Sporting News staff predictions for the 2017 MLB season

Here's how Sporting News' baseball writers think the MLB picture will look come October, along with a few subplots to monitor.

Finally.

The 2017 MLB season kicks off Sunday and brings with it a host of story lines to follow, including: Can the Cubs repeat? Will the Indians finally go all the way? How will the Braves' new stadium play? Is Gary Sanchez really this good?Which players and teams will surprise us?

There's no shortage of predictions for how things will play out, but we're going to give you more anyway. Here's how Sporting News' baseball writers thinkthe MLB picture will look come October, along with a few subplots to monitor. (To compare, here's what Vegas think, via SportsBetting Dime).

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Ryan Fagan

Story lines I’m following: What does Kyle Schwarber do with a whole season?Will Clayton Kershaw’s back cooperate this year? How about David Price’s elbow? How much of an impact does Dexter Fowler have on the Cardinals? Do the Yankees’ young studs keep the club in contention? Has the Royals’ window closed? What superstar gets traded?

American League races

East: Red Sox
Central: Indians
West: Astros
Wild cards: Mariners, Rangers


AL awards

MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
Cy Young: Chris Archer, Rays
Rookie: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

National League races

East: Nationals
Central: Cubs
West: Dodgers
Wild cards: Cardinals, Giants


NL awards

MVP: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie: Tyler Glasnow, Pirates

Postseason

AL champ: Red Sox
NL champ: Cubs
World Series champ: Cubs

*****

Jason Foster

Story lines I'm following: Will the Cubs' Jason Heyward evolve as a hitter? Can the Padres' Christian Bethancourt make it work as a true utility man who pitches, catches and plays outfield? Will Atlanta's Dansby Swanson and Boston's Andrew Benintendi live up to the hype over a full season?

American League races

East:Red Sox
Central:Indians
West:Rangers
Wild cards:White Sox, Astros


AL awards

MVP:Jose Altuve, Astros
Cy Young:Chris Sale, Red Sox
Rookie:Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

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National League races

East:Nationals
Central:Cubs
West:Giants

Wild cards:Cardinals, Dodgers

NL awards

MVP:Freddie Freeman, Braves
Cy Young:Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie:Dansby Swanson, Braves

Postseason

AL champ:Red Sox
NL champ:Giants
World Series champ:Red Sox

*****

Tom Gatto

Story lines I'm following: The impending offensive explosion in baseball (steroid-free, one must assume); the further changing of the guard as young stars turn into superstars (Bryant, Correa, Lindor, etc.); will teams further cut starting pitchers' innings, in particular the innings of marginal starters?

American League races

East:Blue Jays
Central:Indians
West:Rangers
Wild cards:Red Sox, Astros


National League races

East: Nationals
Central:Cubs
West:Giants
Wild cards:Dodgers, Mets


AL awards

MVP:Manny Machado, Orioles
Cy Young:Corey Kluber, Indians
Rookie:Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

NL awards

MVP:Bryce Harper, Nationals
Cy Young:Madison Bumgarner, Giants
Rookie:Hunter Renfroe, Padres

Postseason

AL champ:Red Sox
NL champ:Nationals
World Series champ:Nationals

*****

Matt Lutovsky

Story lines I'm following: Will the White Sox be in the race the whole season? If not, will Todd Frazier, Jose Quintanaand David Robertson be on the move? Will the Angels make the playoffs and let Mike Trout shine on the national stage? Will last season's struggling aces — Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Matt Harvey and others — have bounce-back, Cy Young-caliber seasons?

American League races

East: Red Sox
Central: Tigers
West: Astros
Wild cards: Indians, Rangers


AL awards

MVP:Jose Altuve, Astros
Cy Young:Chris Sale, Red Sox
Rookie:Yoan Moncada, White Sox

National League races

East:Nationals
Central:Cubs
West:Dodgers
Wild cards:Diamondbacks, Giants


NL awards

MVP:Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Cy Young:Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie:Tyler Glasnow, Pirates

Postseason

AL champ:Astros
NL champ:Dodgers
World Series champ:Dodgers

*****

Alex Novick

Story lines I'm following:Will the young Yankees lineup be ready to make them competitive?Is the Royals' window closed?How depressed will the Diamondbacks be when Dansby Swanson turns into a stud while Shelby Miller can’t even contribute in the rotation? Is Trea Turner the next Mike Trout? How long will the Cubs put up with Jason Heyward?

American League races

East:Red Sox
Central:Indians
West:Angels
Wild cards:Yankees, Rangers


AL awards

MVP:Mookie Betts, Red Sox
Cy Young:Justin Verlander, Tigers
Rookie:Yoan Moncada, White Sox

National League races

East:Nationals
Central:Cubs
West:Dodgers
Wild cards:Giants, Cardinals


NL awards

MVP:Corey Seager, Dodgers
Cy Young:Madison Bumgarner, Giants
Rookie:Dansby Swanson, Braves

Postseason

AL champ:Red Sox
NL champ:Nationals
World Series champ:Red Sox

*****

Joe Rivera

Story lines I'm watching: Are theAstros really poised for a World Series run? Will the Mets or Yankees win the back pages and the hearts of New York? Will Bud Black be able to take the Rockies to the next level, or will the team end up in the bottom third of the leage again?

American League races

East:Blue Jays
Central:Indians
West:Astros
Wild cards:Red Sox, Rangers


AL awards

MVP:Mike Trout, Angels
Cy Young:Chris Sale, Red Sox
Rookie: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

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National League races

East:Mets
Central:Cubs
West:Dodgers
Wild cards:Cardinals, Giants


NL awards

MVP:Bryce Harper, Nationals
Cy Young:Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie:Dansby Swanson, Braves

Postseason

AL champ:Indians
NL champ:Dodgers
World Series champ:Indians

*****

Dan Sostek

Story lines I'm following:Will the Cubs' young stars show progression or regression? When do White Sox prospects Yoan Moncada and Lucas Giolito get to Chicago? Can Chris Sale avoidthe first-year Fenway lull? Will Bryce Harper return to 2015 form?Will Bartolo Colon hit one final home run?

American League races

East:Orioles
Central:Indians
West:Angels
Wild cards:Red Sox, Blue Jays


AL awards

MVP:Manny Machado, Orioles
Cy Young:Chris Sale, Red Sox
Rookie:Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox

National League races

East:Nationals
Central:Cardinals
West:Dodgers
Wild cards:Cubs, Mets


NL awards

MVP:Kris Bryant, Cubs
Cy Young:Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Rookie:Koda Glover, Nationals

Postseason

AL champ:Orioles
NL champ:Nationals
World Series champ:Nationals

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