Breaking Balls In Writing: MLB Season Previews

Opening Day for the 2018 MLB season is March 29, the earliest in history. It also marks the first time since 1968 all teams open play on the same day. Get ready with our preview special!

It’s that time of year again…

Time for rooting for the home team.

Peanuts, crackerjacks, and not caring about getting back. After a long, cold, seemingly endless winter, baseball has finally returned!

And we here at Breaking Balls—myself, Jason Greenhouse, and Chris Jordan—will be right there every step of the way to cover the awesomeness the 2018 season is about to bring.

In addition to our super-great audio bomb season preview, which you can listen to here, we’ve written up previews for all 30 MLB teams, ranking them* from the worst to the best. At the end of the piece, our essential season predictions are listed as well.

*All three of us ranked the 30 teams, an average of those three rankings is used to list them below. It’s why you occasionally might see something like a team predicted for a fifth-place finish ahead of a team destined for fourth-place.

Once you’ve read—and heard—what we’ve got to say, join in the conversation here, or check us out on Facebook.

Thirty teams, thirty previews. Which team is our Number One? Read on and find out.

30. Miami Marlins (2017 record: 77-85, Second in NL East)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Cameron Maybin, Lewis Brinson, Scott Van Slyke, Starlin Castro

Key Losses: Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Dee Gordon, Vance Worley, A.J. Ellis, Ichiro Suzuki

General Thoughts: The park is shit. The home run “statue” is shit. The team is shit. The former owner is shit. The current owners are shit.

That said, Miami has a few useful parts, notably catcher J.T. Realmuto, first baseman Justin Bour, and a couple of relievers. Those players could make a real difference…for other teams via trade, and for Miami’s all-too-important bottom line this season.

Yes, the Marlins did add a few good prospects—in particular with the Yelich and Ozuna deals—but it doesn’t change the fact that this team has been a joke for the majority of its existence, and continues to be a laughingstock.

There is nothing positive to say about the current state of the Marlins. Check back in a couple years … maybe.

Storylines to Watch: Derek Jeter fires Don Mattingly over the latter’s refusal to trim his sideburns. More seriously, do Realmuto and Bour get traded? If so, what do they bring back? The next great Marlins? Or another bonus for Good Old Jetes?

Prediction: Fifth in NL East.

29. Detroit Tigers (2017 record: 64-98, fifth in AL Central)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Francisco Liriano, Leonys Martin, Mike Fiers

Key Losses: Anibal Sanchez, Alex Presley, Bruce Rondon, Ian Kinsler, Tyler Collins, Andrew Romine

General Thoughts: This rebuild would go down a lot easier with Detroit faithful if the team had managed a ring during its 2006-2017 run of contention. However, the brilliance of erstwhile ace Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and moments like this can help ease the pain. The Tigers’ farm system is slowly rising, recently ranked at No. 21 on Baseball America’s organizational talent listing with lots of promising young arms. Hey, it ain’t much, but considering the Tigers were No. 30 as recently as 2015, it’s a nice spot.

With the top pick in this June’s draft, perhaps that ranking perks up a bit more by season’s end, because there is not much else for Tiger fans to look forward to this summer. Except for the induction of franchise icons Alan Trammell and Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame, that is. Well earned. Bless you boys.

While Detroit will not contend this year, there is still the promise of watching Cabrera hit, assuming a full recovery from the herniated discs he suffered through for most of 2017. Along with the potential development of young third baseman Jeimar Candelario, and the progression of young arms on the farm, Tigers’ fans should have optimism … for the 2020 season.

Hot Take: Michael Fulmer* spends several weeks on the DL, so Matt Boyd (6-11, 5.27, 87 ERA+ in 135 IP) winds up being the team’s most reliable starting pitcher, leading the team in wins and innings pitched.

*Note to Al Avila: When he’s healthy, trade Fulmer for all you can get, dude!

Prediction: Fifth in AL Central.

28. San Diego Padres (2017 season: 71-91, 4th in NL West)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Eric Hosmer, Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell, Freddy Galvis

Key Losses: Yangervis Solarte

General Thoughts: Let’s give the Padres some credit. They aren’t ready to rebuild this team, especially in a division that is stacked. They pulled off a surprising offseason addition by signing Hosmer. In addition to Hosmer’s solid glove and offense, Headley returns to the team where he’s had his best seasons, and will also add some pop in the lineup. Wil Myers moves from first base to the outfield to make room for Hosmer, which hopefully goes well. San Diego is stacked with prospects in their farm system, with the likes of Fernando Tatis, Jr. and Luis Urias, among others.  

Pitching is what is going to hurt this team the most. Dinelson Lamet, Clayton Richard, and Luis Perdomo anchor a rotation that can’t compete with the others in the NL West. Reliever Brad Hand could be the lone bright spot for their pitching as he racked up 21 saves after becoming the full-time closer last season.

Storylines to Follow: It’s going to be a long summer in San Diego, however we could see their top-ranked prospects make some cameos, especially in the pitching department.

Stay Classy: One of the prettiest cities in the country with one of the prettiest ballparks will need all the support the Pads can get from their fans this season. Show up, stay patient, and look to the future. It’s as bright as the San Diego sun.

Prediction: Fifth in NL West.

27. Oakland Athletics (2017 season: 75-87, Fifth in AL West)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Brett Anderson, Jonathan Lucroy, Ryan Buchter, Yusmeiro Petit, Stephen Piscotty

Key Losses: John Axford, Jesse Hahn, Ryon Healy

General Thoughts: Billy Beane’s @#$% doesn’t work in the playoffs…and it doesn’t work in the regular season anymore, either.

This really is not Beane’s fault, but just the industry catching up to the trend he was at the forefront of. So, now Beane tries to reset Oakland every few years through youth and player development like everyone else.

The team has indeed assembled a nice collection of talent, in particular defensive whiz kid Matt Chapman (14 home runs and 31 runs saved) at third base and masher Matt Olson (49 hits, 24 of which were homers in 189 at-bats) at first. Along with slugger Khris Davis (43 HR, 110 RBIs) and interesting rebound candidates Stephen Piscotty and Jonathan Lucroy, there is potential for a solid lineup at the O.Co trash heap.

