As the 2018 season approaches in just 9 days, baseball fans around the world are getting excited. Front offices (most of them anyway) have been busy making moves to make their way through the 162 game season and come out on top of their respective divisions. We have seen some of the top prospects put on display, while others have proposed more questions. While we all have our favorite teams and players, reality has to set in at some point. The “professionals” tend to have rather modest theories, but these are my 2018 season projections, one division at a time, beginning with the NL Central.
The dominant team of the Central division the past 3 years, and having interleague play this year against the weak AL Central; plus several big moves, including the signing of former all-star Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood, and several bullpen bolstering moves, the North Side of Chicago is looking to have yet another great season. Although dealing with the loss of fan favorite Jake Arrieta, I believe the moves made by the front office have done nothing but improve the squad to one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Coming a down year off of a World Series hangover, the Cubs are playing with a chip on their shoulder. I feel it is nothing bold to say that the Cubs will finish the season with a record that rivals the Dodgers of last year. My prediction: Cubs continue to dominate the division winning, 100+ games.
St Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals, with the addition of Marcell Ozuna, last year’s emergence of Luke Weaver, and their true ace Carlos Martinez, the Cardinals will be a scary team that will likely contend for a wild card slot. As an organization they have been mostly known for putting together a solid ball club year-in, year-out. One question to ask is, how long can the aging future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina hold out? Barring poor health, the Cardinals have definitely improved from last year. Also noted, Tommy Pham had an unbelievable year in 2017. He has the proper mind set to do nothing but improve in years to come. Keep your eyes peeled as he is looking to have another big year. Expect for them to take the number two spot in the division with upwards of 90-95 wins.
The Brew Crew has made big moves in the off season, that’s no surprise. After showing up as a surprise contender in the division and in the wild card race last year, the Brewers finally decided that it’s time to go for it. Having a plethora of outfielders in Christian Yelich, Domingo Santana, Ryan Braun, and Lorenzo Cain, the only question is how will they possibly find the playing time for all those studs? The young rotation of the Brewers put up nothing short of great numbers last year. Will they be able to repeat and help the crew represent this year? My prediction, yes and no. While I feel they won’t disappoint, the “sophomore slump” may strike. The Cardinals will best them this year in the division, but it will be close, another year of both wild cards coming from the Central looks probable. Prediction: the brew crew wins 88-93 games this season.
With a total 57 games against the far better Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers (sorry Reds fans), Cincinnati isn’t looking to post a much better record than they did last year. The organization has not made much of an attempt at the massive big name free agent market this year to compete within the division, along with the loss of former all star Zack Cozart. However, carried by a strong offense, a rather strong farm system, and perennial all star and MVP candidate Joey Votto, look for the Reds to take a step up, besting the Pirates this season. Prediction: Cincinnati pulls forward with 72-76 victories on the season.
Virtually no moves have been made from the steel city, unless you consider basically giving away their star Andrew Mccutchen. A grievance by the MLBPA was formally filed against the club for not spending any money to improve their situation. The front office defended themselves by saying this claim had no merit; however, they did not sign a single free agent to a guaranteed major league contract in the off season. Depending heavily on their strong farm system which developed formidable players like Jameson Taillon and Josh Bell, the season does not look very promising without a strong veteran presence. Sorry Pirates fans, but the only thing this team appears to be contending for is the new last place position. Prediction: Pirates fall off to a meager 64-69 wins.
In the coming days prior to the season, the rest of the league division by division will be broken down. My predictions may be bold, but can I best the professionals? Stay tuned!
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