I’ve done my previews of each division and the winners and such. It is now time to look at the whole league. And in this case, I will look at the possible winners of the individual awards, such as MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, etc. As well as what to possibly expect in the 2018 season as we are on the verge of the start. It should be a fun one in 2018. Can’t wait.
I’ll start with the awards of the individuals.
AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels. I think we’ve taken Trout for granted since he has started. We expect him to hit well over .300, have 30 HR, and drive in a lot, while winning the Gold Glove on top of it. It’s Trout for crying out loud. That said, he is probably the best all-around player in the game and had he not been injured in 2017, we probably would have seen one of the greatest seasons ever by anybody in MLB history. But this year I think he will be healthy and with an Angels team with some depth, they will be competing for a Wild Card spot.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Nationals. I know that Harper, alongside Trout, would give me a very generic MVP choice and an “easy choice” for a casual fan, but honestly, Harper HAS to win the MVP in 2018. Is it a dumb comment to say? If I was reading this, I would say yes too. But the talk has been for the last few years of Bryce being the first $300 million dollar man in baseball history. And truth be told, the talent he has would not make a debate on it. That said, he has either been dinged up too much, or hasn’t produced like we thought he would do. This year I think it all comes together with the Nationals running roughshod in the NL East.
AL CY YOUNG: Chris Sale, Red Sox. Again, another “let’s pick the best around and make it a lock because he has been near the top of the list” pick. Sale dominated early on before slipping enough for Corey Kluber to take the Cy Young in 2017. I don’t see it this year especially if Boston’s rotation gets it going and takes some pressure off of Sale. He could have one of the best years in recent memory for a pitcher if he can zero in and just let it rip in 2018.
NL CY YOUNG: Robbie Ray, D-Backs. Okay, I make up for the other picks with this wild card choice. But hear me out. Ray had a great year in 2017 and was a key reason why Arizona went to the playoffs. And I think he’s found “it” with Arizona. I think he will only get better, and he could end up being a 20+ game winner for them. All apologies to Scherzer and Kershaw, but you do have to wonder if one of them (maybe both?) have off years. Again, I can see Ray only getting better and with Greinke there, he may be somewhat “hidden” in Arizona. Keep an eye on this guy.
AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Francisco Mejia, Indians. Of course finding a Rookie of the Year candidate is always tough any year and this year is no different. Also look at Willy Adames (Rays) and Willie Calhoun (Rangers) as others, but they will start the season in the Minors so, yeah. But Mejia will have a leg up with being on a contending team and the pressure isn’t on as much as say Calhoun with Texas or Adames. Keep an eye with this guy as he can hit.
NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Lewis Brinson, Marlins. I may change it to Ronald Acuna for the Braves, but nothing is a given in the Minor Leagues as Acuna is starting in Gwinnett. So I am going with a guy that could really make a good impact with a team with little expectations in Brinson, who could hit for power, run for speed and he isn’t a high-stress environment (I don’t want to hear the Milwaukee jokes given the Brewers are a threat to contend). It may be the ONLY highlight for Miami in 2018.
AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Paul Molitor, Twins. It doesn’t seem like the top half of the AL will have much changes. The 5 teams that made the postseason in the American League all improved themselves in some manner while save maybe for the Angels, the rest haven’t. Minnesota could give the Yankees some grief this year if they meet up in the Wild Card…..or it could be Boston that Minnesota gives fits to. So who knows?
NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Gabe Kapler, Phillies. I have that vibe Kapler may be that all or nothing manager and that Phillies may be very good or remain very bad. But I think he is the right guy for the job despite some awkward moments in his first presser. Philadelphia should be good in 2018 and may be looking at an outside shot at the Wild Card.
WHICH MANAGER IS ON THE HOTTEST SEAT? Brian Snitker, Braves. Writing is on the wall with this one. Atlanta hasn’t been regarded as a playoff threat in the last few years due to a rebuild, but last year the Braves didn’t make as many strides as many had hoped and saw the fallback of the rotation of Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz, etc. thanks in part of going to the spacious Turner Field to bandbox SunTrust Park. However, the Braves were still in the thick of the Wild Card race after the break before collapsing completely. With Atlanta’s prospects starting to get ready and already at the big league level such as Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, and very likely Ronald Acuna, a setback for them will likely put Snitker in the unemployment line. Don’t believe me? Atlanta has two former managers on the coaching staff (Ron Washington, Walt Weiss), and one of them has been to the World Series twice. Combine it with new GM Alex Anthpoulos, and he is a key guy to be let go first, especially if the Braves struggle out of the gate.
WHICH THIRD BASEMAN WILL BE MOVED FIRST AND WHERE? Mike Moustakas, Royals (to Cardinals). The obvious sexy choices will be Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson. But with Machado (promising future and still young) and Donaldson (MVP to his credit and still in midst of prime) will command a very high price from their teams, the Royals maybe the one sitting pretty especially if they are eliminated early. They can command a similar price but not as high as what you can get from the Orioles and Blue Jays, especially since all three are free agents at the end of the season. But if a team I’m not expecting is in strong contention at the deadline (Braves? Padres? Mariners?) don’t be surprised if they kick the tires too. To me this is the most logical move to this point.
