division. The toughest division looks to be the NL West where 3 teams could emerge to make the playoffs: LA, San Francisco, and Arizona. The NL East looks to be dominated by Washington until someone steps up to take the reigns from them. Not very likely.
Thus I see the National League Playoffs shaping up this way:
Wild Cards: San Francisco and Arizona
NL East Champs: Washington
NL Central Champs: Chicago
NL West Champs: Los Angeles
NL Champs: Washington beating Los Angeles
I do not see a repeat of last years amazing world series, but I do not see the Washington Nationals to claim their first either. Houston will win the World Series versus Washington. Washington has the moxie to get through a rather tough NL Playoff bracket. But they do not have enough to take on the starting rotation or to silence the bats of the Houston Astros.
I predict that the Houston Astros will repeat as World Champions. I am not biased. Even though, I am a fan of the Astros. I look at this through logic and statistics. The Astros have the AL MVP and most consistent player the last five years, Jose Altuve and two former CY Young winners, Kuechel and Verlander, and a potential two other Cy Young candidates in Cole and McCullers.
As for the individual awards... I will have to determine my thoughts on those later in the year and later in Spring Training. With less than a month before the regular season begins, we will see everything ramp up and let's "Play Ball!"
Bryan Rainey is the author of the METAVERSE and Odyssey Star sagas. He is also the publisher and cover artist of the books.