The Year That Was: MLB in 2017

Baseball

ByTheMinMLB

Tampa Bay 80-82 – (81-81) The Rays were 11 games better than in 2016, and yet not really anywhere close to anything. Evan Longoria was his usual Gold Glove self at 3B while Alex Colome compiled more saves than any other closer with 47. Chris Archer deserves better than his record, and they all deserve better than to play in the Tropicana Dome. BTM Rating: Caught stealing home

Toronto 76-86 (89-73) – 84-78 Oh the Blue Jays. Their window of World Series contention slammed shut in no uncertain fashion after a spate of early injuries to the big stars and a rash of blisters to frontline pitching left them struggling. A 1-11 start left them reeling and despite getting to within a game of .500 on a couple of occasions, it was a hill they couldn’t conquer. Marcus Stroman continues to be fired up on the mound and Kevin Pillar "Superman" in CF, but there’s now a Jose Bautista shaped hole in the lineup and a decision to be made on the Bringer of Rain. Josh Donaldson’s contract has just a year left to run. BTM Rating: Infield fly.

Baltimore 75-87 – (78-84) The Orioles suffered a similar slump to that of the Jays, dropping just the one extra game, although in fairness they were expected to struggle this season so they at least fulfilled expectation. Zach Britton probably the lone highlight as the closer set an AL record for consecutive saves at 55 as he converted in a win over Houston in July. BTM Rating: Bloop single

AL Central Cleveland 102-60 – (94-68) Cleveland cruised to the division title by a 17 game margin as their 102 wins secured them the top seed in the AL Playoffs. Driven by a pair of 18 game winners in Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber, they enjoyed a 22 game winning streak over August and September. The longest such streak since 1916. It proved in vain as the Yankees upset them in 5 games in the ALDS, despite them taking a 2-0 lead. BTM Rating: Solo HR

Minnesota 85-77– (74-88) The Twins. Winners of just 59 games in 2016, came from nowhere to earn a wild card slot in 2017, becoming the first team in MLB history to make the playoffs having lost 100 games the previous year. They lost the Wild Card game to the Yankees sadly. Lacking any big names, they hustled and played hard most nights. Byron Buxton will be a star at some point though, the CF joined teammate Brian Dozier (2B) in winning a Gold Glove, while Paul Molitor was named AL Manager of the Year. BTM Rating: Three run HR.

Kansas City 80-82 – (74-88) The Royals 2017 got off to a sad start, with the death of pitcher Yordano Ventura in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. Their opening Day ceremnonies paid to tribute to the ace. It probably says something about a team’s season that the only noteworthy thing I can find to comment on was their historically futile 45 inning streak in August where they failed to register a run. Jason Vargas did his best, tying for the AL lead with 18 wins, while Whit Merrifield led the stolen bases category with 34, just the 26 steals behind the NL leader. No one swipes bags like they did in the old days… why bother when you can just hit it out of the park? BTM Rating: Grounded into a double play

Chicago White Sox 67-95 – (73-89) You can’t accuse the White Sox of sharing in the Cubs World Series hangover, for one the Cubs didn’t have a hangover and two, the Sox were never likely to trouble the upper levels of the division. Any noteworthy players were traded away last offseason as the other Chicago team have gone in to full rebuild mode. BTM Rating: Base hit

Detroit 64-98 – (82-80) Put your hands for Detroit. If you can play, that is. The Tigers endured their worst season since 2003 as they finished tied for the worst record in the majors. Due to a tie break, they’ll have first pick in the draft. They may have honoured their owner, Mike Ilitch who passed away in February, with a shirt patch, but they didn’t with their play. A measure of their frustration can be found in 2017s epic bench clearing brawl (featuring some typical Yankee cheap shots). Stars Justin Verlander and JD Martinez were traded at the deadline and manager Brad Ausmus was released after the season ended. BTM Rating: Line drive to 2nd.

NL Central Chicago Cubs 92-70 – (98-64) The Cubs were always going to struggle to repeat their historic 100-win, 108 year hoodoo ending 2016. They gave it a good go though. With most of that roster still intact they repeated as division champions before disposing of the Nationals in the NLDS. A repeat of the NLCS followed, what changed was the result. The Dodgers took it in 5. Along the way, Joe Maddon became the 63rd manager to reach 1000 wins. BTM Rating: Home Run

Milwaukee 86-76 – (74-88) The Brewers surprised everyone by hanging around in the race a lot longer than was expected, missing out on the division by 6 games, but even more heart-breakingly, they missed the wild card by 1 game. Their early season belonged to Eric Thames, the journeyman returning from the Korean Leagues to tear apart ML pitching for a couple of months. His hot start faded, the Brewers had more staying power. BTM Rating: 2run shot.