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2018 Major League Baseball predictions

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In which I go out on the usual limb to pick this year's order of finish and playoff results.

Photo by Josh Barber/Angels Baseball LP/Getty Images

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Today I will join thousands of other bloggers, websites, pundits, etc. in making my so-called "expert" predictions for the upcoming season. If you have been here for the last 13 years, you'll find this prediction format familiar — and yes, you'll find most of this text familiar too (copy/paste being a useful tool). For those of you new to BCB, read on.

I started this format more than 25 years ago, when I was passing out my annual predictions to any of my friends who were willing to read them either with or without scoffing, because I found it both more interesting and challenging to do than traditional predictions. Even more so, if you're here I don't need to insult your intelligence by telling you who the ballclubs' best hitters, pitchers, etc. are. You already know. Instead, you'll find a pithy word or phrase describing the hitting, pitching, defense and intangibles of the 30 contenders for October glory.

I'm also not going to "predict" award winners. How hard would it be for me to sit here clacking away on a keyboard and be master of the obvious by telling you that Kris Bryant is a top choice to win another N.L. MVP Award or that Clayton Kershaw has an excellent chance to take the N.L. Cy Young? Just before the 2017 season started, would you have predicted that Paul Molitor would be A.L. Manager of the Year? Last March, did you predict Aaron Judge would win the 2017 A.L. Rookie of the Year Award? (No. No, you did not. Almost everyone picked Andrew Benintendi, who finished second.)

And in any case, anyone using the search function here, or Google, can come back here in October and tell me how wrong I was. Further, looking back at the six years of predictions here from 2004-2009, I note that I picked the Cubs to make the playoffs every year and to win the World Series every one of those years except 2006. Obviously, that was the optimist in me, not the realist, and although they did make the postseason in two of those years, those predictions were... well, not so smart.

I only got half of the 10 postseason teams right last year. I whiffed badly on the Giants making the postseason (but then, so did most everyone else), and the Rangers and Blue Jays were disappointments in 2017, and the Cubs fell short of repeating as World Series champions.

Without further ado, my picks for 2018!

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

1) WASHINGTON NATIONALS

Hitting: Powerful
Pitching: Deep
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Spiffy new manager

2) PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

Hitting: Lots of home runs! Fun!
Pitching: Jake!
Defense: Next question!
Intangibles: The improved rotation with Jake makes them marginal wild card contenders

3) ATLANTA BRAVES

Hitting: Pretty good
Pitching: Uh... next question?
Defense: Solid
Intangibles: Waiting for the farm system to produce

4) NEW YORK METS

Hitting: Returning (mostly)
Pitching: Uncertain
Defense: Good
Intangibles: It’s all about the rotation

5) MIAMI MARLINS

Hitting: Is there ...
Pitching: ... anyone ...
Defense: ... still here?
Intangibles: Derek Jeter has made this the worst team in baseball

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CHICAGO CUBS

Hitting: The young core, more experienced
Pitching: Adding Yu Darvish makes this one of the top rotations in the league
Defense: Superior
Intangibles: As always, Joe Maddon

2) MILWAUKEE BREWERS

Hitting: Added bats
Pitching: Didn’t add a starter, and that could hurt
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Hungry team wanting to prove itself

3) ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

Hitting: Added bats
Pitching: Didn’t add a closer, and that could hurt
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Haven’t been out of the postseason three straight years since 1997-99

4) PITTSBURGH PIRATES

Hitting: What is ...
Pitching: ... this team ...
Defense: ... doing?
Intangibles: If you find the answer to that question, let me know

5) CINCINNATI REDS

Hitting: Quite good, actually
Pitching: Don’t even ask
Defense: Average
Intangibles: Bryan Price, still the worst manager in baseball

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

1) LOS ANGELES DODGERS

Hitting: Not quite as good as you think
Pitching: Top-notch
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Want revenge for last year’s WS loss

2) ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (1st wild card)

Hitting: Strong
Pitching: Uncertain
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Indifferent fanbase

3) COLORADO ROCKIES (2nd wild card)

Hitting: It’s always going to be good in this park
Pitching: It’s always going to be a bit shaky in this park
Defense: Excellent
Intangibles: If they can ever figure that pitching thing out...

4) SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS

Hitting: Old
Pitching: Returning
Defense: Average
Intangibles: Will McCutchen and Longoria make a difference?

5) SAN DIEGO PADRES

Hitting: Young, and old
Pitching: Old, and young
Defense: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Intangibles: Seven straight losing seasons will become eight

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

1) NEW YORK YANKEES

Hitting: Power everywhere
Pitching: Bullpen: Deep. Rotation: Still some questions
Defense: Strong
Intangibles: New, inexperienced manager Aaron Boone

2) BOSTON RED SOX (1st wild card)

Hitting: Returning
Pitching: Returning
Defense: Returning
Intangibles: Two straight division series losses = new manager!

3) TORONTO BLUE JAYS

Hitting: Different
Pitching: Oh, man
Defense: Good
Intangibles: Playoff window appears to be closed

4) BALTIMORE ORIOLES

Hitting: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Pitching: You really do not want to know
Defense: Good enough
Intangibles: Since 2012, they have alternated playoff years with non-playoff years. That streak ends this year

5) TAMPA BAY RAYS

Hitting: Who are these guys?
Pitching: Prediction: Chris Archer will be traded at the deadline
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: We’re not supposed to say a team is tanking, but the Rays appear to be tanking

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL

1) CLEVELAND INDIANS

Hitting: Revamped
Pitching: Hard-throwing
Defense: Superb
Intangibles: They won’t win 22 straight games this year

2) MINNESOTA TWINS (2nd wild card)

Hitting: Solid
Pitching: Improved with Lance Lynn
Defense: Average
Intangibles: Under-the-radar, could sneak up on people

3) CHICAGO WHITE SOX

Hitting: Better than you think
Pitching: Young staff could surprise
Defense: Decent
Intangibles: Will their prospects get to the majors this year?

4) KANSAS CITY ROYALS

Hitting: Last-minute
Pitching: Hoo-boy
Defense: Very good
Intangibles: Got a good clubhouse guy in Jon Jay

5) DETROIT TIGERS

Hitting: New
Pitching: Decent enough
Defense: Fair
Intangibles: Rebuilding

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST

1) HOUSTON ASTROS

Hitting: Outstanding
Pitching: Outstanding
Defense: Outstanding
Intangibles: Should run away with this division again

2) LOS ANGELES ANGELS

Hitting: Ohtani?
Pitching: Ohtani?
Defense: Excellent (sorry, no Ohtani here, he’s a DH)
Intangibles: Ohtani!

3) TEXAS RANGERS

Hitting: Revamped
Pitching: Nope
Defense: I guess
Intangibles: Five playoff seasons in the last eight, but not this year

4) SEATTLE MARINERS

Hitting: Average
Pitching: Average
Defense: Average
Intangibles: Ichiro!

5) OAKLAND ATHLETICS

Hitting: Better than you think
Pitching: Uh, next question?
Defense: Good
Intangibles: This is a tough division. The A’s have an uphill battle to get out of last place

Postseason predictions

Wild-card games: In the N.L. rematch, this time the Rockies win over the D-backs. Red Sox over Twins in the A.L.

Division series: Cubs over Rockies, Dodgers over Nationals in the N.L. Yankees over Red Sox, Astros over Indians in the A.L.

Championship series: Cubs get revenge for 2017 and beat the Dodgers, and the Yankees defeat the Astros in a similar revenge series.

World Series: More revenge! The Cubs finally get it for 1932 and 1938 and beat the Yankees for their second title in three years.