Alright guys, we’re a week away from Opening Day, so let’s get into some CGS predictions and a preview of whats to come this year in the MLB. This baseball season has a chance to be really exciting, but it could also be incredibly boring. There are really only 7 teams with a legitimate chance to win the World Series, the six division winners plus either the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees. After those 7 teams, there’s a collection of about 7 other teams that can compete for wild card spots in their respective league.
Anyway, here’s a preview of how I see the 2018 MLB season shaking out.
*indicates wild card team
American League East:
1. New York Yankees (96-66) The starting rotation isn’t spectacular, but Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and Sonny Gray is a really good top 3. The bullpen is sensational. Just a little note: Th single season TEAM homerun record is 264. The 2017 Yankees hit 241, and they did it without a healthy Greg Bird and without Giancarlo Stanton on the roster. It’s not if that record falls, it’s when. Could they do it by August?
2. Boston Red Sox (93-69)* How will the Red Sox players that had subpar offensive seasons in 2017 bounce back? The Red Sox have the best pitching staff in the division, but how dominant that staff is depends a lot on Rick Porcello not looking lost on the mound, and Drew Pomeranz being able to backup a career year. There are enough questions with this team for me to give a slight edge to the Yankees.
3. Toronto Blue Jays (81-81) The Blue Jays are the definition of average. They could hang around for a little while because they have a decent rotation, and Rogers Centre is a launching pad. The determining factor for the Blue Jays will be their bullpen, which had a 4.42 ERA and 26 blown saves last year, both of which ranked in the bottom half of the majors.
4. Baltimore Orioles (74-88) They’re gonna hit a lot of homeruns. They’re probably gonna give up even more. Signing Alex Cobb helps them a little bit. Does Manny Machado stay in Baltimore past the trade deadline?
5. Tampa Bay Rays (65-97) The Rays are bad. Really bad. Depending on when Chris Archer gets traded, they could easily lose 100 games. If Kevin Kiermaier gets traded, they’ll struggle to win 60.
American League Central:
1. Cleveland Indians (103-59) I think the Indians will win the most games in the American League. Houston is a better team, but the AL Central is a worse division. The bullpen and starting rotation are both top 3 in the American League. The offense isn’t as explosive as it was last year, but if Michael Brantley could finally stay healthy, that would help.
2. Minnesota Twins (85-77) The Twins were a surprise wild card team last year, and have a good young core of position players. They don’t have enough pitching. They’ll stay in contention because of the overall weakness of this division. If Byron Buxton finally explodes this year, the Twins could grab a wild card spot.
3. Chicago White Sox (72-90) Some day soon, the White Sox will be a legit World Series contender. That day will not be coming this year. The White Sox are going to take their growing pains, but they have an insane amount of talent.
4. Kansas City Royals (70-92) Having Mike Moustakas back will help keep the Royals out of the basement, but they’re still bad. A rebuild for a small market team with no money should be interesting.
5. Detroit Tigers (63-97) It’s crazy how good the Tigers were on Opening Day last year compared to this year. Ian Kinsler, JD Martinez, Justin Upton and Justin Verlander is a lot of star power to lose. The Tigers are really bad.
American League West:
1. Houston Astros (101-61) The Astros are obviously defending World Series champs and are loaded. They’re better than they were last year. The bullpen is still a bit of a question mark, as the Astros game plan this offseason seems to have been “acquire better starters, send the worse starters to the bullpen”. Good luck with that. The Angels and Mariners are what keep Houston from winning the most games in the American League.
2. Los Angeles Angels (88-74)* The Angels finally provided Mike Trout with some other offensive fire power. Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart are great additions, and a full year of Justin Upton will really benefit the Angels. But the Angels still can’t really pitch. They have a bad bullpen, and are counting a lot on Garrett Richards (12 starts since 2015) and Shohei Ohtani who is a complete mystery. I think the lineup is good enough to get this team to the wild card game.
3. Seattle Mariners (82-80) The Mariners are very average. They have a good lineup, but behind James Paxton, the rotation leaves a lot to be desired. Felix Hernandez is nowhere close to what he was in his heyday, and the bullpen is supbar. The Mariners are in for another very frustrating season.
4. Texas Rangers (78-84) I really like the Rangers lineup, especially in that stadium. I really hate the Rangers pitching staff, especially in that stadium.
5. Oakland Athletics (73-89) The A’s are getting there. They have a nice collection of young talent in Matt Olson, Matt Chatman, Sean Manaea, Kendall Graveman and Franklin Barreto. They’ll be relevant again soon, it just won’t show in the record this year.
National League East:
1. Washington Nationals (106-56) Probably the best team in baseball. Definitely the most star power in baseball. Winning the division is an expectation for the Nationals now. The only thing left for this team to accomplish is winning a damn playoff series.
2. New York Mets (83-79) The Mets are the biggest question mark in baseball. If Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey are all healthy and good, they could snag a wild card spot. In 3 years together, that’s happened for a combined total of 1 month. It was October, 2015. The Mets made the World Series. The Mets will hit enough home runs to stay in games, but can they close the deal enough?
