The sixth and final installment of the Game Haus’s 2017 MLB Rankings: Sizing up the Season. The season is almost upon us with just 14 days until pitchers and catchers report.
While teams continue to make minor moves before the start of camp, it appears rosters are mostly settled. Soon the conversation will switch from MLB hot stove to who will make the cut this spring. As Arizona and Florida prepare for early spring action it falls on The Game Haus to finish ranking those elite few who will undoubtedly be contending come October.
Without further ado, it’s time to round third and head for home.
5. Los Angeles Dodgers
2016 record: 91-71
The Dodgers are getting the band back together and they certainly paid to do it. Both Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner collected sizeable payouts at five years $85 million and four years $65 million respectively.
Los Angeles also managed to procure Logan Forsythe from Tampa to fill a minor gap at second. Offloading a prospect like Jose De Leon indicates a win-now mentality and there’s no reason LA shouldn’t have one.
Los Angeles brought the juggernaut Cubs to six games in the NLCS. With a healthy Clayton Kershaw and a budding star in Julio Urias, they should be right back in the mix. The Dodgers may face some resistance from the Giants and potentially the dark horse Rockies, but they’re still a clear favorite in the division.
4. Washington Nationals
2016 record: 95-67
The Nationals experienced a disappointing ending to 2016 but should see a strong return in the coming season. A fully healthy Bryce Harper is going to help here along with the pickup of Adam Eaton to shore up the outfield. The loss of Wilson Ramos may leave some questions at catcher but there is more than enough pop elsewhere in this lineup.
Young short stop Trea Turner exploded onto the scene in 2016 and appears more than capable of holding his own. Lineup aside, the combination of Max Scherzer and Steven Strasburg may represent the best one-two punch in the MLB, while the rest of the rotation remains solid.
Other than the Mets, the Nationals should have little to contend with in the East. Expect to see a Washington playoff appearance for the second year in a row.
3. Boston Red Sox
2016 record: 93-69
Chris Sale will head up a rotation that already has David Price and reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Pair that rotation with the lineup that scored the most runs in baseball last year, and it’s clear Boston will be formidable yet again.
There is no replacing Big Papi or his power production, but there is more than enough young talent to suffice. With arguably the number one prospect in Andrew Benintendi and MVP candidate Mookie Betts, a new generation of stars emerge.
The AL East may be the most hotly contested division this year, but the Red Sox remain a cut above.
2. Cleveland Indians
2016 record: 94-67
The Indians have been searching for a true middle of the lineup power bat for years. There can be no doubt they found it in Edwin Encarnacion. That move, a healthy Michael Brantley, and a pitching staff at full strength may help overcome a tough 2016 finish.
The Indians remain a team of scrappy role players but Terry Francona’s ability to manage this squad makes them dangerous. A top-tier rotation backed by the bullpen strength of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller means the Indians will need few runs to rack up wins.
A weakened AL Central clearly places them at the top of the division, but a strong October run is what’s needed to win it all.
1. Chicago Cubs
2016 record: 103-58-1
It’s hard to debate that the world champs and their young core will again be at the top of the mix. Some may have argued the loss of Aroldis Chapman would impact their less than dominant bullpen. However, this was quickly addressed with the addition of Wade Davis for an under-performing Jorge Soler.
Dexter Fowler chose to move on to a divisional rival, but will be replaced with more youth in Albert Almora Jr. Other than another year’s experience and one world championship under their belt, not much has changed in Chicago.
There’s a chance the consistent Cardinals or talented Pirates challenge the top, but it’s unlikely the Cubs miss a beat.
Link to Previous Rankings