2018 MLB Season Preview

2018 MLB Season Preview

AL West

Houston Astros (O/U 96.5 wins)

Let’s start with the defending World Series Champions. The Houston Astros didnt really lose anyone in the offseason and now will have Justin Verlander for the entire year. That a plus. Most People will gravitate towards the Yankees as best team in AL because of the offseason splash of Bomber Stanton. I’m not buying it. The Astros are younger, better pitching team and a much better road team. The Yankees are built for Yankee Stadium. The Astros are a very solid team full of underrated superstars like Correa and Altuve. Look for Astros to maybe come back down a little from last year with a little hangover but I wouldn’t expect much. This is a non play for me but if you are looking at fantasy players this is a good team to look for. Bregman is a budding star that could go overlooked. I don’t see a lot of holes in this team but bullpen could be a concern later they might have to address. I think a lot of people are forgetting about the addition of Garret Cole as well who might be the best #3 SP in the league now on the defending World Series Champions.

Prediction 1 place in AL West, #1 seed in AL playoffs.

Verlander to win AL Cy Young (+800) is a play for me

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (O/U 84.5 Wins)

Angels made a couple big splashes in free agency. I really like them resigning Upton to solidify a very good outfield now. Trout needed some protection in a lineup that Pujols wasn’t giving him and now he has it. I like the signing of Ohtani but not sure it will pay dividends to start the year. He has electric stuff and will be very popular in fantasy drafts because of his name. I think he will go over drafted, so I would avoid him but I do like him. I like their pitching staff as well if they can stay healthy. Simmons at SS is as solid defensively as possible, but he is limited offensively. Take note of that for fantasy purposes. I think the Angels are actually a solid darkhorse pick this year for people looking for value. Angels playing in a weak division will help them to start the year. I think this is a playoff team as well.

Prediction: 2nd place AL West, #2 Wildcard

Angels Over 84.5 Wins

Settle Mariners (O/U) 81.5 Wins

Mariners made some interesting moves in the offseason. They were the benefactors of the Marlins ridiculous sell off. Dee Gordon switching to centerfield is an interesting concept. He’s got great speed. They still have a good lineup but the pitching staff is a serious question. I really don’t like the makeup of this team on the pitching side. Good thing they have going for them is that they pitch in a pitcher’s park. Offensively they can play which will be interesting. If Gordon goes unnoticed in your drafts I like him for SB, avg and runs scored.

Prediction: 3rd AL West, No playoffs

Angels Under 81.5 Wins

Texas Rangers (O/U 77.5 Wins)

The Rangers are a team in rebuilding mode for sure. They do have some veterans that could be contributors in a significant way. Tim Lincecum as a relief pitcher is an interesting concept. They still have an above above average infield. Cole Hamels still a solid starting pitcher but I believe him to be regressing. If you are in need of HR in fantasy and nothing else, take Joey Gallo. He will have more HR than other hits probably. He could reach 50 HRs.

Prediction 4th in AL west

Joey Gallo to win HR Race (+1800)

Oakland A’s (O/U 74.5)

The Oakland A’s are an absolute disaster at this point. I had a trusted friend tell me their rotation reminds him on a AA pitching staff. Manea was a guy I like coming out of college and could progress to a solid front of the rotation starter in the future. Don’t mind him in keeper leagues as a flyer. Lucroy maybe a good cheap option in fantasy. Not much to say about this team and no point in betting a team like this for anything season long.

Prediction 4th in AL West

If I was to play anything it would be under 74.5 wins.

AL Central

Cleveland Indians (O/U 94.5 Wins)

Like most Cleveland teams this team was a disappointment last season but in a different way than most Cleveland teams. After going to the World Series the year before they looked primed to head back again this past year. They were the best team on paper going into the postseason in 2017 and they really underperformed. I still like their pitching staff a lot this year. Losing an innings eater in Shaw will hurt the bullpen a little but they should still be solid in the bullpen, as long as they have Andrew Miller. If Brantley comes back healthy I would be interested to see how he effects this lineup. The loss of Santana will effect the pop of the team but don’t see it as to much of a downgrade.

