Arizona Diamondbacks

Understanding the 2018 MLB Season in a Single Article

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The 2018 Major League Baseball regular season is official a quarter of the way through. The young season has been filled with some power houses, as well as some surprise teams thus far. But the league is looking a whole lot different than most may have anticipated it would at this point in the season. Today I am going to break down each division and talk a little bit about how things have looked so far for the corresponding teams. Long story short, if you’ve been busy, or just flat out haven’t watched much baseball yet this season, by the end of this article you should at least be able to hold a conversation and pretend you now what’s gone on so far this season. Let’s see how all 30 teams have shaken up so far.

 

1) American League East

Boston Red Sox                34 – 16

New York Yankees          31 – 15

Tampa Bay Rays               23 – 25

Toronto Blue Jays            23 – 27

Baltimore Orioles            16 – 34

 

Breakdown: The 2018 season so far has had a lot of hype about the Red Sox and Yankees rejuvenating their rivalry, or the Revivalry as we like to call it here at WTP Sports. But realistically the only excitement out of the American League East this season has been the Sox and Yanks. Everyone came in talking about Judge and Stanton in the same lineup but didn’t really prepare or account for the power emergence of J.D (Jumbo Dong, Just Dingers) Martinez and Mookie Betts together. In addition, Mookie has led the AL in all three major hitting categories for a majority of this season so far. The only other exciting news in the AL East is that the Orioles are doing so terribly that it would almost be preposterous for them NOT to move the former 3rd baseman turned shortstop, Manny Machado, at the deadline. AND if Toronto continues its downward, tanking spiral, then they too could consider moving the bringer of rain, Josh Donaldson, before or at the deadline. As a side note, Tampa Bay continues it’s weird rotation and pitching tactics, with former Giants closer Sergio Romo getting the official start in back to back games. Although this was cool to see and cool for statistical purposes, I don’t see the success of their bullpen days lasting much longer, and even if it does, there’s not nearly enough there for the Rays to compete with Boston or New York.

 

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2) American League Central

Cleveland Indians           24 – 24

Minnesota Twins             21 – 24

Detroit Tigers                   21 – 28

Kansas City Royals          17 – 33

Chicago White Sox          15 – 32

 

Breakdown: The AL Central has been far from exciting so far this season. I didn’t expect much to anything at all for the Royals after gutting the core of their roster aside from Moustakas and Hererra (who both could be on the move before or at the deadline), and that has proven to be true sitting at the bottom of their division not showing signs of life at all with only a .327 win percentage thus far. Even worse than KC, is the other team from Chicago, the White Sox, who have a .326 win percentage which is 2nd lowest in the bigs to the O’s. The Tigers have played decent but not decent enough to get to a .500 record, and I believe they’ll stay around that win percentage for a majority of the season. What’s disappointing from this division is that last year the Twins gave Cleveland a run for their money and even secured a Wild Card spot. But both the Twins and Indians have floated around .500 records, and haven’t shown many signs of changing. For the sake of this division, and for the sake of Major League baseball, hopefully at least these top two teams can figure it out so there is at least one battle between teams fighting to win this division, because if not, the AL Central will come down to who’s the best bad team.

 

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3) American League West

Houston Astros                 33 – 18

Seattle Mariners               29 – 20

Los Angeles Angels          28 – 22

Oakland Athletics            26 – 24

Texas Rangers                   20 – 32

 

Breakdown: The excitement and emergence of the Los Angeles Angels and Sho Time came and went. Shohei Ohtani is still keeping us interested slapping homeruns from the left side on days he’s not on the mound dicing teams up. But the Angels and Astros battle for first place in the AL West has sizzled out, and surprisingly the Seattle Mariners took over the 2nd place spot. Oakland has managed to win a few more games than most may have thought they would have by now, in addition to some cool stories surrounding outfielder Stephen Piscotty and a no hitter from Sean Manea; but still they sit in 4th with a record barely over .500. Texas hasn’t been a factor in the division at all but recently saw the return of tough guy second baseman Rougned Odor. The only real and promising story from this division is that the defending champion Houston Astros look just as good this year as they did last, if not even better. Gerrit Cole has been lights out, and they have a full season of Justin Verlander. Oh yeah and Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Charlie Morton to close out that starting rotation. Paired alongside a complete bullpen and a STACKED lineup 1 to 9, this team has a VERY legitimate chance at repeating.

 

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4) National League East

Atlanta Braves                  29 – 19

Philadelphia Phillies      28 – 19

New York Mets                 25 – 21

Washington Nationals   26 – 22

Miami Marlins                  19 – 30

 

Breakdown: Who would’ve thought that the most action-packed, exciting division would be the one with the Miami Marlins in it? Well it most certainly has been. With the surprisingly early emergence of  young talent in Atlanta paired with some veteran guys like Nick Markakis, who’s tearing the cover off the baseball, this team has found a way to win. More importantly, they have found a way to sit atop the division. Nipping right at their heels though, is yet another surprise team who has a mixture of young talent finally exposing itself paired with some veteran help, the Philadelphia Phillies. Sitting in second place is a team that hasn’t been a factor at all since the Victorino, Lee, Halladay, Ruiz, Howard, Utley days. It’s even cooler because I picked the Phillies to win that division, or at least compete, prior to the season. Mostly because of how well Aaron Nola throws the baseball and how hard Maikel Franco hits the baseball. The Washington Nationals, a team everyone had running away with the division before the start of the season got off to an incredibly slow start besides having a red hot Bryce Harper in their lineup. Despite picking it up as a team as of late, they still sit just above .500 and need to make a drastic change very soon if they want to separate themselves and win the division. By letting young teams like Atlanta and Philly hang around and gain momentum, they’re making it even more difficult to dig themselves out of third place. But there definitely should be motivation to improve, because only a half game back in the standings sits a New York Mets team that has been good, with a few small GREAT stretches. If they can find out what they need to do to win a handful more games in a row, they will absolutely overtake third place from Washington, maybe even second from Philly. But the Braves are playing 1st place caliber baseball right now. A cool story from the Mets is that after the Braves gave Jose Bautista a shot to play third base for them, they cut him and he was scooped up by their division rivals, the New York Mets. In a counter move, they had a bit of drama which resulted in them finally cutting time with team-cancer, Matt Harvey, who has struggled in the bigs in New York since his last appearance in the World Series. But in a recent start with new club, the Cincinnati Reds, Harvey showed signs of his old self. Speaking of the Reds, that takes us to our next division.

