Shrader’s Official 2017 MLB Predictions: The Year of the Bucs

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For the last ten years a number of us who grew up in the Pittsburgh region begin every baseball season by exchanging emails or Facebook messages predicting how many games the Pittsburgh Pirates will win and lose that year. Even during the past several seasons of the team’s rebuilding, I have deliberately entered a low number of wins to express my pessimism that the team will ever make it the playoffs (beyond the Wild Card series).

This year I sense something different in the air: the Pittsburgh Pirates will win the 2017 World Series.

Several months from now they’re going to be rolling out the surplus drums of nacho cheese left over from the implosion of Three Rivers Stadium for the victory party and inconveniently closing down the Squirrel Hill Tunnel for paving on the exact day of the World Championship Parade in the ‘Burgh. The City of Pittsburgh should just go ahead and start pre-selling Pirates playoff tickets tomorrow. Bucs fans everywhere are going to raise a frothy, slightly salty-tasting mug of Iron City Beer to the 2017 Pirates when they bring home the organization’s first World Series victory since Pops was having chicken on the hill in 1979.

As always, I offer my division-by-division predictions for the upcoming season. However, I wouldn’t dare do so without my favorite Studs Terkel story that I have used in previous years when presenting my season-opening prophecies.

Back in the era just before and after World War II baseball was the most popular thing in America. Most big cities—which happened to have major league clubs—were full of immigrant families and people of all walks of life who were obsessed with baseball. There was once an Irishman who was such an obsessed baseball fan that the game was all he would discuss with his friends. Eventually, one of his friends told him that his fixation had gone too far.

To prove his point, the friend asked the baseball-loving Irishman to imagine that he was out for a boat ride with his father and Ted Williams. All of a sudden, the boat sprung a leak and started sinking. Discovering that there was only one life preserver aboard, would he throw it to Ted Williams or to his own father?

Without hesitating, the Irishman replied: “Are you kidding me? My father could barely hit .200!”

Although I think that my Dad could hit better than .200, here are my official predictions for 2017:

American League East
1. Red Sox
2. Yankees
3. Blue Jays
4. Rays
5. Orioles

American League Central
1. Indians
2. Tigers
3. White Sox
4. Royals
5. Twins

American League West
1. Astros
2. Mariners
3. Rangers
4. Athletics
5. Angels

AL Wild Card Teams: Tigers, Mariners
ALCS: Red Sox over Indians

National League East
1. Mets
2. Nationals
3. Marlins
4. Braves
5. Phillies

National League Central
1. Cubs
2. Pirates
3. Cardinals
4. Brewers
5. Reds

National League West
1. Dodgers
2. Giants
3. Diamondbacks
4. Rockies
5. Padres

NL Wild Card Teams: Pirates, Nationals
NLCS: Dodgers over Cubs

WORLD SERIES: Pirates over Red Sox

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