Opening Day is Thursday. Hooray!! Depending on when this blog gets published you could be reading this on Thursday in which case Opening Day is today!
MLB finally smartened up and has all 30 teams playing on the same day. Everybody is opening on the same day for what seems like the first time that I can remember. No overseas fake opener bull shit, thank God. Everybody is coming out of the blocks on March 29th which is the earliest Opening Day in MLB history according to an article I just glazed over to make sure I had the date correct.
I started this blog Tuesday night after an 11 hour work day #realman so it's not going to be as in depth as years past. Don't need to waste my time talking about the Marlins or Tigers for more than two sentences. Tbh it doesn't matter, people sadly don't care about baseball as much as I do so I'm sure this blog will get like 14 reads (if that). While I love the game and don't mind the time it takes I am definitely an outlier in today's no attention span generation. Baseball definitely has a youth problem. The average age of a baseball fan is like 57 years old. Not ideal!
If you are a baseball fan, which I'd assume you are if you're reading this, then I'm sure you're excited for Opening Day. It's a great day. Baseball is back. I personally have v high expectations for the Red Sox this year. Everybody is sucking the Yankees dick because they added Stanton but...you know I'll wait to dive deeper into that. This season on paper seems to be sort of locked up. I'd say 5 of the 6 divisions seem to have a runaway winner, although as we all know the game is not played on paper. Oh fuck the cliche police just knocked on my door. It's true though, every prediction post I've read has the same 6 teams winning the divisions. The AL East seems to be the only division that people are even considering to have some legit competition for the division crown. I think it's kind of short sighted because sports surprise people every season; especially baseball. Seemingly every year there surely will be a surprise team or two that "makes some noise" that nobody saw coming. Nobody thought the Red Sox would win the 2013 World Series in Spring Training or that the Royals in 2014 would come a game away from a World Series win... anything can happen. Even the Yankees were supposed to be in a "rebuilding year" and they were a game away from a pennant last season. One more example? Okay you got it. Who would've guessed on Opening Day 2012 that the Oakland A's would win the AL West?
However you could make the argument that now with tanking being a thing in baseball (which is idiotic imo, there's no bigger crap shoot than the MLB draft) it seems like there's less parity than ever. Baseball is extremely top heavy. I feel like this season you could see a team win 98 games and not have home field advantage in the division series. It wouldn't shock me if every division winner in the American League won 100 plus games.
As for this season here's what I think is going to happen, let's start with the National League:
National League East Champs: Washington Nationals
1. Washington Nationals: 97-65
The Nationals have been a perennial contender since Bryce Harper showed up in 2012. They've won the NL East four of the last six season; however they've advanced past the NLDS zero times. It may be now, now, now, now, now or never for the Nats. S/o Hasley.
As a baseball fan I'd love to see them hold onto Harper after this season, but in his free agent year this could be the Nats final chance to make a deep October run. If he's healthy I expect an MVP type year from Bryce. This lineup is more than fine. Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy, Turner, Rendon. They have the pitching to win a ring or at least win a playoff series with two-time defender Cy Young Award winner in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Gio Gonzalez. That's one of the best 1-2-3's in the entire league. I'm going to look dumb when they lose in the NLDS in 5 again this season but I really do think this is the year they get over the hump.
Their new manager Dave Martinez took a page out of the football guy playbook and brought an actual camel into spring training to signify the Nats getting over the first round hump in 2018. If this doesn't work I think we should just send them back to Montreal.
2. New York Mets: 86-74
Personally, I have a soft spot in my heart for this organization. They should've won it all in 2015. They're the only NY team that I don't hate, mainly because of their shared Yankee hatedred. Plus I have a ton of respect for people who grew up in NY and decided to be Mets fans over Yankees fans. They're the real baseball fans in NY. Not some fair-weather bull shit.
