It is only a matter of time before Opening Day arrives. All 30 franchises will take what they learned from spring training to the big stage. 40-man rosters will showcase what each player brings to the table as they brave through another 162-game season.
Although the regular season hasn’t started yet, some experts and fans have already picked their favorites for the 2018 postseason. Who will take control of their divisions? Will upsets abound? Which two teams will duke it out for the World Series?
Here are some very early predictions for the 2018 MLB season.
National League Early Predictions
Many predict the Los Angeles Dodgers will reign supreme in 2018. ESPN rates them as the best odds to win the World Series this year.
However, the road will not be so easy. As unforgiving as their pitching crew has been to other teams, Los Angeles’ offense needs to catch up. Last season, the Dodgers recorded a .249 batting average, which ranked 22nd out of 30 teams.
Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, Yasiel Puig and Justin Turner had solid outings at the plate last year. But more work must still be done.
As for the rest of the NL playoff picture, my early predictions include the Colorado Rockies and Milwaukee Brewers in the two Wild Card spots.
Last season, Colorado posted the second-highest team batting average. Although their pitching rotation needs improvement, solutions are sure to be found.
As for Milwaukee, similar to the Dodgers, the Brewers landed in the top 10 last season in ERA. But offensive production couldn’t quite catch up.
Perhaps the additions of one or two more big names will help them get to October.
In addition, I will pick the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central Division and the Washington Nationals to win the East once again. The Nationals are working in their new skipper, Dave Martinez. Martinez was previously the bench coach under manager Joe Maddon both with the Tampa Bay Rays and the previously mentioned Chicago Cubs.
My boldest prediction for the National League is the Miami Marlins going over .500 in 2018. Yes, I said it. They have young players hungry to make a name for themselves, and manager Don Mattingly will find a way to turn the team around despite the offseason drama of the rebuilding process.
American League Early Predictions
In the American League, the Houston Astros reign as not only kings of the AL, but also all of Major League Baseball. One of many questions is can they win back-to-back rings? According to ESPN, the Astros and the Cleveland Indians both have the second best odds to win the title. Given how well Houston has been doing in spring training, it’s easy to see why their opening odds are 6-1.
There is no doubt the Astros will have stubborn obstacles on the road to repeat as champions. The first among which are the New York Yankees. With the addition of Giancarlo Stanton, the Pinstripes are a pitcher’s nightmare. However, their success this coming season will depend on how well new skipper, Aaron Boone, can manage this team.
If spring training is showing us anything, Boone is capable of doing well. But I do not see a round two between Houston and the Pinstripes. I predict that Houston will defend their AL title, but against the Cleveland Indians.
Here is why. Manager Terry Francona no doubt has seen this situation before. Francona will find a way to adapt against the more imposing foes in the AL. Last season, statically, the Indians were among the best in the MLB in hitting, pitching and fielding. I say how Cleveland’s defense backs up the pitcher will be the big factor for their success.
For the rest of the AL playoff picture, I see the Minnesota Twins and the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card spots. The Red Sox will be taking the field with a new manager, former Astros bench coach, Alex Cora. In addition, slugger J.D. Martinez will call Fenway Park his home in 2018
As predictions are made, many do not stand understandably. If professional sports has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can beat anyone at any time. However, baseball is among the most stats-driven of all North American sports. It could very well be that Wild Card teams surprise us all and end up winning the league pennants.
Come March 29, each team will begin new chapters in it’s own story. Come Opening Day, the race for October begins.
Featured image from MLBShop.com
“From Our Haus to Yours”