2018 AL East Predictions

  1. Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox were quiet for most of the offseason until they finally jumped into free agency in a big way by signing power hitter J.D. Martinez. Boston already had a terrific pitching staff led by Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Rick Porcello. Also, they have a very good bullpen led by elite closer Craig Kimbrel. Boston also had a very talented lineup already with players like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia. Adding J.D. Martinez to the mix gives the team the power bat in the middle of their lineup that they desperately needed. Boston has won the AL East two years in a row and they are a stronger team than they were a year ago. The Yankees will certainly give the Red Sox some tough competition this season, but it is difficult to find a weakness on Boston’s team and they are still the team to beat in the AL East.


2. New York Yankees

The New York Yankees made it to the ALCS last season, but they actually appear to be a more dangerous team this season especially after the addition of 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. He hit 59 home runs for the Marlins last season and he will form a dynamic duo with Aaron Judge who hit 52 home runs for the Yankees in 2017. New York also has catcher Gary Sanchez who has proven that he can be an elite power hitter as well. The Yankees also appear to have a really good pitching staff heading into the 2018 season. They have a terrific bullpen with Aroldis Chapman as the closer and Dellin Betances and David Robertson as very reliable late-inning options as well. New York also has a good starting rotation with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and CC Sabathia. The only real concern for the Yankees is at 2nd base and 1st base. Ronald Torreyes and Gleyber Torres will compete for the starting 2nd base job, but they are both inexperienced players and it is unknown what they can provide in 2018. 1st Base is clearly the biggest area of weakness for the Yankees as Greg Bird struggled last season. Bird is the clear starter at 1st base, but he needs to bounce back in 2018 in order to help the Yankees lineup reach its full potential. New York is definitely a playoff-caliber team and they will compete with the Red Sox for the division, but the Yankees still have a few weaknesses that hold them back a little bit.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are a team that has playoff potential, but they also have the potential to be a completely bad team in 2018. Josh Donaldson will obviously carry the Blue Jays lineup this season assuming that he can stay healthy. Justin Smoak will also probably provide some solid power in the middle of the lineup for the Blue Jays. However, it is unknown what the rest of the lineup will provide. Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin are proven MLB players, but they have struggled with injuries and inconsistent play recently. Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk are the new starting outfielders for the Blue Jays after being acquired by Toronto this offseason. However, it is a mystery as to how much they will provide to the Blue Jays lineup. Toronto’s pitching staff appears to be the strength of their team as they have a good starting rotation led by Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ. Also, Toronto’s 8th and 9th inning options in the bullpen appear to be very good with Roberto Osuna as the closer and Ryan Tepera as a quality setup man. However, the Blue Jays need better production from the rest of their bullpen and they need to find another good setup man. Toronto isn’t on the same level as the Yankees or the Red Sox, although if all goes right for Toronto then they still could compete for a wild card spot in 2018.

4. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is kind of on the same level as Toronto as they are a team that won’t challenge for the division title, but they could still be a playoff contender. We all know that the Orioles will probably score a ton of runs this offseason as they have many dangerous threats in their lineup. Manny Machado is their best hitter overall, but they still have Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo as other dangerous hitters in their lineup. Baltimore also has an extremely good bullpen, but they will have to be without star closer Zach Britton for awhile as he probably won’t be back until at least late May. Brad Brach should be just fine as the closer until Britton returns, but Britton’s injury will still hurt the Orioles a little bit. The good news is that Baltimore has a very deep bullpen with Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens as solid late-inning options as well. Baltimore’s main weakness is their starting pitching as they don’t really have a clear ace on their team and they don’t really have any good consistent starters. Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Chris Tillman, and Andrew Cashner are all decent pitchers. However, they are all very inconsistent and they aren’t enough to be a good starting rotation. Baltimore just needs their starting rotation to be decent and if that happens then the Orioles are good enough in other areas to possibly be a playoff team.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay is clearly hitting the rebuild button after getting rid of Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Tommy Hunter, Evan Longoria, Alex Cobb, Steven Souza Jr., Steve Cishek, and Brad Boxberger. That is a long list of quality major league players that they let go of, but the issue is that they didn’t even come close to replacing those players. The only players that they added that are proven MLB players are Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and C.J. Cron. Tampa now basically has inexperience at many positions on their roster with Matt Duffy, Daniel Robertson, Mallex Smith, Denard Span, and C.J. Cron as new starters in their lineup this season. Tampa is going to have a really difficult time scoring runs this season as their best hitter is probably Kevin Kiermaier and even he isn’t a great hitter. The Rays still have a good starting rotation led by Chris Archer. However, it is unknown what kind of production that they will receive from the rest of their young starting pitchers like Blake Snell, Jacob Faria, and Matt Andriese. Tampa’s bullpen is probably the strength of the team with elite closer Alex Colome and quality setup options Dan Jennings and Sergio Romo. Tampa is a very young team with many unproven players and it appears that it could be a very rough season for the Rays in 2018.