The loss of would-be No. 2 starter Jharel Cotton to Tommy John surgery hurts the staff, but does nothing to dent any playoff hopes for the A’s. With growing pains expected up-and-down the rotation and lineup, there’s just a spark of hope for the future in Oakland at the moment.

Whether or not that spark lights a sustained fire of contention is anyone’s guess, but at least the A’s won’t be boring this year.

What to Watch for in 2018: The development of Chapman and Olsen, along with pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea, could go a long way in deciding the A’s future, as well as how effective they are as spoilers against playoff hopefuls.

Injured former Yankee prospect Dustin Fowler (obtained in the Sonny Gray deal) could be a fascinating story to watch, as he had his big league debut interrupted in heartbreaking fashion.

Franklin Barreto, the key infielder acquired a few years ago for Josh Donaldson, is another top prospect to monitor. While the 21-year-old’s debut last year as rocky, he still has a world of potential.

Prediction: Fifth in AL West.

26. Pittsburgh Pirates (2017 season: 75-87, Fourth in NL Central)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Corey Dickerson, Michael Saunders, Colin Moran, Joe Musgrove

Key Losses: Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Daniel Hudson, Joaquin Benoit, John Jaso

General Thoughts: The trades that sent out franchise icon McCutchen and nominal ace Cole were unnecessary moves for this franchise to make, but they went ahead and did it anyway.

With the Pirates clearly closing the door on the small window of success the team attained (three straight wild cards from 2013-2015), the team needs some good news for 2018, and there’s not much.

Maybe Jameson Taillon will become the new ace of the pitching staff in a way that Cole (career 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA) never really did.

Maybe the players acquired for McCutchen and Cole will become building blocks for the next Pittsburgh run, combined with the talents of Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, Josh Bell, and prospect Austin Meadows?

Maybe Polanco (.251/.305/.391 in 379 at-bats, 0.1bWAR in 2017) breaks through and turns all those tools into something special?

Maybe the team contends for a playoff spot deep in September, keeping gorgeous PNC Park rocking all season long?

Probably not. More realistically:

Maybe this team won’t be out of the running by June?

Maybe this team won’t lose 90-plus games?

Maybe they’ll wrangle a top-10 draft pick for 2019?

Oh, great. More hope.

For the future that never comes.

What to Watch for in 2018: Taillon and Marte are a lot of fun to watch when they’re clicking. Maybe Bell (.466 slugging percentage with 26 home runs) emerges as a legit 35-homer threat. Closer Felipe Rivero (career 10.0 K/9) is lights-out fun when the Bucs have a lead to protect. The Pirates are probably still better than the Reds, so they might avoid the division cellar, but the quest for anything more seems highly unlikely.

Prediction: Fifth place, NL Central.

25. Cincinnati Reds (2017 season: 68-94, Fifth in the NL Central)

By Chris Jordan

Key Additions: Jared “The Scale Tipper” Hughes

Key Losses: Zack Cozart

General Thoughts: Joey Votto placed second in NL MVP voting for a last place team. The eventual MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, only received two more points than Votto. That really says a lot more for Votto than it does the Reds. The lineup surrounding Votto isn’t horrible, with Adam Duvall, the surprising Scooter Gennett, Eugenio Suarez, and Scott Schebler all over 25 home runs in 2017. Unfortunately, a lot of those guys are not as patient as Votto at the dish. The table setter, Billy “Knocks Himself Out on a Line Drive Up the Middle” Hamilton is not very good at getting on base, as evidenced by his .299 OBP. A different approach at the plate for all parties not named Joey could make the Reds into an offensive powerhouse.

In terms of pitching, the Redlegs used 16 different names in the rotation during 2017 and the only name to stand out was young right-hander Luis Castillo. He made 15 starts down the stretch, compiling only a record of 3-7, but of course that doesn’t mean anything when you pitch for the Reds. Castillo actually was the proud owner of a 3.12 ERA and 9.87 K/9, leading the Reds staff with a 2.5 WAR. This is their ace of the now, and of the future. Eat your heart out, Homer Bailey.

What to Watch in 2018: The continued progression of Castillo, and for Votto to work the count*.

*Up there with admiring the works of Da Vinci, Beethoven, and Van Gogh. — Ed.

Prediction: Fourth in the NL Central.

24. Chicago White Sox (2017 record: 67-95, fourth in AL Central)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Hector Santiago, Xavier Cedeno, Bruce Rondon, Miguel Gonzalez, Joakim Soria, Welington Castillo, Luis Avilan

Key Losses: Derek Holland, Jake Petricka, Mike Pelfrey

General Thoughts: The rebuild moves forward for the White Sox in 2018, with no hope of contending, but a bright future on the horizon. According to MLB.com, the Sox boast the No. 3 farm system in the game. Thanks to some great trades and signings by the front office, the Pale Hose’s window should be opening in a couple of years, right around the time Cleveland’s begins to close in the Central. Of the three rebuilding squads in the division (along with Kansas City and Detroit), Chicago is far-and-away the furthest along the path back to October.

With a few more possible players to deal away (Jose Abreu? Avisail Garcia? James Shields? Carlos Rodon? Any of the bullpen arms for sure.) and a solid farm system beginning to bear fruit with Yoan Moncada, Carson Fulmer, Reynaldo Lopez, and Lucas Giolito already in the bigs, it should be a fun, yet frustrating, season on the South Side of Chi-Town.

Hot Takes: Abreu is not traded, but Garcia is. Meanwhile, Moncada leads the team in multiple batting categories and even garners MVP votes.

Prediction: Third in AL Central.

23. Toronto Blue Jays (2017 season: 76-86, Fourth in AL East)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Curtis Granderson, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Tyler Clippard, Seung Hwan Oh, Jaime Garcia, John Axford

Key Losses: Jose Bautista

General Thoughts: Canada’s team is in trouble … lots of trouble. Injuries in the lineup and in the rotation have haunted this team.

