Opening Day really should be considered a national holiday. It's the soundtrack to our summer and we're on the upswing of things in Philadelphia as the Phillies look to improve with a youth movement in full force.
Along with the start of any baseball season comes predictions. Below you'll see my take on not just the Phillies, but all of Major League Baseball and how I envision the 2017 season.
First, let me offer some commentary:
I think the Phillies are a better team this year compared to last and I think the front office behind general manger Matt Klentak is moving things in the right direction. The additions of Howie Kendrick and Clay Buchholz made sense, not because either will help the Phillies miraculously win a Wild Card, but rather because the moves were low-risk and high-reward. Same thing with retaining Jeremy Hellickson.
Best case scenario? Kendrick, Buchholz, and Hellickson perform well and the Phillies move all three at the trade deadline and obtain parts to help the club when it's actually ready to contend for the postseason in 2018 and 2019.
Worst case? The Phillies have some veterans that are gone after the 2017 season and the club enters October with a little more than $6-million in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2018.
My pick for the Phillies biggest surprise this year is Vinny Velasquez. The 24-year-old has great stuff with movement and a curve at times that can be devastating. Health, however, has always been a concern and he's prone to surrendering gopher balls. That said, I think Velasquez has the makings of a future All-Star. A successful season this year includes a minimum of 150 innings pitched, 25+ starts, an ERA around 3.80, and a WHIP sub 1.30.
Phillies win total: 75
Phillies place of finish in NL East: Fourth
NL East Champion: Mets
NL Central Champion: Cubs
NL West Champion: Dodgers
NL Wild Cards: Nationals & Cardinals
NLDS Winners: Cubs & Mets
NLCS Winner: Cubs
AL East Champion: Red Sox
AL Central Champion: Indians
AL West Champion: Astros
AL Wild Cards: Mariners & Blue Jays
ALDS Winners: Red Sox & Mariners
ALCS Winner: Red Sox
Wolrd Series Winner: Red Sox
NL MVP: Corey Seager, Dodgers
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
NL Rookie of the Year: Hunter Renfroe, Padres
NL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Cubs
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Red Sox
AL Rookie of the Year: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
AL Manager of the Year: A.J. Hinch, Astros
Phillies MVP: Odubel Herrera
Phillies Home Run Leader: Tommy Joseph
Phillies Batting Average Leader: Odubel Herrera
Phillies RBI Leader: Maikel Franco
Phillies Stolen Base Leader: Odubel Herrera
Phillies WAR Leader: Odubel Herrera
Phillies Wins Leader: Jeremy Hellickson
Phillies ERA Leader: Jerad Eickhoff
Phillies Strikeout Leader: Vince Velasquez
Phillies Saves Leader: Jeanmar Gomez
Phillies Biggest Surprise: Vince Velasquez
Phillies Biggest Disappointment: Freddy Galvis