UPDATE, SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2017: I WAS WRONG ABOUT LITERALLY EVERYTHING
Here we are, game 162 (of 2016). The story of this year is yet to be completed, as we have an intense Wild Card race yet to be resolved, and the entire postseason to play, so we will save that for after the dust has settled. That being said, we can look (way) ahead to game 162 of next season and examine some of the headlines that we (might) be reading.
Cubs seek World Series Redemption after being Stunned by Rangers
By all accounts, the title was theirs for the taking, and it slipped through their fingers. Thanks to some ill timed errors and a shockingly strong showing by the Rangers pitching staff, the Cubs yet again had to wait “until next year”. Predictably, however, they steamrolled the National League again in the 2017 regular season, and find themselves in the drivers seat again to avenge a series loss that, by most accounts, shouldn’t have happened.
Justin Verlander Favorite to win 2nd Consecutive Cy Young Award
Propelled from his dominant performance in the 2nd half of 2016, Justin Verlander carried that over to 2017, and never let up off the gas. Cruising to a sub 3 ERA, and 200+ strikeouts, and adding his third no-hitter along the way, Verlander further cements his legacy as the most dominant pitcher in recent memory, also while leading the Tigers to a surprise NL Central title, defeating the defending champion Cleveland Indians.
Braves Middle Infield Favorites to Take MVP/ROY Honors
The Braves opened Sun Trust Park with a memorable season, watching the teams meteoric rise from obscurity to contenders, staying intensely in the Wild Card hunt until the bitter end, getting the short end of a 3 team race for the final spot in the postseason. The true victory for 2017 in Atlanta came in the form of hardware for their middle infield, Rookie of the Year honors for 2nd baseman Ozzie Albies, who led the Braves potent speed attack (they led the league in Stolen Bases) after being called up in June following the Jace Peterson trade, and short stop Dansby Swanson, who took home the MVP. Swanson led the team in runs scored, batting average, and managed to post his first 20/30 season, while also taking home the Gold Glove as well. Look for this tandem to lead the Braves to a playoff spot in 2018.
The Jose Bautista Offseason Saga Begins Again
After a bizarre off season in 2017 that saw 36 year old Jose Bautista not receive any “serious” free agency offers, he re signed a one year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, but not without making his opinions known that he believed his reputation among his rival AL teams prevented him from signing a long term contract. He re enters the free agent market hoping to get the three year deal he believes he deserves, but faces an uphill battle after a down year (albeit, injury free) at the plate, and the media circus that he brought along with him.
After the Dust Settled, Pittsburgh, Colorado, and Arizona Blow it Up, Begin Rebuilding
The 2017 trade deadline goes down as one for the history books, as we saw Starling Marte, Zack Grienke, and Carlos Gonzalez all change uniforms on the same day. This signals major turning points for teams that had been hinting at a rebuild last season, but decided to hold pat or even in some cases add on (see Arizona). The Pirates were in the postseason as recently as 2015, but failed to advance past the Wild Card game for the 2nd consecutive season. While Colorado and Arizona have not so much as sniffed the postseason in some years, it comes as somewhat as surprise with Arizona’s spree of high dollar additions over the years (Shelby Miller, Zack Grienke) and Colorado repeatedly refusing to trade it’s most sought after stars (Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon), but rough starts to the season for both teams found them so far removed from contention a move had to be made.
It’s fun to pretend!