Baseball is back, and this season offers a bundle of intrigue, along with captivating storylines and potential playoff chases. Here are 10 bold predictions for the 2018 MLB season.
1) The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will finish with the two best records in the American League
The New York Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton, Brandon Drury and Neil Walker to a lineup that already had Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner. Masahiro Tanaka will be looking to bounce back from his subpar 2017 season while Luis Severino blossoms into a Cy Young Award-caliber righty and Sonny Gray returns to form. The Yankees also have arguably the best bullpen in the American League. Their rival, the Boston Red Sox, are also a formidable unit.
The Red Sox have won the AL East in back-to-back seasons and did so with Mookie Betts hitting just .264 last season, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. having discouraging seasons at the plate. and Rick Porcello giving up the most runs in baseball after winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2016. Boston also added J.D. Martinez to their order and chances are they get bounce back seasons from their prominent figures who struggled last year. The Houston Astros may begin the season hungover after their World Series championship much like the Chicago Cubs did last season. The Cleveland Indians lost Jay Bruce, Joe Smith, Bryan Shaw, and Carlos Santana (although they signed Yonder Alonso to replace him) to free agency. The Yankees and Red Sox are the two best teams in the American League, for the moment.
2) The Miami Marlins will fail to win 50 games
The Miami Marlins haven’t had a winning season since 2009 and won just 77 games last season. This offseason, they proceeded to trade Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, and Dee Gordon and made no significant transaction to fill the void those absences create. Their lineup does have some respectable names such as Starlin Castro, Justin Bour, J.T. Realmuto and Martin Prado but after them, its a mediocre order. Their pitching staff is amongst the league’s worst and the bullpen is a liability. Miami may have the worst roster in the majors and it’s going to show when they don’t reach the 50-win mark this season.If 2017's MLB season tells us anything, it's to expect the unexpected. Here are 10 bold predictions for the 2018 campaign.Click To Tweet
3) The Milwaukee Brewers will win the NL Central
The Milwaukee Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain and traded for Yelich to put alongside Domingo Santana in their outfield. After missing the playoffs by one game last season and bolstering a lineup that already featured Santana, Travis Wood and Ryan Braun, Milwaukee now has a formidable order. And their pitching staff of Chase Anderson, Zach Davies and Jimmy Nelson is on the rise. As currently constructed, the Brewers are better than the Chicago Cubs. Chicago’s biggest move this offseason was signing righty Yu Darvish, but they had to let Jake Arrieta (who’s better than Darvish) walk in free agency to do it. They’re the same team as they were in 2017 and maybe a tad bit worse. The Brewers are more intriguing, have more upside, and have the edge on the Cubs.
4) Aaron Judge will hit 60 home runs
Source: Al Bello/Getty Images North America
Judge took baseball by storm last season with his overwhelming presence in the batter’s box through both size and power. Hitting an astonishing 52 home runs and driving in 114 runs, he was one of the most captivating storylines of the 2017 season. To add onto his significant rookie year, it’s been reported that Judge played through a shoulder injury. Imagine what he would’ve done had he been fully healthy? Sure, pitchers are going to adjust to Judge, but the right fielder is also going to work on hitting outside pitches (which he struggled with in 2017) and reading breaking balls better. Judge and the Yankees are under a heap of pressure to succeed in 2018. The right fielder is healthy, humble, a force to be reckoned with, and about to be the first player to hit 60 home runs in a single season since 2001.
5) The Minnesota Twins will win 90 games
The Minnesota Twins had the most decisive and productive offseason in baseball. Adding veteran righties Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi to their rotation, as well as Addison Reed and Fernando Rodney to their bullpen, the Twins now have a top-10 rotation and a respectable backend. They also signed first baseman Logan Morrison (who hit a career-high 38 home runs in 2017) and are getting power-hitting third baseman Miguel Sano back. The Twins have an improved rotation and bullpen, as well as a youthful and productive lineup that features the likes of Brian Dozier, Eddie Rosario, Joe Mauer, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, Morrison, and Sano. They’re a more complete team, an American League underdog and are going to win 90 games in 2018.
