Prior to the start of the 2018 season, Underthought made some predictions about the 2018 season. Now, at the mid-season point, Underthought re-examines the teams and updates predicted win totals for the American League.
Boston pre-season win projection 93, mid-season win projection 101
NY Yankees pre-season projection 94, mid-season projection 100
Tampa Bay pre-season projection 76, mid-season projection 77
Toronto pre-season projection 82, mid-season projection 76
Baltimore pre-season projection 70, mid-season projection 53
In a nutshell: The Red Sox have gotten a ton of production from J.D. Martinez. Add him to Bogaerts’ healthy return, Benintendi’s breakout, and an MVP caliber season from Betts and the Sox are tough to stop. The starting pitching looks good with Sale as the ace, Porcello looking closer to his 2016 form than his 2017 form, and Rodriguez appearing to be an overqualified #4 starter. The biggest questions for the Sox to remain at the top of the AL East are, ‘Can Price stay healthy?’ and ‘Who in the bullpen can be trusted with high leverage innings besides Kimbrel?’
The Yankees are stocked offensively. Torres and Andujar are the real deal, Stanton and Judge are smacking homeruns at the expected rate, and Severino has become an ace (and a top 5 starting pitcher in the AL). Add a dominant bullpen and the Yankees are right where they want to be as they move towards the trade deadline. If they can add another average to above average arm to the rotation in combination with Sonny Gray getting right again (he has shaved 1.07 earned runs off his E.R.A. since May 7th) and things are looking extremely good for the Bombers.
How have the Rays managed to play .500 ball? The offense is a relative mess outside of above average seasons from Ramos and Duffy in addition to the excellent start Jake Bauers has provided since his June call up. In addition, the rotation outside of Snell is a mess and/or on the disabled list. They also traded away their “closer”. It’s hard to see the team staying on their current pace but my gut says they can do it.
Not much has gone right for the Blue Jays. Donaldson can’t get healthy and almost every starter is having a season at the plate that is below expectations. Throw in a closer who is suspended from baseball, and a bunch of banged up starting pitchers and it is not hard to see why they are a below .500 team. Happ (the only starter that looks good) is destined to be traded away as are any useful bullpen pieces. Jays fans should forget about the rest of this season and look forward to when their top minor league talent is ready in 2019.
The Orioles are the dead man walking in the AL East. Things weren’t looking good for them entering the season and it’s probable that things are going to get even worse. They need to trade Machado (and to a lesser extent Britton and Jones) as soon as possible in order to restock their miserable farm system. Although they would like to avoid a win loss record that puts them into the all-time worst category, they are going to have to stomach the stink and start to rebuild towards the future. Not much to see here except for monitoring whether Chris Davis puts up the worst season ever statistically (not an exaggeration, look it up).
Cleveland pre–season win projection 95 mid-season win projection 95
Minnesota pre-season projection 85 mid-season projection 77
Chicago W.S. pre-season projection 72 mid-season projection 67
Detroit pre-season projection 63 mid-season projection 65
Kansas City pre-season projection 72 mid-season projection 60
In a nutshell: Ben Lindberg recently pointed out that the 2018 AL Central could be the worst division in baseball history.
The Indians appear to be the only competitive team at the mid-point. They just need to keep healthy and make sure their offense is ready for the post season.
The Twins, who surprised last year, have looked mediocre at best. Sano is toiling in the minors trying to get back on track, Buxton has been injured for most of the year, and every player on offense outside of Rosario and Escobar is struggling. It would take a monster second half from this team to even have an outside chance of making the playoffs. I don’t see it happening.
Some White Sox fans are questioning whether the team’s rebuild is a failure. However, judging the rebuild this early is silly. There is a lot of talent in the organization and although there may not be a lot to cheer about this year, I see improvement coming soon.
The Tigers on the other hand will continue to slide. It was nice to see them put up a better than expected first half. Castellanos continues to look good as does Candelario and Jimenez but with the loss of Cabrera and below average hitting, power, and pitching, this team is going to sink quickly in the second half. They need to unload as many of their aging starting pitchers as possible at the deadline for lottery ticket/low minors talent and start their own rebuild.
Kansas City attempted to slow their descent by resigning Moustakas but it didn’t help. They have already begun trading away pieces (ex. Herrera). The trading will continue as will the losing.
Houston pre-season win projection 96 mid-season win projection 99
Seattle pre-season projection 77 mid-season projection 88
L.A. Angels pre-season projection 84 mid-season projection 83
Oakland pre-season projection 78 mid-season projection 82
Texas pre-season projection 76 mid-season projection 72
In a nutshell: The Astros are putting it all together and look like they are ready to flatten opponents in the second half as they make another post-season run as the AL West champs. Maybe a left handed reliever for the bullpen at the trade deadline? If that is their biggest concern, it shows you how well positioned they are for a repeat.
The Mariners came from out of nowhere and are surprising everyone by staying in the race. Although Cano is suspended for 80 games, the offense appears just fine as Cruz keeps flashing his home run power and players like Segura and Haniger continue to perform. Diaz, although possibly being overused, is an amazing power-arm closer and upgrading the bullpen has already begun as the team added Colome from Tampa. Paxton needs to continue to stay healthy and reclamation projects like Leake and LeBlanc need to keep catching lightening in a bottle. However, they already have 50 wins banked which puts them in pretty good position to for a post-season birth.
The Angels were my pre-season dark horse but with the injury to Ohtani (and Cozart to a lesser extent) combined with the absolutely decimated starting and relief pitching on their major league roster, and even Mike Trout, the best player in the game, can’t save them.
The As have played solid ball in the first half and outperformed many people’s expectations. They appear to be winning with a nice balance of hitting and pitching. Davis keeps hitting bombs and the young bats keep improving. Manaea had an out of this world May (including a 10 strikeout no hitter) but has slowed down more recently. Blake Treinen is quietly having an elite season at closer. I still don’t project these guys as post-season candidates but they are much more fun to watch than I expected.
Texas is having a rough season. Andrus has recently returned from a prolonged absence and while he was gone, Mazara and Choo were the only consistent offensive contributors. Beltre has looked brittle but can still hit (although his .313 batting average and .827 OPS is somewhat hollow). Odor and DeShields both look lost at the plate and although 18 homers from Gallo is nice, his .190 batting average and almost 4 to 1 strikeout to walk rate is not. Hamels is pitching well enough that he may appeal to a contending team but the rest of the staff is unwatchable. It is going to be a long hot summer in Arlington.
CLICK HERE for a look at the 2018 pre-season predictions and team write ups.