T.J. the Sports Geek’s 2018 MLB Season Preview

MLB18Preview

Hello Everybody,

Welcome to my 2018 MLB Season Preview. I’ll have a look at where I have the 30 teams finishing, their summary,and a World Series prediction. Last year’s prediction was way off,but you never know,I might get it right. Without further adieu, here we go!

AmericanLeague

AL West

AstrosRetroHouston 98-64

The Astros shocked the world last year and beat a very good Dodgers team in the seventh game of the World Series,winning their first ever championship. They are aiming to do it again with their stellar lineup of Jose Altuve,the league’s reigning MVP, George Springer,Alex Bregman,Carlos Correa,Brian McCann,and Josh Reddick. They not only return those players,but also upgraded their pitching staff by bringing over Gerrit Cole from Pittsburgh to an already great rotation of Dallas Keuchel,Justin Verlander,and Lance McCullers. Led by manager A.J. Hinch,this Houston team looks very good and might just be determined enough to do what they did last year again.

AngelsRetroLos Angeles 85-77

The past few seasons haven’t been the best for the Angels,but I think this year things will change for the better. Along with Mike Trout,Andrelton Simmons,and Justin Upton,Los Angeles acquired Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart to bolster the infield and also signed Shohei Ohtani from Japan,a two-way player who can not only pitch but also be a designated hitter. Albert Pujols is also still there at age 38. Garret Richards,when healthy,pitches at an All-Star caliber level. Do they have what it takes to get a Wild Card spot? It’s possible, but I’m a little shaky on placing them there. Their rotation is shaky and has some holes and their lineup isn’t something to write home about,but they still could surprise some folks.

M'sSeattle 80-82

The Mariners currently hold baseball’s longest playoff drought and I’m sure their fans want that to end sooner than later. If they’re to do so,they’ll need healthy players and maximum production from them. Seattle brought Dee Gordon over from Miami to provide a top-notch leadoff hitter and base stealer. He’ll hit first in a lineup with Jean Segura,Robinson Cano,Nelson Cruz,and Kyle Seager,among others. Felix Hernandez hopes to rebound after a down 2017. He,along with Mike Leake and James Paxton,will head the starting rotation. Edwin Diaz will be the M’s closer. I think they’re still a little ways away from being a playoff team, they should’ve been one two or three years ago,but somehow it just hasn’t happened for them yet. This year is their chance to prove all of us wrong.

RangersRetroTexas 76-86

After winning their division in 2016,the Rangers missed the playoffs and it seems like their window of contention is closing. Are they up to the task to try and make the playoffs again? They’ll need their lineup of Adrian Beltre,Rougned Odor,Elvis Andrus,Shin-Soo Choo,Delino Deshields,Jr.,and Nomar Mazara. The rotation has the likes of Cole Hamels,Doug Fister,Matt Moore,and the ageless wonder,Bartolo Colon,who is hoping to make the rotation at age 44. Tim Lincecum is also on the pitching staff,but will be used for middle and long relief. I have them finishing fourth in the division,but if they can stay healthy and be productive,they might be able to shock some of us.

A'sRetroOakland 73-89

The biggest major league farm team didn’t have a great year last year but are hoping to surprise people and prove that they’re way of doing things is the proper one (even though it isn’t). They actually made a decent trade to bring someone in for once,that someone? Stephen Piscotty. He and Khris Davis will be mashing many home runs in Oakland this season. Matt Chapman may be the face of the franchise in seasons to come (If Billy doesn’t trade him away before that opportunity comes up) at third base. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea headline a rotation that is relatively unknown and the bullpen is a patchwork one with Santiago Casilla out of the closer role and former Giant Yusmeiro Petit coming aboard. I don’t see the A’s being as good or better than last year,but then again you and I have been wrong before.

AL Central

IndiansRetroCleveland 95-67

Last season the Indians did a lot of winning in the regular season,but can they do it in the postseason and end their 70 year championship drought? Their window appears to be open to do just that-for now. While they did have a few departures in the offseason, they did acquire Yonder Alonso who had a breakout year last season. He joins a great infield with Francisco Lindor,Jose Ramirez and Jason Kipnis. The starting rotation is as good as any in baseball with Corey Kluber,Carlos Carrasco,Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar,and Josh Tomlin. With Andrew Miller as a set-up man and Cody Allen closing,the end of the game should be exciting to watch with them on the mound. The rest of the bullpen looks like a work in progress. I think Cleveland has a decent chance of doing well in the postseason. How long they’ll be able to keep this group together is another story.