3. Philadelphia Phillies (75-87) Something about Philly sports man. They just really like to drag out their rebuilds. I feel like the Phillies have been rebuilding since 2012, and they haven’t made any progress. Signing Jake Arrieta keeps the Phils out of 4th place (which is essentially the basement because the Marlins are LOL bad), but that’s about all it does. It doesn’t move the needle in any other way.
4. Atlanta Braves (72-90) The future is bright for the Braves, and it’s arriving slowly but surely. Freddie Freeman is a star, Dansby Swanson needs to take a step this season, and when Ronald Acuna shows up in the majors at some point after April 13, watch out. That dude drips superstar swag.
5. Miami Marlins (55-107) The Marlins are BAD. Easily the worst team in baseball. Losing is the most important thing to the Marlins right now, and they should focus on what the Braves have done to rebuild. Minus the whole international signing scandal thing. Don’t do that Jeets.
National League Central:
1. Chicago Cubs (93-69) The Cubs aren’t as good as everyone thinks they are. Bullpens are so important in this day in age, and the Cubs don’t have a very good one. Brandon Morrow is the new closer, a role he’s never had before. The lineup isn’t great either, so it’ll all depend on how frequently guys get on base in front of Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo.
2. Milwaukee Brewers (87-75)* The Brewers were so close to making the wild card game a year ago, and with the additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, they should get over the hump this year. Manager Craig Counsell got pretty much every in game decision correct last year, if his magic runs out, maybe the Brewers are in trouble.
3. St. Louis Cardinals (84-78) The Cardinals are good but not great. They’ll be in the mix once again this year, but they’re gonna need some big help from their pitching staff. The bullpen was bad last year, and it didn’t improve a whole lot. Carlos Martinez can’t hold the whole staff together by himself, no matter how hard he tries
4. Cincinnati Reds (73-89) The Reds rebuild has also been going on seemingly forever. The can hit, and the can hit homeruns. Joey Votto is great. The pitching staff needs to collectively take a big step forward this year, or else the Reds face an even longer rebuild than they originally anticipated.
5. Pittsburgh Pirates (68-94) The Pirates traded face of the franchise Andrew McCutchen, and then traded face of the franchise part 2 Gerrit Cole. If the Pirates want to kick this rebuild into high gear, they should hope for great first halves from Starling Marte and Gregory Polanco so they can be moved at the deadline.
National League West:
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62) The Dodgers won’t put together the absurd 70 game run they had last year, but they’re still an unbelievable team. Losing Justin Turner for a few months will hurt, but it won’t keep the Dodgers from winning 100 games.
2. Colorado Rockies (90-72)* Offense will never be a problem for the Colorado Rockies. David Dahl should be back in the majors at some point this year, and he’s better than Gerardo Parra. Swapping Greg Holland and Pat Neshek for Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw is big time for the Rockies. Jon Gray is emerging as an ace. The Rockies are for real.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77) The Dbacks made the wild card game last year, but losing JD Martinez hurts a lot. He was only there for a half a season, but he mashed, and definitely won them some games they wouldn’t have normally won. I think his exit does just enough to keep the Dbacks out of the wild card game.
4. San Francisco Giants (80-82) The Giants bullpen is awful. The rotation is barren behind Madison Bumgarner. Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen are nice acquisitions, but this isn’t 2013. That isn’t real star power anymore, just nice big league players.
5. San Diego Padres (68-94) The Padres just aren’t very good. They have talent in Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Luis Perdomo. I’m not sure I quite understand signing Freddy Galvis, Chase Headley and Eric Hosmer. This is a confused roster.
American League Playoffs
Wild Card Game:
Boston Red Sox over LA Angels – Chris Sale/David Price will be too much for the Angels
Boston Red Sox over Cleveland Indians – The Red Sox get their revenge for 2016
New York Yankees over Houston Astros – The Yankees get their revenge for 2017
Boston Red Sox over New York Yankees – No I’m not being a homer. The Yankees are the better regular season team. I’ve always felt this Red Sox team, if fully healthy, is the better postseason team.
National League Playoffs
Wild Card Game:
Colorado Rockies over Milwaukee Brewers – The Rockies host the wild card game this year. That makes all the difference
Washington Nationals over Colorado Rockies – It’s time for it to end. The Nationals will finally win their first postseason series in franchise history.
Los Angeles Dodgers over Chicago Cubs – The Dodgers proved last year they’re way better than the Cubs. They’ll prove it again.
Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals – The Dodgers eliminate the Nationals and send Bryce Harper to free agency.
Los Angeles Dodgers over Boston Red Sox – The Dodgers were so close last year, and may have even been the better team. They’ll get over the hump this year.
AL MVP: Mike Trout – Angels
NL MVP: Nolan Arenado – Rockies
AL CY YOUNG: David Price – Red Sox
NL CY YOUNG: Clayton Kershaw – Dodgers
AL Rookie: Austin Hays – Orioles (does Shohei Ohtani count as a rookie? Who knows)
NL Rookie: Lewis Brinson – Marlins
AL Manager: Aaron Boone – Yankees
NL Manager: Bud Black – Rockies
Thanks for reading guys, maybe I’ll see you back in November to rub it in. Probably not though.
-Brian Borders (@bborders12)