By Tyler King
Canadian Baseball Network
Brace yourself ...
If you choose to scour the internet in search of the “experts’” 2017 MLB predictions, you’re bound to see a lot of the following word combinations: “Red Sox” and “Winning”; “Chicago Cubs” and “Repeat”; and “Blue Jays” and “Wild Card”.
So to save you the agony of having to read about how good the Red Sox are going to be with Chris Sale and (Rookie of the Year hopeful) Andrew Benintendi, I’ve done the difficult job for you.
Below is a condensed version of this season’s projections from four major sports networks.
Feel free to read on, if for no other reason than to find out which websites and TV stations you’ll be boycotting this year.
By far the most comprehensive prediction for the 2017 season, ESPN polled 35 of their so-called baseball experts to find out which teams would come out on top.
(Be warned: this is the best it’s going to get for the Blue Jays.)
Of the 35 experts polled, only six picked the Jays to win the American League East. Perhaps unsurprisingly - but still incredibly frustratingly - twenty-eight picked the Boston Red Sox.
On the bright-side, 12 predict that the Jays will make the playoffs via the Wild Card; meaning 18 of the 35 experts believe the Jays will make the postseason for the third straight year.
Toronto even had two votes to win the AL pennant and make it all the way to the World Series - where it’s predicted they will eventually lose.
Two measly picks to top the AL may seem small, but only three teams received more votes than the Jays: the Cleveland Indians (15), the Red Sox (9), and the Houston Astros (8).
And do not despair. When Jayson Stark - one of the experts who has the Jays going deep - was asked why he was so high on Toronto, he responded:
“... Most underrated rotation in the league. Also, any team that has a clubhouse core built around Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Jose Bautista is going to be into it. Every inning. Every at-bat. Every pitch. Every day. Every week. From start to finish. This team plays with an edge many teams lack.”
(With those fist-pump-inducing words, I have now launched a petition to make Mr. Stark an honorary Canadian.)
But if you still feel the other predictors were too harsh on Canada’s team, just know that one brave, misguided soul chose the New York Yankees to win the AL East ...
Yes, the New York Yankees ...
And with a prediction as ludicrous as that, can any of ESPN’s experts really be trusted?
Percentage who pick Jays to make postseason: 51%
Hopefully ESPN got you a little excited if you’re a Jays fan, because the rest of these American media conglomerates aren’t going to be as friendly.
Of the eight experts polled on SI.com, only one had the Jays winning the division (Toronto sees you Albert Chen!). The other seven, surprise surprise, all picked the Red Sox.
The good news is three did pick the Jays to grab one of the two AL Wild Card sports, although none had them making it to the World Series.
But before you cancel your subscription to Sports Illustrated (if you’re a true Jays fan that includes the swimsuit edition), one of their experts, Emma Span, predicts that Aaron Sanchez will win the AL Cy Young award.
So maybe they get a pass ... (at least on the swimsuit front).
Percentage who pick Jays to make postseason: 50%
I don’t know how they run things over at CBS, but there certainly wasn’t a lot of parity between the six staff members they polled for predictions (five out of the six had either the Chicago Cubs or Indians winning the World Series).
The lack of imagination also showed up at the divisional level, as all six chose the Red Sox to win the AL East. Four had the Blue Jays finishing second in the division, and two had them finishing third (ha!).
To make matters worse, only ONE chose the Jays to make it to the postseason as a Wild Card team (shoutout to R.J. Anderson).
In other words, I won’t be watching any more of their mediocre PrimeTime TV (will I really miss “The Big Bang Theory”? I doubt it.).
Percentage who pick the Jays to make the postseason: 17%
Blame it on Edwin Encarnacion leaving, the Red Sox spending money like they’re Pete Rose in Vegas, or just good ol’ fashioned American nationalism, but all seven of the USA Today staff members who were polled chose the Red Sox to win the division. Three even had them winning the World Series, which is basically my nightmare.
But be glad you still don’t have to hate USA Today like I now hate CBS, because five of the seven members of their panel did have the Jays getting one of the two Wild Card spots, and thus sneaking into the playoffs.
And one also predicted Sanchez would win the Cy Young - an emerging theme I could really get used to.
Percentage who pick the Jays to make the postseason: 71%
If all these predictions have shocked your start-of-the-season optimism, just remember, when have the baseball experts ever been right?
I mean, last year nearly all of them chose the Chicago Cubs to break the curse and win the Wor - ...
Oh no ...
Follow #Section108 and Tyler on Twitter: @TylerJoseph108