In just a few long days, the 2018 baseball season will finally be upon us. It is at this time that us baseball writers engage in the annual tradition of projections, so that come October, we can rejoice in where we were right, and be target of oh so many cruel, cruel jokes where we were wrong. So, without further ado, here is my projected playoff bracket for the coming season:

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That’s right – led by a strong, deep pitching staff, the Cleveland Indians will defeat the Washington Nationals to win the 2018 World Series in five games. My bracket overall is pretty unexciting, mostly just teams from last year. I wouldn’t say that the baseball middle class is disappearing. Plenty of teams will finish with 79 wins or so, but that’s not good enough to make the playoffs. I’m not worried though. I’m sure I’ll be wrong about at least a couple surprise teams who will eek into contention.

Here are my awards picks for the coming season:

Most Valuable Player Cy Young Award Rookie of the Year Manager of the Year
American League Mike Trout (LAA) Chris Sale (BOS) Gleyber Torres (NYY) Scott Servais (SEA)
National League Freddie Freeman (ATL) Clayton Kershaw (LAD) Ronald Acuña (ATL) Dave Martinez (WSH)

downloadI went with the obvious picks twice, with Kershaw and Trout, and I don’t think there will be too much competition comparing to the stats that the two best players in baseball put up. For NL MVP, it was between Freeman and Votto. And, even though Votto will probably have the better season, I think Freeman will get far more attention because poor Votto never gets attention for anything. I could see Freeman putting up a .420 OBP with 40 home runs in the coming year. AL Cy Young was probably the hardest decision, and I nearly flipped a literal coin to chose between Sale and Kluber. In the end, however, I non-randomly chose to give the slight edge to Chris. For NL ROY, I went for a somewhat conventional pick with Acuña, even though he will spend the first 20 or so days of the season in AAA. And, in the AL, I picked Gleyber Torres, a.k.a.acuna not Shohei Ohtani. I was incredibly high on Torres before his surgery last season, and I don’t see to much reason to dock him now because of it. As for Ohtani, he won’t hit, and while I think he could do well as a pitcher after he gives up his bat, that should take some time. Injury is also a big risk for him. If Torres is upset by somebody, it will be a young pitcher who debuts surprisingly early, like a Whitley or a Kopech.  AL manager was easy because even though I don’t love or hate Servias, I’m picking the Mariners as the only surprise team to make the playoffs (and even that’s not even too surprising). In the NL, I didn’t see any breakout team winning enough games for their manager to muster an award, so I picked Martinez because the Nationals will win the top seed.

Now, finally, is my favorite part of projections: the bold predictions. Bold predictions are not things that I am betting will happen, but rather things that most people won’t consider, but I would see as somewhat likely.

  1. There is a team with 81 wins or less that makes the playoffs. I am not high on any non-elite roster this season.
  2. Luis Severino has the lowest ERA in the AL. He peripherals last year were completely legit, and even though he won’t win the Cy Young, he has a chance to shine in the New York spotlight.
  3. Aaron Nola finishes in the top two in NL Cy Young voting. He went on a crazy and largely unnoticed stretch in the last couple months of last season, and he is loved by the statcast metrics. My only regret in fantasy this year was not drafting Nola, because apparently someone else in the league liked him too, and he went for $27.download (1)
  4. Joey Votto puts up a .480 OBP with 170 wRC+ in a full sample size. My love for Votto’s skills is immeasurable, and I can’t wait for him to put up an even more insane season as a 34-year-old, only to lose the MVP again.
  5. Tyler Chatwood finishes with the lowest ERA in the Cubs rotation. This is as much about how good Chatwood has been on the road for Colorado as it is about how overrated the Cubs starting pitching has been.
  6. Trea Turner steals 80 bases. He is by far the best player on the roto fantasy leagues’ player raters, and deservedly so.
  7. MLB puts together an official plan for expansion into multiple cities, potentially including Montreal, Mexico City, or Vegas. Out of all my bold predictions, and considering all my fantasy investments, this is still the one I want the most. I know the teams wouldn’t be too good at first, but it would be so fun, and there seems to beknebel real momentum towards it.
  8. Corey Knebel saves 50 games. He’s a machine, and when the Brewers win games, which they will do often enough, the games will be close.
  9. Trevor Bauer finishes in the top two for AL strikeouts. Bauer has always had the potential to put together a monster year, and K’s finally lead him into it in 2018, helping lead the Indians to the World Series.
  10. After winning it all, the Indians celebrate by changing their name. It’s racist. It’s time, and society is ready.

 

Images Attributed to USA Today, The Associated Press, and NBC

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