|AL EAST||AL CENTRAL||AL WEST|
|Blue Jays||80-82||White Sox||71-91||Mariners||81-81|
AL Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Angels
- The Yankees came a game away from reaching the World Series this past season, and then they added the NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton (6.5 projected fWAR), to what already was one of the best lineups in baseball. Add in Brandon Drury (0.0 fWAR), a very underrated addition, and arguably the best bullpen in baseball (7.2 fWAR), and the Yankees are well positioned to take the AL East Crown from the Red Sox. They also still have one of the best farm systems in baseball. The Evil Empire is back.
- Even with their big offseason acquisition of J.D. Martinez (3.4 fWAR), the Red Sox are a seriously flawed team. Rick Porcello (2.7 fWAR), David Price (3.6 fWAR) and Drew Pomeranz (2.8 fWAR) all have major question marks in Boston’s rotation, and there’s not a whole lot in front of Craig Kimbrel (1.4 fWAR) in the bullpen. Odds are the Red Sox will still make the playoffs, but the window might be closing soon.
- The Blue Jays could be a case study in how quickly things can fall apart. Less than two years after falling to the Indians in the ALCS, Toronto is looking at a potential tear down. Josh Donaldson (5.6 fWAR) is an impending free agent and the rotation isn’t what it was two years ago. The Blue Jays still have a number of pieces in Kevin Pillar (2.7 fWAR) and Justin Smoak (2.1 fWAR), but not enough to compete.
- Instead of tearing it all down with Manny Machado (4.9 fWAR) and Adam Jones’ (1.8 fWAR) pending free agency, the Orioles decided to go for it one more time, a very Baltimore Orioles move. The rotation isn’t great, even with the addition of Alex Cobb (2.5 fWAR), Zach Britton (1.1 fWAR) won’t be ready for opening day, and once again, the Orioles will be looking up at the Red Sox and Yankees, and on the outside looking in come October.
- Chris Archer (5.2 fWAR) trade rumors will heat up as the Rays fall out of contention by mid-July. Trading Evan Longoria (2.4 fWAR) and Steven Souza Jr. (2.3 fWAR) was the start of another rebuild in St. Petersburg. And with the Rays’ top prospect, Brent Honeywell (2.3 fWAR) on the mend after getting Tommy John, the next few years don’t look all that great either.
- After a disappointing finish to a 102-win season, the Indians didn’t hit another home run this offseason, and instead lost Carlos Santana (2.9 fWAR), Jay Bruce (1.7 fWAR) and Bryan Shaw (0.9 fWAR) to free agency. Yonder Alonso (1.7 fWAR) is an underrated signing, but Cleveland still has question marks in left with Michael Brantley (1.9 fWAR) and at second base with Jason Kipnis (1.8 fWAR). Still, though, the AL Central is there’s for the taking, but the Indians won’t be satisfied with just that. It’s World Series or bust once again in Cleveland.
- Baseball’s surprise team is bound to take a step back or two, though playing in the AL Central will certainly help. Byron Buxton (3.3 fWAR) looks like he’s finally figured it out, but who knows if the likes of Eddie Rosario (1.6 fWAR) and Jorge Polanco (1.4 fWAR) can repeat last year’s success. The rotation still has its question marks, especially with Ervin Santana (2.5 fWAR) out to start the year, but the Twins should again compete for a wild card, getting to prey on the likes of Kansas City, Detroit and Chicago.
- The prospects are coming. Yoan Moncada’s (2.4 fWAR) already in the big leagues, while Eloy Jimenez (1.5 fWAR), Michael Kopech (1.9 fWAR) and the others should join him soon enough. Chicago won’t be as putrid as they were in 2017, especially with Jose Abreu (2.6 fWAR) still manning first base, but the White Sox are still a few years away from competing for the Central crown.
- The Tigers finally gave in and traded Justin Verlander (4.3 fWAR) at the deadline, beginning the rebuild, but there’s still a long way to go in Detroit. Nobody’s taking Miguel Cabrera’s (2.0 fWAR) monstrosity of a contract, with more than 6-years and $180 million remaining and he alone will keep the Tigers from fully taking. It was a nice run in Detroit, but its a long way down before the Tigers can come back up.
- The Royals probably started the rebuild a year too late, and now Kansas City will once again be relegated to the AL Central cellar. Raul Mondesi Jr. will give Royals’ fans something to be excited about, and Danny Duffy (2.8 fWAR) should command a prospect or two if/when he’s traded. But like the Tigers, Kansas City’s in for a long rebuild, the difference is though, the Royals have a World Series win to lean on.
