The Year That Was: MLB in 2017



Somehow, I’ve been given the hospital pass of an Advent review on a busy sporting Saturday, so what better to hide here than that most Christmassy of activities, Major League Baseball. Not only is there none of the below, there’s no bloody tinsel either.

It was a season where the baseball itself came under scrutiny, it was “juiced” according to some pitchers, or the cause of blisters according to others. What it did do, was disappear into the stands at an unprecedented rate. A record number of dingers were hit as the 6000 mark wasn’t so much breached as rent asunder, the final total of 6105 putting the 5693 set 17 years before, well in the shade. It was probably not coincidental that a new high tide was set for strikeouts too, 40105 compared to the previous high of 38982 from 2016.

Anyway, on with The Show, with a look back at how each side performed in 2017 together with our own wholly unscientific ratings. We’ll start in the East and work our way West. The numbers shown are the 2017 record of each side, while those in brackets are the pre-season prediction from noted statistical analysis website Their “forecast is based on 100,000 simulations of the season and accounts for starting pitchers, travel distance and rest”. You need to go a long way to out nerd these nerds.

NL East Washington 97-65 – (92-70) Once again, the Nationals topped the NL East, gaining an extra couple of wins compared with 2016. A record good enough to get them the 2nd seed in the NL. Playoff futility continued though, as the Cubs ousted them after a deciding 5th game. Both Bryce Harper (OF) and Stephen Strasburg (P) missed time during the season, but with Max Scherzer putting in a Cy Young winning season on the mound and Daniel Murphy a Silver Slugger award at 2nd base, they cruised to the division title by 20 games. That lack of playoff success ultimately cost Dusty Baker his job, the manager getting "Dusty Bin"-ned at season’s end. BTM rating: RBI double

Miami 77-85 – (80-82) Somehow the Marlins got worse this season, the lone highlight of the year probably being the fact that a Derek Jeter led consortium bought the team. Well, that and Marcell Ozuna (LF) winning both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award. Just kidding, Giancarlo Stanton fans. The right fielder made a run at becoming the first none juiced hitter to better the 61 home runs of Roger Maris. He finished with 59 and had to settle for an NL MVP award, somehow beating out Joey Votto. They also had the only no hitter of the year, courtesy of Edinson Volquez who walked 2 and struck out 10 on his way to a 3-0 winner over Arizona. BTM Rating: Walk

Atlanta 72-90 – (74-88) The Braves actually improved this year, a tell tale sign of just how bad things have gotten in the peachy state. Ender Inciarte (CF) winning a Gold Glove aside, it was almost all about the off field stuff in Atlanta. Forfeiting 13 of their international prospects over signing irregularities serious enough to put former GM John Coppolella on the permanently ineligible list, but hey, they did get to open a new ballpark this year, despite Turner Field being barely 20 years old. BTM Rating: Struck out

NY Mets 70-92 – (87-75) Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The ‘Mazin Mets were anything but, falling 17 games short of their 2016 mark as injuries decimated their vaunted pitching lineup, well, injuries and Matt Harvey’s body being possessed by someone who’d never seen baseball before. Manager Terry Collins fell on his sword after the season, rather then allow himself to be pushed. BTM Rating: Dribbled a 1st pitch comebacker to the pitcher

Philadelphia 66-96 – (70-92) The Phillies weren’t expected to do much before the season started, yet somehow they managed to exceed expectation, winning even fewer games than they did last season. The mid-season call up of Rhys Hoskins at least gave the Phanatics something to cling to as he became the fastest player since 1913 to hit their first 11 home runs, doing it in 17 fewer at bats than anyone, ever. 11 Home Runs?? 11??? What kind of an obscure benchmark is that? BTM Rating: Foul tip

AL East Boston 93-69 – (88-74) The Red Sawx managed the mildly remarkable feat of matching their record from 2016, winning back-to-back division titles for the first time! Sadly for them, they met the Astros in the ALDS and lost in 4 games. It was a tale of two pitchers for the Sox, Rick Porcello losing an MLB high 17 games, while Chris Sale led the league in innings pitched and became the first AL pitcher in 18 years to pass 300 strikeouts, recording 308. As well as taking home a Gold Glove, RF Mookie Betts tied the ML record when he hit 8 RBIs from the lead-off slot against the Blue Jays on July 2nd. BTM Rating: Triple

NY Yankees 91-71 – (80-82) The Yankees were not really expected to do overly much this season, their rebuild was due to continue with their touted young stars getting extende game time. Enter, “The Judge”. Aaron Judge made himself just about the best player, never mind rookie, in the league this year. Effortless in the outfield, hitting home runs for fun and taking the AL Rookie record with 52, a figure that along with his 128 Runs, led the AL. He was ably backed up by Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius as they recovered fitness after injury. They made it all the way to the ALCS, losing in 7 to the Astros. Joe Girardi paying the price for not paying enough attention to a knob. His failure to appeal a “Hit by Pitch” decision in Game 2 seemed to be the thing that led to his firing. BTM Rating: Solo Home Run.