Prediction 1st in AL Central #2 Playoff Seed

No Play for me on them

Minnesota Twins (O/U 82.5)

The Twins had a very good year for their expectations in 2017. I wouldn’t expect the same progression this year. I love the way Buxton looks for the future and they have some good young arms. Santana will always give up a lot of HRs. Molitor showed himself as a very solid coach in his first year last year. Sano is a 40 HR potential guy if you are looking for fantasy purposes. Depth is a question for such a young team. Don’t see them making much noise this year. Berrios is a stud young pitcher with electric stuff.

Prediction 2nd AL Central, No playoffs

No Play for me

Chicago White Sox (O/U 68)

I think this is a team that could surprise people. They made some great rebuilding trades last year with the Red Sox in the Chris Sale deal. They got a potential superstar player and then fleeced the Nats for Gialito. This is definitely a team on the rise. I think this team has the ability to over deliver this year. I don’t see them as a playoff team but they could make some moves that look interesting. Look for them next 3 years to make a real run.

Prediciton 3rd AL Central

Over 68 wins

Detroit Tigers (O/U 68.5)

Count me as an ultimate believer in Michael Fulmer. I think this guy will win a Cy young eventually. I think he is an absolute stud. This team has a lot of rebuilding to do but they have some key pieces in place starting with Fulmer. Do they Trade Miguel Cabrera this year at some point? I would think they would once they are out of it if he agrees to a trade. I assume he has a no trade clause. This team has a lot of holes and I don’t see them being that competitive this year.

Prediction 4th AL Central

No bet for me

Kansas City Royals (O/U 71.5)

This is a team that was taken in free agency and trades. They have lost almost everyone from their World Series team a couple years back. No Cain, no Hosmer, no chance in my opinion. This team doesn’t have a lot going for them. I like Danny Duffy for his strikeout ability and could be their best pitcher. They are going to struggle again. This team wont spend money in free agency even for home grown players. They will need to build through the draft which takes a lot of luck, and a lot of great scouting, and a lot of time.

Prediciton Last place AL West.

No play for me

AL East

New York Yankees (O/U 94.5)

The public will be heavy on this over I believe. The Yankees came on hot in the playoffs and added the HR king from last year. For all the people who talk about how much Coors Field is a hitters park they sure don’t mention the little league field known as Yankee Stadium. I think right field is an absolute joke. Stanton could hit 70 HR this year just by going the other way with pop ups. Stanton, Judge, and Sanchez together is going to be murderers row of hitters. I don’t envy pitchers in this division or in the American League. These are 3 guys you should look for in fantasy if loking for long balls and RBIs. I think Tanaka has all the stuff to be a formidable ace but he needs to stay healthy. The bullpen is stout and can shorten games as well. They are the heavy favorites in the divison if not the American League.

Preciciton: 1st place AL East # 1 seed in playoffs

No play for me

Boston Red Sox (O/U 91.5)

This is an interesting team to watch this year. The Yankees definitely gathered all the offseason attention and rightfully so. Red Sox have some bad contacts on their books and seem to be an aging team. They have an absolutely stacked outfield with the signing of JD Martinez, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. All are very solid fantasy options. Hanley Ramirez is a good offensive option with some protection with JD Martinez in the lineup now. They have an ace in Chris Sale, although we will wait to see if he is out for any period of time with the comebacker in spring training. I don’t see it being significant. They have a solid bullpen, not great, but its decent. Anchored by Craig Kimbrel they should be fine.

Prediction: 2nd place AL East, Wildcard team in playoffs.

Baltimore Orioles (O/U 73 wins)

The Orioles are a very interesting team to me that noone is talking about. They made 3 SP signings in the offseason to pair with the bombers in the middle of their order. I love Trumbo as a HR hitter. He always will be top 5 in the HR race. I was actually in the camp that thought the Rockies should have signed him over Desmond to play 1B a year ago. Can you imagine Trumbo in Coors Field? Wow, that would have been awesome. Camden Yards is also very much a hitters park. I think this is a better team than their number suggests. I think they can come close to 80 wins this year. Showalter has shown a history to outperform expectations.