They still have some pop in the lineup in Justin Smoak, Kendrys Morales, and Josh Donaldson. Plus, the addition of veteran bat Curtis Granderson, who brings a much needed leadoff man to the lineup, should help. Troy “Glass Joe” Tulowitzki is hurt AGAIN, which means utility infielders Diaz and Solarte should get plenty of playing time.

On the pitching end, health and consistency from Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, and Marco Estrada is a MUST. The Jays’ bullpen could be pretty bad, so seven-strong from their starters every five days will be needed.

Vlad Guerrero, Jr. might be the best prospect* in their farm system right now. He hit .323 with 13 homers in 119 games at two Class A levels. He’s only 18, but if the pitching struggles, some more bats might help the Jays hang around.

*Neck-and-neck with fellow second-generation talent Bo Bichette.

Player to Watch: Justin Smoak is the best all-around player on this team and they need 50 homers from him this season.

Maple Leaf Out of Luck: On top of the injury-prone players, the Jays are also in the same division as the Red Sox and Yankees. The third-to-fifth-place finishes are wide open between the Jays, O’s, and Rays in the AL East. I’ll roll the dice here and say the Jays are a 100-loss team.

Prediction: Fifth in AL East.

22. Baltimore Orioles (2017 record: 75-87, fifth in AL East)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Alex Cobb, Chris Tillman, Danny Valencia, Colby Rasmus, Andrew Cashner, Alex Presley

Key Losses: Wade Miley, Welington Castillo, Jeremy Hellickson, J.J. Hardy, Ubaldo Jimenez, Seth Smith

General Thoughts: The Orioles stand to lose franchise cornerstone Manny Machado, as well as longtime standout Adam Jones to free agency after this season. With no major additions during the offseason, you get the sense the O’s are resigned to waving goodbye to both after one more run for 2018, perhaps followed by a teardown.

With little in the way of starting pitching and a lineup that resembles a slow-pitch softball setup, the Birds will rely on power and an above average bullpen to keep hope afloat in the Charm City.

Alex Cobb’s four-year deal in mid-March should help stabilize the rotation a bit up front, but the rest of the staff will need to put in career-bests for the Birds to truly compete with the stacked Red Sox and Yankees.

Player to Watch: All eyes will be on Machado, as the 26-year-old will be a full-time shortstop this year and looking to cash in big with a wintertime contract. If he’s excelling while the O’s are fumbling in the East, a blockbuster deal could be the first domino to kick off the next (bad) era of O’s baseball.

Prediction: Third in AL East.

21. Atlanta Braves (2017 season: 72-90, third in NL East)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Brandon McCarthy, Charlie Culberson

Key Losses: Matt Adams, Matt Kemp

General Thoughts: The Braves are still looking to the future and 2018 should take them one step closer to where they need to be. Pitching veterans Scott Kazmir* and Brandon McCarthy will help hold the fort down on the mound while their prospects finish developing in the minors.

*In between the writing and posting of this preview, Kazmir has been released from his Atlanta contract. He should catch on somewhere else, but that’s unknown at the time of this writing. — Ed.

Players to Watch: Expect a monster season from franchise superstar Freddie Freeman. After missing some time last season with a broken wrist, Freeman should bounce back to lead the Braves offense in numerous categories. The spotlight will also be on rookie sensation Ronald Acuna. This kid is only 19 and could turn into Must-Watch TV for Braves fans this summer.

Tomahawk Chopped: The Braves have a few more years until they are contenders. The NL East is the Nats to win (again), but the Mets and Phillies loaded up on the offseason to try and make things interesting. Hang in there, Braves fans.

Prediction: Fourth in NL East.

20. Tampa Bay Rays (2017 season: 80-82, third in AL East)

Key Additions: Christian Arroyo, Daniel Hudson, C.J. Cron, Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, Anthony Banda

Key Losses: Alex Cobb, Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Colby Rasmus, Steven Souza, Jr., Jake Odorizzi, Steve Cishek, Tommy Hunter, Brad Boxberger, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison

General Thoughts: No team has remade itself more than the Rays this offseason, jettisoning numerous veterans to prepare for the upcoming wave of farm talent on deck. While many have cried foul at the Rays’ moves, it should be noted that Tampa Bay does have a well-regarded farm system (No. 5 by way of Baseball America, No. 4 via MLB.com).

Along with talks on a new TV deal which could expand their revenues threefold over the course of a new contract, fans have to hope that the loss of all these veterans does indeed pave the way for a brighter future.

Regarding 2018, though, the Rays will field a combination of league-average and fringe-level talents. While there may be a few individuals to watch, such as ace Chris Archer, defensive stud Kevin Kiermaier, and perhaps Christian Arroyo—the key piece in the return for Longoria—there won’t be a lot of waves made by this team.

Storylines to Watch: How much of the existing corps do the Rays part with? Archer’s name has come up quite a bit over the last couple seasons, and teams would pay top dollar for a pitcher of his talents still in his prime years.

Other moveable parts may include outfielders Span, Kiermaier, and Gomez, infielder Brad Miller, closer Alex Colome, and any other relievers in the Rays’ employ. Tampa Bay could really beef up its already-impressive system with the right deals. The only question is when—not if—they send most of these guys packing.

Prediction: Fourth place, AL East.

19. Texas Rangers (2017 season: 78-84, Fourth (tie) in AL West)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Tim Lincecum, Jesse Chavez, Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor

Key Losses: Carlos Gomez, Andrew Cashner, Miguel Gonzalez, 

General Thoughts: That was a great run. From 2010 to 2016, the Rangers made the postseason five times, coming achingly close to a pair of World Series rings in 2011 and 2012.

But, all good things must end, and it sure looks like Texas is watching the sunset of the most sustained era of success them Rangers have ever known.

Every young hitter the team has graduated (Joey Gallo, Delino DeShields, Jr., Elvis Andrus, Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor) seems to have a notable, significant flaw in their game, or is just too inconsistent to be a superstar.

It has made for a good lineup, one that was ninth in MLB with 4.93 runs per game. All eight teams above Texas in the runs-scored ledger was a playoff team.

