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It's Their World, We Just Live In It. -MLB Predictions 2018

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Ahh it’s good to be back. FPF is the entire reason I originally elected to join Over the Monster, and it’s nice to be back for my second season here. In my rookie season I suggested the Red Sox trade for Justin Smoak, which would’ve been a nice power boost but I would’ve traded away Sandy Leon, who went on to essentially serve as Chris Sale’s personal catcher—hard to value but Smoak may have been more valuable come October than Leon. I also made suggestions such as playing for the Stanley Cup (that one wasn’t well received) and chimed in on extra innings rules, protective netting, and a variety of other topics. It was a mixed bag but not a terrible rookie season. Well, here begins the sophomore slump:

1. THE STANDINGS:

I feel like it’s easy to look up and down the division and see it as a two-horse race, and most experts, fans, and people who can still breathe air would agree. But this is baseball, and the Red Sox play in the AL East.

I think it’s fair to put Tampa Bay out of the discussion for playoffs—their entire goal is to suck and I’m willing to bet they’ll be pretty good at it. Why mention them at all? Chris Archer. He’s a storyline to follow this season, or more specifically where he ends up is a storyline to follow.

The Orioles are always a threat in small stretches but I don’t see them making much noise. Go look at their rotation. Seriously, open a new tab and go find any rotation projection for 2018...yes that’s ACTUALLY their starting pitching staff.

This, of course leaves Toronto, Boston, and New York. Toronto isn’t projected to do very much. They’ll probably scare some teams in important games because they have pitchers capable of stealing games on their own and their closer, Roberto Osuna, has stretches where he is so dominant that if they can get him a lead it’s lights out by 9:30. But go look at their lineup. Seriously, open a new tab and go find any lineup projection for 2018…yes that’s ACTUALLY their starting lineup. I don’t see them producing enough to hang with the big boys down the stretch, but they’ll be a scary opponent here and their depending on pitching matchups.

This is where the predictions get real but I must be honest…I have no idea how this will play out. The Sox and Yanks are both remarkably stacked on offense and although I believe Boston’s starting pitching is superior, the bullpens are very close. It’ll be a close, stressful race full of crucial games in April and May all the way to what could be an October series to remember. I think the key is David Price. If he bounces back and the Sox have a 1B ace to backup Chris Sale (more on the starters later) then they’ll edge New York and avoid the wild card game.

PREDICTION: Red Sox win the division by 1 game—look for the last 3 games of the year to decide the divison.

2. EVERYONE ELSE:

Few other divisions really interest me, given that the Sox are, you know, the team I care about. The AL will produce two other superpowers this year, as the Indians and Astros are expected to both win their divisions easily. That leaves just one wild card spot, and I’ve seen many experts penciling the Angels into this spot. I don’t see it. I love Mike Trout because he’s a blast to watch and is good for baseball. But Otani is overrated (more on this later) and they’ll underperform. Instead I’ll make my first bold prediction of the post:

PREDICTION: The Twins take the second wild card spot.

Alright, that’s not all that bold, but still. I like the Twins style and Byron Buxton is a ton of fun to watch roam center field. Jose Berrios is a sleeper Cy Young candidate if he can stay healthy.

AL PLAYOFF TEAMS: Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Yankees, Twins

The NL is just less fun. Let's just say I pulled these out of a hat and leave it at that.

NL PLAYOFF TEAMS: Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, D-Backs, Brewers

Wild Card

Division Series

Championship Series

World Series

Yankees over Twins

Astros over Yankees

Astros over Red Sox

Astros over Dodgers

Red Sox over Indians

D-Backs over Brewers

Dodgers over D-Backs

Dodgers over Nationals

Nationals over Cubs

Lame. I want to see the Red Sox play the D-Backs so we can see our old buddy Mr. Lovullo one more time before he becomes a legendary manager. But the Astros and Dodgers look strong. My money is on those two to put it together again.

3. RED SOX PREDICTIONS:

This is where I’ll try to be more bold and creative, but we’ll see. Those aren’t two qualities I generally possess.

a. THE DAY AFTER OPENING DAY WILL SUCK, UNLESS OPENING DAY GETS DELAYED, WHICH WOULD ALSO SUCK.