Prediction: 3rd place AL East

Play: Over 73 wins

Tampa Bay Rays (O/U 77.5)

I think the Rays are a team that will eventually be sellers in the market. I can see Chris Archer being a big piece that falls before the trade deadline. Someone will have to pay up big to get him, but he might be worth it. Especially if he starts hot. I like Matt Duffy at 3B after they got rid of Longoria in a deal with the Giants. I also really like Keirmaier, but probably more defensively than anything. Hes a hawk in the outfield and will be featured on web gems all year. Im a big fan of C.J Cron for people looking for a cheap 1B option in fantasy. He’s a guy with a lot of pop who was limited in his chances because of the Pujols signing. I think this is a good opportunity for him. They did sign Carlos Gomez in the offseason to help their outfield. Interesting team but I think they eventually become sellers.

Prediction: 4th AL East

Play: No play for me

Toronto Blue Jays (O/U 81)

This team has fallen from grace rather quickly. They don’t have much left over from the AL championship team from 2 years ago. Tulo looks to be almost about done because he can’t stay healthy. That trade looks like a wash for both teams except Rockies aren’t stuck with the Tulo payroll hit. Josh Donaldson is still a star, but I just am very bearish on this team. Stroman is a very good starter who could be traded later in the season. They have been dealt some rough blows to go with some bad moves. They have a decent farm so they could make a turn around in the future but I don’t think 2018 is a year of the blue jays.

Prediction 5th AL East

Play: Under 81 wins

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers (O/U 96.5)

Well this is my favorite divison because I live in Denver and follow this division the closest. This also might be the best division in baseball. The Dodgers were dealt a big blow at end of spring training with the loss of Justin Turner to a broken wrist. This wont affect them that drastically to start the year. They have young stars mixed with veteran stars. To go with it they have a good farm system and, in my opinion, a top 2 GM in baseball. He has a proven track record of building power houses with little resources and now with the Dodgers he has a lot of resources so I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. Seager and Bellinger are young studs but will be popular in fantasy. I was told by one major leaguer that Kenley Jansen cutter is probably the hardest pitch in baseball to hit. Very solid pitching staff to go with a potent offense. They are definitely the team to beat in 2018 in the National League. Kershaw still a top 3 pitcher in baseball and can throw a no hitter at any point.

Prediction 1st in NL West, #1 seed in playoffs.

Arizona Diamondbacks (O/U 85.5)

I think the Diamondbacks are still a very good thing. For fantasy purposes you need to understand that instituted a humidor in their stadium this year to combat some of the big HR numbers. This should affect where you draft Diamondback players. It definitely boosts their pitchers like Grienke. It definitely takes away from their offensive guys like Goldschmidt. On that note I think Goldschmidt is an underrated superstar on a great contract. He’s such a great player that doesn’t get the press he deserves. The addition of Souza in the outfield will fill the gap left by JD Martinez to some extent. Lamb and Pollock are still studs all around and I like them a lot this year also. I think they will go under noticed. The pitching staff is solid, not great, but very solid. Ray and Greinke are top of the rotation guys that should get a boost from the humidor. This team will push for a playoff spot for sure.

Prediction: 2nd NL West, just missing out on playoffs.

Colorado Rockies (O/U 82 Wins)

