Fan Post Friday

What are your preseason predictions?:

I'll go division by division as this may be the most effective way to summarize pre-season predictions.

A.L. East:

This will be the most competitive division of any. The A.L. East is going back to the old days where it seems like it is a two way race between the Sox and the Stankees. The Rays are half rebuilding by getting rid of fundamental pieces to last year's roster, but also getting veterans to replace them (ex. Carlos Gomez). The pitching is always pretty solid so I would not count them out. That being said, they probably will finish second to last or last in the division. The Orioles always seem to be sneaky in the division. Machado and Schoop will have big years for the O's, but the pitching staff will not hold up their part of the bargain. Pretty much the opposite of the Rays. I will put them either last or second to last as well. The Blue Jays have a mixture of talent. They have great pieces from a hitting and pitching perspective. But, they do not have a fully loaded roster like the Sox or Stankees. My questions for them would be: is the 3, 4, and 5 starters going to take them deep into games and is their lineup deep enough to be potent. The toss up comes when comparing the greatest rivalry in sports. The Sox have a ridiculous amount of talent both from the hitting and pitching side. When looking for a spot where each team could use improvement, I only see one bare position and that is the Yanks 3B spot. Who is going to be their consistent threat at that position. Maybe my bias will swing me this way, but due to that fact, I will pick the Sox as the division winners. The Killer B's get their jobs done and the trio of Sale, Price, and Porcello are great again. Obviously, in my mind, the Yankees will be the first wild card spot.

A.L. Central:

An absolute drop off in this division may make this one the least competitive/entertaining. The Tigers have absolutely nothing to look forward to except an aging Miggy and the number 1 overall pick (being Shane McClanahan from USF, my school). This will be the worst team in the majors for me. Next up is the Chi Sox. This team is way too young. In a few years, when there players grow and start producing, I could see them being contenders. Two players that come to mind for them is Giolito and Davidson. But they need more time. The Royals are up next, and oh how the might have fallen. They're still better than the other two because those other teams are terrible. But, all I have to say is no pitching plus no Lorenzo Cain or Eric Hosmer. I am a big believer in their acquisitions of Odorizzi and Lance Lynn despite the statistics not favoring them. Berrios is a great player and they still have a good core with Dozier and Mauer. Plus young talent with Buxton and Kepler! This team is good. By default, the champions of the division will be the Indians. They are a veteran team that has been there before. They know how to win and have the players to prove it. Aces in the pitching staff plus solid position players equals a division crown.

A.L. West:

Let's get this out of the way now, the Astros will win the division by a long shot. The teams in this division are alright, but have no chance of contending with all the talent the Astros have. They're not the 50 win pushover team we used to remember them as. The second place finisher will be the Angels. I am a big believer that Mike Trout will lead them to the promise land, and Otani is going to be as good as advertised despite the horrible spring numbers. Speaking of the Otani situation, he will fail as a hitter and focus on pitching. In third, we have the A's. I'll be honest, the pitching staff looks terrible. But those power numbers wll be enormous. Olson and Khris Davis are going to give this team an edge in my mind. The Mariners will follow them very closely and will finish 4th. They are relying on King Felix and James Paxton to be doing a whole lot. Nelson Cruz is the spark offensively, and I really do not like their ball park for hitting. Lastly, the Texas Rangers. While the hitting is usually very good, I think they take a dip. Joey Gallo strikes out too much and the pitching staff makes the Rangers an easy out. Tim Lincecum is back and will probably be one of their best. I also predict they trade Beltre to a playoff team at the deadline.

