Will the Cubs repeat as World Series Champions?
Well, here we are again, a couple of weeks into the 2017 Major League Baseball season. How’s your team doing so far? Too early to tell, as the first month of play can be deceiving. Just ask all the Chicago White Sox fans out there. They started out 17-8 in April of 2016, only to finish 78-84 on the season. The Cubs, however, were 17-5 in their first month, en route to a World Series championship. Fact of it is, it’s just hard to tell. Fortunately, I’m here to help you from getting your hopes up about your team’s chances in 2017, by presenting the 2nd annual Baseball Scenarios MLB Predictions.
First, let’s review how well the predictions panned out last season. The 2016 season was simulated only five times, and the correct division winner was picked in five of the six divisions. The Astros were picked to win the American League West, which was ultimately won by the Texas Rangers. Now, I didn’t pick playoff winners last year, but I’m going to do so for 2017. This year, I doubled the number of simulations to ten. I wanted to throw a little more chance into the mix and see how things turned out. It turned out pretty much like I expected, so let’s take a look.
American League East
I’ll start with the American League East, which is again a fairly competitive division. The predicted winner again this year are the Boston Red Sox at 88-74. Boston advanced to the playoffs in 6 of 10 simulated seasons, with five division titles. The Red Sox made it to the World Series one time. The Tampa Bay Rays surprisingly came in second at 83-79. The Rays advanced to the post season four times and had two division titles. It looks like Tampa will likely fight for a wild card position this season. Coming in third are the Baltimore Orioles at 81-81. I would have thought the Orioles would finish higher, but they only made the playoffs three times, with two division titles and one World Series appearance. In fourth are the Toronto Blue Jays at 79-83. Toronto never made the post season in any of the simulations I ran. Finally, and this is terrible news for Yankees fans, the New York Yankees come in last at 78-84. The did manage to win the division one time, but it’s safe to say the Yankees are in rebuilding mode.
American League Central
It looks like the Cleveland Indians are an easy pick to repeat as division champ. Cleveland should finish the season at 95-67 and will likely clinch their division early. The Indians made the playoffs in 8 of 10 sims, winning the division in six of those eight seasons. They made it back to the World Series three times, but only won it once. Another surprising second place team is the Minnesota Twins, projected to finish 82-80. Although well behind the Indians, this is a far cry better than their 59-103 mark in 2016. The Twins managed to even make it to the playoffs four times, with two division titles and one World Series appearance. Coming in third are the Detroit Tigers at 77-85. The Tigers won the division twice and secured a wild card spot one time. In fourth place are the Kansas City Royals at 68-94. Not good news for Royals fans, but they couldn’t put a winning season together in any of the ten simulations. Finally, the Chicago White Sox lock up the basement at 67-95. Like the Royals, not a single winning season.
American League West
The Houston Astros come in at the top again this season, with a record of 90-72. The Astros saw the post season six times, won the division four times, went to the World Series twice and won it all one time. The Seattle Mariners are picked to finish second by a single game at 89-73. The Mariners definitely could break through this year and screw up my picks for division winners. In the ten seasons I ran the simulation, Seattle actually did better than Houston, advancing to the playoffs eight times and winning the division five times. They made one World Series appearance. Finishing in third place are the Texas Rangers at 83-79. The Rangers made it to the post season five times out of ten, but all were as a wild card team. They even made it to the Series once. It is likely they will make the post season this year as the second wild card team. The Los Angeles Angels will finish fourth at 79-83. They managed one division title and one wild card appearance in ten tries. Finally, the Oakland A’s finish in the basement again in 2017 at 70-92. Every season simulated left the A’s under .500.
National League East
The Washington Nationals are again the pick to finish at the top of their division with a mark of 94-68. The Nationals made the playoffs in 90% of the sims, with five division titles and four wild card appearances. The also won the World Series all three times they appeared. The reason that Washington had four wild card appearances was because they’re in the same division as the New York Mets. The Mets finished second with a record of 92-70. Out of the ten seasons simulated, the Mets made the playoffs eight times, four times as division winners and four times as a wild card. New York also secured a World Series title in their lone appearance. The Miami Marlins are third in the division at 74-88. It’s possible Miami could finish close to .500, but not likely. The Philadelphia Phillies are fourth in the division at 73-89. The Phillies finished one season over .500, but didn’t make the playoffs in any season. Finally, in fifth place, are the Atlanta Braves. New stadium or not, the Braves look to finish around 70-92.
National League Central
The Chicago Cubs will again win the division title, finishing at 95-67. The Cubs made the playoffs in 90% of the seasons I simulated, with eight division titles and one wild card appearance. They also repeated as World Series Champions on three occasions. Finishing second to the Cubs, again, are my beloved St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals look to finish at 83-79. St. Louis won the division one time and managed two wild card appearances, but I’m not holding my breath this season for that result in 2017. However, I would love for them to prove me wrong. The Pittsburgh Pirates finish at 79-83 and are in third place this season. They did manage to win the division title once in the ten seasons simulated. The Milwaukee Brewers come in fourth at 72-90. Milwaukee managed one good season, which resulted in a wild card appearance, but the reality is that they won’t see the post season in 2017. Wrapping up the NL Central are the Cincinnati Reds at 71-91. The Reds managed one winning season in ten tries, but failed to make the playoffs in any.
National League West
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the favorites in the West, finishing the season at 100-62. The Dodgers made the playoffs 90% of the time, all as division winners. They won the World Series once in three tries. In second are the San Francisco Giants at 87-75. The Giants made the playoffs five times, four as a wild card. It’s likely they’ll do the same this season. The Arizona Diamondbacks come in third at 83-79. Arizona managed three wild card appearances in the ten seasons I simulated. In fourth place are the Colorado Rockies, who come in at 77-85. The Rockies made it to the playoffs two times in ten tries. Finally, the San Diego Padres finish up in last place at 72-90. The Padres managed two winning seasons, but no playoff appearances.
As you well know, anything can happen in a one, five or seven game series. With that being said, I think the Cleveland Indians are the strongest team in the American League and will repeat as league champions. The National League is much more complicated. The strongest team in the NL are the Dodgers, but the Cubs and Nationals are powerful in their own right. Any of these three teams could advance to the World Series in 2017 to face Cleveland. My pick, however, is the Chicago Cubs. I like the idea of a rematch, plus the Cubs are still the champs until someone unseats them. The rematch, however, will go to the Indians in seven games.