- Though the Astros are the best team in baseball on paper, they’re still bound to take a step back so I wouldn’t pencil in 100+ wins just yet. Carlos Correa (5.7 fWAR) will only get better, but Jose Altuve (5.6 fWAR) is bound to regress after a seven-win season. The rotation is better but still has a few question marks, as I’m not sold on Gerrit Cole (3.8 fWAR), though there is the depth to survive a hit or two. As for the bullpen, maybe Ken Giles (1.4 fWAR) bounces back, but odds are Houston goes after a reliever at the deadline. Either way, the Astros are the class of the AL West, even if the Angels geared up to give them a more serious run.
- The Angels have finally found Mike Trout (7.8 fWAR) some help, and with Shohei Ohtani (3.8 fWAR), Zack Cozart (2.6 fWAR) and Ian Kinsler (2.8 fWAR) in the fold, Los Angeles should at least challenge for a Wild Card spot. Even with Ohtani, the Angels rotation could still use some work, and with a bunch of no-names in their bullpen, who knows how long it’ll hold up. Still though, with Trout and Ohtani, the Angels will be a must watch, potentially playing in October for just the second time in Trout’s career.
- This might be it for the current Mariners squad. If Seattle wants to have any chance at competing, the rotation must stay healthy, and that’s a big “if” with James Paxton (3.7 fWAR), Felix Hernandez (1.5 fWAR) and Hisashi Iwakuma (1.4 fWAR). They’ll also need Robinson Cano (2.8 fWAR) and Nelson Cruz (2.0 fWAR) not to take steps back, and for Mike Zunino (2.0 fWAR) among others, to take another step forward. All of those are big “ifs,” which will leave Seattle on the outside looking in again in the AL West, and potentially looking at a rebuild as well.
- Matt Chapman (3.0 fWAR) and Matt Olson (2.4 fWAR) give the Athletics the makings of a terrific, power-hitting infield, but without much that Oakland can count on in the rotation, the Athletics will once again be relegated to the bottom of the AL West. Jharel Cotton (1.5 fWAR) and Sean Manaea (2.4 fWAR) are a good start, but Oakland still needs a few more pieces, both in the field and on the mound, before they can return to competition in the West.
- Adrian Beltre (2.9 fWAR) continues to solidify his Hall of Fame resume, but elsewhere in Arlington, there’s not much to get excited about the Rangers. Yes, they’ll be somewhat competitive, as Joey Gallo (1.8 fWAR) and Willie Calhoun (2.0 fWAR) continue to improve, but without much behind Cole Hamels (2.4 fWAR) in their rotation, the Rangers are a few steps behind the rest of the AL West.
|NL EAST||NL CENTRAL||NL WEST|
NL Wild Cards: Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers
- In what might be Bryce Harper’s (4.7 fWAR) last season in Washington, the Nationals are again World Series or bust. Max Scherzer (5.3 fWAR) and Stephen Strasburg (4.7 fWAR) headline one of the best rotations in baseball, while last year’s trade deadline acquisitions will keep the bullpen afloat. The NL East is theirs, but the ever-present question remains in Washington D.C., can the Nationals get past the NLDS?
- The prospects have arrived in Philadelphia, and while it might not mean postseason yet for the Phillies, there are certainly reasons to be optimistic in The City of Brotherly Love. Carlos Santana (2.9 fWAR) is a terrific add, while Rhys Hoskins (3.4 fWAR) and J.P. Crawford (2.2 fWAR) look ready for the show. On the mound, a healthy Aaron Nola (4.8 fWAR) gives the Phillies a sure-fire ace, but without a ton behind him, and even though they added Jake Arrieta (2.7 fWAR), Philadelphia is still a year or two away.
- If healthy, maybe the Mets can challenge for a Wild Card spot, but being the Mets, that’s one huge “if.” Noah Syndergaard (4.7 fWAR) and Jacob deGrom (4.4 fWAR), if healthy, give the Mets a top-notch 1-2 punch, but who knows what New York will get from Matt Harvey (1.4 fWAR) and Steven Matz (1.8 fWAR) behind them. One of these years, Michael Conforto (3.0 fWAR) is going to break out, but the Mets’ aging core surrounding him just won’t be enough to reach October yet again.