N.L. East:

While the A.L. West division winner was obvious, the worst team is clearly obvious: Atlanta. This is another young team that has talent coming up that needs to mature. Acuna is a great young talent, but he needs some time to gain some major league experience. Oh yeah, the pitching is also terrible minus Teheran (I'm surprised he is still with the team). Second to last will be the Marlins. Who would have thought bringing one of the best SS to a team would ruin the franchise. Yes, Jeter to the front office was a failure. The Marlins traded all of their entertaining pieces. Yay for rebuilding. The third place finisher will be Phillies. Good talent level with Hoskins, Franco, and Altherr. Plus, I like the Arrieta signing. The second place team, who will also be the first wild card team, is the other team from New York. The Mets have several great starters. I just can't be a believer in their reliability. If Syndergaard or DeGrom get hurt, the whole season goes to crap. The lineup is solid pretty much from top to bottom, but.... The Nationals are the most impressive team. Although Stephen Strausburg has reliability issues as well, Scherzer has become dominant and has proven he can get the Nat's to the promise land himself. The Nats have one of the most underrated pitching staffs and a solid lineup to go with it.

N.L. Central:

This will be extremely competitive. I am immediately dismissing the Reds and the Pirates for many of the same reasons I have listed with the other teams that are struggling. The third place winner will be the Cards. They always seem to be in a playoff race even when they're out of it. The pitching staff concerns me with them, leading them to their demise. The Brewers and the Cubs playoff race will most likely come down to the wire. But the Cubs will win their division once again. I like the pieces the Brewers have put in place, but I feel like I am missing something from their pitching staff. They need to acquire an ace type pitcher that can lead them to the playoffs. They have done a terrific job improving offensively, but the Cubs are just too deep.

N.L. West:

This, like the A.L. East will be the most competitive division. I can dismiss the Padres pretty much from the get go. But, all four teams are playoff caliber teams! I guess I would put the Diamondbacks 4th after losing J.D. Martinez (welcome to Boston). Despite the solid pitching, I am not sure about how they will hit against this pitcher dominant west division. The Rockies will follow them as their pitching staff ERA at HOME will be the difference between making the playoffs and missing them. The Giants will finish second in the division and take the wild card. If MadBum can come back and be the dominant ace we have seem him be, as well as Cueto and Samardzjia, this team could be unstoppable. They have made drastic improvements to their lineup by getting rid of Span and getting Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. That leaves the Dodgers as the division champs again. Solid all the way around and deep from top to bottom everywhere. They have the second best closer in all of baseball (Kimbrel being first of course) and the bullpen is pretty solid too.

Where do you have the Red Sox placing in the division?:

First. As I mentioned above, solid pitching staff plus the Killer B's getting it done equals first place finish. I could see the catching position holding us back, but that is about all. My hottake for the Sox will be David Price becomes the ace we saw in Tampa all those years. Many people forget about how good Price was. I bet he returns to form.

How far do they go in the playoffs?:

This is a tough one. I would assume they would either meet the Astros or the Indians in the playoffs, which is murders row. I'm not sure how far they'll go, but I will say that if they can beat either the Astros or Indians in the first round, they are well-equipped to go far.

What players do you see standing out?:

The Sox players I see standing out would be Benintendi, J.D., and Price. Benintendi has had a full year up at the big league level and he looks like he is going to be legit. No sophomore slump for him. J.D. is going to come in and prove that he deserved the bigger contract he was looking for. Price will return to ace form and focus on baseball instead of calling out the media.

Non-Sox players would be Ohtani, Kershaw, and Yelich. I know a weird mix. Ohtani is going to drop the bat once he realizes that the pitchers here far surpass the Japanese arms he saw. He will become the dominant ace that the Angels decided to take a chance on. Kershaw will shine as usual, but become even better. I am expecting a no-no from him with plenty of dominant performaces for a 20 win season. Yelich will shine in the hitter friendly Miller Park. Get ready for a big year from this young guy. I am expecting a 30 HR-30 Steal season.

What other predictions do you have about the upcoming year?:

Seeing I talked about all the players that stood out, I can mention some disappointing predictions. The last place teams in each division will probably be really really bad. They won't be even worth watching, for the most part. Another disappointing prediction is the amount of non-athletic injuries will increase (ACL, UCL, TJ). For some reason, I just have a feeling the injuries are going to sky-rocket. I'll leave off on an interesting prediction: Swihart's bat outweighs Vasquez's glove and bat and the catcher controversy continues.

Thank you for reading. If you have come this far, you earn a gold star because I typed a lot. Hopefully you enjoyed it. I would love to have some discussion below in the comments. #FanPostFriday