TwinsRetroMinnesota 88-74

The Twins went from 100 losses in 2016 to a playoff berth last year and are hoping to net a second consecutive trip to bonus baseball. This is not a team sneaking up on anyone and they knew this going into this season,which is why veterans like Logan Morrison,Michael Pineda,and Fernando Rodney were brought in. Byron Buxton is making strides to become a superstar talent and I think he has a breakout year this season. He,along with Miguel Sano, Brian Dozier,and Jason Castro will be the heart of Minnesota’s lineup. With Ervin Santana out with a finger injury, the Twins will roll with a rotation of Jake Odorizzi,Phil Hughes, Jose Berrios,and Kyle Gibson. I think a second playoff berth is in play and it’s the Twins’ spot to lose.

TigersRetroDetroit 77-85

The Tigers bottomed out last season and have brought in Ron Gardenhire as manager to help right the ship. Miguel Cabrera is coming off of his worst season of his career and is hoping to bounce back,but he is 35. Victor Martinez is still there to be their desginated hitter. Under the radar is Mikie Mahtook who had a very good season in his first full year and Nick Castellanos is continuing to produce at a high level in the middle of the Detroit lineup. The starting rotation has Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann,and also Francisco Liriano who is hoping to land a starting spot. While the Tigers lost a lot of games last season, I think they’ll bounce back a little bit. I don’t see them back as a postseason team yet,but they’re working on it.

WhiteSoxRetroChicago 72-90

The White Sox are in rebuild mode and are hoping to move to the second phase of it. But will Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia be around to see it become a turnaround? As of press time they are a part of a lineup with Wellington Castillo,Yoan Moncada,Tim Anderson and Yolmer Sanchez. Lucas Giolito hopes to emerge as Chicago’s ace in a rotation with James Shields,Miguel Gonzalez and Carson Fulmer. Joakim Soria will close out games for the White Sox bullpen. I think it’s going to be another trying year on the South side and chances are Abreu and Garcia may be on other rosters come late July and early August.

RoyalsRetroKansas City 69-93

The Royals did all they could to try and make one last run.but it didn’t materialize and as a result,many of the team’s players from their ’15 championship team are on other rosters. They still have some holdovers such as Salvador Perez,Alcides Escobar,and Alex Gordon. Also back is Mike Moustakas who tested the free agent waters and found that Kansas City was his best option. The starting rotation will be anchored by Danny Duffy and Ian Kennedy. It remains to be seen if guys like Gordon or Kennedy will be around by season’s end, but this team is in a reload mode where young guys will be coming up and taking change of the team for the future.

AL East

YankeesRetroNew York 96-66

The Yankees were one game away from reaching the World Series and thisn year they’re hoping to get beyond that. They acquired the best hitter in baseball in Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason. New manager Aaron Boone will try and lead his star-studded lineup with Stanton,Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez,Brett Gardner,Didi Gregorius,and Neil Walker. The pitching staff looks great as well with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia,and Sonny Gray. The end of the innings will be electric with Aroldis Chapman and re-signed David Robertson. I think this team looks ready to take the next step to get to the World Series. Will they? We’ll see!

RedSoxRetroBoston 91-71

Last season the Red Sox won this division bowed out early in the Wild Card round to the Astros and as a result,John Farrell is out and Alex Cora is in. He’ll lead his group to try and win the division again. He has the talent to do it with Mookie Betts,Hanley Ramirez,Xander Bogearts,Mitch Moreland,Jackie Bradley Jr.,Eduardo Nunez as well as new outfielder J.D. Martinez. Dustin Pedroia is still having his knee worked on which means he will miss the start of the season. Chris Sale and David Price headline the rotation along with Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz. Heath Hembree and Matt Barnes headline the bullpen while Craig Kimbrel will close the games for Boston. I think this team,while great, is going to have a tough time repeating with the Yankees looking just as strong,if not stronger. They are for sure a Wild Card team,though,without a doubt!