Living in Denver and former assistant GM of a Rockies minor league team this is the team I am most familiar with. I’m a little confused to say the least with the way the offseason went down for the Rockies. They have 2 very possible MVP candidates in Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arrenado. They went out and spent a lot of money in the offseason to revamp their bullpen and add some other pieces. Was it smart money? Im not sold on that. Bringing back Carlos Gonzlez on a 1 year $8M deal makes almost no sense for a team who has highly talented young outfielders on the cheap. David Dahl and Raimel Tapia would be starters for a lot of teams in this league and Ian Desmond, Carlos Gonzalez and Garardo Parra wouldn’t be. But because they have over $100M invested into these 3 players you have to see them playing to start the season. Trevor Story will have a bounce back year and a guy I’m targeting heavily in fantasy. I will also be targeting Dahl in keeper leagues because I think he’s a future stud that will be an everyday contributor sooner rather than later. The addition of Chris Iannetta is a good option for fantasy because he wil have a high OBP and have some pop being in Coors Field. As far as pitching goes I think Jon Gray takes another step forward to being close to an ace. I think he will have a good year. I like Wade Davis at the back of the bullpen for saves. Freeland has great stuff, but I’m timid because of the sophomore slump some people go through, although he has a great attitude to combat that. Not touching much of the other starting staff members because of their inconsistentcy and having to pitch ½ their game at Coors Field. If the Rockies really were in win now mode they would play the best players and I can tell you with strong confidence from what I’ve seen in the past and this spring that their opening day lineup is not the best 25 players on the roster. Dahl has been hampered by some freak injuries over his career but in 2012 at the Rookie ball Level he was the the MVP of the league by a large margin, the runner up was some guy named Corey Seager. Dahl has that kind of talent just needs a team to let him show that. In 2016 he showed it during his brief stint in the majors hitting over .300 with pop.

Prediction: 3rd NL West

Play: Charlie Blackmon MVP (+2500)

San Francisco Giants (O/U 81.5)

This team made a concerted effort to improve in the offseaon and with that they also got much older. They added older aging stars that Im not sure are in their prime still. Then, to top it off they lost their best pitcher to a broken hand at the end of spring training. They pitch in a pitcher’s park in the way that Coors Field is a hitter’s park. It’s a dead zone so not a lot of scoring in that park. I don’t particularly like much of their offense for that reason as far as fantasy purposes go. I think they get over drafted in fantasy because they are big names but aren’t exactly the best options. This is a team that is used to winning but could be in for a rebuild sooner rather than later. Not much I see in this team as far as them competing now that Baumgardener will be out for some time.

Prediction: 4th NL West

Play: Under 81.5 Wins

San Diego Padres (O/U 69.5)

This is definitely in a team building for the future. They made a big free agent signing in Eric Hosmer. I really liked this signing for them all the way around. He’s a great player, and I think a great culture changer for a franchise in need of a jump start in the clubhouse. That being said I don’t see a great 2018 season ahead for them, but that might not be something they are concerned with right now. This is a team looking for the future. Besides Hosmer they really aren’t special at any other positon right now. I think they move Wil Meyers back to the outfield with the addition of Hosmer. I actually like Meyers as well this year. Hunter Renfroe is highly prized young player that could be worth a look for dynasty and keeper leagues. Not much else to like with this team for this year.

Prediction 5th NL West

Play: No play for me

NL Central

Chicago Cubs (O/U 94.5 Wins)

I think they were victims of the 108 year world series hangover. They will be back this year and might be better. They lost Arrietta but gained Yu Darvish. I think its a wash at worst. I actually think Darvish is better at this point. They signed Morrow from Dodgers in offseason to solidify their bullpen but lost Wade Davis to the Rockies. If they had a weak spot it’s the bullpen but I still like their bullpen. Their lineup is absolutely stacked with pop and great players. Starting pitchers are still well well above average. I think the NL Central is improved and I believe it gets 3 teams in the playoffs like the NL West did last year. This team is the cream of the crop in the NL Central.

Prediction: 1st NL Central, #3 seed in playoffs

Play: No play for me

St Louis Cardinals (O/U 85.5)

The Cardinals are a premier organization in MLB. They missed the playoffs last year so I don’t see it happening 2 years in a row. A proud organization that went out and stole Marcel Ozuna from the tanking Marlins. Alex Reyes could take the next step to be a front end of the rotation pitcher. The Cardinals look really good in starting rotation lead by Martinez and Wainwright is still a viable starter. Fowler should improve this year with some help in the lineup with Ozuna. I like their chances to push the Cubs

Prediction: 2nd NL Central, #1 WC team in playoffs

Play: No play for me

Milwaukee Brewers (O/U 84.5)

The Brewers were a little bit of a surprise team last year as they contended until the end for a wild card spot. Then they went out and drastically improved their OF in the offseason. They signed Cain in the offseason to man CF, and went out and stole Yelich from the Tanking Marlins. Match those up with Braun and now you have a very good outfield. Orlando Arcia is a good young prospect who could be a good young player in fantasy. Josh Hader is a top prospect pitcher you should look at as well. Bullpen will be the big question for them that they might be able to address at the trade deadline.