The first two days of baseball season are one of the best and one of the worst, and there’s no way to improve it. There needs to be a day off to protect the value of opening day-I get it. It still sucks. I got this one right, I don’t even need to see it play out.

b. MOOKIE BETTS HOMERS ON OPENING DAY.

He had a ‘down’ year last year and will start this season with a bang. It may not be a leadoff homerun, but that would be cool too.

c. RAFAEL DEVERS STRUGGLES TO START THE SEASON.

I hate to predict things like this and of course I hope I am completely wrong. I’d love that. But I foresee him taking some time to get going this season, and my reasoning is completely gut-based for this one. He’ll get going and have a great year, however.

d. XANDER BOGAERTS LEADS THE TEAM IN HITS

A healthy Bogaerts is a talented one. He’s healthy and tired of being questioned. His defense will continue to be average, but I predict he’ll lead the team in hits this year and quiet some of the questions about his power as well.

e. THE TRADE DEADLINE BRINGS…NOTHING.

The Red Sox aren’t known for being especially quiet around the deadline. Dombrowski likes to move pieces for other pieces and some have paid off, others seemingly have not. I predict that (again, barring injuries) the Red Sox acquire exactly nobody that plays a game for the big club before or during deadline day. Not even a reliever or utility man. No one at all.

f. DAVID PRICE FINISHES IN THE TOP 10 IN CY YOUNG VOTING; CHRIS SALE DOES NOT WIN BUT FINISHES HIGHER THAN PRICE

Kind of a weird one there but essentially I expect both pitchers to win a pile of games, throw a baseball really well, and perform at/above expectations. However, I am expecting Alex Cora to deploy them in a smart, conservative manner if things go well. Other pitchers in the AL will throw more innings and win more games, but hopefully both of our aces are healthy and rested come October.

g. DUSTIN PEDROIA STARTS FEWER THAN 60 GAMES AT 2ND BASE

I admittedly have little idea when Pedroia is expected to return, and even when he does we’re not sure who exactly we’ll be getting. Hopefully he’ll be back to his old Laser Show self and move better and 2nd than before. Most importantly hopefully he’s in less pain. But nonetheless, expect to see a few different guys getting reps there until Pedey is healthy, and even then expect to see him rested often.

h. THE SOX WIN THE SEASON SERIES AGAINST ALL 4 AL EAST RIVALS

This one is key. If this prediction holds form than the Sox will be looking good for a playoff spot right there. I discussed my feelings on the 4 teams very briefly above, but for better or worse the only team we may fail to do this against (barring catastrophe) is the Yankees.

i. THE SOX WIN A PLAYOFF SERIES

I’m hard pressed to say this but…the Red Sox have been horrendous. Not in the regular season of course, but the postseason has been a veritable dumpster fire for them in recent years. This is the year they break that trend with some healthy pitching and a well-rounded lineup. It’s World Series or Bust in Boston with the league’s highest payroll, and Alex Cora will be able to manage his way through the bullpen and lineup to get at least one series win.

4. OTHER PREDICTIONS:

a. SHOHEI OTANI STRUGGLES AS A HITTER, EXCELS AS A PITCHER

Otani enters the season as the #1 ‘prospect’ in baseball. He’s a dual threat and may some day be one of the game’s most dynamic and exciting players, clubbing 40 homeruns and winning 20 games. I have him at 10 homeruns and 12 wins this season. He’s looked decent on the mound and lost at the plate this spring, but who the heck knows, spring is meaningless.

b. AWARDS SEASON BRINGS LITTLE INTRIGUE

It’ll be more of the same for the MLB awards this year, with Scherzer, Kershaw, and Thor battling in the NL (with Thor arguably a newcomer but still) and Kluber battling with Sale and Verlander in the AL. Mike Trout wins the AL MVP going away, regardless of what anyone in New York might think. The NL MVP will go to someone we’ve heard of before as well, my guess being one of Arenado, Thor, or some guy named Harper. I’ll predict the following:

AL CY: Verlander

NL CY: Scherzer

AL MVP: Trout

NL MVP: Harper

Boooooooring. This is the world we live in though, a world where these guys are the kings and we all just get to watch. Now settle in and get ready to watch some fun unfold in the AL East. My watch says it's a freckle past a hair--that means it's two days until baseball counts.

Let's Go Sawks!