BlueJaysRetroToronto 84-78

After making the postseason the past few years,the Blue Jays didn’t have quite the spark as years past,but they just might be able to regain it. Their lineup is still very stellar with leadoff man Curtis Granderson, Josh Donaldson,Justin Smoak,Troy Tulowitski,Kevin Pillar,Russell Martin,and Kendrys Morales. Marcus Stroman,their ace,will be on the shelf with shoulder inflammation, but the rotation does have J.A. Happ,Marco Estrada,Aaron Sanchez,and Jaime Garcia. I think there’s a lot to like about this team,but it all depends on how healthy they are and how competitive they will be. They will definitely be in contention to get back to postseason play.

RaysAltTampa Bay 79-83

Last year the Rays had a better year,but many players have left like Corey Dickerson and the heart and soul of the team,Evan Longoria. They still have some talent,but it’s tough to peg how well they’ll do this season. For starters,this is a team that hasn’t been healthy. Denard Span, Matt Duffy,and Kevin Kiermaier have missed significant time due to injury. Carlos Gomez and Brad Miller were less than stellar last year while C.J. Cron did finish well in the second half of the season. They do have a youngster in Christian Arroyo who could make a difference for this Tampa Bay team. Chris Archer will continue to be the rotation’s ace along with Blake Snell and Jacob Faria. I really wanted to make the Rays a playoff team and if healthy,they just might be,but things look cloudy with them so it’s hard to peg them as postseason worthy when so much is unknown.

OriolesRetroBaltimore 71-91

Last season was not a fruitful one for the O’s and if things don’t turn around this year in the Charm City, it may be the last time you see Manny Machado,Adam Jones and Zack Britton in an Orioles uniform,each are slated for free agency in 2019. Machado and Jones are still part of a very good hitting lineup with Chris Davis,Mark Trumbo,and Tim Beckham. The pitching rotation is a little lackluster,headlined by Dylan Bundy,Kevin Gausman,and Andrew Cashner. Darren O’Day will be the set-up man to Britton,who starts the season on the disabled list. I don’t think that Baltimore is going to do much of anything this year,I think their window to compete has closed and the rebuild is coming.

NationalLeague

NL West

DodgersRetroLos Angeles 99-63

Last year the Dodgers were one game away from winning their first title in nearly 30 years,but fell just short. They’re sure going to try again this season with most of the team returning. Corey Seager,Justin Turner,and Cory Bellinger will be the heart of the batting order with Yasiel Piug,Austin Barnes,Joc Pedersen and Chris Taylor. Also on the Los Angeles bench are Chase Utley, Yasmani Grandal,and the returning Matt Kemp. The starting rotation is robust with Clayton Kershaw,Rich Hill,Alex Wood,and Hyun-jin Ryu and one of the best closers in the game in Kenley Jansen. This team looks like they’re going to net their sixth straight divisional crown,but will they get their first title since 1988? It looks likely,but only time will tell.

DBacksRetroArizona 87-75

Last season the Diamondbacks made the playoffs after losing 93 games the season before and are looking to be playoff bound again. They’re sure going to put a lot of runs on the board with their lineup of Paul Goldschmidt,David Peralta, A.J. Pollock,and Jake Lamb. Jarrod Dyson also comes over from Kansas City to play in the outfield. The starting pitching,led by Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray,looks to continue to produce for Arizona. The bullpen has Jorge De La Rosa as the top arm in it and could use some more arms in it,maybe they get some in July at the deadline. All in all this is a pretty decent Arizona team and I think they make it a return trip to October baseball.

GiantsRetroSan Francisco 84-78

It was far from a good season for the Giants last year with the team losing 98 games and missing the playoffs. One of the things that was missing was pop in the lineup and they went out and acquired Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen in the hopes that the team’s lack of power finally gets solved. They join a star-studded lineup with Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford,Hunter Pence,and Joe Panik. Madison Bumgarner hopes to have a bounceback season after missing most of 2017 due to a dirtbike accident,as does Johnny Cueto who had blisters on his pitching hand last season. The bullpen got a little bit better with Tony Watson coming over from the Dodgers to set up Mark Melancon,who had a down year in his first season in San Francisco. Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland,and Steven Okert will also be of service in the bullpen. I think the Giants can bounce back if they stay healthy and can hit for power for a change. I have them falling short,but I could be wrong.

