And now, the HardballTalk staff predictions

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Our Springtime Storyline previews are the Official Previews of HardballTalk. But despite our little paragraphs entitled “So, how are they going to do?” their real value is in talking about the issues facing each team, not in providing predictions.

And, it should be noted, they are a collective product. For example, Aaron wrote up the AL Central and he and I may differ on the order in which the teams will finish. I wrote up the NL West and D.J. and Drew may think I’m full of beans.  Such is the nature of collaboration. And as such, I thought it would fun for each of us to provide a quick and dirty rundown of how we think things will end up come October.

For what it’s worth, there is nothing terribly radical here. My pick of the Cubs is unique. Drew’s prediction of the Yankees missing the playoffs is somewhat unconventional. D.J. feels more optimistic about the Athletics’ chances than any of us.

Anyway, as Casey Stengel said: “Never make predictions. Especially about the future.” So, you know, take this all with a grain of salt.

CRAIG CALCATERRA

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Cubs, Reds, Cardinals, Brewers, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over White Sox and Yankees over Rangers
NLDS: Phillies over Cubs, Braves over Giants
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
World Series: Red Sox over Phillies

AARON GLEEMAN

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: Twins, White Sox, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Mets, Marlins, Nationals
NL Central: Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
NL West: Giants, Rockies, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Padres

ALDS: Red Sox over Twins and Yankees over Rangers
NLDS: Phillies over Giants, Braves over Reds
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Phillies over Braves
World Series: Phillies over Red Sox

D.J. SHORT

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Orioles, Blue Jays
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Athletics, Rangers, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over Athletics and Yankees over White Sox
NLDS: Rockies over Phillies, Braves over Brewers
ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees
NLCS: Rockies over Braves
World Series: Red Sox over Rockies

DREW SILVA

AL East: Red Sox, Rays (WC), Yankees, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Tigers, Twins, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves (WC), Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Cardinals, Reds, Cubs, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks

ALDS: Red Sox over Rangers, Rays over White Sox
NLDS: Phillies over Brewers, Braves over Rockies
ALCS: Red Sox over Rays
NLCS: Braves over Phillies
World Series: Red Sox over Braves

BOB HARKINS

AL East: Red Sox, Yankees (WC), Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
AL Central: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Indians, Royals
AL West: Rangers, Angels, Athletics, Mariners
NL East: Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals
NL Central: Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Astros, Pirates
NL West: Rockies, Giants (WC), Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.