So…what happened?

Oh, right. Pitching.

The Rangers used 31 pitchers in 2017 to allow 5.04 runs per game, the ninth-worst mark in the majors. With ace Cole Hamels posting a career-low in velocity—and his worst full-season strikeout mark (105 in 148 innings)—it is no sure thing that the Rangers’ have an ace in anything but name.

Certainly no one is rushing to put that title on Doug Fister, Matt Moore, Mike Minor, or any of the other rotation candidates in Arlington.

Without enough pitching to balance out the offense, it looks like another long, hot summer at Globe Life Park.

Maybe a new stadium will help…

What to Watch for in 2018: The Texas rotation is nothing great, but the bullpen has some intriguing arms with Matt Bush, Keone Kela, and former two-time Cy Young winner Lincecum working his way back as a potential closer.

Also, cherish Adrian Beltre. He turns 39 in April and won’t be around forever. He’s a national treasure and surefire Hall-of-Famer.

Prediction: Fourth in AL West.

18. Kansas City Royals (2017 season: 80-82, third in AL Central)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Mike Moustakas, Lucas Duda, Jon Jay

Key Losses: Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Joakim Soria, Scott Alexander, Trevor Cahill, Jason Vargas

General Thoughts: A franchise that’s had its fair share of ups-and-downs throughout its existence, it looks like the downs may be returning for the Royals. However, it might not be as bad as it could have been coming into this season. The triple threat of Hosmer, Cain, and Moustakas is no more, but with Moustakas re-signing, he’ll bring back some leadership—and power— to this team. The offense should be decent with Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Sal Perez, and Duda leading the way. Let’s not sleep on Whit Merrifield either; when he gets on base, he’ll be a threat to steal, as his 34 swipes lead the AL last season.

In between the writing and posting of this preview, Sal Perez was diagnosed with an MLC tear and will miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season. — Ed.

The pitching, on the other hand, could be KC’s downfall. Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Hammel all need strong starts every time they take the bump, due to a bullpen that isn’t that strong. The days of the great Royals bullpen is long gone. Their team ERA of 4.61 last season was 20th in the league and could rise even higher this year if the starters aren’t consistent.

Kansas City BBQ Hot Take: The Royals will be a .500 team. That’s the good part. The bad part is that they will be looking up in the standings at the Twins and powerhouse Indians.

Prediction: Third in AL Central.

17. New York Mets (2017 season: 70-92, fourth in NL East)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Todd Frazier, Adrian Gonzalez, Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak, Jason Vargas, Jose Reyes

Key Losses: none

General Thoughts: When so much of a team’s success is tied to pitching, it can be a wonderful thing.

Watching young, talented arms like Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Steven Matz blow away hitter after hitter during the Mets’ 2015 run to the World Series was a phenomenal time for the Amazin’s fan base and baseball as a whole.

It looked like the team was about to embark on a dynastic run of success thanks to its keen eye for pitching development and ability to pluck out such a dazzling array of arms.

But baseball is designed to break your heart.

In 2017, the Mets saw injuries decimate every hurler listed above except for deGrom, who made a team-best 31 stars and delivered a nice year in kind (3.53 ERA, 119 ERA+, 239 K in 201 ⅓ innings).

The others?

Harvey, 18 starts, 6.70 ERA; Matz, 13 starts, 6.08 ERA; Syndergaard a 2.97 ERA but just seven starts.

Heartbreaking indeed.

With a revamped offense which now includes a reunion with slugger Bruce, third baseman Frazier, and first sacker Gonzalez, the Mets hope a new spring brings health to their stable of young arms.

Get everyone healthy and the Big Apple can party like it’s 2015 all over again.

Players to Watch: The health of the young arms is paramount to any success for the Mets. The addition of Mickey Callaway, a well-regarded pitching coach for Cleveland*, as the new manager is a hope that the starters will realize their potential, stay out of the trainers’ room, and allow the Mets to legitimately challenge the Nationals for the division crown.

The thinking here is that while the Mets can make a run at the NL East crown, the Nats are still in the driver’s seat, so a wildcard berth is there for New York.

*In 2017, the Indians led all of MLB in using just seven (!!!) starters all season and were among the best in terms or rotation production. Callaway’s role in that should not be undersold in his new position with the Mets.

Prediction: Second in NL East.

16. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2017 season: 80-82, Second in the AL West)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler, Shohei Ohtani, Chris Young (OF), Jim Johnson

Key Losses: Jesse Chavez, CJ Cron, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit

General Thoughts: The Angels made this winter’s biggest splash with the acquisition of Japanese hitter/pitcher phenom Ohtani, who has struggled mightily during spring training. As of this writing, it remains to be seen if the he’ll begin the year with the Angels, or get some adjustment-time in the minors. Either way, the baseball world will watch how the team handles such a young, talented double-threat moving forward. Ohtani clearly has the ability and potential to be a great hitter or pitcher in the bigs. But with his poor spring on both sides of the ball, it may be a better bet to focus him on one skillset or the other.

Elsewhere, the Angels ramped up their offense and defense significantly with the additions of Kinsler and Cozart. With human highlight-reel Andrelton Simmons at short, it should be a fantastic defensive infield—despite the issues present at first base when 38-year-old Albert Pujols is there.

On the pitching side, Ohtani and reliever Jim Johnson was all the Angels added to a so-so staff, one that used 31 hurlers to accumulate a 4.20 ERA (12th in MLB). With no commitment to a closer and starting staff filled with question marks, the improvement the Halos made to their lineup may prove irrelevant.

In the end, though, the Angels are well-positioned to be a wild-card contender, but they simply did not do enough to run with Houston or the other big dogs in the AL.

What to Watch for in 2018: While Ohtani will grab a lot of headlines, the slow march of Pujols to 3,000 hits will be something to keep fans watching as well. The future Hall-of-Famer starts the year with 2,968 hits, so his milestone moment should occur sometime in May.

Prediction: Second place, AL West.

