As a lifelong Detroit Tigers fan, it is my duty, nay my obligation, to wish the worst for all divisional opponents. However, I couldn’t help but feel some apathy for the Cleveland Indians fanbase. But hey, at least you guys won more than one game, and in one World Series nonetheless.
The good news for the Tribe is their division still stinks, especially compared to them. The Twins won’t be troubling anyone anytime soon. While they have some solid prospects, they’re pitching staff still needs a lot of work. The same can be said for the White Sox.
While the Southsiders boast a stud prospect in Yoan Moncada, their MLB roster is a bit bare. Although, they knew that, which is why they dumped ace Chris Sale to the Red Sox in the offseason. Smart move to plan for the future when you know you can’t contend now. Maybe 2020 will be their year, but 2017 most certainly is not.
My beloved Tigers still have a scary lineup, a pretty damn good rotation, but once again their bullpen is iffy at best. Not like it’s been that way for a decade or anything. A healthy Jordan Zimmerman will help big time, and hopefully Michael Fulmer doesn’t see a sophmore slump. If relatively healthy they have a legitimate shot at a Wild Card spot.
Their big competition will be the Royals, who are coming off a not-so-great season. The 2015 World Series Champions (no anger, rage, or hateful feelings typing that!) did not defend their title very well, so with a few tweaks, I think they’ll be looking to prove last year was a fluke. And I think it was. Too much talent on that team.
The Indians added Edwin Encarnacion to an already complete team, this is their division unless they have about four catastrophic injuries. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Tigers or Royals have enough to snag a Wild Card spot.
Nothing like getting a 108-year-old monkey off your back. Not only did the Cubs win the World Series, ahead of schedule, but they are setup great for the future. They lose Dexter Fowler to Free Agency, and just plug in prospect any other team would kill to have. It’s that Theo Effect.
Second place is the Cardinals to lose at this point. The Pirates, who finished five games under .500 last year, did not do much to improve, and will probably be eclipsed by the Brewers who took some chances. St. Louis has an aging core, but upgraded their OF with Dexter Fowler, and still have a stocked farm system to pull from.
Unfortunately Cincinnati has been on a sharp decline the last few years. They’ve jettisoned mainstays Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce to look toward the future, but that’s left zero protection for Joey Votto. They will be holding down the bottom.
The Cubs run away with this one, with the Cardinals snagging the other Wild Card spot.