6) There will be no 20-win pitchers for a second consecutive season
In 2018, a trend concerning pitchers will continue: Not one of them will record 20 wins for a second consecutive season. The American League is incredibly competitive, amongst title contenders in particular, and the National League Wild Card race will be as fierce as ever. Many games will be decided by bullpen production and efficiency as well as small-ball play late in games. Pitchers will leave the hill early, as the reliance shifts more-so towards the bullpen. Besides, what’s more important when assessing a pitcher: their ERA or win-loss total — which is heavily influenced by their team’s ability to score runs?
7) Chris Archer and Josh Donaldson get traded
The Tampa Bay Rays went into full rebuilding mode this offseason by trading cornerstone third baseman Evan Longoria and designating outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment. One name who is likely to be shopped or receive interest from other teams is righty Chris Archer. While Archer has recorded ERA’s over four in the last two seasons, he’s punched out 230-plus and thrown 200-plus innings in each of the last three seasons. Under contract through 2021 and a top-of-the-rotation arm on a rebuilding team, the righty will be dealt by the MLB trade deadline.
Another big name that will be dealt is Toronto Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson. Categorized as one of the better power-hitting righties and all-around third basemen in the game, Donaldson is a critical part to the well-being of the Blue Jays’ order. But John Gibbons‘ ballclub appears unlikely to make the playoffs this season based on management doing very little to improve themselves. A free agent after 2018 and likely not on a playoff team, the Blue Jays will get what they can for Donaldson via trade while they still can.
8) Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado will win MVP awards
There’s no frontrunner to win the MVP in both the American and National League, but Betts and Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado are poised for huge years. After hitting just .264 in 2017, Betts is hungry to get back to hitting above .300 and reminding the MLB world of his stardom. He’s one of the best outfielders and players in the game. Even in a so-called down year, Betts still drove in 102 runs. He’s 25, young, quick, hungry, and going to have a monster year.
Many would argue that Arenado, who is regarded by many as the best third baseman in the game, was robbed of the NL MVP last season. He hit a career-high .309 at the plate, to go along with 37 home runs and 130 RBI’s, and continued to be a vacuum at the hot corner. The Rockies are coming off a Wild Card appearance and have a lethal lineup headlined by the third baseman. Arenado is one of the five best all-around players in the game, improving with every passing year, and is going to win the NL MVP this season.
9) Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg win Cy Young Awards
Red Sox’ lefty Chris Sale and Washington Nationals’ righty Stephen Strasburg were each finalists for the Cy Young in their respective leagues in 2017. This season, they won’t come up short again. After Clayton Kershaw, Sale is the best lefty in the game. He’s capable of striking out ten batters on any given night, can be unhittable when he has his command, and was en route to winning the Cy Young last season before he faded late in the year. Sale has established himself as the Red Sox ace and is the best arm in the AL East. After his disappointing Game 1 outing in the ALDS, the lefty is hungry and poised for a huge year.
On the other hand, Strasburg is coming off the best year of his career. Recording a career-best 2.52 ERA and surrendering zero earned runs in two postseason outings, he was an overpowering presence on the rubber. In what was a year where he had to prove that injuries don’t define his career, Strasburg was the Nats’ most consistent arm and will garner even more confidence and consistency in 2018.
10) Dodgers defeat Yankees in six games to win the 2018 World Series
The Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are the two most complete teams in baseball. The Yankees added Stanton, among others, to an already elite lineup, have a great top of the rotation, a plethora of talent in their farm system, and were just one game away from playing in the Fall Classic last season. The Dodgers have a gritty, efficient order with Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig. They also have the best bullpen and pitching rotation in baseball headlined by Kershaw. In 2015, the Dodgers were eliminated in the NLDS. The ensuing year, they lost in the NLCS. Last year, they lost in Game 7 of the World Series; there’s only one more step to take: The Dodgers will defeat the Yankees in six games to win the 2018 World Series.