AL East -
1. NY Yankees - In recent years, teams that have had praise heaped on them and anointed pennants before the first pitches are thrown have not faired very well. I enjoy seeing every pundit picking the Yanks as a shoo-in for October, so I’ll join them here. Why not? It’s not like their stud acquisition has only played 125 games 3 of the 8 years of his career. Or have a first time manager who might have charisma, but when he looks at Aroldis Chapman on the mound in a tight September game, will Chapman listen to him? Will Aaron Judge be hitting .175 on May 1? Tanaka’s elbow ligament definitely won’t stop hanging by a thread for three years and come flying off his body. There’s no way this could go wrong.
2. Boston - The Sox beat out the Twins, Jays, Orioles, Mariners, and Angels to host the wild card game. Remember just how good Chris Sale was last season. An improved young and hungry offense. It’s going to be a fun summer battling the other best teams in the AL.
3. Toronto - The Jays are in it right down to the last day of the regular season, losing out to the Twins by a game. The Blue Jays have underperformed high expectations for years, but now those expectations are coming down while most of their exceptional talent still remains. They will be a tough out.
4. Baltimore - It’s hard to imagine Buck Showalter managing a team that is going to start a full on tank job and rebuild in a post Manny Machado world. So I think the Orioles either fire him and Dan Duquette and really start over, or they go all in on one last ride in 2018 and try to get Manny to resign in a free agency market that is suddenly unstable. Their bullpen is still the second best in the AL east, and that Machado, Scoop, Davis, Jones, Mancini, Trumbo core is still a tough lineup to get through. If Bundy and Gausman finally have a good year together, why not the birds?
5. Tampa Bay - They find ways to win and outperform their projections every year down in Tampa. So it feels weird predicting them to crater to the bottom of the league, but their roster just doesn’t stack up to the rest of the East. I see them losing 100+ games and trading every one they can.
AL Central -
1. Cleveland - The class of the AL Central by far.
2. Minnesota - They get the 2nd AL wild card on the last day of the season over the Blue Jays
3. Chicago - The team that has a bad record but is fun to watch play all season long. Look out in 2019-2020
4. Kansas City - With one hot streak or two there’s still enough here to hang on for a while in a weak Central, but they could also have a fire sale
5. Detroit - speaking of fire sale, the Tigers have a strong case as the worst roster situation in the AL
AL West -
1. Houston - WS champs add a full season of Verlander and another year of maturity for the Altuve, Correa, Springer, Bregman core. 100+ wins.
2. Seattle - One of these years the Mariners are going to put it together and make the playoffs. Not this year. Miss out on 2nd wild card by a game or two.
3. LA Angels - As fearsome as their lineup is, and no matter how stout their infield defense is, their rotation will fall completely apart by Memorial Day and their bullpen is subpar to boot.
4. Oakland - Led by Olson & Chapman (good law firm name, or maybe a leather jacket company?), they stick around in the WC race until the deadline, then deal and play for 2019
5. Texas - Their rotation is awful, they got old in a hurry, and their prospects have consistently underperformed.
Wildcard game - Boston over Minnesota
Divisional Series - Boston over Houston
Cleveland over NY Yankees
ALCS - Cleveland over Boston
AL Manager of the Year - Paul Molitor
AL Rookie of the Year - Willie Calhoun
AL Cy Young - Chris Sale
AL MVP - Mike Trout
1. Washington - replacing Dusty Baker with Dave Martinez is the biggest replacement in Washington since Rex Tillerson was replaced with Mike Pompeo. Luckily for Nats fans, the manager swap will work out much better.
2. NY Mets - Those pitchers!
3. Philadelphia - They’re a year away
4. Atlanta - They’re two years away
5. Miami - They’re a decade away
1. Chicago - The Cubs’ pitching isn’t quite what it once was, but they’re still loaded
2. Brewers - The Brew Crew can rake. If their rotation comes along, look out. I’ve got them winning the 2nd NL wildcard
3. St. Louis - Don’t know much about the Cardinals, but I still like this Nelly song
4. Pittsburgh - This is what happens when your run of can’t-miss prospects end up missing
5. Cincinnati - The ghost of Marge Schott sends this team to the cellar
1. Los Angeles - A boring pick, but hard to go against all that talent. And Dave Roberts.
2. Arizona - Our old friend Torey Lovullo goes two-for-two in making the playoffs as a manager
3. Colorado - The Rox compete but come up short of a wildcard
4. San Francisco - Their run of even year dominance is all overweigh
5. San Diego - Hey, they have Eric Hosmer now.
Wildcard game - Brewers over Diamondbacks
NLDS - Brewers over Dodgers
Nationals over Cubs
NLCS - Nationals over Brewers
NL Manager of the Year - Dave Martinez
NL Rookie of the Year - Ronald Acuna
NL Cy Young - Noah Syndergaard
NL MVP - Bryce Harper
WORLD SERIES - Nationals over Indians - The Nationals bring a title home to D.C. while the Indians come up just short again.