Schaber: Royals poised to retake divisional crown - KMOV.com

Prediction

Schaber: Royals poised to retake divisional crown

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ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- With just a 24 hours remaining until games count, it’s time to make predictions before the 2017 season begins.

Here’s how the KMOV team sees the playoff picture shaking out:

Carly Schaber

National League East - New York Mets (90-72)

After falling to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Wild Card game, the Mets are set out to have a great season in 2017. With players such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets are going to be the team to beat.

Alongside a powerful offensive lineup, the Mets have a starting pitching rotation that’s ready to bring the heat. Noah Syndergaard will more than likely lead off the rotation, being followed by Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz (currently dealing with day-to-day elbow injury), Matt Harvey and Robert Gsellman. The Mets had a team ERA of 3.57 in 2016.

The Washington Nationals are going to be sneaking up behind the Mets this year. Players such as Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon are going to make the NL East competition a bit tighter.

National League Central - Chicago Cubs (94-68)

No, the Cardinals probably won’t catch up to the Cubs this year. It may take a couple years before the Cardinals are back on top. But the Cubs are fresh off a World Championship. Once a team wins a World Series title, they’re going to be hungry for more in the following year.

Offensively, the Cubs hit .256/.343/.429 in 2016. Up and down the Cubs’ lineup are players who can drive in runs. Defensively, the Cubs have a dangerous pitching rotation with players such as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

The Cubs didn’t make any big moves in the offseason -- but they were smart about it. With Dexter Fowler going to St. Louis and the retirement of David Ross, the Cubs may have lost some key players. Although, they looked at what they have and they know how to use the roster in a proper manner.

National League West - Los Angeles Dodgers (95-67)

The Dodgers have the best record on the PECOTA (Baseball Prospectus) projection board (96-66). Projected to have a big year, the Dodgers are going to be tough competition in 2017.

The Dodgers made a big move in December with the four year extension of Justin Turner. Turner is going to be a significant factor for the Dodgers in years to come. In 2016, Turner slashed a .275/.339/.493 line and a .832 OPS. On top of that, he hit 27 home runs.

Clayton Kershaw is another player that is still going strong for the Dodgers. He had a phenomenal 2016 season with an ERA of 1.69. Kershaw is going to be the essence of the Dodgers’ pitching rotation -- and he’s not quitting anytime soon.

Despite the Dodgers running into a few conflicts in 2016, they’re ready to come back in 2017 and fight for a championship title.

NL Wild Card 1: Cardinals

NL Wild Card 2: Nationals

Pennant: Dodgers

American League East - Boston Red Sox (98-64)

After falling to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series, the Red Sox are yet again hungry for another playoff berth. Not only are they hungry, but they’re also a young core with a crazy amount of potential.

Their pitching staff is what gets them to the postseason. Plenty of smart moves were made by the Red Sox this season; especially the move of signing Chris Sale from the White Sox. Not only do the Red Sox have Sale in the picture, but there’s also 23-year-old David Price. These two players within themselves are going to be formidable pitchers for any batter that faces them. And despite the new absence of David Ortiz, the Red Sox have plenty of guys to step up and fill those shoes.

Within the past 10 years, the Red Sox have been in the postseason eight times.  

American League Central - Kansas City Royals (91-71)

The Royals went out in a quiet fashion last year. After winning the World Series in 2015, the Royals didn’t even get a taste of postseason in 2016. With a team like the royals, a season like 2016 shouldn’t slow them down.

The Royals brought on new faces to their roster. But the familiar faces are still there: Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain and Paulo Orlando - who all had the big bats in 2016.

The pitching may be a concern, though. The Royals took a hard hit when Wade Davis when to the Cubs. As a closer, Davis threw a 1.87 ERA. Although, the Royals have a strong enough lineup to back up any one of their pitchers that are on the mound.

It’s a close race, but the Indians will be right behind the Royals to strike at any time - especially after losing in the World Series.

American League West - Seattle Mariners (90-72)

It’s been a long time coming. The Mariners have been are too quiet the past several years. In 2016, they started to make a chase for the top. In 2015, the Mariners finished fourth place in the division with a record of 76-86. But in 2016, they finished second place in the division and flipped the record around, ending with an 86-76 record.

With a new manager in the picture in 2016 (Scott Servais), there were dramatic changes that opened the eyes of many. He led the team to a winning season after a 2015 downfall. Players such as Kyle Seager (30 home runs), Nelson Cruz (43 home runs) and Robinson Cano (39 home runs) all led the team to more wins.

The big bats are brewing in Seattle and they’re going to be a hard team to beat in 2017. They’re coming for you, Astros.

AL Wild Card 1: Astros

AL Wild Card 2: Indians

Pennant: Red Sox

WORLD SERIES MATCHUP: DODGERS vs. RED SOX

WINNER: DODGERS

This is a World Series matchup that I would love to see. As close as this series might be, I have to go with the Dodgers. They’ve worked hard for the past several years and they’re due to win a title. They have the strength, youth, offense and defense to get the job done.

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