We made it through the All-Star break, what we traditionally consider midseason. The truth is, the season is about 56% complete, which is not splitting hairs when the standings can look so different with six games left than they do when the season is over. It’s time to put credibility on the line and predict who will be standing when the season ends, advance through the playoffs, and win the World Series.
Second-Half Predictions, All the Way to the World Series
Calling the Washington Nationals to win the NL East is not exactly going out on a limb. They could finish the season playing their Triple-A team, the Syracuse Chiefs, and probably still win the division. Watching what Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer accomplish the rest of the way will still be interesting. Beyond that, less the New York Mets calling up Tim Tebow, there is nothing else to say.
There is plenty to keep up with here because the Milwaukee Brewers are in first place. However, they will not hold on, despite impressive play so far. As the defending champs, the Chicago Cubs have the players, experience, and leadership to take them back to the division title. The St. Louis Cardinals will battle the Brewers for a Wild Card slot, but the Brewers will prevail. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Pirates, despite a resurgence by the ever-popular Andrew McCutchen, haven’t got enough juice to get it done and get back, after missing the playoffs last year.
Barring injuries, the Los Angeles Dodgers are a lock to win the West. The Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are both for real, but only one will make the playoffs, despite the current standings. Bud Black‘s Rockies will get in and hosting the Brewers in the NL Wild Card.
The Boston Red Sox are in the driver’s seat and will retain the championship of the East. The new York Yankees will battle and easily gain a Wild Card, but will not catch Boston for the title.
The Cleveland Indians are as strong as ever and will take the division again. It is impressive that the over-achieving Minnesota Twins are playing as well as they are, and they’re a sentimental Wild Card pick. Sadly, I just don’t see it. Kansas City is still a very dangerous team; the Royals will take a trip to Yankee Stadium in the AL Wild Card game.
It would probably be best if they just declared the Skunk Rule and let the Houston Astros hang out the rest of the season. Incredibly, the Los Angeles Angels are tied in the wins column for a Wild Card. However, despite the return of All-World Mike Trout, it isn’t going to happen.
Wild Card Games
The perpetually exciting Wild Card games will be no less so this year. Yankee Stadium will be treated to a Yankees victory over the Royals. In the NL, the visitors will win, as the Brewers will best the Rockies in the cool, thin, Denver air.
National League Division Series
The Dodgers are just too strong for the Brewers and will move on. However, the Cubs will not repeat. The Nationals will take the next step and eliminate the defending champions, though no one fears it will be another 108 years until the Cubbies win it again.
American League Division Series
For the second straight year, Terry Francona will tear the heart out of his old club, and the Indians will knock out the Red Sox. In the other ALDS, the Astros may be young, but they are too good for the Yankees and will advance, despite Aaron Judge continuing his torrid pace in the postseason.
League Championship Series
The Astros may have dominated the regular season, but it ends here. The Indians will break their young hearts and get back to the World Series in 2017. As for the Nationals, they will avenge their postseason loss to the Dodgers last year and make their first trip to the Fall Classic.
Lebron delivered the goods to Cleveland in 2016, but it will be the Indians bringing the championship home in 2017. We have marveled at Theo Epstein, but have underestimated just how good a manager Francona is. This year, he gets final validation. The Indians will knock out the Nationals and become World Champions.