- Ronald Acuna (2.2 fWAR) will give the Braves someone to be excited about, and after rough seasons for Dansby Swanson (1.7 fWAR) and Julio Tehran (1.7 fWAR), Atlanta could really use a bounce-back. There’s a lot of youth in SunTrust Park, as well as Freddie Freeman (3.8 fWAR), but until the pitching improves and matures, the Braves’ future isn’t here yet
- Maybe Derek Jeter and co. have a plan, and maybe it’ll all come together sometime down the road. And while Marlins did well to get Lewis Brinson (1.1 fWAR) for Christian Yelich (4.1 fWAR), there’s just not much going for Miami at the moment. Their rotation is among the worst in baseball, while J.T. Realmuto (2.3 fWAR) and Justin Bour (1.2 fWAR) might be out the door next. At the moment, the Marlins are the worst team in baseball, and that might not change for a few years.
- Jake Arrieta (2.7 fWAR) is out and Yu Darvish (4.3 fWAR) is in as the Cubs look to return to the World Series after taking a bit of a step back in 2017. Chicago’s lineup will be as potent as ever, especially if Kyle Schwarber (0.9 fWAR) and Addison Russell (2.7 fWAR) can bounce-back after rough 2017 seasons. Darvish and a full season from Jose Quintana (4.9 fWAR) should solidify a rotation that was up-and-down last year, and in the bullpen, don’t forget about Justin Wilson (1.0 fWAR), last years’ trade deadline add who struggled down the stretch.
- After falling just short of a Wild Card in 2017, the Brewers are going for it, signing Lorenzo Cain (3.0 fWAR) and trading for Christian Yelich (4.1 fWAR). After Jimmy Nelson (3.4 fWAR), who’s coming off an injury, Milwaukee’s rotation could use some work, but with surplus outfielders, the Brewers are primed to make a move at the deadline. They aren’t on the same level as the Cubs, but Milwaukee could surprise and certainly will again challenge for a Wild Card spot.
- Giancarlo Stanton (6.5 fWAR) would have done wonders for this Cardinals team, that outside of Carlos Martinez (4.2 fWAR) and Marcell Ozuna (3.1 fWAR) has a lot of really solid guys, but no transcendent stars. The rotation, headlined by Martinez and with two up-and-comers in Luke Weaver (2.6 fWAR) and Jack Flaherty (2.1 fWAR) is pretty good, as is the bullpen and lineup. But solid and pretty good isn’t going to get it done with a super-team in the Cubs in their division.
- Rebuilding, retooling, whatever Pittsburgh wants to call it, the Pirates are doing it, because they’re certainly not going to be competing for a Wild Card spot. With Jameson Taillon (3.1 fWAR) and Tyler Glasnow (2.3 fWAR), the Pirates have a couple terrific, young pieces in their rotation, while the lineup, headlined by Starling Marte (2.1 fWAR) and Gregory Polanco (1.7 fWAR) is solid. But that’s not going to get the Pirates back to playoffs, this year, and probably the next few as well.
- Joey Votto (4.9 fWAR) is sensational, and still needs a few years to solidify his Hall of Fame case, but elsewhere in Cincinnati, the Reds are in for another long season. Cincinnati does have a couple promising, young players in Nick Senzel (1.7 fWAR) at short and Luis Castillo (2.9 fWAR) on the mound. But in what might be Bryan Price’s final season at the helm, the Reds should once again, finish last in the NL Central.
- The Dodgers are the class of the NL West, looking to return to the World Series after falling to the Astros. Corey Seager (5.2 fWAR) is an MVP candidate, surrounded by top-tier talent all across the diamond, and added depth to go along with it. Clayton Kershaw (6.0 fWAR) is Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball, but a few questions still remain behind him, namely, whether the likes of Alex Wood (2.6 fWAR) and Rich Hill (2.1 fWAR) can again stay healthy behind him. Either way, no team will be taking the NL West from the Dodgers firm grasp anytime soon.
- Odds are the Diamondbacks won’t again win 93 games, but another run a the NL Wild Card slot isn’t too farfetched. Paul Goldschmidt (4.0 fWAR) is one of the best first basemen in the MLB, and while Steven Souza Jr. (2.3 fWAR) is no J.D. Martinez (3.4 fWAR), he should he solidify Arizona’s outfield with a healthy A.J. Pollock (3.3 fWAR). And while Arizona’s rotation may take a step back, adding a humidor will only help the likes of Robby Ray (4.0 fWAR) and Zack Greinke (3.9 fWAR) get the Diamondbacks back to the playoffs once again.
