It’s a little bittersweet when the World Series approaches. On one hand, the culmination of an entire season of hard work can finish with sheer joy. On the other, baseball season is ending and that makes me sad. In the meantime, we have a tremendous “Fall Classic” with two 100-win teams, the first such World Series match-up in 47 years. However, before we get to my preview of this great series, we should see just how smart I am.
2017 MLB Season Recap (American League Predictions)
If you recall, I wrote a full season preview with division champs and bold predictions back in March. Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and see how much you can trust my judgment before calling Las Vegas for those World Series bets. Below are my division champions, full playoff picks, and bold predictions.
AL East: Division Champion – Boston Red Sox; Other Playoff Teams – Toronto Blue Jays; Bold Prediction – Red Sox Sweep Postseason Awards
The Red Sox won the Division, making it a lot tougher than expected. The Blue Jays struggled while the New York Yankees reached the postseason instead. Boston’s struggles, Corey Kluber, and Aaron Judge will make it impossible for Boston to get any postseason awards. Except maybe Craig Kimbrel as Reliever of the Year.
AL Central: Division Champion – Cleveland Indians; Other Playoff Teams – None; Bold Prediction – Detroit Tigers & Kansas City Royals become “sellers” at trade deadline
Once again, the Indians ran away with it, aided by an AL record 22-game win streak. The surprise of the year, the Minnesota Twins, became the first team ever to reach the postseason after losing 100 games the prior year. Meanwhile, the Tigers did trade Justin Verlander to the Astros. Something I hinted at in the preview.
AL West: Division Champion – Houston Astros; Other Playoff Teams – Seattle Mariners; Bold Prediction – Anaheim Angels make the playoffs
Houston was by far the best team all year (except the aforementioned streak by the Indians) and won their first AL Pennant. The Mariners saw some issues at the plate and injuries to their pitching staff while the Angels made it interesting, finishing just five games outside of a playoff spot.
2017 MLB Season Recap (National League Predictions)
NL East: Divison Champion – New York Mets; Other Playoff Teams – Washington Nationals; Bold Prediction – Atlanta Braves over .500
Yeah, this was a tough one for me. All the Mets injuries made them borderline tough to watch. Meanwhile, the Nationals were dominant up until the postseason and the Braves finished in third place at 72-90.
NL Central: Division Champion – Chicago Cubs; Other Playoff Teams – None; Bold Prediction – Pittsburgh Pirates trade Andrew McCutchen
Much like the Red Sox, the Cubs made it a lot tougher to win the division than they should have. The Milwaukee Brewers put up a great fight before falling down the stretch and Pittsburgh did not move McCutchen who has a $14.5 Million club option now.
NL West: Division Champ – Los Angeles Dodgers; Other Playoff Teams – San Francisco Giants; Bold Prediction – Colorado Rockies make the playoffs
The Dodgers ran away with the division en route to their first World Series appearance since 1988. San Francisco was out of it early but my Colorado Rockies reached the wild-card game before getting bounced by division rival Arizona.
2017 MLB Season Recap (Playoff Predictions)
I did pick all but one division champ correctly (thanks, Washington), but whiffed on all four wild-card teams. In total, I picked six of the ten teams who made the playoffs correctly. Not to mention the bold prediction of Colorado making up for it so we’ll say I got a 70% on that. Of all the bold predictions, Verlander being traded and the Rockies were all I got right, giving me 33% in that aspect.
Finally, I had Red Sox – Indians in the ALCS and Cubs – Mets in the NLCS (2-for-4) with Boston and Chicago meeting for the Fall Classic (goose egg). Overall, the predictions weren’t too far off base and proved that you can’t win it all on paper. Take this as a warning because it’s time to preview the 2017 World Series!
2017 World Series Preview
The first team to ever win a pennant in both leagues (remember, they switched to the AL in 2013), Houston has been the best offense all season long. Finishing the year with 101 wins, and going undefeated at home in the postseason, showcased how dangerous this team really can be. They averaged a Major League-best 5.53 runs per game, upping that number to 6.19 on the road. Both Jose Altuve (.346) and Josh Reddick (.314) were in the top-10 in MLB in batting average while Altuve & George Springer tied for the sixth with 112 runs scored.
The Astros don’t do it with one guy, it’s a total team effort. As a squad they hit .282, best in the bigs, belted 238 homers (second-most) and had 346 doubles (top in MLB). That offense will be needed too because their weak point (if you can call it that) is pitching. Houston ranked 11th in team-earned run average at 4.12, but recorded 1,593 strikeouts (second most). Furthermore, opponents hit just .240 against the Astros, a number that only improved with the acquisition of newly minted ALCS MVP Justin Verlander in August. Pair him with Dallas Kuechel, as they will to start the series, and that’s an insane 1-2 punch.
That rotation, coupled with an explosive offense, is a scary combination. Manager A.J. Hinch has pushed all the right buttons and the team has rallied around a city ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. The Astros have never won a World Series in their 55-year history and are making just their second trip to the Fall Classic. Their biggest downfall in this series may be that to win it all, they have to win at least one game in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Dodgers
A team that was on pace to shatter the MLB record for wins back in June, stumbled a little after the All-Star Break. However, by getting Yu Darvish in a trade with the Texas Rangers, and having such a comfortable lead, Dave Roberts was able to right the ship in October. The Dodgers are 7-1 in the postseason and blasted their way to their first World Series in 29 years.
Despite only batting .249 as a squad, if you sleep on Justin Turner you have already lost. After hitting .322 in the regular season with 21 homers and 71 RBI, he’s batting .387 with three bombs and 12 RBI in the postseason. He leads a lineup that boasts such young talent like Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager (if his back is healthy), Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, Enrique Hernandez, should I stop now? The Dodgers are also a patient team, taking an MLB-best 649 walks. They can score in bunches and made Chicago’s talented rotation/bullpen look totally inept.
If their offense doesn’t scare you, their pitching sure as hell should. Clayton Kershaw, Darvish, Alex Wood, Rich Hill, and Kenta Maeda are dazzling. Those five helped L.A. to 104 wins, an NL-best 3.38 ERA, and an MLB-best .228 opponents batting average. Turn it over to the bullpen and you have Kenley Jansen who posted 41 saves and a 1.32 ERA in 65 appearances. If there is anything that would hinder the Dodgers, is if their offense does go away. They are a team based off role players overachieving, even if you don’t think they are just role players.
You can’t go wrong rooting for either of these teams. Spectacular pitching, explosive offenses, and great storylines. I personally will be happy no matter who wins because you have some older guys trying to get their first ring on both sides. Justin Verlander and Carlos Beltran for Houston. Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce for Los Angeles. There are sentimental value and logic for picking either.
However, just to be “on the record” with it, I’m going with the Dodgers in six. I think Los Angeles just has too much pitching and their offense is clicking like it did in June. Plus, Houston showed some serious struggle on the road in the ALCS against the Yankees. Look for Clayton Kershaw to pitch a gem in Game 5 in Houston to put Tinseltown on the brink of a title.