15. Seattle Mariners (2017 season: 78-84, Third in AL West)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Dee Gordon, Ichiro Suzuki, Juan Nicasio, Ryon Healy

Key Losses: Jarrod Dyson, Danny Valencia, Yonder Alonso, Drew Smyly

General Thoughts: In December 2013, the Seattle Mariners signed second baseman Robinson Cano in hopes of jump-starting a string of October celebrations.

The team clearly wanted to make an impression that they could—and would—be a consistent contender in not only the AL West, but a force for all of MLB to deal with.

Outside of a follow-up contract with slugger Nelson Cruz the next year, a shrewd deal for underrated shortstop Jean Segura, and the emergence of new ace James Paxton, the M’s have done little to justify their statement from the winter of 2013.

A mixed bag of chair-shuffling by GM Jerry DiPoto has left the team in a constant state of trying. Just trying.

Over and over. Second verse, same as the first.

While it would be amazing to see lovable Seattle icons Ichiro and King Felix get their due with a playoff run, the Mariners seem destined to move the sport’s longest playoff drought (no Big Dance invites since 2001) onward to 2019.

What to Watch for in 2018: The return of Ichiro is sure to make a lot of Mariners’ (and baseball) fans happy, while Segura continues his rise as an unknown superstar.

How Gordon fares in his new role as a center fielder is going to be a fun watch too, while everyone hopes for a couple more vintage seasons from King Felix, who is still just 31 years old.

Prediction: Third place, AL West.

14. Philadelphia Phillies (2017 season: 66-96, fifth in NL East)

By Joel Barnhart

Key additions: Jake Arrieta, Carlos Santana, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek

Key losses: None

General Thoughts: Adding Santana helps the young offense stabilize itself, taking some pressure off young bats Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Aaron Altherr. There is power up-and-down the lineup, with Santana (.259/.363/.455, 23 HRs) replacing Tommy Joseph (.240/.289/.4362 with 22 HRs) and adding depth to the bench.

New signee Jake Arrieta is not quite the ace he was in his Cy Young year of 2015, and is likely just starting his decline phase. But he represents a nice rotation upgrade for the Phils, who previously only counted Aaron Nola (12-11, 3.54, 119 ERA+) as the only sure thing in the Phillies’ rotation.

The mid-March signing of erstwhile Cubs’ ace Arrieta to a unique three-year deal, as the Phils opened up that pocketbook just a bit to catch a bargain and help legitimize themselves as fringe contenders this year … and a team to watch out for in 2019 and beyond.

In back of Arrieta and Nola is a lot of mid-rotation, best-case hope, but solidifying the bullpen with Hunter and Neshek should help those mid-rotation guys breathe a bit easier.

The hope is that the offense and pitching take steps forward together and begin to give the Philly faithful some hope. This season will be a key litmus test, since the Phightins can spend, spend, spend if the offensive core emerges as planned.

A lot of development still has to break right for the Phillies to take the next step in their rebuild, but with savvy moves like these, it’s not hard to see the City of Brotherly Love celebrating quite a bit in the near future. This year, despite those additions, it’s a literal “wait ‘til next year” for the Phillies.

Players to Watch: Nola had 9.9 K/9 last year and posted a FIP of 3.27, which was an improvement over his 3.54 ERA. At 24 years old, he has time on his side to blossom into a second Philly ace to pair with Arrieta.

Maikel Franco was supposed to be the first building block of the Phillies’ great team. However, the third baseman limped to a .230/281/.409 season (81 OPS+) last year. Along with some disciplinary issues during winter ball, this is a make-or-break year for Franco, especially with the (loud) whispers Philly will take a good run at free-agent-to-be Manny Machado in the fall.

Prediction: Third in NL East.

13. St. Louis Cardinals (2017 season: 83-79, 3rd in NL Central)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Marcell Ozuna, Luke Gregerson, Miles Mikolas, Bud Norris, Jason Motte

Key Losses: Juan Nicasio, Zach Duke, Aledmys Diaz, Seung Hwan Oh, Lance Lynn, Trevor Rosenthal

General Thoughts: You get a Marlin! You get a Marlin! You get a Marlin! Marcell Ozuna comes to the Cardinals and adds a big bat right smack in the middle of their lineup. Ozuna had a monster 2017 in Miami with a .312 average, 37 home runs and 124 RBIs.  The Cards’ lineup overall is very well-rounded: Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, Matt Carpenter, and second-year sensation Paul DeJong bring a little of everything to help Ozuna produce plenty of runs.

On the pitching end, the rotation needs to lay off the long ball. Carlos Martinez gave up a league-leading 27 dingers last season. Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, and Adam Wainwright have one job: stay healthy. Luke Gregerson is on the verge of becoming one of the elite closers in the game.

Players to Watch: Tommy Pham is going to have a breakthrough season. After his May call-up last season, he produced 23 homers and 25 steals in 128 games.

Top-Heavy Midwest: The NL Central is going to be a three-team race with the three Midwest teams. The Cubs and Brewers are all the talk in the division, but the Cards have been known to catch fire when it counts. This year, they need to get hot early and keep that flame lit all season. 

Prediction: Third in NL Central.

12. San Francisco Giants (2017 season: 64-98, fifth in NL West)

By Joel Barnhart

Key additions: Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, Tony Watson, Derek Holland, Austin Jackson

Key losses: Christian Arroyo, Denard Span, Matt Moore, Matt Cain, Michael Morse

General Thoughts: The veteran Giants stumbled to the league’s worst record in 2017, thanks in part of injuries and a whole bunch of down years. However, the front office has doubled down in an effort to get the G-Men back to form, bringing in more experienced hands.

The outfield, which was among baseball’s worst last year, gets a facelift with McCutchen in right, Jackson in center, and old friend Hunter Pence in left. If nothing else, Jackson should provide a nice defensive upgrade from Span, who showed his age in the middle pasture last year.

On the infield, newcomer Evan Longoria mans the hot corner, and shortstop Brandon Crawford, giving the Giants a fine defensive left side which great offensive potential, even if Longo has started to slip a bit from his peak. If second sacker Joe Panik and first baseman Brandon Belt can stay healthy, this has the potential to be an amazing infield unit, along with on-his-way Hall-of-Famer Buster Posey behind the plate.

