Saturday, April 7, 2018

2018 MLB Pre-Season Profiles: #10-6

They may not win it all, but these teams will be able to claim that they made the playoffs in 2018.

Los Angeles Angels

Most Important Hitter: Shohei Ohtani
Most Important Pticher: Shohei Ohtani
Prospect to Watch: Shohei Ohtani
2018 Prediction: 2nd in AL West, WILD CARD, lose Wild Card Game
Bold Prediction: Shohei Ohtani will have 15+ wins and 15+ home runs.

I may be overstating it a little bit, especially considering this team also has the best player in the world in Mike Trout, but Shohei Ohtani is the most fascinating player in baseball this season.  If he does what he is projected to do (and continues the success he has shown in the start of the season), the combination of Trout and Ohtani might lift the Angels back to the postseason.  The main concern is their bullpen, but their lineup is as complete as it has been since Trout broke into the league.  They won't go far, but the playoffs are within reach.

Milwaukee Brewers

Most Important Hitter: Eric Thames
Most Important Pticher: Chase Anderson
Prospect to Watch: Brandon Woodruff
2018 Prediction: 2nd in NL Central, WILD CARD, lose in Wild Card Game
Bold Prediction: The Brewers will trade for an ace by the All Star Break.

I don't know what was more surprising: the Brewers' 2017 season or the Brewers 2018 offseason.  The Brewers came up just short of the playoffs in 2017, greatly surpassing most expectations.  Then, they go out in the offseason and improve their club more than almost anyone else, adding Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to an already good outfield.  Many were surprised they also didn't land a frontline starter, which was the main area of concern entering the offseason.  That is why it would make sense if the Brewers use their depth in the outfield to go get a starter during the season.

Boston Red Sox

Most Important Hitter: J.D. Martinez
Most Important Pticher: David Price
Prospect to Watch: Michael Chavis
2018 Prediction: 2nd in AL East, WILD CARD, lose in ALDS
Bold Prediction: J.D. Martinez will be the only Red Sox hitter over 20 home runs.

The Red Sox got the power hitter they were missing last year when they picked up J.D. Martinez part way through Spring Training.  They will have a successful season, but won't get too far.  It will be interesting to watch what happens with Michael Chavis this year.  He is the top prospect for the Red Sox, but was just suspended for 80 games.  He is also blocked from coming up to the big leagues by young phenom Rafael Devers.  Even though the Red Sox do not have a strong farm system anymore, it looks like Chavis might be the perfect trading chip mid-season.

Cleveland Indians

Most Important Hitter: Jose Ramirez
Most Important Pticher: Trevor Bauer
Prospect to Watch: Francisco Mejia
2018 Prediction: 1st in AL Central, lose in ALDS
Bold Prediction: Corey Kluber will be the AL starting pitcher in the All Star Game.

The Indians have a loaded roster and should cruise through the AL Central.  Jose Ramirez will look to follow up an MVP-caliber 2017 season with another great year.  Trevor Bauer will be counted on to add depth to the rotation behind Kluber and Carlos Carrasco.  By Memorial Day, Francisco Mejia will be the Indians' starting catcher.  They might not get back to the World Series in 2018, but they will have a great season.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Most Important Hitter: Cody Bellinger
Most Important Pticher: Kenta Maeda
Prospect to Watch: Walker Buehler
2018 Prediction: 1st in NL West, lose in NLDS
Bold Prediction: Clayton Kershaw will return in 2019 to the Dodgers.

The Dodgers still have an amazing roster and will be a serious contender to return to the World Series.  They will need another year from Cody Bellinger like he had in his rookie 2017 season.  Kenta Maeda, being the only right-hander in the Dodgers' rotation, needs to have a productive season.  Walker Buehler could help that rotation at some point as well.  The big story is whether Clayton Kershaw will opt out of his contract after the season and hit free agency.  Whether he opts out or not, he will be a Dodger in 2019.  How could he be anything else?

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