Photo courtesy of cdn-images-1.medium.com
By: Ross Sutton
As Opening Day is finally just one day away, the time has come to predict all of the awards, final standings, playoff picture, and World Series Champion for the 2018 season.
AL East Division Winner: New York Yankees
I think the Yankees have done a marvelous job over the last few years to put themselves in a place where they will be serious World Series contenders every year for the next few years. The additions the Yankees made this offseason such as Giancarlo Stanton, Neil Walker and Brandon Drury will put them over the top in the AL East and will end the Red Sox two-year reign over the division.
AL Central Division Winner: Cleveland Indians
Despite losing key players such as Carlos Santana and Jay Bruce, I think the Indians will still be a very good team this year. The AL Central is a pretty weak division, other than the Indians and Twins, so Cleveland should be able to have another good year and finish above the Twins in the standings.
AL West Division Winner: Houston Astros
This should yet again be the least competitive division in the AL and I believe that the Astros will run away with this division title as they have only gotten better since last year by adding starting pitcher Gerrit Cole to their rotation. Overall, it would be stunning if the Astros did not win their division this season.
AL Wild Card Teams: Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins
In regards to the Red Sox, they have only gotten better since last year by adding J.D Martinez, but I think they will fall just short of the Yankees in the AL East. That being said, Boston should easily get into the playoffs, probably as the first wild card team. The Twins have also made some very nice moves this offseason by acquiring Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison and Jake Odorizzi. The Twins should have a very solid starting rotation once Ervin Santana comes back from injury some time around May. I predict the Twins will be the second wild card team from the AL, but I would not be that surprised if they were able to win the AL Central. Other teams that I expect to be in the mix are the Angels, Mariners, and Blue Jays.
AL MVP: Gary Sanchez
Many might say that this a bold prediction but I believe that the Yankees’ catcher will greatly improve behind the plate this year and establish himself as the best catcher in baseball. Sanchez will be surrounded by All-Stars in the Yankees’ stacked lineup so he will likely see a lot of pitches that he can hit hard and far. So assuming Sanchez has another great year offensively (he had 33 home runs last year despite missing a month of the season), the sky’s the limit for this uber talented player. I also expect players such as Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, Aaron Judge, Carlos Correa and Giancarlo Stanton to be in the mix for this award.
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
I believe that Chris Sale is incredibly talented and will have a prodctive offense around him to rack up a lot of wins in 2018. Sale finished behind Corey Kluber in last year’s Cy Young voting, but I think he will come out on top this season. If Sale does not win the award, then I expect it to go to players such as Corey Kluber, Luis Servino, Jose Berrios, or Justin Verlander.
NL East Division Winner: Washington Nationals
Even more so than the Astros, the Nationals are the heavy favorites to win their division. With a roster fully loaded with All-Stars, the Phillies, Mets, and Braves likely won’t be able to compete with the Nats for the division crown.
NL Central Division Winner: Chicago Cubs
I think the Cubs’ front office did a great job of adding to this already talented team that appeared to be exhausted for the large majority of the year after their World Series title in 2016. The addition of Yu Darvish will be huge for the Cubs since they lost Jake Arrieta to the Phillies in free agency this offseason. I also think Darvish will figure things out in the playoffs this year and will be the ace the Cubs are hoping for.
NL West Division Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers were one of the biggest powerhouse teams in the league last year and I think this will carry over into 2018. Having a great offense and the best pitcher in the game, the Dodgers should be set up for success this season.
NL Wild Card Teams: Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies
The Rockies now have one of the best bullpens in the league by signing Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw and Jake McGee to three-year deals. Colorado also has a great offense and a talented group of youngsters in the starting rotation that I expect to take a step forward in 2018. In regards to the Phillies, they are one of the trendier picks around the MLB to make a playoff push as a wild card team in 2018, and clearly I agree. By signing Jake Arrieta, the Phillies have an ace that the team can rely on to give them a good outing every five days. I also think that the Phillies will be aggressive in trying to acquire another ace pitcher at the deadline this year as they still have a very good farm system. I believe that the Phillies have a great chance to trade for Rays’ ace Chris Archer at some point this season to push them over the top and grab one of the wild card spots in the National League. I think teams that have a decent chance to beat out these teams for a wild card spot include the Brewers, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and Mets.
NL MVP: Corey Seager
The Dodgers’ shortstop is one of the best players in the game and I think he will establish himself as the best shortstop in the MLB this season. Much like Gary Sanchez, Seager has plenty of protection in the lineup around him so he should see a lot of pitches to hit. The Dodgers should also be very good, which will probably benefit Seager during the voting process. Other players I expect to be in the mix for this award include Joey Votto, Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo, and Bryce Harper.
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
This is one of the easier awards to predict as Kershaw is one of the most dominant pitchers of is era. Assuming he can stay healthy this year, Kershaw will be the favorite for this award. Unfortunately for Kershaw, Max Scherzer is also one of the best pitchers of this era so the odds are pretty high that one of these two players will be this year’s NL Cy Young Award.
World Series Prediction: Cubs beat Yankees
I think the Cubs will greatly benefit from the slightly longer offseason they had this year and will be locked and loaded for another trip to the World Series where they will meet up with the powerhouse New York Yankees. I could definitely see either of these two teams winning the World Series this year, but I have to give the slight edge to the Cubs for now as they are currently healthier the Yankees (yes I know the World Series is 7 months away). Overall, I think baseball fans are in for another thrilling World Series in 2018 and I cannot wait for Opening Day.
Follow @Nosebleed_MLB for more!