 

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5) National League Central

Milwaukee Brewers        31 – 20

St. Louis Cardinals          26 – 21

Pittsburgh Pirates           27 – 22

Chicago Cubs                     25 – 21

Cincinnati Reds                18 – 33

 

Breakdown: Cincinnati is exactly where I expected they would be in the standings, and aside from the potential turnaround for Matt Harvey, there’s not much excitement for the Reds in 2018. However, the rest of this division is pretty cool to look at. We have the Milwaukee Brewers (my preseason pick to win the division) sitting at the top playing phenomenal baseball winning 8 of their last 10 games. As for the rest of the division, only .5 games separates the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams. The Pittsburgh Pirates came into 2018 with a rebuild/this is what we have attitude, and sure enough those guys have gelled well together and currently sit in 2nd, although I do see them falling back to Earth as the season plays out and ultimately I see them finishing in 4th in the NL Central. The remaining two teams in this division is where it gets interesting. We have a St. Louis cardinals team who is known for consistency and playing well in the Postseason assuming they make it in. In addition they have a lot of young talent there, Tommy Pham has taken over the team, and the hype around the 105-mph bullpen arm is also pretty cool. But we have a Chicago Cubs team who is a recent champion but a favorite to win the division again this year. The problem is that they can’t string together enough wins in a row right now to take first place back from the Brew Crew and, if their playing style continues as it has, they will slowly but surely continue sliding down in the standings. More importantly though this division will be fun to watch in the last moth of the season if it stays close. There are 4 teams that have a legitimate spot at winning the division, we could also see one of the Wild Card teams come from the NL Central as well. Between this division and the NL East, there will be a couple good fights to determine division champs as well as a good fight for the two wild card slots.

 

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6) National League West

Colorado Rockies             26 -24                                   

Arizona Diamondbacks 25 – 24

San Francisco Giants      24 – 26

Los Angeles Dodgers      22 – 27

San Diego Padres             21 – 30

 

Breakdown: Aside from maybe the AL Central, this division is full of teams trying to determine who the worst bad team is. The season started out with the DBacks looking like a World Series contender and have fizzled out and lost 9 of its last 10. The Dodgers, who usually have astronomical amounts of regular season wins, are fighting to get back to a .500 record. The Padres have Eric Hosmer and Brad Hand and that’s about it, truthfully I’m surprised they’ve won 21 games already. The Colorado Rockies are my favorite team in this division but they too haven’t played great by any means. They only hold their first place lead by 0.5 games and have lost 6 of their last 10. Right now the only two teams with a winning percentage greater than .500 are the Rockies (.520) and the DBacks (.510), and even those two teams haven’t been too exciting to watch. But then there’s the San Francisco Giants. Remember that stretch of time where every even year was their year? Well they definitely took a couple of even years off, but they’re a team that catches my eye. Brandon Belt is hitting the cover off of the ball right now, and veteran offseason acquisitions, Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria have distanced themselves from slow starts at the plate. This team needs help pitching, but if they can make the right moves around the trade deadline, this COULD be a year where the Giants sneak ahead and run away with the division. I say COULD in capital letters because there is also a great chance this division continues at its subpar pace and we have yet another division where bad teams are fighting with one another to determine the best of the worst. Hopefully that doesn’t wind up being the case because there is the potential on each roster for there to be a solid competitive battle for first place between all teams in this division aside from San Diego.

 

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So here’s where things get semi-interesting. Granted this is all hypothetical because there is ¾ of a 162 game season remaining. However, if the regular season ended today, the playoff picture is FAR from what any professional baseball analyst preseason predictions would have looked like.

 

In the American League:

The Wild Card play-in game would have the Yankees hosting the Mariners. The winner of that game would move on to play the Boston Red Sox, with home field advantage given to Boston. The other ALDS matchup would have the defending champion Houston Astros hosting the Cleveland Indians.

This is interesting because Sho Time in LA would be cut short, and there would be no American League Postseason baseball in California. Other teams on the bubble, like the Minnesota Twins, would be left out and wouldn’t get their Wild Card rematch with the Yankees.

 

In the National League:

The Wild Card play-in game would be ELECTRIC. A showdown in Pennsylvania would have the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates. Can’t really ask to see a do or die game between in-state rivals. The winner of that game would take on Milwaukee with home-field advantage for the Brew Crew. In the other NLDS matchup, the Braves would host the Colorado Rockies.

The National League is a much crazier picture than the AL, solely because of all the big-name teams that are not in the Postseason picture, had the season ended today. The Cubs, Nationals, Mets, Cardinals, Giants, DBacks, and Dodgers would ALL be at home watching the MLB Postseason from their couches or golfing during the most exciting baseball games of the season.

 

There you have it, the 2018 MLB Regular Season thus far in a nutshell, what do you guys think?!

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