On the mound, the Giants hope for a strong year from ace Madison Bumgarner*. His early-season dirt bike accident last season delivered a knockout punch to the team. When healthy, the rotation by the Bay should be solid with Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija** up front. Add in a decent bullpen and better-than-average bench, and the Giants just need health, and a little luck, to get back to contender status

*With Bumgarner out 4-6 weeks with a fractured left hand, the Giants’ pitching takes a huge blow.

**Shark is out 3-5 weeks with a strained right tit. The Giants might be done before first pitch this year.

Storylines to Watch: How do McCutchen and Longoria fare in their first seasons with the Giants? Is there enough depth on this team if injuries hit again? How fat can Pablo Sandoval get? Can Johnny Cueto carry the pitching load while Bumgarner and The Shark are out?

Prediction: Third in NL West.

11. Colorado Rockies (2017 record: 87-75, third in NL West, lost NL Wild Card game to Arizona)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Wade Davis, Bryan Shaw, Chris Iannetta, Carlos Gonzalez, Jake McGee

Key Losses: Pat Neshek, Tyler Chatwood, Jonathan Lucroy, Mark Reynolds, Greg Holland

General Thoughts: The Rockies rode a great offense (1st in NL with a .781 team OPS, 824 runs, 1,510 hits, a .273 average, and a .338 on-base percentage), a good (for Colorado standards) rotation, and one of the better ‘pens in team history to a wild card berth.

With Davis and Shaw essentially replacing Holland and Neshek at the end of games, the Rox will hope that the starting pitching, led by homegrown talents Kyle Freeland, Jon Gray, and Jeff Hoffman, can help make a sustainable winner in Denver.

Storylines to Watch: The Rockies are going to have a very good offense; they always do. The real question will be the young pitching. If Gray (10-4, 3.67 ERA, 0.8 HR/9) and Freeland (11-11, 4.10, 122 ERA+, 1.0 HR/9) keep trending up, and one of Hoffman (7.4 K/9 in 99 ⅓ innings) or German Marquez (147 K in staff-best 162 innings) emerge as well, the Rox could challenge LA in the West. At the very least, they should be in contention all year for a playoff berth. However, this crystal ball says just enough goes wrong* for the Rockies to backslide enough to miss out.

*Mostly, the relievers regress a bit, a couple of key hitters miss large chunks of time, and the young guns wind up more Lou Diamond Phillips than Emilio Estevez.

Prediction: Fourth in NL West.

10. Milwaukee Brewers (2017 season: 86-76, Second in NL Central)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Wade Miley, Matt Albers, Boone Logan, Jhoulys Chacin, Yovani Gallardo

Key Losses: Neil Walker, Lewis Brinson, Jared Hughes, Anthony Swarzak

General Thoughts: The late-January additions to outfielders Cain and Yelich signaled that the Brewers are prepared to take the next step in their process. They were showing fans that they were ready to compete with the Cubs for the NL Central crown and should not be taken lightly as a championship-caliber team.

Then, they just stopped doing things.

It was assumed by many (most?) that while the additions of two All-Star outfielders, that the Brew Crew would deal one or more of their incumbent fly-chasers to address their starting pitching—a unit that was 10th in MLB with a surprising 4.10 ERA.

But that has not happened, with franchise cornerstone Ryan Braun slated to share first base with Eric Thames and split time in left field with Domingo Santana. While that plan does seems to deepen Milwaukee’s bench and platoon options to a point, it could create some ego-bruisings regarding playing time that manager Craig Counsell will need to watch for.

Milwaukee has a fine top of the rotation once Jimmy Nelson (3.49 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) returns from a shoulder injury. Along with Chase Anderson (2.74, 1.09 WHIP), the duo could be the best 1-2 punch the Brewers have had in a very, very long time. Zach Davies, Brent Suter, and Jhouls Chacin are solid depth starters, who will all look much better pushed down a rung once Nelson is back.

However, the Brewers have to start playing meaningful games right away, and not simply wait around. Contending teams have to be aggressive in the moment and know when to make the right on-and-off field moves.

It will be intriguing to see if Milwaukee’s hesitation to add a starter or two costs them as they chase the Cubs and Cardinals in the Central division.

What to Watch for in 2018: How the offensive mix settles in with multiple moving parts could be very fascinating, as well as the impact that Yelich and Cain have on the Milwaukee lineup. Keep an eye on fireballers Corey Knebel and Josh Hader out of the bullpen, too.

Prediction: Second in NL Central.

9. Minnesota Twins (2017 season: 85-77, 2nd in AL Central, lost Wild Card Game to New York Yankees)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi, Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Michael Pineda, Zach Duke

Key Losses: None

General Thoughts: The Twins are quite possibly the best-kept secret in baseball. Coming off a Wild Card berth, they want more than that in 2018, and proved it by acquiring some big time studs during the offseason. With a lineup that already included Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton, they traded for Morrison to add some extra beef on offense and a solid glove in the field.

The pitching rotation has leveled off nicely with the addition of Morrison’s former Rays teammate Jake Odorizzi, along with big-time free agent Lance Lynn, and bullpen help from Addison Reed and the ageless Fernando Rodney.

Players to Watch: Brian Dozier, simply put, is going to be awesome. The 30-year-old is the key to Minnesota’s success this season. His monster second half of 2017 will carry over to this season and he’ll continue to be one of the premier stars in the league at a key defensive spot. Byron Buxton is just starting to scratch the surface with what he can do on both sides of the ball. Expect a huge breakout season from him.

We Want Mary Tyler MORE*: The Twins’ new rotation will be fun to watch. This was the missing ingredient from last season’s success. Paul Molitor has plenty to look forward to once again, even if the powerhouse Indians are in the same division.  Eighty-five wins last season could easily turn into 95 wins this season. Look out for this team once again!

*A.K.A. Can the Twins turn the World Series on With Their Smile(s)? –Ed.

Prediction: Second in AL Central.