If healthy,,, the Mets are a borderline Wild Card team, but that is a big IF. Talking Bartolo Colon big (he'll always be a Met to me!) The Mets made some nice low risk / medium reward signings this off-season; they brought back Jay Bruce after a brief stint in Cleveland. I'm really interested to see if Adrian Gonzalez can regain his old form. Todd Frazier is a strikeout machine but can hit you 30 + bombs.
The Mets underachieved with the starting staff this team has. Injuries have been a killer. Really hope that Thor, deGrom, and Harvey can all be healthy for an entire season. I feel bad for Mets fans, this team should be a legit World Series contender with the starting staff it has, but last year they were an absolute joke. 70-92. What a disappointment.
It honestly wouldn't shock me if this team won 75 or 95 games. I think the talent is there, it's all about health with this roster. V interested to see what first year manager Mickey Callaway (great name) does in Queens. As a Terry Francona disciple I have high hopes for him,
3. Philadelphia Phillies: 81-81
The Phillies are on the up and up with a decent amount of young talent, they could turn some heads this year and be sneaky not awful. Guys like Rhys Hoskins, and Maikel Franco are exciting, although Franco needs to show me more consistency at the plate. If he can work on getting his on base percentage up he has a chance to take the next step, but you can't have a guy who's supposed to be a star with an on base below .300 that's uglier than Kathy Griffin during her apology video. I wish Jake Arrieta signed with an up and coming contender instead of wasting away in Philly, but who knows maybe he can help this team turn some heads. I still think he's one of the best big game pitchers in baseball, I expect him to end up being the ace of this staff with an era around 3.40 and anywhere from 12-18 wins. Gabe Kapler has a bright future as a manager with this team. Wouldn't be shocked if they were a playoff team in 2019, especially if they end up signing Harper.
4. Atlanta Braves: 71-91
I couldn't name 5 players on this roster. I'll try: Freddie Freeman, Nick Markakis, Julio Teheran, Dansby Swanson.....Fred McGriff? Pencil the Braves in for somewhere in the low to mid 70's for wins.
5. Miami Marlins: 58-104
Traded away everybody for essentially nothing, I do feel bad for the 47 real Marlins fans out there, they don't deserve this. I really think the Marlins and Rays should move out of Florida because it's apparent baseball cannot survive down there as they're both always in the bottom 2 of attendance in their respective leagues. Would not be shocked if this team lost 110+ games. Who is on this roster?
National League Central Champs: Chicago Cubs
1. Chicago Cubs: 95-67
I know a lot of people have gotten Cubs fatigue, personally I have nothing but love for the Cubbies. They have a roster full of likable, exciting guys who are easy to root for. How could someone not like Anthony Rizzo? (unless they're a Cardinals fan) I feel like I'm in the minority here but I would've rather hung onto Arrieta than signed Yu Darvish. I think the World Series last year for him was extremely frightening. Meanwhile Arrieta is nails in big games, and a proven winner. I do think the Cubs could have some competition in this division for most of the season, but overall I don't think the Brewers or Cardinals have the pitching to overtake the Cubbies just yet. Watch out for Wilson Contresas to have a break-out season.
2. Milwaukee Brewers: 89-73
I loveeeeeeeeeeee the Brew Crew's line-up and the additions they made this off-season in Yelich and Cain. In Miller Park this team is going to fucking mash baseballs, and it wouldn't shock me if they had a top 3 team batting average in the National League. Pitching on the other hand...not so sure. Chase Anderson was a borderline ace in 2017, but he needs to be able to give them more of a workload. Zach Davies is a nice piece at the top of the rotation, but as an objective fan I reeeeeeeeally wish they added an Arrieta, Cobb, or even Lance Lynn. Think that could've really bridged the gap in this division. I still think even without adding another arm this team will snag a wild-card spot. The Brewers might not have a deep October run but they are going to be one of the most fun teams to watch in the entire league in 2018.