- Colorado added a number of pieces to their bullpen including Wade Davis (1.0 fWAR) and Bryan Shaw (0.9 fWAR), but it’s their rotation that’ll need to again take a step forward if the Rockies want to return to the postseason. Jon Gray (3.1 fWAR) must pitch like an ace, while someone behind him must step up to replace Tyler Chatwood (1.7 fWAR). The offense will produce as it always does at Coors Field, but it’ll have to be the Rockies pitching that gets Colorado back to October.
- Don’t let the Giants’ splashy offseason moves fool you, Andrew McCutchen (2.5 fWAR) and Evan Longoria (2.4 fWAR) are past their prime, and won’t be enough to help an aging San Francisco team back the playoffs. With Hunter Pence (0.2 fWAR) there’s still two huge question marks in the outfield, while Madison Bumgarner (3.0 fWAR), hurt again, can only carry the Giants so far. San Francisco needs Johnny Cueto (2.7 fWAR) to rebound and then some, and then maybe, just maybe, they have a shot at competing for a Wild Card berth.
- Maybe signing Eric Hosmer (1.7 fWAR) works out, but I’d bet against it, he’s just too inconsistent, and by the time all of San Diego’s prospects are ready, he’ll well past his prime. This year though, he’ll certainly give the Padres some production, as slowly but surely the prospects make their way to the major. None of it will matter though, as the Padres putrid pitching staff will again relegate San Diego to the NL West cellar.
Wild Card Round
AL: Los Angeles Angels over Boston Red Sox. A duel between Chris Sale and Shohei Otani might be one for the ages, but might we get Garrett Richards vs Sale or David Price instead? The Red Sox are the better team “on paper,” but Mike Trout and a superior bullpen powers the Halos to a Wild Card win.
NL: Arizona Diamondbacks over Milwaukee Brewers. At some point, the Brewers lack of top-tier starting pitching will come back to haunt them, and in a one-game playoff, the Brew Crew just don’t match up well with the likes of Zack Greinke or Robby Ray. Jimmy Nelson and co. can get Milwaukee to the postseason, but their run stops here.
AL: New York Yankees over Los Angeles Angels. The Angels might have Trout and Otani, but they do not have enough to slow down Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and the rest of the Bronx Bombers. Luis Severino pitches a dandy in game one, and the Yankees ride their bullpen and mashers to another ALCS berth.
AL: Cleveland Indians over Houston Astros. In a battle of two heavyweights, Corey Kluber and the Indians shut down Jose Altuve and Astros top-notch lineup, while Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez give Cleveland just enough offense to advance to the ALCS.
NL: Los Angeles Dodgers over Arizona Diamondbacks. Facing off in the NLDS for the second year in a row, this year’s tussle should be a little closer than the first. But like last year, the Dodgers have Clayton Kershaw, along with Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, and that should be enough to take down the Diamondbacks for the second-straight year.
NL: Chicago Cubs over Washington Nationals. In their neverending quest to get past the NLDS, once again, the Nationals fall to the Cubs. Yu Darvish, Jon Lester and the best lineup in the NL foils Washington’s plans once again, as the Nats’ head into the offseason with Bryce Harper’s free agency looming large.
AL: New York Yankees over Cleveland Indians. Once again, it’s the Indians and Yankees facing off, this time though in the ALCS. But whereas the Yankees added Stanton, Drury and Neil Walker this season, the Indians lost Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Joe Smith and Bryan Shaw, and are counting on oft-injured Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis. In what should be another thriller, the Yankees edge the Indians to get to the World Series.
NL: Chicago Cubs over Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers got the monkey off their back last season, advancing past the Cubs to the World Series. However, with a revamped rotation led by former-Dodger Yu Darvish, and bounce-back performances from Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell, the Cubs get their revenge, getting back to the World Series for the second time in three years.
New York Yankees over Chicago Cubs. The Evil Empire reigns supreme once again. After a quick rebuild and a megadeal to highlight the offseason, the Yankees will hoist the Commissioners Trophy for the 28th time in team history. Stanton and Judge come up big, while the Yankees bullpen provides enough of an edge over the Cubs to spoil the North Side’s hopes of a second World Series title in three years.
- AL MVP: Mike Trout, CF, Angels
- NL MVP: Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers
- AL Cy Young: Luis Severino, SP, Yankees
- NL Cy Young: Aaron Nola, SP, Phillies
- AL Rookie of the Year: Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Angels
- NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves
- AL Manager of the Year: Aaron Boone, Yankees
- NL Manager of the Year: Craig Counsell, Brewers