In the previous article I talked about my NL predictions. Now onto the AL! Here are my early 2018 AL predictions.
Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Orioles
The Yankees made the first big move of the off-season by making a trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Now the Yankees possess the two top power hitters in the game with Stanton and Judge. Greg Bird made a name for himself last season in spring training but spent much of the regular season injured. He came back in late August and looked to have been back to his power hitting ways. In 98 plate appearances he had a 128 wRC+ to go along with 8 home runs. They also have one of the top offensive catchers in the league in Gary Sanchez. The pitching is also very strong headlined by Severino and Gray. The bullpen is also arguable one of the strongest in the AL. The Red Sox will compete all season for the division but ultimately end up with a Wild Card spot. It is no surprise that the AL East will contain at least two playoff teams. The Red Sox will rely on their young outfield and pitching staff to win ball games. Chris Sale fell off a bit in the later half of 2017 and Rick Porcello in no way looked like the Porcello who won the Cy Young award a couple seasons ago. The Blue Jays will send an aging team out on the field in 2018. The will hope for Marcus Stroman to have another solid year and for Aaron Sanchez to have a breakout year. They also will need bounce back seasons from Happ and Estrada. The Rays have a solid young pitching staff with Archer leading the way. The also will hope for Cory Dickerson to have another big season. Tho O’s are a lost cause in 2018. They may have a solid offense with Machado, Schoop, Beckham, and Adam Jones, but they will struggle to find a starting pitcher who can but up an ERA under 4.00. Machado, you better hope you get traded by the deadline. Or else the offense will have to score 10 runs a game to win.
Indians, Twins, Royals, Tigers, White Sox
Alright this is an easy one. For Cleveland, this is like taking candy from kids. They will continue to have the best pitching staff in the AL headlined by Kluber, Carrasco, and Salazar. In addition they will have a stellar offensive lineup with Lindor as the centerpiece. With the rest of the division being weak/rebuilding, there really is no way the tribe doesn’t win another division title. The Twins had a surprising 2017 but they will not make the playoffs in 2018. They will be in the race all season long but just miss out. In order to get in they need Buxton to finally put together a full season of all-star production. None of the 3 month season business. Someone needs to notify Buxton the season begins in March and not in August. In addition they need Berrios to be that true ace that can put up a sub-3.50 ERA. Sano will need to continue his hot start in 2017 into all of 2018. Mauer, though not a power hitter anymore, will need to continue to put the ball in play, and Dozier will need to continue to be Dozier. They will be close, but I think they just miss out on the post-season. The Royals are in a rebuild mode (I think). The most likely are losing Cain, Moustakas, and Hosmer, although Hosmer may return. Duffy is an ace but other than that the pitching staff is not good. The offense looks to be stagnant as Whit Merrifield and Salvador Perez are really the only offensive threats. Soler is yet to play much as a Royal as he continues to struggle. As for the Tigers, take out Miguel Cabrera and try to name another player. Go ahead try! Not to easy. They have Nick Castillanos who hit a career high 28 home runs but is a defensive liability. Also Jose Iglasias is a great defender at short stop and last season hit .274/.319/.382. The White Sox have a terrible starting pitching staff. If it is any indication, James Shields is their “ace”. They continue to look scary good in 2020.
Astros, Angels, Mariners, Rangers, Athletics
The Astros are pretty much the same team as in 2017 only oh yeah they went ahead and added Garrit Cole to the starting rotation. Even if there is a World Series hangover they will be talented enough to overcome it. Altuve looks to compete for another MVP and George Springer could put his name in the mix as well. They will have a good shot to repeat in 2018. The Angels made too many moves in the off-season to not be competitive in 2018. They were the winner of the Ohtani sweepstakes and followed that up by getting Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart. Andrelton Simmons showed that he can contribute offensively as well as provide elite defense at the shortstop position. All of these additions will help the the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, attain his first playoff win. It will be interesting to see how the Angels use Ohtani. Projections really like Ohtani as he is projected a 3 win player. I was temper expectations just a little from that. The Angels will squeak in with the 2nd Wild Card just beating out the Twins. The Mariners are projected to finish 81-81 and they probably will. Typical Mariners. They will be in the mix but ultimately end up around .500 with no playoff spot. The Rangers and A’s will both be pretty bad. Not much else to say. They have no intriguing prospects or current stars. Sorry Rangers and A’s fans.
Yankees, Indians, Astros, Red Sox (WC 1), Angels (WC 2)
World Series Representative:
There you have it! That is how I expect the AL to shape up. With many more off-season moves to be made yet anything can happen.