FRANKLY, I haven’t been glued to the MLB offseason this year. With the NBA in full swing and recently AFL/College Basketball taking my attention I have mainly stuck to Blue Jays headlines for a lot of the winter break. That being said I still know exactly who will win each division race, who will claim an end of season award AND how the playoffs will unfold. So allow me to offer up my 100% accurate picks for the 2018 season a few days out from Opening Day.
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American League East
BAD news for the Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays, life isn’t getting easier in 2018. With the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox set to dominate the division, it’s tough to see a scenario where anyone else breaks through and makes the postseason. This year could be brutal for Rays fans, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a shame that light won’t be seen probably until 2020. Injuries and regression defined last season for the Jays although they are a deeper team now, which should see them finish with a winning record. The health of their key guys will still dictate how the year pans out.
BALTIMORE’S bullpen will be the subject of talk for the Orioles as they look to rebound from a 75-87 finish a year ago. A .500 season is well within reach but it’s not a given if their pitchers can’t contain the huge hitters in their division. With the Yankees landing the prize of the offseason in reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton they are the popular pick to win the AL East with Boston breathing down their neck. Both teams boast young, exciting core’s and even though the Red Sox remain a serious threat, it’s hard to see them overtaking New York.
Winner: New York Yankees (Record: 98-64)
American League Central
THE AL Central might be the worst division in 2018 and there is a clear favourite to take out the crown. Don’t tell Minnesota Twins fans they can’t win though. After finishing with the worst record in the league in 2016 they made it all the way to the wildcard game against the Yankees in 2017. I’m sure they will be eager to avoid another slump this season.
OUTSIDE of Minnesota though, the other three teams don’t really have a leg to stand on. Detroit will have trouble trying to avoid triple figure losses, Kansas City has no real strengths and are only one or two moves away from a full rebuild and the White Sox will improve are going to finish better than they did a season ago. It won’t be good enough to top the Indians though, who might start slow thanks to the injury bug rearing its ugly head, but regardless, will cruise to a division banner.
Winner: Cleveland Indians (96-66)
American League West
THERE’S the Astros and then there’s everyone else. The reigning World Series champs own one of the most powerful bullpens in all of baseball after the addition of Gerrit Cole and what should be a full season from Justin Verlander. The revamped Los Angeles Angels might have something to say about it though, especially if their pitching rotation can find their mojo. Of course, a full season of Mike Trout doing ridiculous things will see any Angels team win a bunch of games.
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TEXAS, Oakland and Seattle aren’t going to go down without a fight and all three teams should finish with around 75-85 wins this year. However, this isn’t just any other division. The four teams have their work cut out for them dethroning Houston. Stranger things have happened and in almost every other division they could stand a chance. Not in the AL West though.
Winner: Houston Astros (Record: 95-67)
National League East
LET’S start at the bottom and work our way up shall we? In the offseason, new ownership gutted the Marlins, trading away probably their three best players as they fully opted for tank mode. Enough said. Philadelphia and Atlanta are both trending in the right direction and don’t be surprised if they are in the mix for wildcard berths near the end of the season. A division title is probably out of reach though.
NEXT up are the New York Mets who welcome Noah Syndergaard back with open arms. ‘Thor’ only managed to pitch 30 innings last year after 183 and 150 the two seasons prior. If he and his noteworthy teammates are healthy then the Mets are capable of the postseason. That’s a big ‘if’. That leaves the reigning champion Washington Nationals, who have claimed the NL East three of the last four seasons. They cruised through the regular season last year and should do so again this season, en route to another postseason appearance.
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Winner: Washington Nationals (Record: 92-70)
National League Central
THERE isn’t a scenario I can see where Cincinnati or Pittsburgh as legitimate contenders for the division’s top rung. You could watch the Reds play offense and you may watch the Pirates if they are playing your team or you’re bored. Other than that, the two of them seem destined to fight out who finishes 4th and who finishes 5th. The Chicago Cubs are everyone’s choice to claim their third straight division title, with the squad once again in the mix for a World Series appearance.
DON’T sleep on the Brewers though. If I were to pick a team who could go on a run and take down one of my predictions, then Milwaukee would be right near the top after a solid offseason and an underrated bullpen. You have been warned. St Louis isn’t an easy beat either, fighting their way to 83 wins a season ago. I see their record in 2018 finishing around a similar mark, which won’t be good enough. Chicago seems poised to take out the Central and my pick is that they hold off the Brewers by one or two games in an epic finish to the season.
Winner: Chicago Cubs (Record: 90-72)
National League West
LOSING a World Series always leaves a sour taste in your mouth and the Dodgers will be out for blood again once things get underway. When they are hot we saw first-hand last season how good they can be. Of course, the same can be said for how bad they are when they are cold though. There will be fewer cold stretches this time around though and as a result, I see them fighting off their rivals to win their 17th NL West title.
THE stiffest competition will come in the form of Arizona and Colorado, two teams eager to take the next step into becoming a true contender this year. Lacklustre offseasons hasn’t filled me with a ton of confidence about their chances of dethroning last year’s National League champions. San Fransisco just lost Bumgarner until mid-June while the Padres overachieved and still only managed 71 wins a year ago. This one’s going to LA.
Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers (Record: 97-65)
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (der)
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets
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AL Rookie of the Year: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
NL Rookie of the Year: Lewis Brinson, Miami Marlins
AL Wildcard Teams: Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels
NL Wildcard Teams: Milwaukee Brewers, Arizona Diamondbacks
AL Divisional: New York Yankees defeat Boston Red Sox in 6
Houston Astros defeat Cleveland Indians in 7
NL Divisional: Los Angeles Dodgers defeat Milwaukee Brewers in 4
Washington Nationals defeat Chicago Cubs in 6
AL Championship: New York Yankees defeat Houston Astros in 7
NL Championship: Washington Nationals defeat Los Angeles Dodgers in 6
World Series: Washington Nationals over New York Yankees in 6
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