Opening Day in the MLB is tomorrow! Finally! As is the case every year, I am very excited that another season of major league baseball is upon us. With the season ready to start, it is time for some annual fun: predicting the playoff teams and major award winners.
Every year, before I go through this exercise I offer the same disclaimer: making predictions in advance of a baseball season is great fun, but largely foolish. There are so many things that can happen between now and the end of the season to affect the standings. Despite this, I did pretty well anticipating how last season shook out. Hopefully I can repeat my clairvoyance.
Here are the 10 teams I think will make the playoffs, the league champions, and the world series winner:
|East||Central||West||Wild Card 1||Wild Card 2||League Champions||World Series Champion|
The Yankees-Red Sox race in the American League East should be thrilling. The Yankees offense is terrifying and I am not sure the Red Sox have the pitching depth to win the 95+ games it will take to capture the division crown. I battled with myself for a long time over the second AL Wild Card pick. The Twins, Mariners and Blue Jays will certainly be in the mix, but I like what the Angels did this offseason and think it gave them enough to be slightly ahead of those teams. On the National League side of the game, I had a similar battle over the second wild card pick. I went with the DBacks, but expect the Brewers, Rockies and Mets to be in the mix. I had considered the Giants to be there as well, but the injuries to Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samardzija are pretty crippling for a team that already had pitching depth issues.
In the end I foresee a rematch of 2017 World Series, albeit with a different result.
I have never fared well in picking the winners of the major awards. It is inherently more difficult than picking the playoff teams, but even with that considered, my performance has been poor. Here goes another shot:
|Most Valuable Player||Mike Trout (OF, Angels)|
|Cy Young||Chris Sale (SP, Red Sox)|
|Rookie of the Year||Shohei Otani (SP/DH/OF, Angels)|
|Manager of the Year||Mike Scioscia (Angels)|
Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. I will keep picking him to win the MVP until that is not true. Chris Sale made a strong run at the 2017 AL Cy Young, racking up 308 strikeouts and ensuring the Red Sox had a great chance to win every fifth day. I expect more of that from him in the coming year and some hardware to reflect his effort. The Otani pick for Rookie of the Year is perhaps too obvious, but if he actually plays all season as a two-way player it will mean he hit and pitched well enough for Mike Scioscia and the Angels to continue making strides to make his situation work, possibly at the expense of a legendary player in Albert Pujols. If he does it, he will be a lock for the award. If Scioscia guides the revamped Angels roster back to the postseason – as I expect – accommodates Ohtani as a two-way player, and manages any fall out from the Pujols situation, then he is a good bet to win the Manager of the Year award.
|Most Valuable Player||Bryce Harper (OF, Nationals)|
|Cy Young||Clayton Kershaw (SP, Dodgers)|
|Rookie of the Year||J.P. Crawford (SS, Phillies)|
|Manager of the Year||Dave Martinez (Nationals)|
2018 is a contract year for Bryce Harper. While I don’t believe that players can dial their performance up in contract years, this is a big year for Harper and the Nationals – possibly the last year of the Nationals being considered the clear favourites in the NL East. I expect a strong year from Harper. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. I will keep picking him to win the Cy Young until that is not true. J.P. Crawford will be the Phillies Opening Day (and everyday) shortstop. He is an excellent defender and during his 2017 call-up showed he can get on-base at a good clip. If some power shows up he will be a real standout for a Phillies team that is on the rise and could surprise us this year. New guy in the capital, Dave Martinez, will likely lead the Nationals to a division crown and get the attention that people are tired of giving to Joe Maddon and Dave Roberts. That could be enough to win the award. I have picked the Nationals’ manager to win the award in each of the last two seasons and been wrong, so third time’s the charm, right?
As always, I will revisit these predictions after the season.