Projections… damned if you do, damned if you don’t… so here goes. It’s time to break out the crystal ball and take a look into the future. Here are the projected win totals and standings for each team. Have your voice heard and vote for who you think will win each division. The readers’ poll is located at the bottom of this page.
Red Sox 93
Blue Jays 82
In a nutshell: The Yankees are in the midst of building a superteam but will the pieces fit together in 2018? The bullpen looks dominant but the starting pitching remains a bit suspect. Will the Red Sox finally find their identity in the post-David Ortiz era? Will David Price’s arm hold up and will J.D. Martinez provide the big bat they lacked in 2017? Can the Blue Jays stay healthy enough to compete for a wild card this season? Their top talent seems about a year away from the big leagues so 2018 may find them on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Tampa’s chances went up in smoke when two of their best young arms were injured in spring training (Tommy John for both). It appears more likely that the Rays opt for a total tear down rather than make a series of minor moves in an attempt to stay competitive in the tough AL East. The Orioles mismanaged their player assets standing pat rather than making a move to extend or trade their top talent. Thus, they will likely have nothing to show for themselves when Machado walks at the end of the year as a free agent. Their farm system has few stars coming and the organization continues to struggle to develop pitching. All of this makes for a bleak 2018.
White Sox 72
In a nutshell: The divisions of the haves and have nots. Cleveland will likely trounce all competition as long as they stay healthy. The Twins, who surprised everyone last year look to sustain their success but will the ugly Buxton of the first half of 2017 or the beautiful Buxton of the 2nd half show up? Kansas City delayed their complete free-fall by resigning Moustakas. The team is going to need serious production from Merrifield and Duda to make up for the loss of Hosmer and Cain. Too many pitching questions gives this team the look of deadline sellers. The White Sox have a lot to look forward to with their exciting young core (Moncada, Giolito, Kopech, etc…) but 2018 is likely a growth year for the team and expectations for this season should remain tempered. The less that can be said about the Tigers, the better. Cabrera and Martinez need to be healthy and Castellanos needs to continue his assent towards stardom. The pitching is awful and no amount of offense is going to turn this team into a contender. However, with health, maybe they can muster enough runs to not be embarrassingly bad.
In a nutshell: The World Champion Astros look to repeat in 2018 and adding Cole to the starting rotation can’t hurt. They appear to be a well built machine capable of reaching the post season in 2018 and beyond. The Angels enter 2018 with more hope than they have had in a while. Mike Trout is the best player in baseball and if Ohtani can figure things out after a miserable spring they have the making of a headline grabbing tandem. The team also overhauled the infield and look to have the best defense in baseball (just keep Pujols in the DH slot). Add the re-signed Justin Upton and some pitching health and this could be a team that makes a surprising post season run. In 2017, the consensus was that the As had the young pitching but not the hitting to sneak up on some teams. Turns out it was the other way around. If the young bats can keep things going and the pitching staff can figure things out, this team can be intriguing (though likely not a post season contender). The Mariners are treading water and have likely already seen their best chances at a post season run with their current core. Adding Gordon may help a little but the pitching staff is a complete mess. Texas is a tough team to figure out. They have some interesting pieces (Gallo, Odor, Mazara) and the always entertaining and amazing Beltre (can he stay healthy?) but there are too many question marks with their starting and relief pitching. I just don’t see them having a successful 2018.
In a nutshell: Anything less than a first place finish will be a major under-achievement for the Nationals and anything better than a 100 loss season will be a major over-achievement for the Marlins. The Phillies rebuild appears to have blossomed and their addition of Santana and Arrieta has the team going all in for a playoff birth. The Mets seem to have plateaued since their dominant pitching corps of a few years ago can’t get healthy. The Braves will play the service time game with Acuna and then hope his addition to the big league team will be enough to challenge for a wild card (or at least respectability). A lot will ride on the starting pitching. I don’t see it.
In a nutshell: The Cubs said goodbye to Arrieta and added Darvish and Chatwood. They said goodbye to Wade Davis as their closer and brought in Morrow. The team is looking for Schwarber and Russell to bounce back and Ian Happ to continue impressing. If things mesh, the Cubs will make a strong push for a title. St. Louis shook up the outfield by moving on from Grichuk and Piscotty and adding Ozuna. They also appear ready to infuse young guys in the rotation and have revamped the bullpen. They’ll stay competitive all season but a lot has to go right for them to make the playoffs. The Brewer rebuild arrived much earlier than expected. Rather than take a wait and see approach, the front office made some significant moves for 2018 and added Yelich and Cain. Their outfield is now overstocked which is never a bad thing. If they can get the same performance or better from their starting pitching, these guys will be right in the playoff hunt. The Pirates traded away their “ace” (Cole) to the Astros and the face of their franchise (McCutchen). They appear to be in the “one step back” phase before trying to move “two steps forward”. The Reds who have been stuck at the bottom for a while are beginning to show some glimmer of hope. Votto may be the most underrated superstar in the game today, he just needs a supporting cast to finally arrive. The offense around him is slowly taking shape and it looks like the Reds may have found an ace in Castillo and a lock down closer in Iglesias. The rest of the rotation and the bullpen? Best not to get your hopes up. Thus, another basement finish is likely for Cincy.
D Backs 87
In a nutshell: The Dodgers seem built to contend now and far into the future. They are deep at almost every position and not only do they have the number one starting pitcher in the game (Kershaw, when healthy) but they also have arguably the game’s number one closer too (Jansen). The pitching pieces in between these two stars is extremely solid as well. Although the loss of Turner for about two months (broken wrist) hurts, they have more than enough talent and pieces to run over most opponents. The D Backs surprised in 2017 but now expectations for a repeat exist. They need a healthy offense (looking at you Pollock) and their starting pitching needs at least a repeat performance of 2017. If everything breaks right, the D Backs may very well pull off an encore. The Rockies also surprised many in 2017. If the offense can perform on the road closer to how it performs at home and the young pitching staff can hold its own through 5 or 6 innings, their loaded bullpen can help nail down victories. I think the Rockies over-achieved last year and I would be surprised to see them back in the postseason in 2018. The Giants fell off a cliff last year as an anemic outfield coupled with a largely ineffective pitching staff led to a season San Fran fans would like to forget. Management brought in McCutchen and Longoria in an attempt to right the struggling offense and things looked a little more hopeful. However, Bumgarner and Samardzija are shelved for what looks like about 2 months (best case) due to spring training injuries. There is not enough pitching to right this ship. The Padres have a youth movement and the offense has a lot of potential. However, the starting pitching needs to catch up for them to have any chance at getting out of last place in the NL West. Hand’s a great closer but I am not sure how many 9th inning leads the Padres are going to have for him to save.
AL Championship: Astros vs. Yankees
NL Championship: Cubs vs. Dodgers
World Series: Astros vs Dodgers
Champion: Astros over Dodgers 4-2