|The Boys of Summer are set to begin the 2018 season|
The crack of a bat ripping a line drive. The pop of a fastball into a catcher’s mitt. Fireworks exploding. Hot dogs steaming.
It’s that time again folks. The start of another season in Major League Baseball.
For the first time in 50 years, all MLB teams will experience Opening Day on the same date. That comes this Thursday, March 28, when 15 games will take place scattered at various times throughout the day and night.
Those first games will begin a regular season that will stretch out over more than six months, leading to the drama of the MLB playoffs as Fall arrives.
Which teams are most likely to reach those playoffs? Which players will stand out over the course of the 162-game MLB regular season?
Each year, I give you my picks for the final standings across each of MLB’s six divisions, as well as my playoff predictions. I also make picks for some of baseball’s most important awards.
A year ago in my 2017 MLB Preview and Predictions piece, I correctly picked the winners in five of those six divisional races. The biggest letdown from those picks was for the San Francisco Giants to edge out the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants collapsed to a last place finish after winning three World Series crowns in the previous seven seasons.
I had the Washington Nationals beating the Boston Red Sox in seven dramatic games a year ago. As we know now, it was the Houston Astros beating the Dodgers in six to capture their first-ever world championship.
So now it’s time to make my team picks and my awards predictions for the upcoming 2018 MLB season. Would love to hear your own picks in the comments section below this piece. Here we go again, baseball fans.
Contenders: Jack Flaherty STL, Ronald Acuna ATL, Scott Kingery PHI, Nick Senzel CIN
Contenders: Joe Maddon CHC, Dave Roberts LAD, Dave Martinez WAS, Gabe Kapler PHI
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Noah Syndergaard
Contenders: Adam Eaton WAS, Mark Melancon SF, Homer Bailey CIN
2018 AMERICAN LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland
Contenders: Giancarlo Stanton NYY, Carlos Correa HOU, Mike Trout LAA, Mookie Betts BOS
CY YOUNG AWARD: Chris Sale, Boston
Contenders: Corey Kluber CLE, Luis Severino NYY, Justin Verlander HOU, Chris Archer
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles
Contenders: Dustin Fowler OAK, Gleyber Torres NYY, Francisco Mejia CLE, Chance Sisco BAL
MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Alex Cora, Boston
Contenders: Aaron Boone NYY, TerryFrancona CLE, A.J. Hinch HOU, John Gibbons TOR
COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Brantley CLE
Contenders: Doug Fister TEX, Miguel Cabrera DET, Francisco Liriano DET
NL EAST: Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Miami
NL CENTRAL: Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati
NL WEST: Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, Arizona, San Diego
NL WILDCARDS: Milwaukee, Colorado
AL EAST: Boston, New York, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay
AL CENTRAL: Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago
AL WEST: Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Oakland
AL WILDCARDS: New York, Los Angeles
There you have it, my 2018 Major League Baseball preview and predictions. Again, feel free to leave your own picks in the comments section below. Play ball!