And so the time has come. Baseball season begins today for the Yankees, Rays, Giants, Diamondbacks, Cubs and Cardinals. It begins Monday for everybody else, including the Nationals.
Which means it's time for some predictions. Don't worry, our annual Nats beat writer predictions will be posted Monday morning, an opening day tradition. For now, you'll just have to be satisfied with my own personal league-wide predictions.
Who's going to win each division? Who's going to capture the wild cards? Who's going to win the major end-of-season awards? And, of course, who's going to win it all? (This is the part where I'm obligated to mention that last year I had the Blue Jays beating the Giants in the World Series. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time.)
Here you go. Please be kind in the comments section. It's not easy putting your reputation on the line like this, you know ...
1. Nationals - First time making the playoffs in an odd-numbered year.
2. Mets (WC) - Too many injury concerns to win division, but should still reach October.
3. Braves - Going to surprise people this year, but not quite ready to win.
4. Marlins - Tragic loss of Jose Fernandez will have long-lasting effect.
5. Phillies - On the right track, but still a couple of years away.
1. Cubs - It's really hard to repeat, but few are positioned better to do it.
2. Cardinals (WC) - Always end up being better than you think they should be.
3. Pirates - Will need young rotation to step up return to contention.
4. Brewers - Trying to build it the right way, but it takes time to do it.
5. Reds - Scott Feldman is their opening day starter. Scott Feldman.
1. Dodgers - Lots of injury risks. But, man, are they loaded with talent.
2. Giants - Lineup a little too lacking to pick as a playoff team.
3. Rockies - Made some nice moves this winter, but can they pitch well at Coors?
4. Diamondbacks - Man, this organization has made some bad decisions (i.e. Grienke).
5. Padres - If anyone can figure out what on earth they're trying to do, let me know.
NL Rookie of the Year: Dansby Swanson, Braves
NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
NL MVP: Corey Seager, Dodgers
NL wild card game: Mets over Cardinals
NLDS: Nationals over Dodgers, Cubs over Mets
NLCS: Cubs over Nationals
1. Red Sox - Not the juggernaut some predicted, but still the best of the division.
2. Orioles (WC) - Don't know how they do it with that rotation, but they do it.
3. Blue Jays - Strong rotation should keep them in the hunt all year.
4. Yankees - In transition mode, but watch out for them in two years.
5. Rays - Have to overcome quite a bit, given their lack of resources.
1. Indians - They won't sneak up on anyone this time, but they're still really good.
2. Tigers - Last realistic chance for Miggy, V-Mart and Verlander?
3. Royals - Built a powerhouse, but finding out how hard it is to keep team together.
4. Twins - Roster full of blue-chip prospects hasn't panned out just yet.
5. White Sox - It's a total rebuild on the South Side, which means an ugly 2017.
1. Astros - Took a step back in 2016, now ready to take two steps forward.
2. Mariners (WC) - Majors' longest postseason drought finally comes to an end.
3. Rangers - Good enough to win some divisions, but maybe not this one.
4. Angels - They're wasting Mike Trout's golden years in Anaheim.
5. Athletics - After a nice run, headed for their third straight last-place finish.
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
AL Cy Young Award: Justin Verlander, Tigers
AL MVP: Jose Altuve, Astros
AL wild card game: Mariners over Orioles
ALDS: Indians over Mariners, Astros over Red Sox
ALCS: Astros over Indians
World Series: Astros over Cubs