3. St Louis Cardinals: 87-75
Marcell Ozuna was one of the best under the radar additions by any team this off-season. Yes you could say he was a product of Giancarlo Stanton, but the dude is a fucking stud. 37 HR 121 RBI .312/.376/.548 he flat out rakes. Also plays a gold glove left field. The Cards are interesting team, really solid line up. They always seem to have great pitchers in their system, even if you've never heard of them. You could be in far worse situation than Carlos Martinez at the top of your rotation. The Cards are a team that never sucks, could be a sneaky wild-card team in 2018.
4. Pittsburgh Pirates: 69-73
Really sad to see this team get torn apart. They had a nice run from 2013-2015. It's too bad they got really good after the advent of the 2nd wild-card. Who knows what could've happened to this team had they not had to play in the one-game playoff three straight years. I don't know too many players on this roster, just don't have high hopes for the Buccos in 2018. Neither does David Freese
5. Cincinnati Reds: 61-101
Joey Votto doesn't deserve this. He needs to go to a contender.
National League West Champs: Los Angeles Dodgers
1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 101-61
Best team in baseball last (regular) season, bringing back pretty much the same team. Dodgers were a game away from a ring in 2017, as long as this team doesn't have a plane crash or something catastrophic I expect them to be right back in October fighting for a World Series ring. Dodgers should runaway with the NL West. Oh and Matt Kemp is back. Fun! Great core, good manager, best pitcher of this generation, worst hair in baseball (Justin Turner).
2. Colorado Rockies: 90-72
I looooooooove this line-up. Nolan Arenado is the most under appreciated player in baseball. Charlie Blackmon is a stud. Sure Coors Field helps but they're two legit problems for opposing pitchers. Starting pitching is a question mark on this team to me, but they can just win games 8-7. Plus the bullpen could end up being one of the best in baseball. They just need to be within striking distance after five innings. Colorado added Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw. Two of the best available bullpen arms. I think the Rockies end up in the Wild Card Game for a 2nd straight season.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks: 88-74
The Dbacks will be in the hunt all year long. Losing JD Martinez hurts, but they still have a formidable lineup and one of the game's brightest talents in Paul Goldschmidt. Wouldn't blow my mind if they ended up back in October in 2018.
4. San Francisco Giants: 79-83
Really sucks Bumgarner got hurt, I think that will change the course of their season. If it was 2013 the Giants would've had the best hot stove ever by adding Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. To me the Giants are, along with the Mets the most interesting teams in the NL. They could make the playoffs or lose 100 games. They just seem a little too old. Although it is an even year.
5. San Diego Padres: 70-92
Eric Hosmer, Wil Myers and 23 guys you've never heard of. At least they have the best play-by-play guy in the game.
MVP: Nolan Arenado
Dude has been putting up MVP numbers since he showed up in Denver. I think this is the year he finally gets the appreciation he deserves. IMO one of the 5 best position players in baseball.
Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard New York Mets
Picked him last year, got hurt. I may pick Thor every year until he eventually wins one. If he stays healthy it's bound to happen. Sure he's one of my favorite players in all of baseball but that bias was not accounted for here.
Rookie of the Year: P Jack Flaherty St. Louis Cardinals
Random top pitching prospect on the Cardinals that I had never heard of until I googled "NL rookie of the year contenders"? Love his chances. Love those unis even more.