WHICH BIG-TIME PITCHER WILL BE TRADED AT THE DEADLINE AND WHERE? Chris Archer, Rays (to Brewers). Milwaukee is a front-end starter away from being an October baseball team to me. Archer is no true ace, but he is definitely a front-end guy. The Brewers since last season have struck out in getting Jose Quintana, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, and Alex Cobb. They CAN’T go through a season of having a rotation headed by Chase Anderson and Jimmy Nelson (both quality starters, but could get easily dominated by the likes of Lester, Kershaw, and Scherzer). They need that guy to be their ace. A question can be made if the Tigers put out Michael Fulmer, but I don’t know if Milwaukee (or any team) will pay up for what Detroit may demand.
WILL SHOHEI OHTANI BE THE NEXT GREAT JAPANESE IMPORT OR THE NEXT HIDEKI IRABU/KENSHIN KAWAKAMI? I lean more towards the latter on this one. I think at some point Ohtani will have to choose one or the other as being a full-time pitcher or hitter, but I don’t think he will pan out into the superstar that the Angels will hope. Most pitchers who come from Japan have a short shelf-life in the Majors and he hasn’t shown he can pitch at least in Spring Training yet. A hitter, perhaps, but right now, I wasn’t impressed with the signing and haven’t been impressed with him in Spring Training. Angels may regret this trade before the year is out.
WILL THE ATHLETICS GET THEIR FUTURE BALLPARK RESOLVED? Yes. Right now Oakland is in a spot where they are the last team sharing a stadium with an NFL team, but the Raiders are about to split soon. The A’s are trying to buy the Coliseum which means they can tear it down and rebuild it into a baseball-only ballpark, which will work. But I think they could do the same thing as St. Louis did, Atlanta is doing, and Texas will do and make it a ballpark-esque village around the area. I think it is going to happen soon.
Okay, it’s time for my October picks.
According to my predictions, the Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals remain atop of the NL, with the Diamondbacks and Brewers taking the Wild Cards. The AL looks eerily familiar with the same 5 teams from last year getting to the postseason.
AL Wild Card: Yankees over Twins. New York continues their October dominance of Minnesota dating back to 2003. The Twins despite making strong moves will just remain behind of New York.
NL Wild Card: Diamondbacks over Brewers: While Milwaukee has a potent lineup, the question will remain do they have enough pitching to be a major threat in the NL? Even if they make a trade at the deadline, the answer may be no. And if Arizona starts Ray or Greinke in that game, good luck.
Astros over Yankees: The 2017 ALCS will be another tight one with great pitching (Astros) go against the great hitting (Yankees). I think Houston just has the arms that are far better than New York to sneak by, and the Astros can beat you in more ways than one with their offense, whereas the Yankees maybe too reliant on the long ball.
Red Sox over Indians: This is a REALLY hard one for me to go with. The reason why I lean towards Boston in this series is I don’t think we will see the likes of Price and Porcello pitch as rough as they’ve been and while I think Cleveland may be a better overall team, I think the pressure of the Tribe winning a World Series in Cleveland is more stressful than what Boston has to deal with. The Indians have the longest streak and you have to think when October in Cleveland rolls around, remember this is a city that has the Browns and quite possibly a Cavaliers team without LeBron so they may feel that pressure. Adding on, I see better seasons from Betts (scary thought), JBJ, and Benintendi (I hope since he’s on my fantasy team) so I think Boston could really ruin another year for the Tribe.
Nationals over Diamondbacks: Washington’s lineup and rotation is a cut above Arizona in every way. Yes, they may have that albatross on their neck, but I don’t see the Nationals falling to a thinner Diamondbacks squad. They will FINALLY get out of the NLDS.
Cubs over Dodgers: I think Chicago’s biggest issue in 2017 was themselves. After winning a title for a franchise that hadn’t won in 108 years and with a young group, they seemed immature to handle it. They made key moves to get better with the arms and I think with Chicago they will be more driven to show 2017 was a fluke and believe Los Angeles is not anywhere near better than they are.
Red Sox over Astros: This is also another tough one to figure out. I think many hope an Astros/Cubs World Series, given the young talent both have and that you heard some Astros players say they won’t try to be like the Cubs and blow it the year after, but I think Houston may have that lull and Boston will have that drive. It is really hard to figure it out but I do think the Red Sox will have enough offense and pitching to escape Houston for another World Series berth.
Nationals over Cubs: If you give a team a small shot, they can make a huge splash. Washington seems like they are a team that if you give them that confidence they can win in postseason it can really propel them the rest of the way. And I think the Nats have the better rotation and perhaps better bullpen than Chicago to win a 7-game series on them.
Red Sox over Nationals: I can see this World Series go 7 too. The problem with both teams really is that it seems like if their offense is clicking, they cannot be stopped at the plate. If the offense isn’t, it’s a giant mess. It is very hard, but I think that with Boston, I like that their offense is a little more poised as Washington seems to be more riding on emotions. It is very hard to go against either one. And I would take my chances at Craig Kimbrel closing out a Game 7 than Sean Doolittle (who isn’t bad at all, but just not Kimbrel).
So there you have it. My pick for the World Series in 2018 is the Boston Red Sox. Trust me, I don’t really want to pick them.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat