Yup, baseball’s back.
And it comes with new faces, new contracts, and new competition. The 2018 MLB season is set to be exciting, with many teams getting in on the free agent frenzy over the course of the winter. Here are my predictions for the upcoming season.
Winner: New York Yankees
It’s no secret the AL East will be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball, with the Yankees landing Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason and boasting one of the best bullpens in the majors. Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Gary Sanchez combined for 144 home runs in 2017, giving opposing teams lots to worry about at the top of the Yankees lineup. While the Red Sox boosted their lineup with the addition of J.D. Martinez this offseason, it’ll take a stellar performance from a roster that has been underachieving the past 2 years to take down the Bronx Bombers.
In the bottom half of the division, the Blue Jays, Rays, and Orioles will be fighting for a playoff spot, with the Jays in the best position to compete after the additions of Yangervis Solarte, Aldemys Diaz, and Curtis Granderson. With Aaron Sanchez healthy again, the birds come into 2018 boasting a great rotation, but will need the bats to compliment their pitching for another playoff run after missing the postseason for the first time in 3 years.
Winner: Cleveland Indians
After back-to-back playoff appearances, the Indians were quiet in the offseason, but still have a dangerous lineup looking to make things work down the stretch. If Michael Brantley can stay healthy and the Indians’ starting pitching can stay consistent, they’ll be able to hold off the rest of the division for a third straight year. Their biggest competition? Minnesota, who barely made it into the postseason last year, and the Chicago White Sox, who are finally taking form after a rebuild. The Twins still boast a powerful lineup with big-name players like Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, and have a great mix of speed and skill on the base paths with manager Paul Molitor hoping to lead the team to another successful season. The White Sox are finally set to be a threat in the division, with Yoan Moncada finally MLB ready, as well as the addition of Logan Morrison and Wellington Castillo in the offseason. Chicago still needs to find consistent pitching to seriously contend for a division title, but they’re slowly taking form despite being in the basement of the division for years.
As for the Royals and Tigers, both teams will be in for a tough season, with the Royals losing Alex Gordon in the offseason and Salvador Perez for six to eight weeks after an early injury. The Tigers rebuild is underway, and will put fans through yet another season of frustration, in an AL Central thats loaded with young talent.
Winner: Houston Astros
The Astros are really, really, good, obviously. Coming off a World Series win and boasting the AL MVP in Jose Altuve, Houston is set for another great year if they can stay healthy and live up their expectations. As for the rest of the division, the Angels will be reliant on the success of Shohei Ohtani, their biggest offseason signing hailing from Japan. With an offence led by Mike Trout, the Angels need guys who can get on base. LA picked up Zack Cozart this offseason, who had a great year with Cincinatti in 2017, and if Ohtani lives up to the hype, they could give the Astros competition down the stretch. The Mariners were somewhat quiet this winter, and will hope once again that their already talented lineup can click for a playoff appearance, breaking the longest playoff drought in professional sports.
The Athletics and Rangers are on the decline after having their moment over the past 5-6 years, and with the Rangers losing Yu Darvish to the Dodgers late last season, it’s tough to predict where these teams will end up at the end of this season.
AL Wild Card:
Red Sox over Angels
Winner: Washington Nationals
The Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves are home to young, up-and-coming rosters, but the Washington Nationals will have one more year atop the NL East. With Bryce Harper’s contract expiring at the end of the season, Washington is in complete win-now mode, and will be making one final push to break their playoff curse with Harper set to hit free agency at the end of the year. Philadelphia won’t make things easy for them, with the emergence of Rhys Hoskins and the signing of Jake Arrieta late into spring training. Look out for both Philly and Atlanta to cause some havoc atop the division, while the Mets and Marlins try and figure out what they’re doing.
Winner: Milwaukee Brewers
In an NL Central that seems to be getting weaker and weaker, the Brewers will finally emerge as winners with a loaded lineup. After bolstering their outfield with the additions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, the Brewers will be set to build off a strong 2017 campaign that saw them compete after a full-scale rebuild. They have lots of depth, with Eric Thames not even cracking their Opening Day roster, and players like Keon Broxton in their minor league system waiting for a shot with the club. As for the rest of the divison, the Cubs will be the team to give the Brewers a run for their money, with another loaded lineup coming off a third straight NLCS appearance in 2017.
The Reds, Cardinals, and Pirates will all be longshots to keep pace with the Brewers and Cubs, with all three teams in the middle of a transitional phase. The Reds have a young team, but after losing Zack Cozart in the offseason, will take a step back in contention. The Pirates lost Andrew McCutchen, and the Cardinals will need a strong offensive burst to be able to take down the two powerhouses atop the central this season.
Winner: San Francisco Giants
- It’s an even year
- Bumgarner’s back
- Cutch and Longo
It’s simple for the Giants. As for the rest of the division, the Dodgers will look to play off a World Series appearance and a lineup that hasn’t changed much, while the already strong Rockies will also build off a Wild Card showing in 2017. The NL West will be the most competitive division in baseball, no doubt.
Down but not out is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost J.D. Martinez, but retained most of their lineup last year who made an appearance in the Division Series. The Padres are this division’s longshot, with their only notable acquisition being the aging Alex Gordon. The postseason still seems to be a long ways away for the Padres, who will need to grow their farm system and continue to bring strong players up the pipeline.
NL Wild Card: Dodgers over Rockies
NL Champion: Washington Nationals
AL Champion: New York Yankees
World Series Champion: New York Yankees
Bronx Bombers in 2018. Baseball is back. We love it.