Manager of the Year: Mickey Callaway New York Mets
1. Los Angeles Dodgers 101-61
2. Washington Nationals 97-65
3. Chicago Cubs 95-67
4. Colorado Rockies 90-72
5. Milwaukee Brewers 89-73
Wild Card Game:
(5) Brewers over (4) Rockies
(1) Dodgers over (5) Brewers in 3
(2) Nationals over (3) Cubs in 5 [rare time where picking the higher seed is still an upset]
(2) Nationals over (1) Dodgers in 6
NLCS MVP: Max Scherzer
American League East Champs: Boston Red Sox
1. Boston Red Sox: 98-64
Everybody and their mother is picking the Yankees to win the AL East because they added Giancarlo Stanton to a lineup that already hit the most home runs in baseball. That's all well and good and it wouldn't shock me at all if they did win this division, BUT everybody seems to be forgetting how the Red Sox won 93 games last year despite having down years from essentially every position player on the roster. Oh and they're about to get a full season of a healthy David Price. I think John Farrell didn't get the best out of his players last year, but the talent was so good that they still were able to win the division. I think under new manager Alex Cora you can expect this team to have a lot more fun in 2018 and be a lot more likable as well. It felt like the 2017 Sox had no personality, all they did was win one 15+ inning game a week. I really think the Red Sox pitching staff is the difference maker here. I don't expect Mookie Betts to hit in the .260's again, Xander is healthy, they added JD Martinez to add some pop to the line up. Sure he'll end up missing 40 games, but this offense has enough depth to be fine. People are sleeping on the Red Sox. They won 93 games last year despite basically no David Price, a ton of drama (mostly that was their own fault), an incompetent manager. All while hitting like 58 home runs as a team. I'm not just saying this because I'm a Red Sox fan but the Sox are a serious World Series contender. Also fun fact to end with, two of the last three managers the Sox have had won the World Series in their first season in Boston. 2018 will be Alex Cora's first season. Interesting.
2. New York Yankees: 95-67
The Yankees have the best line up in all of baseball. Deeper than the Indian Ocean. That being said I am still not completely sold on Aaron Judge. He had a monster 2017, but also strikes out 3 times a game, and as the season went on I feel like people sort of figured him out. He'll probably hit close to 40 bombs in 2018 but let's cool our jets after one season. Giancarlo "don't call me Mike" Stanton is the Yankees prized off season addition. He's coming off an NL MVP and 59 home runs. Derek Jeter basically gave him to the Yankees for free, nothing sketchy to see here. Obviously he's a fucking monster, but he's also not very durable. He's only played over 140 games 3 times in his 8 big league seasons. I just have a feeling he's going to get hit in the face again like he always does and miss two months. Even if that happens the Yankees lineup with Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorious, Brett Gardner and others is fucking nasty. They're going to score a lot of runs. What I'm not sold on is the starting staff. C.C. had a bounce back in 2017 but can you really count on a 38 year old fat lefty to be this team's #2 pitcher? Other than Servino (who like Sale sucked in the playoffs) this rotation doesn't really scare me. What sucks for opposing fans and teams is that if they can hold the opposition to under 7 runs they'll probably be okay most nights.
3. Toronto Blue Jays: 82-80
Low key underrated pitching staff. Stroman is solid, J.A. Happ can win you 15ish games, I don't hate Estrada, if Aaron Sanchez can stay healthy watch out. The line up is okay. Josh Donaldson is definitely the highlight. I don't think the Blue Jays are going to make the playoffs, but I do think they'll surprise some people with how well they play in 2018.
4. Baltimore Orioles: 73-89
I don't understand why they're holding onto Manny Machado. The O's are going to be trash in 2018. Trade him and try to rebuild, there's a 0.0000000000% they resign him so what's the point?
5. Tampa Bay Rays: 67-95
Clearly tanking. Threw away a good chunk of their talent for little to no return this off-season. Expect to see Archer and Kiermierer moved too. In the Rays 20th anniversary season expect them to look a lot like those late 90's Devil Rays teams minus the aging stars. Rays and Marlins both need to move to markets who actually care about baseball. What a waste of a team. The Rays are going with a 4 man rotation because they're that cheap. I'm expecting it to blow up in their face like an Austin, TX FedEx.
American League Central Champs: Cleveland Indians
1. Cleveland Indians: 100-62
In Chief Wahoo's final season I expect the tribe to keep rolling just like in 2017 where they won an American League record 22 straight games. If Kluber doesn't pitch hurt in the playoffs I think they win the American League. They lost a few key pieces, but I still expect them to runaway with the Central.
2. Minnesota Twins: 88-74
Jose Berrios. Get familiar with that name. Really like what the Twins have going on, love the Lance Lynn signing to bloster the rotation. Logan Morrison is one of the most underrated signings of the off season. Solid core of position players in Mauer, Buxton, Dozier, and Sano. I think Minnesota is back in the playoffs in 2018.
