Monday, March 27, 2017

30 Teams, 30 Haiku: My 2017 Baseball Preview

My beloved Kansas City Royals were subdued by a World Series hangover one year later than anticipated. The realities of free agency defanged our rotation and bullpen in 2016, and injuries took their toll on key position players like Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Alex Gordon. Free agency continued to nibble away True Blue in 2017 --top thief Jarrod Dyson was due for a raise, now he's in Seattle-- and it looks like this will be the last year our 2015 championship core will stay intact. The biggest blow of all, however was the sudden and untimely death of Yordano Ventura in mid-January. For all his immaturity and anger issues, Ace was a team leader and the rock of our rotation. Like the passing of manager Dick Howser in the wake of the 1985 World Series, my Royals must soldier on in the face of adversity and tragedy.

Without further ado, my 2017 MLB forecast. I've been doing this haiku thing for a few years now, so I think my regular readers know the drill:

1. Nationals. That “win now” mantra/got louder; lack of closer/sole flaw. Still, they’re stacked.
2. Mets*. Aging stars must hit/to back up Thor and deGrom/playoffs are in sight.
3. Marlins. Fish gasping for air/soap opera atmosphere/Stanton carries load.
4. Phillies. Ruf never raised it/so he’s gone; dropping Howard/moves progress forward.
5. Braves. The worst is over/new ballpark, Dansby is real/but still young and raw.

1. Cubs. So much for curses/potential dynasty looms/weak link? Pitching depth.
2. Cardinals*. Plenty of weapons/almost a model franchise/not much power, though.
3. Pirates. Outside looking in/competitive, nothing more/young guys must produce.
4. Brewers. Villar, future star/keeping Braun around is the/biggest obstacle.
5. Reds. Treading water, like/”snipe hunt” for Red October/Votto is trade bait.

1. Dodgers. Puig, that wild card/could make or break contender/Kershaw? Still a beast.
2. Giants. An odd-numbered year/no curse or jinx, please watch out/key guys in their prime.
3. D-Backs. Building blocks in place/stud pitchers need rebound year/Paul can’t do it all.
4. Rockies. Mountainous bats paired/with iffy pitching; nothing/changes in Denver.
5. Padres. Nothing to see here/all-around ghastly pitching/oh, poor Wil Myers.

1. Red Sox. These ungodly arms/make up for power outage/Killer B’s will swarm.
2. Blue Jays*. Health questions aside/rotation is a sleeper/Jose must hit bombs.
3. Yankees. Can huge outfielder/hit? I’ll be the Judge of that/watch out in ‘18.
4. Orioles. Birds can flat-out hit/plus underrated bullpen/The rotation? Meh.
5. Rays. The best last place team/85 losses in no/win scenario.

1. Indians. Adding EE helps/injuries notwithstanding/Plum City tastes sweet.
2. Royals. Losing Ace, a blow/pitching? Sturdy but middling/making one last go.
3. Tigers. Miggy, muy bien/no flashy new guys, just a/solid status quo.
4. Twins. Hard to figure out/no bull on Dozier, yet/supporting cast lacks.
5. White Sox. Rebuilding, at last/James Shields can’t get any worse/and youth might prevail.

1. Rangers. These Texans stand pat/lengthy list of injuries/only obstacle.
2. Astros*. As long as starters/don’t overwork the bullpen/World Series dark horse.
3. Mariners. What a overhaul/King Felix getting crowned could/derail new look M’s.
4. Angels. Trout doesn’t have a/swimming situation; old/fogies hold him back.
5. Athletics. Moneyball critics/chuckle; versatile infield/doesn’t impress now.

NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Cubs
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
AL CY Young: Corey Kluber, Indians
NL Rookie of the Year: Dansby Swanson, Braves
AL Rookie of the Year: Yoan Moncada, White Sox
Comeback Player of the Year: Yu Darvish, Rangers
First Manager Fired: Bryan Price, Reds
2017 World Series: Red Sox over Cubs in 6

Play ball!

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