We have reached the Mid-Summer Classic. The non-official half way point of the MLB season. With the trade deadline on the horizon, we will be able to filter out the contenders from the pretenders in the upcoming weeks. It’s fun to try and predict who will be playing deep into October and coincidentally be hoisting the World Series trophy in November. Here are my predictions…Let’s dive in.
AL East Champion – Boston Red Sox – This was a tough one for me. Boston and New York should be in a tight battle from here on out. Boston currently holds a 3.5 game division lead. The Red Sox are as well rounded a team as you can have and will be a tough team to knock out in the playoffs. A rotation led by Chris Sale and David Price is as good as it gets come October.
AL Central Champion – Cleveland Indians – The AL Central is weak. There just isn’t a team that will be able to overtake the Indians after 162 games. The future is bright in Minnesota, but the Twins are exceeding expectations this season and should see a decline in the 2nd half. As summer continues to heat up, the Cleveland bats will follow suit. The Tribe will be in the market for an additional middle of the rotation arm at the trade deadline, but do not need to make any significant moves to return back to the postseason and be a strong contender.
AL West Champion – Houston Astros – Woah. What a first half for the ‘Stros. A 16.5 game first-place lead at the All-Star break. Even If they were to go .500 after the break, they would still finish with 97 wins. I expect a few hiccups along the way during the 2nd half, but they may very well end the season with the best record in baseball. A fully healthy Dallas Keuchel will be needed for a deep playoff run. However, the Astros are also in play for a top of the rotation pitcher (Sonny Gray or Jose Quintana?).
AL Wild Cards – New York Yankees, Texas Rangers – Rookie phenom and Home Run Derby champion, Aaron Judge, is a superstar and showing no signs of slowing down. I expect the Yankees to make a move for a starting pitcher as they begin to be a perennial threat in the playoffs again. I went with the Texas Rangers to pull out the last and final AL playoff spot. With a +29 run differential after their first 88 games, the Rangers have the offense to put this together. If they make a move for a bullpen arm or two at the trade deadline, we should see Texas back in the playoffs again.
NL East Champion – Washington Nationals – Currently sitting 9.5 games ahead of the surprising Atlanta Braves, Bryce Harper and the Nationals are right on pace to locking up the East for the 4th time in the last 6 seasons. Can they finally make it past the NLDS this year? Time will tell.
NL Central Champion – Chicago Cubs – After a disappointing first half of the season, the Cubs will look to find their rhythm in the 2nd half and overpower the Brewers for the NL Central crown (currently 5.5 games back). Like the Twins in the AL Central, Milwaukee won’t be able to sustain their first half success. The Cubs haven’t looked the same this year, as they had a 7-game lead at this point in time last year. It’s not hard to predict a turnaround in the 2nd half of the season….Look for last year’s MVP, Kris Bryant, to heat up and lead the charge after missing out on the All-Star game. The Cubs have far too much fire power to let this season slip away.
NL West Champion – LA Dodgers – Rookie phenom Part 2, Cody Bellinger, and the Dodgers rolled off 6 straight wins to close the first half of the season and finish with the best overall record in baseball. As they are well on their way to win their 5th straight NL West title, we’ll see if they (ahem…Clayton Kershaw) can get over the hump in October.
NL Wild Cards – Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies – Both teams are currently on top of the wild card chase and I don’t expect much to change (unless the Brewers continue to surprise). The Diamondbacks have turned the ship around this year and look to be headed to the playoffs for the first time in 6 years…while the Rockies will look to make the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.
2017 Mid-Season Playoff Winner Predictions
AL Wild Card – Yankees over Rangers
NL Wild Card – Rockies over Diamondbacks
ALDS – Astros over Yankees, Indians over Red Sox
NLDS – Dodgers over Rockies, Cubs over Nationals
ALCS – Indians over Astros
NLCS – Cubs over Dodgers
World Series – Indians over Cubs
I know. Hometown bias. Surprise, surprise. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a 2016 rematch though? Leave your predictions in the comments.