Baseball can be crazy and some elements of the game can be very unpredictable. Whether you’re big into sports betting, or just big into baseball, our experts will give you the scoop on which teams will make the postseason.
Disclosure: Here’s the thing – this isn’t virtual baseball! While these results are projected and more likely to happen than not, anything can happen because all these teams are great. That’s what makes baseball so fun to watch!
The American League West
2018 Winner: The Houston Astros
Starting Pitching: 9
5 Key Difference Makers: Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, Alex Bregman
Dark Horse: George Springer
Coming into the 2018 season, we all expected the AL West to be a complete lock. The defending champions in Houston have proven themselves to be a real force to be reckoned with from just about all aspects.
For whatever reason, the Astros tend to win more when Springer is producing. He’s a very good overall player but can be streaky (like most players) at times. His performance in key situations, both during the regular season and in October will definitely rely on George Springers’ performance.
The American League Central
2018 Winner: The Cleveland Indians
Starting Pitching: 7
5 Key Difference Makers: Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, Edwin Encarnacion
The American League East
2018 Winner: The New York Yankees
Starting Pitching: 6.5
5 Key Difference Makers: Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Sir Didi Gregorius, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez
Dark Horse: Masahiro Tanaka
The AL East is without a doubt going to be the tightest division, not just in the American League, but in all of baseball. We think the Yankees will take the division over the Red Sox by an extremely slim margin (no more than two games). The major key here is their starting pitching rotation. If they can get more consistency out of the rear end of their starting rotation, they can get more depth from their team, lose fewer leads, and get the most out of the best bullpen in the game.
The pitching sensation from Japan has shown the American League his skills over the last few years. One of the biggest concerns is his elbow. He will need Tommy John surgery at some point, we just aren’t sure so it’s a concern that follows him every day. The side effects were prevalent a year or two ago when his velocity dropped and endurance suffered. This year, Tanaka’s velocity has increased, suggesting that he has at least a few years left. Tanaka has proven to be a good big game pitcher, though can be inconsistent during the season, making small mistakes that lead to pesky home runs. A big run from Tanaka would really solidify the Yankees’ rotation and take a lot of pressure off the bullpen and management.
The American League Wild Card
2018 Winner: The Boston Red Sox
Starting Pitching: 8.5
Despite our prediction that they will not win their division, we can’t ignore the fact that the Boston Red Sox is an unbelievable team. In such a short turnaround (2 years) they were able to go from a moderately above average team to an absolute force contending for the top spot. They are a team without a clear weakness and will have to continue to be consistent if they wish to advance into deep October.
5 Key Difference Makers: J.D Martinez, Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Jackie Bradley Jr, Xander Bogaerts
Dark Horse: David Price
Over the course of his career, David Price has proven himself to be a top-notch pitcher. Between his plus fastball, excellent live movement, and devastating slider, he’s been tough on many hitters. However, he hasn’t been quite as effective over the last few years and has not seen much success during the postseason. David Price stepping up would put the Red Sox above the pack and would make them the potential favorite to win the World Series.
2018 Winner: The Seattle Mariners
Starting Pitching: 8
5 Key Difference Makers: James Paxton, Nelson Cruz, Dee Gordon, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura
Dark Horse: Felix Hernandez
King Felix (aka Felix Hernandez) has been the best to pitch for Seattle since Randy Johnson. He dominated the American League West for most of his career and is considered to be the best in a Mariners uniform. At a young age of 31, he is started (and is still currently) facing a problem many young fireballers face and that is a decrease in velocity. A 98 mile per hour fastball accidentally left over the plate would have been fouled back in 2012. That same pitch, now closer to 90 will be much more likely to be driven out of the park.
The Yankees’ CC Sabathia recently went through the same transition and had to adopt more of a “finesse” approach. He did it and so will Felix, but the question is when. The rest of his pitches are still strong, but he has to learn to use his fastball more with his brain, rather than his brawn. It will all come down to pure baseball fundamentals. If he can hone in on this new style, King Felix can certainly give this rotation what it needs to give the Boston Red Sox or any other team a run for their money.
2018 Winner: The Boston Red Sox
One thing is clear for the 2018 season – it’s going to be baseball heaven. We are seeing tremendous pitchers, heavy hitters, and various types of teams all fighting for the top spot and we can’t wait to watch every single pitch of it.