Prediction: 3rd NL Central, 2nd WC spot

Play: No Play for me

Cincinnati Reds (O/U 73.5)

Joey Vatto is a mainstay and continues to be productive. He’s going to have a very high OBP, very high avg, and play a lot of games. He played 162 games last year so that’s important for fantasy reasons. Reds stadium is a launching pad for balls as well so they will be productive on offense. Duvall will launch a lot of long balls as well. Hamilton needs to get on base more and use his elite speed. Young prospect with potential on this team would be Robert Stephenson. Saw him up close in rookie ball in 2012 and he was unhittable. I think he has electric stuff that could eventually translate into a more than quality starter in the big leagues.

Prediction: 4th NL Central

Pittsburgh Pirates (O/U 73)

The Pirates had a fire sale in the offseason of sorts getting rid of former NL MVP Mccutcheon to the Giants, and sending former top pick and ace Cole to the Astros. They have a very good manager but missed their window of opportunity by bowing out early in the playoffs a couple times. The Pirates need to focus for the future and they probably will. Maybe the most beautiful stadium in all of baseball. At least they have that going for them.

Prediction: 5th NL Central

NL East

Washington Nationals (O/U 92.5)

The Nationals have been a big disappointment because they haven’t got it done as of late with superior talent. In the playoffs last year they were my worst plays, others I did very well. They were my lone prediction of a loss for the series in the playoffs. They have more talent than everyone in the NL in my opinion. They have 2 of the 5 best pitchers in baseball in Strasbourg and Scherzer. They have a decent bullpen that got better at end of year last year. They have a top 2 player in baseball in Harper, they have a great infield and Trae Turner is a star that could do it all. I’m not sure how someone doesn’t love this team.

Prediction: 1st NL East, #2 Seed

New York Mets (O/U 81)

2 years ago this team looked to be the team to beat for the foreseeable future. Then the young pitching prospects didn’t pan out. Not sure if Harvey ever gets it back also. He looks like a dejected person with no confidence. Not a good thing for a starting pitcher in a big market. David wright is done. After an injury plagued year last year Syndergaard should have a really good year this year. I like him to bounce back. I think Conforto could actually have a good year offensively and hes looked good in spring training.

Prediction: 2nd NL East

Play: No play for me

Atlanta Braves (O/U 74.5)

The Braves have made some serious under the radar moves over the last couple of years. They swindled the Diamondbacks to get Dansby Swanson and more. They knew exactly what they were doing for building for the future and I think they might be 1-2 years away fro being a force. I think they can take a big step forward this year and maybe even compete for a wildcard. It would be a long shot but I think this is a very good young team with a bright future.

Prediction: 3rd NLE East

Play: Over 74.5 Wins

Philadelphia Phillies

This team made some big moves in the offseason signing Arrietta and Carlos Santana. Rhys Hoskins is an absolute bomber. I like him and Santana together in the lineup. I don’t think they are ready this year to compete even with the large moves made. Arrietta seems to be declining albeit still very good. There is a reason the Cubs let him go though. I think they might be a year or two away as well. I think next year might be a better year for them. At least they get to play the Marlins a lot

The Miami Marlins (O/U 64.5)

This is a glorified AA team. The new ownership of Derek Jeter is an absolute joke and MLB should be embarrassed by this. I can hardly find anything good to say about this team in any way. I played college with their opening day starter Dan Straily and he’s a good guy and a solid strikeout pitcher. I like him actually. He could be a solid fantasy option for some. Im not going to waste much more time on them

Prediction: Worst record in baseball

PLay: No play for me.

World Series Prediction:

Washington Nationals vs Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Winner: Washington Nationals

Plays: Angels +2500 World Series

Follow me on Twitter: @Michaelruvolo

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