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This week and next, we’ll preview the 2017 MLB season, starting with the American League this week and the National League next week.
AL East – Boston’s Arms Better Than the Rest
The Boston Red Sox captured the AL East crown in 2016, and are in prime position to do the same in 2017. They added Chris Sale to a rotation including a pair of Cy Young winners (David Price and Rick Porcello), and have a lineup that will threaten to lead baseball in runs scored for the second year in a row. Keep in mind this next-level nugget we found at the time of the Sale signing; two pitchers have struck out 200+ batters and walked fewer than 50 batters in three-or-more consecutive seasons. Both of them, Sale and Price, will pitch for the Red Sox in 2017.
AL Central – Tribe Time Again in 2017
The gap between the division winner and the second-place team is widest in the Central Division in the AL, where the Indians are projected (by FanGraphs) to win by 11 games. Everyone knows how silly-good Andrew Miller was in the 2016 postseason, and the Indians added free agent Edwin Encarnacion to a lineup that was 5th in MLB in runs scored. Encarnacion has taken the most trips around the diamond in MLB since 2011 (210 home runs), and has been in the top-7 in the league each year since 2007.
AL West – What’s There to Make Sense Of?
If there’s anything we’ve learned over the past couple of seasons, it’s that the AL West is unpredictable. As much as we would love to give points to the Seattle Mariners for the nicest Spring Training hats, subjectivity has no home here. What we do know is that Robinson Cano continues to be one of the most solid players in baseball. He’s played in 156-or-more games in every season since 2006, and is one of three players with 100+ runs and 100+ RBI in three separate seasons, dating back to 2010. If Cano can come close to the 39 HR he hit in 2017, he’ll pace a Mariners team that could make some noise in the AL West.