By Eric Jacinto
The 2018 MLB season, is two days away as all 30 teams finished up their Spring Training games today before their first game of the season on Thursday. The Houston Astros come in as the defending World Series champions as they defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series in seven games.
The New York Yankees made the biggest move of the off-season as they acquired last season's National League MVP, Giacarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins for Starlin Castro and two prospects. Stanton was one shy of hitting 60 Home-runs last season, as he joins an already stacked Yankees lineup that includes last season's American League Rookie of the year and runner up for AL MVP, Aaron Judge who hit 52 Home-runs himself.
Also there were six new managers hired five of the six have never managed in the majors before. The only one that has been a Major League manager before is Ron Gardenhire, who was the manager of the Minnesota Twins from 2002-2014. Gardenhire's managerial record is 1068-1039 in 13 seasons, he made the playoffs six times (All winning the Division); however he only want 6-21 in the playoffs.
The other five managers hired were:
Gabe Kapler (Philadelphia Phillies)
Mickey Callaway (New York Mets)
Alex Cora (Boston Red Sox)
Aaron Boone (New York Yankees)
Dave Martinez (Washington Nationals)
WC Wild Card *Playoff Team
*1. Boston Red Sox 95-67 (3)
*2. New York Yankees 94-68 (WC I)
3. Toronto Blue Jays 81-81
4. Baltimore Orioles 72-90
5. Tampa Bay Rays 70-92
AL East Outtake:
Even through the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have new managers, I believe they will be battling for the division title all season and the Red Sox will win the division by one single game. The Toronto Blue Jays, I don't think have enough to stay with the Sox and Yanks for the division and will finish at .500. The Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays will fight each other for fourth place.
*1. Cleveland Indians 98-64 (2)
2. Minnesota Twins 92-70
3. Chicago White Sox 83-79
4. Kansas City Royals 75-87
5. Detroit Tigers 66-96
AL Central Outtake:
This is the Cleveland Indians division to win, they're the best team in this division but the Minnesota Twins will give them a run and they could steal the division if the Indians struggle. The Chicago White Sox are probably still a year or two away from being a playoff contender but they could surprise people and compete for one of the wild cards. The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers are in rebuilding mode right now.
*1. Houston Astros 100-62 (1)
*2. Los Angeles Angels 92-70 (WC II)^
3. Seattle Mariners 88-74
4. Texas Rangers 82-80
5. Oakland Athletics 74-88
AL West Outtake:
The defending champions, the Houston Astros could win this division by 20+ games again, they won the division by 21 last season and I believe they're better this season. I think the Los Angeles Angels are gonna be better than last season and will give the Astros a run for their money up until late August or early September The Angels signed Japanese two-way star, Shohei Ohtani this off-season. The Seattle Mariners, have a good looking lineup on paper but they just don't have enough pitching to complete for the division. The M's could compete for one of the wild cards. The Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics won't be much of a factor this season.
Overall, the American League has four legit teams to compete for a World Series, the Houston Astros, The Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees any of those four team could win the World Series and finish with the best overall record in baseball. I believe the Wild Card race is gonna be fun to watch as there will be several teams that will compete for it. Overall, the AL East and AL Central are gonna be the two best divisions and the Astros will most likely run away with the division again.
*1. Washington Nationals 94-68 (2)
2. New York Mets 86-76
3. Philadelphia Phillies 80-82
4. Atlanta Braves 77-85
5. Miami Marlins 58-104
NL East Outtake:
The Washington Nationals, will win the division once again however, if the New York Mets stay healthy especially their pitching stuff they could give the Nationals a run for their money. The Philadelphia Phillies, just like the Chicago White are a young an up coming team that isn't to far from contending for the playoffs and will compete for a wild card spot this season. The Atlanta Braves are another young team that are still few years away from contending I believe but could also compete for a wild card spot. The Miami Marlins are most likely gonna have the worse record in baseball as they're in full rebuilding mode as they traded several player during the off-season including their entire starting outfield from last season in three different trades.
*1. Chicago Cubs 97-65 (1)
*2. St. Louis Cardinals 94-68 (WC I)
3. Milwaukee Brewers 85-77
4. Cincinnati Reds 78-84
5. Pittsburgh Pirates 71-91
NL Central Outtake:
The Chicago Cubs, are the best team in the NL Central but it won't be as easy to win the division as the St. Louis Cardinals will give them a fight until the very end. The Cards traded for Marcell Ozuma from the Miami Marlins to add to their outfield. The Milwaukee Brewers, made some off-season moves by acquiring Christian Yelich from the Marlins and signing Lorenzo Cain. The Cincinnati Reds, are another young team just like the Phillies and Braves that could compete for one of the wild card spots. The Pittsburgh Pirates, are pretty much in rebuilding mode and won't be a factor this season.
*1. Los Angeles Dodgers 94-68 (3)
*2. Arizona Diamondbacks 90-72 (WC II)
3. Colorado Rockies 88-74
4. San Francisco Giants 80-82
5. San Diego Padres 78-84
NL West Outtake:
The Los Angeles Dodgers, have won the NL West the last five seasons and will most likely win it again. The Arizona Diamondbacks, will be very good team once again but their biggest question is their bullpen and who will be the closer. If the they can get a legit closer they could very well compete with the Dodgers for the division. I believe the D-Backs have a shot at winning the division, I don't think the Dodgers are that great. The Rockies were the biggest surprise in the NL last season and will still compete for a wild card spot this season however, they will miss the playoffs. The San Francisco Giants, the once team of this decade having won three World Series titles (2010, 2012 & 2014) haven't been great lately but they improved their offense this winter by acquiring, Andrew McCutchen from the Pittsburgh Pirates and Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays. Last Friday, Giants' Starting Pitcher, Madison Bumgarner fractured his left hand and will be out until at least June, maybe even until after the All-star break. The San Diego Padres, who signed Eric Hosmer will be competitive in the division and could finish ahead of the Giants.
Overall, the National League, I believe is the better league of the two. They just have more up and coming teams that could compete for a playoff spot this season. The Wild Card race is gonna be something to watch in the NL as it will probably be between eight or nine team competing for the two wild cards. The NL West is probably gonna be the most competitive division in the NL as three teams could make the playoffs again. The NL East and NL Central will be competitive as well.
I can't wait for the season to start as I believe there's several teams that could really surprise and make a run at the playoffs. So many questions going into the season how many runs will the Yankees score this season? Will they break the all time MLB record for most runs in a season? How will the six new managers fare with their new teams? Who will be this season's Minnesota Twins and Colorado Rockies? So many questions to be answered. First game of the season is at 12:40 pm ET as the Chicago Cubs take on the Miami Marlins live from Miami.