RockiesAltColorado 82-80

Last season the Rockies shocked all of baseball and made the postseason,winning 87 games. They’re hoping to get even further this year,but without Carlos Gonzalez on the team,can Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon lead the charge and carry on? They’ll be a big part of the lineup carrying Trevor Story, Gerardo Parra,D.J. LeMahieu,Ian Desmond,and Chris Iannetta. The pitching staff is actually a very good one for a team that plays in Colorado with Jon Gray,Chad Bettis,and German Marquez. Wade Davis came over in free agency to be the new closer and Brian Shaw to be the new set-up man in the bullpen. I think the Rockies have a decent shot at getting back to the postseason,but with other teams competing to get there,too,it may be a bit tougher. I have them falling just short.

PadresRetroSan Diego 75-87

The Padres are hoping that their 71 wins last season can turn into more. However,it is a rebuilding season once again in San Diego. They did,however,sign a major player in Eric Hosmer late last month to play first base in whatever colors the Padres are wearing now. Wil Myers moves back to the outfield and Chase Headley returns to the team after playing the last four seasons with the Yankees. Those men are part of a lineup with Manuel Margot,Carlos Asuaje,Austin Hedges,and Freddy Galvis. A.J. Ellis and Cory Spangenberg are on the San Diego bench. Clayton Richard heads the rotation with Tyson Ross and Bryan Mitchell. Brad Hand will be the team’s closer with Craig Stammen as his set-up man. I think the Padres have a season or two to be a playoff team if they can keep building their team and oh yeah,go back to wearing brown. Just do it,already!

NL Central

CubsRetroAltChicago 92-70

The Cubs missed out on repeating as champions last year,falling to the Dodgers in the NLCS. Joe Maddon’s team can,however,try and make it two in three seasons. You’ve got a great infield with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant,Addison Russell,and Javier Baez. Very good outfielders in Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward,and a gem of a utility player in Ben Zobrist who can do both. The pitching staff consists of newly signed Yu Darvish joining Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood,Kyle Hendricks,and Jose Quintana. Brandon Morrow is the closer for Chicago. I honestly don’t see this team missing the postseason with the lineup they have and the pitching, an awful lot would have to happen for them to do so and until someone upends them, they’re the best team in this division.

BrewersRetroMilwaukee 85-77

Last season the Brewers were in playoff contention until the final day of the season. This year they’re hoping to actually get there and they got some players to try and help get them there. They traded for Christian Yelich from Miami and signed Lorenzo Cain to return to Milwaukee. They join a lineup with Eric Thames,Domingo Santana,and Travis Shaw. Ryan Braun is still there,of course,but he is likely to split time in the outfield and at first base. Eric Sogard and Stephen Vogt will also come off the bench. I also like this Brewers rotation with Chase Anderson, Jhoulys Chacin,Yovani Gallardo,and Wade Miley. Jimmy Nelson should return to the top of the rotation in May or June. Corey Knebel is the closer. I think with the additions they made this team will be playoff bound in 2018. This lineup looks great!

CardinalsRetro.pngSt. Louis 83-79

The Cardinals have missed the postseason two years in a row and this year they have to make the playoffs in order to save Mike Matheny’s job. They have a lot of talented players in the lineup and they acquired a dandy of a player in Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins. He joins a lineup of Dexter Fowler,Tommy Pham,Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong,Jose Martinez,and of course Yadier Molina. The rotation is still decent but getting older with Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha,but have younger starters in Carlos Martinez and Luke Weaver. The bullpen looks pretty decent with Luke Gregorson closing and quality arms in Brett Cecil and Bud Norris in middle relief. I think the pathway for St. Louis to get to the postseason is there,but with the Cubs there and the Brewers reloading to make a run,it’s going to be tougher for that to happen.

PiratesRetroPittsburgh 76-86

Let’s face it,this is a Pittsburgh team that is beginning a rebuild. Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole are gone,but the Pirates still have some talent on their team like Starling Marte,who hopes to have a bounceback season. Josh Harrison looks to continue his All-Star form while new acquisition Corey Dickerson brings his to the Pittsburgh lineup. Jameson Taillon leads a starting rotation full of back-end starters while George Kontos and Kyle Crick headline the bullpen. I think the Pirates will be sellers more than they will be buyers,but it won’t be a bad season,just a rebuilding one.

RedsRetro.pngCincinnati 69-93

The Reds haven’t eclipsed 68 wins since 2014. Beyond that the team allowed the most walks and home runs despite being in the middle of the pack in many offensive categories. They have a decent lineup with the ever-speedy Billy Hamilton leading off,Joey Votto,Scooter Gennett,and Eugenio Suarez. Cincinnati’s starting rotation has Luis Castillo,Anthony Desclafani,and Homer Bailey just to name a few. The future does look pretty bright for the Reds and time will only tell if they can contend sooner or later. I have them finishing last in the division,but in the next year or two,they may be ready to rise!

NL East

NationalsRetroWashington 92-70

The Nationals hope to repeat as division champions one last time before Bryce Harper hits the free agent market. Harper leads a stellar Washington lineup with Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy,Adam Eaton,Ryan Zimmerman,Matt Wieters,and Michael Taylor. The starting rotation is one of baseball’s best with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg,Gio Gonzalez,and Tanner Roark. The bullpen is a little ho-hum,but does have quality arms in Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle,who may wind up being the closer in D.C. by the time the playoffs come around. I think this is the Nationals’ division to lose and they look like they could be a World Series team under new manager Dave Martinez.

MetsRetroNew York 83-79

Last year wasn’t a very good one for the Mets after being in the postseason the prior two seasons. They’re hoping to get back on track with new manager Mickey Callaway. His lineup with new acquisitions Todd Frazier,Adrian Gonzalez, and the returning Jay Bruce along with Asdrubal Cabrera,Yoenis Cespedes,who hopes to bounce back after an injury plagued 2017 and Michael Conforto. Veterans David Wright and Jose Reyes provide depth to the infield. The pitching staff looks great with Noah Syndergaard,Jacon deGrom,Matt Harvey,and Steven Matz. The bullpen looks below average and needs to add a closer as well as a legit arm or two if contending is in the cards for them. I think New York is going to finish second,but in a division that’s nowhere near stellar.

PhilliesRetroPhiladelphia 78-84

It hasn’t been a great past few years in Philadelphia,but things just might be looking up as the team signed veterans Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta. Santana joins a young lineup with Maikel Franco, Rhys Hoskins,Odubel Herrera,J.P. Crawford,and Jorge Alfaro. Arrieta joins a pitching staff with Aaron Nola,Vincent Velasquez,and Nick Pivetta. Pat Neshek headlines the arms in the bullpen while Hector Neris will be tapped to close games for the Phillies. I think this team will be a lot better than the 66 win club from a season ago. They have some better veteran presence mixed with young players coming into their own. However,a playoff berth isn’t in the cards quite yet.

BravesRetroAtlanta 74-88

Last season the Braves were a third place team with only 72 wins. However, they still are rebuilding and didn’t really sign anyone in free agency. Freddie Freeman was a solid hitter last year and was the bright spot in Atlanta’s batting lineup. Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis will patrol the outfield and Ronald Acuna,the team’s top prospect should come up at some point to take left field. Julio Teheran will lead the pitching rotation,which wasn’t very good last season. Following him will be the likes of Brandon McCarthy,Scott Kazmir,and Max Fried. Also,if you’re wondering if Kurt Suzuki is still a major leaguer,I’ve found him on the Braves roster. I don’t think this team will be much better than last year, it’s going to take some time for their younger talent and pitching to develop.

MarlinsRetroMiami 61-101

The Marlins won 77 games last season and this year with a lack of good talent, they may not even win 60. Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich,and Marcell Ozuna are all on different teams now. Their best known player is Starlin Castro,who came over in the Stanton trade from the Yankees. Dan Straily is likely to start opening day for Miami and Brad Ziegler is likely to be the team’s closer this season. Overall,this is going to be a club that’s going to be rebuilding and playing a lot of youngsters who are finding their way in the league. They do,however,have a lot of prospects that they got back in the trades they made that will be the building blocks for their future.

Wild Card Game

AL- Minnesota over Boston

NL- Milwaukee over Arizona

Divisional Series

AL- Cleveland over New York

        Houston over Minnesota

NL- Washington over Chicago

        Los Angeles over Milwaukee

Championship Series

AL- Houston over Cleveland

NL- Washington over Los Angeles

World Series

WorldSeries18

Houston over Washington

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