The 2017 baseball season is here with plenty of new expectations and hope for all 30 teams. Our consensus of handicappers provides their annual predictions on their best season win total bets as well as American League and National League champions, along with World Series winners.
Following Cleveland’s run to the World Series last season, many experts believe the Indians will make a return to the Fall Classic. In the National League, the Cubs aren’t the favorite to repeat as champions this season according to our stable of handicappers, as the Dodgers and Nationals are expected to play for the pennant.
From the win totals perspective, there are plenty of varying opinions from our handicappers on which teams will overachieve and which ones will fall short of their victory total.
Expert Jimmy Boyd believes St. Louis will eclipse their win total of 84 ½ and return to the postseason, “Last year was a down year for the Cardinals and they still won 86 games. I’m not sure why the books are expecting a worse finish in 2017. I love the addition of Dexter Fowler to fill the void at the top of the order. I also think St Louis’ rotation is underrated. I look for a big bounce back year from Adam Wainwright and a boost from Lance Lynn, who missed all of last season. Sure the Cardinals are in the same division as the Cubs, but they also find themselves in the same division as two of the worst teams in all of baseball in the Brewers and Reds. Let’s also not overlook the fact that the Cardinals have won at least 85 games in each of the last 9 seasons. I believe they are a lot closer to a 90-win team than people think.”
Looking further down in the NL Central, handicapper Joe Nelson isn’t high on the Pirates improving from a 78-83 campaign in 2016. “Pittsburgh fell from 98 wins in 2015 to just 78 wins last season it is hard to envision the Pirates making a big leap back to contention this season as the window of opportunity may be closing for this group. Andrew McCutchen may never re-gain his past MVP form, Gregory Polanco could start the season on DL and Jung Ho Kang’s career appears to be in complete limbo with his visa revoked as the lineup lacks the upside of past seasons. The bullpen will also have some big question marks without Mark Melancon for the ninth inning, with the All Star closer almost completely responsible for Pittsburgh’s decent relief pitching numbers last season.”
Over in the American League, the Rangers are poised for a return to the World Series for the first time since 2011. Bruce Marshall is keen on Texas keeping up its winning ways in 2017, “ Don’t see the Rangers dropping 10 win from last year’s 95-67 mark that was good enough to run away with the AL West. There was some outflow in free agency (Ian Desmond, Mitch Moreland, Carlos Beltran) from the everyday lineup, but Mike Napoli returns for another tour of duty at 1B and DH, and Texas now gets a full season from last year’s trade additions CF Carlos Gomez and C Jonathan Lucroy. There are a few questions in the rotation beyond Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, though ex-Padre and Marlin Andrew Cashner has flashed some real upside in the past. Texas appears again the team to beat in the West.
Past Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington as the teams to beat in the National League, San Francisco continues to ride under the radar. Our friends at ASA sees tremendous value in the Giants to win it all at 15/1. “San Francisco has won at least 84 games every year but one since 2009. They’ve been in the playoffs in four of the last six seasons. We expect them to get there again in 2017 as they return nearly every key cog from last year’s 87-75 Wild Card team. They were 4th in the N.L. in run differential last season topped by only the Cubs, Nationals, and Dodgers.”
ASA points out that San Francisco should clean up within the NL West, “The Giants sit in a fairly weak division with the bottom 3 (Colorado, Arizona, and San Diego) finishing with 75, 68, and 66 wins and all 3 are projected to finish below .500 again this year. It’s the Giants and Dodgers battling it out for the NL West with the second place team very likely to push into the playoffs as a Wild Card.”