As we get ready for the 2018 MLB season, the Last Word on Baseball writing staff weighs in on their early predictions for the year.
LWOB Staff 2018 MLB Season Predictions
Mike Edwards: The addition of Giancarlo Stanton will make the Bronx Bombers one of the most vaunted lineups in baseball. But with Stanton and Aaron Judge attracting all the attention, look for some of the New York Yankees‘ complementary bats lower in the order to have career years such as Didi Gregorius, Greg Bird, and Brandon Drury.
Josh Greenberg: Though the Yankees are loaded at the plate, their pitching remains a clear weakness. The Boston Red Sox can hit and pitch. The more complete team will win the division.
Jack: Red Sox
Justin: Red Sox
Josh: Cleveland Indians. This is still more or less the same team that made it to the World Series two years ago and won the division by 17 games in 2017. They won’t relinquish the throne in 2018.
Justin Morgan: The Cleveland Indians will run away with the American League Central.
Jarred Long: It’s hard not to pick the Houston Astros as the AL West winners again. They added to their roster while keeping 95% of the ’17 WS team intact. However, their division lead won’t be as substantial as last year’s.
Paul Harvey: The Los Angeles Angels are definitely hoping for a full year of Mike Trout to go alongside Japanese newcomer Shohei Ohtani. However, the Astros could be even better than last season with the addition of Gerrit Cole. The defending champs may face a tougher division this season, but they should still comfortably reach the postseason.
AL Wild Card
Mike: Three teams from the AL West will make the playoffs this year. The Angels are much improved while the Seattle Mariners have the pieces in place to finally end their 16-year postseason drought. The Red Sox will be the surprise team that misses out on the postseason in the AL.
Carson Babbini: After a long battle with the Indians during the season, the Minnesota Twins will lock up the first Wild Card spot. The Red Sox will get the second spot after finishing second in the AL East.
Brandon Murphy: No team had a better off-season than the Angels, adding Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart to an infield that is now the best defensively in baseball and a dominant lineup that boasts the best player in baseball. The biggest progression of this team, however, will be the starting rotation. Los Angeles will finally have a rotation healthy enough to compete and Shohei Ohtani will prove his worth stateside. Boston’s core offense was strong as ever, then they added J.D. Martinez. Combine that with budding star Rafael Devers’s first full season and Boston’s bats will be tops in the league. Their above-average rotation can win the Wild Card for them, however, if David Price returns to his ace form, they’ll compete for the AL East crown all season.
Jarred: Red Sox & Angels
Sean: Red Sox & Twins
Paul: LA Angels & Twins
Jack: Yankees & Toronto Blue Jays
Josh: Angels & Yankees
Michael: Red Sox & Angels
Justin: Yankees & Twins
Paul: The NL East was a disaster in 2017, and it very well could be about the same in 2018. The Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets spent money this off-season to try and improve, but neither likely did enough to catch Washington. The Washington Nationals should have more than enough firepower to take the division.
Mike: In what may be Bryce Harper‘s final year in the district, the Nats will once again be a regular season force. The question is if they will finally be able to overcome the hurdle of the NLDS after failing to do so in all four tries since 2012.
Jarred Long: New additions to the pitching staff have some concerned with the ability of the Cubs to win the division again. Look for the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers to contend as well.
Josh: Brewers. Milwaukee quietly had a better off-season than almost any other team, and the Cubs, while still a very good team, got worse. This will be a close one, but the Brew Crew will knock Chicago off the throne.
Paul: Many believe this to be the Dodgers division to lose, but there are questions with the defending NL champs as the season approaches. Clayton Kershaw hasn’t reached 30 starts each of the past two seasons, and Justin Turner is already sidelined with a broken wrist. The Dodgers should still have firepower, but the Rockies tried to address their bullpen and maintain a powerful lineup led by Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story. In a tough division, Turner’s injury could prove pivotal.
Jarred: The Dodgers will be looking for World Series redemption, bringing back a lot of players from last season. The Arizona Diamondbacks will also be looking for some success, despite losing early in the playoffs last season.
NL Wild Card
Jack Weber: The Cardinals host the NL Wild Card game, and there will be fierce competition for the second Wild Card from teams like the Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Mets and Brewers, but it will be the San Francisco Giants who claim it.
Carson: The Brewers will make their long-awaited return to the playoffs in the Wild Card. They will face off against the Diamondbacks who will sneak into that second Wild Card spot.
Brandon: St. Louis took advantage of the Miami Marlins’ fire sale and added young slugger Marcell Ozuna to an already above-average offense. Carlos Martinez and the complementary staff surrounding him will be dependable down the stretch. The effectiveness of the bullpen will be the real key to whether the Cardinals advance to October. Another winner in the Miami free-for-all was the Brewers, who added Christian Yelich—as well as free agent Lorenzo Cain— to bolster their outfield along side 2017 breakout Keon Broxton. Expect their middling rotation—paired with a dominant bullpen—to give them just what Milwaukee needs to slide into the last playoff spot.
Jarred: Diamondbacks & Brewers
Sean: Brewers & Diamondbacks
Paul: Dodgers & Brewers
Josh: Cubs & Rockies
Michael: Rockies & Cardinals
Mike: Brewers & Mets
Justin: Brewers & Cardinals
Michael Brightling: As no team has repeated as champions for nearly 20 years I won’t pick Houston in the post season. Washington on paper could/should win the NL Pennant but they haven’t once given me reason to believe they will actually come through when it counts. So I’m going to say the Yankees over the Dodgers in their first World Series clash since 1981.
Carson: In what will be one of the greatest ALCS match-ups in recent history, the Stanton and Judge led New York Yankees will defeat the reigning champion Astros in seven games. In the NLCS the Los Angeles Dodgers will go back to the World Series, defeating the Chicago Cubs in seven games as well. Two of the most successful franchises in MLB history go head to head as the Yankees take on the Dodgers. But, in six games, it will be the New York Yankees who will bring the title back to Tinseltown and the Yankee faithful.
Justin: This will be the year for the Washington Nationals as I have a Washington-Houston World Series with the Nationals taking it home in a seven-game series. Let’s get the show on the road!
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