3. Chicago White Sox: 76-86
Still rebuilding, but the Tigers and Royals are gonna be sooooo bad that the get to finish in 3rd by default. One of the best farm systems in all of baseball, expect the White Sox to be a winning ball club in 2019 and beyond.
4. Kansas City Royals: 68-94
The 2014-15 World Series heart of the roster is gone. No pitching. Sure they brought back Moustakas but I think he's a little overrated and a prime canidate to come back to earth in 2018. Expect the Royals to go back to their 2000's ways, 90+ losses in front of a 1/5 full Kaufman Stadium.
5. Detroit Tigers: 65-97
Other than Miggy (who could be finished, but I'm not willing to write off entirely after one down year) this team is a bunch of nobodies. Poor Ron Gardenhire, I'm sure he's happy to be managing again, but idk how happy you can be when you look at that depth chart. The glory days in Motown are OVER. Rebuild city.
American League West Champs: Houston Astros
1. Houston Astros: 105-57
Pretty much their entire World Series champion team is returning and they added Gerrit Cole and will have a full season of Justin Verlander. Sure they have question marks in the bullpen, but I wouldn't be shocked if they added an arm or two by the deadline. Barring injury this team should be even better than last season.
2. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 87-75
They finally added some talent to help out Mike Trout! I expect the Angels and Twins to be the two biggest threats to get the second wild-card spot. They added Shohei Otani, who has been referred to as the Japanese Babe Ruth...let's wait and see about that. Love the additions of Cozart and Kinsler (even though he's getting up there). Starting pitching is not exactly a strength on this team, it wouldn't shock me if they ended up disappointing again, but for now I'm all about the Angels hype train.
3. Seattle Mariners: 83-79
Same old story, fake good team with a good line up and so-so starting pitching. Sad that Felix Hernandez may never get to pitch in October. With the Bills making the NFL playoffs this year the Mariners now hold the dubious title of longest playoff drought in all big 4 american sports. Expect the streak to continue.
4. Oakland Athletics: 77-85
I don't know much about the A's but I feel like they've been down for a few years, and are ready for that turnaround cycle. I've seen a few people pick them as a sneaky 2nd wild-card team. Literally know nobody on this team so it wouldn't be fair for me to say that's unlikely, so I won't.
5. Texas Rangers: 74-88
A team on the rebuild. Wouldn't be surprised to see Adrian Beltre traded to a contender to close out his career. One player on the Rangers I find absolutely fascinating is Joey Gallo. He's the poor man's Adam Dunn. Dude hit 40+ bombs last year with under 100 totals hits. Feast of famine like you read about, but in today's HR crazy analytics driven baseball, he can survive, for now.
MVP: Carlos Correa
The dude missed like two months last year and still hit 24 home runs and drove in 84. I think in a full season it'll be his time to shine in H-town.
Cy Young Award: Chris Sale
It was his award to win last season until he slowed down in the second half due to his slender frame. I think in 2018 the Sox find a way to manage his innings better so he can be who he was in the first half of 2017 all season long. I'll trade 300+ K's for an era in the mid 2's.
Rookie of the Year: 2B/SS Gleyber Torres New York Yankees
Totally not picking him just to jinx him. That would be childish.
P.S. Sweet name, Gleyber.
Manager of the Year: Alex Cora
1. Houston Astros 105-57
2. Cleveland Indians 100-62
3. Boston Red Sox 98-64
4. New York Yankees 95-67
5. Minnesota Twins 88-74
Wild Card Game:
(4) Yankees over (5) Twins
(4) Yankees over (1) Astros in 5
(3) Red Sox over (2) Indians in 4
(3) Red Sox over (4) Yankees in 7 (baseball desperately needs this)
ALCS MVP: David Price
Nationals over Red Sox in 6
MVP: Bryce Harper