8. Arizona Diamondbacks (2017 season: 93-69, Second in NL West, lost 3-0 in the NLDS to the LA Dodgers)

By Chris Jordan

Key Additions: Brad Boxberger, Yoshihisa Hirano, Alex Avila, Jarrod Dyson, Steven Souza, Jr.

Key Losses: JD Martinez, Fernando Rodney, Brandon Drury

General Thoughts: They didn’t tear down too much. They lost Martinez to free agency, which is a big bat they replaced with Souza Jr., a downgrade. Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb, and healthy seasons from AJ Pollock and David Peralta will help the D-Backs remain a Wild Card contender, but it’s not enough to surpass the Dodgers in the division.

A rotation that includes ace Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, and several unproven hurlers like Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley, plus a revamped bullpen that puts popular Archie Bradley in the closer role should be plenty to keep the Dodgers on their toes, however.

Player to Watch: Watch Shelby Miller bounce back from the 60-day DL. Just kidding, he’s a bust. The progression of Ray into a near-elite LHP will factor into the D-Backs’ run.

Prediction: Second in the NL West.

7. Boston Red Sox (2017 season: 93-69, First in AL East, lost 3-1 in the ALDS to the eventual World Series Champions Houston Astros)

By Chris Jordan

Key Additions: J.D. Martinez, manager Alex Cora

Key Losses: None

General Thoughts: The John Farrell era is over. Let the Alex Cora era begin. He is expected to bring with him from Houston a player-friendly attitude and whatever secrets the Astros held that made them successful. This is a team with a youthful core of players in Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and Rafael Devers. That youth is coupled with strong veteran voices and presences in Chris Sale and David Price. The biggest question Cora may have is how well will Hanley Ramirez handle a first-base platoon with Mitch Moreland?

The Sox finally got their middle-of-the-order bat with J.D. Martinez, which is an adequate response to the Yankees robbery of Giancarlo Stanton from Miami. If everyone remains healthy (Dustin Pedroia is expected to start the season on the DL while he recovers from knee surgery), then the AL East will be a fun division to watch once again, as the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry appears to be re-heating.

What to Watch for in 2018: With the Red Sox playing with very little on-field joy at times in 2017, expect Alex Cora to bring a different attitude and clubhouse culture with him from Houston. So shut up and have fun, Chris Sale!

Prediction: First in the AL East as a possible World Series dark horse. Otherwise, they go down to Houston in the ALCS.

6. Washington Nationals (97-65, won NL East, lost NLDS to Chicago Cubs, 3-2)

By Joel Barnhart

Key Additions: Joaquin Benoit, Matt Adams, Brandon Kintzler, Howie Kendrick

Key Losses: Oliver Perez, Matt Albers, Joe Blanton, Stephen Drew, Adam Lind, Jayson Werth, Jose Lobaton

General Thoughts: Since 2012, the Nationals have been an annual contender for the NL East title and beyond. They’ve delivered on the first part of that, winning their division in four of the past six seasons. However, it’s that “beyond” part that just doesn’t seem to work out, as the Nats have never advanced past the League Division Series, most recently getting bounced in five games against the Cubs last fall.

With a relatively weak (but slowly improving) field behind them in the NL East, it is a safe bet that, barring lots of injuries, the Nationals should easily take their fifth division crown in seven years. With superstars Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and second-tier studs Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, and rising talent Trea Turner, the Nats certainly look the part of a World Series threat.

While Harper is the main event in the lineup, there is plenty to worry opposing pitchers, with a healthy Adam Eaton and speedster Turner batting ahead of him, and sluggers Rendon and Murphy behind. The Nats boast a deep, high-quality lineup, a fine rotation, a strong bullpen, as well as a potent bench filled with capable bats to keep the stars fresh.

The offense revolves around Harper, although that may not be the case next season. With their superstar outfielder a pending free agent, the Nats will likely go all-out to cap No. 34’s Washington tenure with a World Series parade.

Players to Watch: We’ve seen Harper dominate when healthy—his MVP year in 2015 is not coincidentally his career-high in games played with 153. With free agency just around the corner, it’s going to be fascinating to see the show Harper puts on in what may be his final year with Washington.

Scherzer, last year’s Cy Young winner, will be 34 this summer, but the right-hander with the no-hit stuff is showing no signs of slowing down. Every time Mad Max takes the mound, it is must-watch baseball. With a resume as decorated as his, we are witnessing a Hall of Fame career in the making. His quest for Cy No. 4 is well worth tracking.

Prediction: First in NL East.

5. Chicago Cubs (2017 season: 92-70, first in NL Central, lost 4-1 to Los Angeles Dodgers in NLCS)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, Tyler Chatwood, Steve Cishek, Drew Smyly

Key Losses: Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Hector Rondon

General Thoughts: With some major changes (for the better) to their pitching rotation, the Cubs added some missing pieces that they lacked last season trying to repeat as World Series champions. Goodbye Big Jake and Davis, hello Darvish and Morrow. Joe Maddon (and the rest of Wrigleyville) should be very pleased with these moves.

The bats are going to remain the centerpiece on the South Side though. The Cubbies were fourth in the league offensively last year, averaging just over five runs a game. Expect much of the same this season.

Players to Watch: Kris Bryant will be entering his third season with the Cubs and has lived up to his hype so far. His increase in walk rate last season (10.7% in 2016; 14.3% in 2018) proved that he’s becoming a more patient hitter. Anthony Rizzo has been Mr. Consistent the past three seasons averaging over 30 homers, 90 RBIs, and 100 runs scored. Kyle Schwarber physically looks incredible! He dropped almost 30 pounds on the offseason. He needs to become more patient at the plate and start hitting for contact. We all know he can demolish a baseball, but a .249 BA won’t cut it anymore.

Hot Take: The NL Central race will be neck and neck … and neck all season between the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals, but will come down to smart, strong pitching from the Cubs.

Prediction: First in NL Central.

