Prince Frederick, MD – At long-last it’s time for baseball! The 2017 regular season—162 games for each Major League team is about to get rolling. Diehard fans are not too concerned what the knowledgeable baseball pundits are saying. At the start of the season everybody has the same record. A quick review of the national pundits, gives added optimism to at least one of the region’s two Major League clubs.

A web publication called Bleacher Report declared “the time has come to pretend to know what the future holds for the 2017 Major League season.” Bleacher Reports’ experts are picking Washington Nationals’ outfielder Bryce Harper to be the National League Most Valuable Player and the club to win the National League East for the second year in a row. Furthermore, the publication predicts the Nats winning the Fall Classic over the Boston Red Sox.

The prognostication is not so rosy if you rely on the pool of knowledge from Sports Illustrated (S.I.). Most of their baseball experts are picking the Chicago Cubs to repeat as World Series Champions. Writer Tom Verducci declared “the Cubs are the best team in baseball.” Verducci does select the Nats as the NL east champion. The Dodgers will again win the West with the New York Mets and Colorado Rockies making the post season as Wild Cards.

S.I.’s Ben Reiter is a bit bolder. Reiter said the once very lowly Houston Astros are “a team of destiny” in 2017 and will beat the Mets in the World Series. He does predict the Nationals will be in the post season as a Wild Card.

Sport’s Illustrated writer Albert Chen does project the Nationals as 2017 World Series Champions, although he concedes “the window is closing fast in DC.” That statement is in likely reference to the strong possibility Harper could be leaving the Nationals in the near future. The Seattle Mariners are seen by Chen as the champions of the American League.

Other S.I. predictions—Emma Span likes the LA Dodgers to win it all. She writes the 2016 Cubs were baseball’s best but “for the most part, very lucky, especially with their pitching.” On the other hand, the Dodgers were beset with key injuries last year yet still made it to the NL Championship. The Dodgers, said Span, will defeat the Red Sox in the 2017 World Series. Finally, Jack Dickey predicts the Cleveland Indians, the team that was one victory away from a title last year, will get it done in 2017.

So what about the Baltimore Orioles? Is anybody outside of Baltimore giving them any respect? In fact, in CBS Sports’ preseason “Power Rankings” the Orioles are rated ninth overall in the majors. The network credits Os Manager Buck Showalter as being the catalyst for the team’s success. Bear in mind this is the same Buck Showalter who drew universal criticism for not rolling closer Zach Britton out of the bullpen to pitch in the bottom of the 11th inning of the Wild Card game in Toronto, which the Blue Jays won 5-2. The Os have one truly outstanding starting pitcher, Chris Tillman (16-6 in 2016). Tillman has been hurting this spring.

The 2017 Major League Baseball Season starts Sunday, April 2 with three games. On Monday, April 3 the Nats and Os start the new year at home. Washington hosts the Miami Marlins at 1:05 p.m. while the Orioles host the Toronto Blue Jays at 3:05 p.m.

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