Ya know, i’ve made some ridiculous predictions through the years, and one of the great joys of the internet, is the irresistible opportunity to immortalize such levels of stupidity and ignorance, in the pursuit of getting people to click on your silly website.
So naturally, I’m going to do this again, because i’m a glutton for punishment, but i’ll try it in a slightly different format this time, so maybe if I actually nail one of these, it will make me look even smarter.
The American League:
Last year, the American League had a combined gap of 26 games between each divisions winner and runners up. It held all of baseball’s 100 loss teams last year (Orioles, Royals, and White Sox), and held both baseball’s strongest division (The East), and the weakest (The Central). It was a league of disparity thanks to several “tanking” franchises in the same pool as some of the elite teams in the game. I see that evening out a bit, as the lesser teams (White Sox, Twins) begin to rise towards respectable levels, while the more elite teams start to show cracks in their armor (Indians, Red Sox). This will even things out a bit, and even produce some new division winners, but still leave a few teams gasping for air by the end.
- New York Yankees: 101-61
- Tampa Bay Rays: 93-69
- Boston Red Sox: 90-72
- Toronto Blue Jays: 77-85
- Baltimore Orioles: 57-105
- Minnesota Twins: 91-71
- Cleveland Indians: 88-74
- Chicago White Sox: 75-87
- Kansas City Royals: 63-99
- Detroit Tigers: 61-101
- Oakland A’s: 101-61
- Houston Astros: 97-65
- LA Angels: 81-81
- Seattle Mariners: 72-90
- Texas Rangers: 61-101
- New York Yankees (AL East Champs):
- The Yanks will ride their stars into another postseason, but without the stress of a wild card game this year. Their lineup and bullpen carry an otherwise slightly suspect rotation (although I think Severino proves he’s truly the ace everyone thinks he is, despite a rough 2nd half last year) through the division, which I imagine they will lead for a bulk of the year. Look for Gary Sanchez to re-emerge despite all the controversy around him, and challenge for the AL MVP this year.
- Minnesota Twins (AL Central Champs):
- This may be the sneakiest pick in the lot, with not a lot of people talking about the Twins as legit contenders, despite their division being so weak. The development of their younger position players, along with the presence of veterans like Nelson Cruz put the Twins in a position to make a run at the Indians, who’s competitive window seems to be closing, and their roster continues to suffer from depth issues. Look for the Twins to surprise a lot of people this year.
- Oakland A’s (AL West Champs):
- Is it even in the rules that the Astros can’t win the west this year? Well, don’t tell that to the A’s, who, seemingly out of nowhere, have a pretty formidable lineup thanks to Khris Davis, Matt Chapman, Jurickson Profar, and Matt Olson, but also one of the most interesting bullpens in the league. The A’s are really just one or two rotation answers away (and they may even be wearing the uniform already, in AJ Puk or Jesus Luzardo) from being a powerhouse. Mark it.
- Houston Astros (Wild Card 1):
- Let’s face it, their still a “super team”, thanks to marquee names like Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Gerrit Cole (and that’s just to name a few), but I think they feel Marwin Gonzalez’s absence more than they think, and Carlos Correa’s back is probably going to be one of the most watched injuries in the AL this year. They need a lot to go right, but let face it, they’re still one of the elite teams in the game still.
- Tampa Bay Rays (Wild Card 2):
- If a tree falls and no one hears it, it probably fell at a Rays game. Really though, while it almost seems like low hanging fruit to make fun of their (lack of) fan base, this is a team that won 90 games last year with only a little bit of Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow, who figure to be integral parts of the team this year. With the addition of Charlie Morton to the “rotation” (LOL) and the continued emergence of some of their young players, this team seems primed to improve on their silently impressive campaign last year, which could easily put them in this position.
The National League
The National League finished dramatically, with not one, but two game 163’s to determine final playoff seeding. It will be more of the same this year, with several teams who finished outside the postseason making major improvements (Phillies, Padres, Nationals, and Reds), and even the basement dwellers making moves to improve their status in a really wide-open field in the senior circuit.
- Atlanta Braves: 96-66
- Philadelphia Phillies: 92-70
- New York Mets: 88-74
- Washington Nationals: 80-82
- Miami Marlins: 59-103
- Milwaukee Brewers: 99-63
- Chicago Cubs: 90-72
- Cincinnati Reds: 82-80
- St. Louis Cardinals: 77-85
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 75-87
- Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71
- Colorado Rockies: 82-80
- San Diego Padres: 74-88
- San Fransisco Giants: 70-92
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 67-95
- Braves (NL East Champs):
- The Braves relied heavily on the progression of their young stars, rather than make a splash in the offseason market, and it could very well pay off. They possess the most depth of any team in the National League from a pitching perspective, and as these arms progress along with the young bats of Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna, this team has something special going on. There’s a lot of “ifs” in that equation, but one has to think they have the most to gain from their own system than anyone in baseball. This is what it looks like if that goes right.
- Brewers (NL Central Champs):
- The Brew Crew is still legit, and it seems like they could hold down the best record in a competitive National League this year. The re-signing of Mike Moustakas, and the possible rebirth of their ace, Jimmy Nelson could help them improve their record by a couple of wins, and put them over the top. Add in the leagues best bullpen, and oh, did I mention they also have the reigning MVP? He might be pretty good this year too..
- Dodgers (NL West Champs):
- While the Rockies turned some heads last season, and the Padres brought in one of the games best to man the hot corner, the division is still the Dodgers to lose. Injuries to Clayton Kershaw and the loss of Alex Wood will have some affect, but i’m not sure enough to knock them from the top spot. Look for a possible breakout from Cody Bellinger, and it will be interesting to see what Max Muncy can do with regular playing time. Manager Dave Roberts has said that he’s looking to platoon less, so that could have some positive effects for the team to help offset some of the other glaring issues on their roster.
- Phillies (Wild Card 1):
- The Bryce Harper signing, coupled with the JT Realmuto trade creates a perfect storm of a lineup for the Phils, but doesn’t solve two underlying issues with the team: Lack of rotation depth after Aaron Nola, and laughable defense. These seem like secondary issues for most teams, but in an ultra-competitive NL East, every game could make a difference. I think it’s obvious they make a marked improvement from last season, but I don’t see it being enough to win the East. Wild card spot for them.
- Cubs (Wild Card 2):
- The team that seemed destined for a dynasty will have to claw their way back to the postseason this year, but it seems as though they’re just too good to leave out. This is a team with a lot of players that had down years, or no years (in Yu Darvish’s case) at all really, at the same time. Had it not been for Javy Baez’s herculean effort, they may not have even been relevant as we drew towards October. This year, though, I could see a lot of players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and others rebound to keep the playoff streak alive.
Stay tuned for how it plays out….