4. Cleveland Indians (2017 season: 102-60, first in AL Central, lost 3-2 to New York Yankees in ALDS)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Yonder Alonso, Mike Napoli

Key Losses: Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Bryan Shaw, Boone Logan, Joe Smith, Austin Jackson

General Thoughts: Being an Indians fan will be fun once again this season. Alonso replacing Santana at first base will drop a little power from their lineup, but Alonso brings an impressive OBP and solid glove with him. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are the backbone of the Tribe’s offense and will both have monster seasons yet again.

Oh yeah, Corey Kluber. The defending AL Cy Young Award winner should continue his dominance. Look for him to easily win 20 games, plus keep his ERA close to 3.00.

Let’s not forget the one-two bullpen punch of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. So nasty!

It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll):  Coming off a season that saw the Indians have a 21-game winning streak and finish with 102 wins overall, this team will once again come into a season with the complete package. Look for them to take another division championship and once again shoot for that much-needed (and wanted) World Series win.

Prediction: First in AL Central.

3. New York Yankees (2017 season: 91-71, 2nd in AL East, lost ALCS 4-3 to Houston Astros)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Giancarlo Stanton, CC Sabathia, Brandon Drury, Neil Walker

Key Losses: Chase Headley, Starlin Castro, Todd Frazier, Michael Pineda

Let me start off by saying this, when the Yankees are good, baseball is good. It’s the same with football when the Cowboys are good, and basketball when the Lakers are good.

This year, the Yankees should be plenty good.

Giancarlo Stanton comes to the Yankees a season removed from winning the NL MVP with the Marlins. Aaron Judge will enter his sophomore season to prove that he’s not a one-hit wonder. The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year destroyed baseballs last season and will continue to be must watch baseball this season. Gary Sanchez needs to work on his catching mechanics to improve his passed ball problems from last season, but needs no work on his hitting. Greg Bird is FINALLY healthy* and Didi Gregorius could be the best all-around player on the team. With the addition of Neil Walker at second base and Brandon Drury at third, the Yankee infield has a nice mixture of young studs and veterans.

*Yeah, about that…

The pitching rotation will be the key. Stay healthy and consistent. Luis Severino is coming off a season that established him as the new team ace. CC Sabathia returns for his tenth season in the Yankee rotation. Masahiro Tanaka is still the pitcher that he was in the past, but needs to watch the long balls and chose his pitches wisely. The bullpen is probably the best in baseball.

Legion of Boone: New manager Aaron Boone has so many pieces to work with, including a farm system with top prospects Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar. The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry will be in full force this season, but down the stretch, look for the Bronx/Baby Bombers to reign supreme in the AL East

Prediction: First in AL East.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers (2017 season: 104-58 1st in NL West, lost World Series, 4-3 to Houston Astros)

By Jason Greenhouse

Key Additions: Matt Kemp, Scott Alexander, Tom Koehler

Key Losses: Brandon Morrow, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Adrian Gonzalez, Curtis Granderson, Luis Avilan

General Thoughts: Coming off one of the best World Series in recent history, the Dodgers will enter 2018 with a major chip on their shoulder. Nothing short of a ring will be acceptable.

Their lineup will be deadly once again. Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger is a superstar in the making. Expect consistent numbers up-and-down the lineup from Yasiel Puig, Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, and Justin Turner. The balls will be flying out of Chavez Ravine all summer long.

As strong as their lineup is, the pitching rotation might be the best in all of baseball. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood are all great hands on deck. Any of them could win 18-20 games this season. The anchor of the bullpen, Kenley Jansen, has become the premiere closer in the league.

Wild, Wild West: The Dodgers have the best all-around team in baseball, but are also in the most competitive division in baseball. They need to take as many division series series as possible against the Rockies, Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres.

Prediction: First in NL West.

1. Houston Astros (2017 season: 101-61, First in the AL West, 2017 World Series Champions)

By Chris Jordan

Key Additions: Gerrit Cole

Key Losses: None

General Thoughts: YOUR 2017 WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS (!!!) return with their lineup intact, and a strong addition to an already solid rotation in Cole. This pretty much sews up another championship run for the Houston Astros in 2018. Jose Altuve was just handed a YUGE extension that puts him in the elite in terms of $$$$ but it’s money well spent. Regardless of how Joe Buck feels about him*, the truth is that Altuve is the best player in the AL, if not all of MLB.

Carlos Correa, George Springer and Alex Bregman make up the rest of the young nucleus of an Astros team that has created the mold that a lot of other teams are using: tear it all down, draft high, develop your talent, then set them loose on the big leagues. Cole joins former Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, and with that offense backing him up, expect a big season from the three-slot starter on this deep team.

*Forced, corporate-sponsored love isn’t real love, kids. Remember that. — Ed.

What to Watch for in 2018: If everyone stays healthy, a repeat of last season’s run is guaranteed. Watch for a rejuvenated Verlander to lead this team and for more Joe Buck/Jose Altuve sloppy wet ones.

Prediction: First in the AL West, Two-time! Two-time! World Series Champions.

Overall Predictions:

Jason Greenhouse:

World Series Champs: New York Yankees

National League Champs: Chicago Cubs

AL MVP: Gary Sanchez

NL MVP: Bryce Harper

AL CY: Corey Kluber

NL CY: Max Scherzer

Joel Barnhart:

World Series Champs: Chicago Cubs

American League Champs: New York Yankees

AL MVP: Francisco Lindor

NL MVP: Bryce Harper

AL CY: Justin Verlander

NL CY: Max Scherzer

Chris Jordan:

World Series Champs: Houston Astros

National League Champs: Washington Nationals

AL MVP: George Springer

NL MVP: Bryce Harper

AL CY: Chris Sale

NL CY: Clayton Kershaw

So, there you have it! Our complete rundown of the 2018 MLB season. Thanks for all the support during the winter months, Nation! And now the Greatest Game is back, spread the word and let’s PLAY BALL!

Author: Joel Barnhart

A big-time baseball nerd, Joel is currently teaching English as a Second Language in San Antonio, Texas. In addition to his MLB passion, he enjoys good whiskey, good music, good movies, and good friends. He is currently engaged in an ongoing 12-year online debate over the merits of bubble wrap.