Ranking the Top 10 Catchers in the MLB

It is very difficult to find quality catchers in the MLB these days especially ones that can provide some offensive ability. However, these are the top 10 catchers entering the 2018 MLB season.

10. Tyler Flowers – Team: Atlanta Braves

Tyler Flowers is one of the most underrated catchers in the MLB probably because he hasn’t been known to be a very consistent batter during his time in the MLB. However, his bat finally caught up to his defensive skills as he hit a respectable .281 with 12 home runs for the Braves. Flowers is clearly an above average starting catcher right now and hopefully his last couple of years of offensive success wasn’t just a fluke.

9. Welington Castillo – Team: Chicago White Sox

Welington Castillo is one of the premier catchers in the MLB mostly because of his offensive abilities. In fact, Castillo had 20 home runs last season for the Orioles and he showed that he has rare power for a catcher. He also hit a very respectable .281 for Baltimore and he drove in 53 RBI’s as well. The problem for Castillo is that he isn’t a very good defensive catcher, although he was very good at throwing runners out last season. Either way, the White Sox made a wise decision to sign him to a 2-year/$15 million contract this offseason as that could prove to be a good bargain deal since Castillo is an above average catcher.

8. Mike Zunino – Team: Seattle Mariners

Mike Zunino seems to have finally reached his full potential since he proved that he has tremendous power especially for a catcher as he hit 25 home runs last season. Zunino still struggles to make contact as he strikes out a lot and he only hit .251 last season. However, when he does make contact with the bat then he has the potential to do some serious damage. His defense is just about average, but as long as he continues to show off his power then he should be considered an above average catcher in the MLB.

7. Yasmani Grandal – Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Yasmani Grandal is a very good hitter for a catcher as he has tremendous power as proven by his 22 home runs for the Dodgers last season. However, he does struggle to make contact with the bat as he only hit .247 in 2017 and that was actually good by his standards. Grandal is also a good defensive catcher for the most part, but he needs to stop allowing so many passed balls. Either way, he is an above average catcher in the MLB and his power is tremendous especially for a catcher.

6. Willson Contreras – Team: Chicago Cubs

Willson Contreras has become a tremendous offensive force for the Cubs and he is still only 25 years old. Contreras is already one of the best catchers in the MLB, but he has the potential to become an even better player in 2018. Contreras is an above average defender and he has been since he entered the MLB. However, his offense finally caught up to his defensive skills as he showed his power with 21 home runs and he hit a respectable .276. Contreras still has room to grow offensively and defensively in order to become a top 5 catcher, but he isn’t too far away.

5. J.T. Realmuto – Team: Miami Marlins

J.T. Realmuto has really become a terrific catcher in the MLB and he is still relatively young as he will be 27 before the 2018 season begins. Realmuto is arguably the most athletic catcher in the entire MLB and that is what makes him so unique. However, he is a good defensive catcher and his offense has really come along tremendously as well. Realmuto finally developed some power as he hit a career-high 17 home runs for the Marlins last season to go along with a good .278 batting average. Realmuto might not be with the Marlins for long as he wants to be traded as the Marlins start what could be a very lengthy rebuild. We’ll see how long Realmuto stays in Miami, but he has quickly become one of the best all-around catchers in the MLB.

4. Salvador Perez – Team: Kansas City Royals

Salvador Perez could be the face of the franchise for the Royals in 2018 especially if Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer sign elsewhere in free agency. Perez is arguably the best offensive catcher in the MLB as he hit a whopping 27 home runs to go with a respectable .268 batting average last season. He is also known as being a good defensive catcher, although he is a very poor pitch framer. Perez is a good all-around player and he is clearly now the best player that the Royals have on their team.

3. Yadier Molina – Team: St. Louis Cardinals

Yadier Molina has been a top 3 catcher in the MLB for many years mostly because he is an elite defensive player. However, he doesn’t receive enough credit for what he provides offensively as he hit 18 home runs and had a .273 average for the Cardinals last season. Molina turns 36 years old in July, yet he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down as he continues to be an elite catcher and the face of the Cardinals franchise.

2. Gary Sanchez – Team: New York Yankees

Gary Sanchez is not a very good defensive catcher and that is what holds him back from being the best catcher in baseball. However, his offense is unlike anything that I have ever seen from a catcher as he has ridiculous power and he has proven to be one of the elite hitters in the MLB. Sanchez hit a whopping 33 home runs last season for the Yankees to go along with a very good .278 batting average. He is by far the best hitting catcher in the MLB, although he will need to become a better defender in order to be considered the best catcher in the MLB.

1. Buster Posey – Team: San Francisco Giants

Buster Posey doesn’t have the power numbers that most of the catchers on this list have as he only had 12 home runs for San Francisco last season. However, Posey is still a terrific offensive catcher as he had a remarkable .320 batting average to go with 67 RBI’s. He also provides much above average defense as he doesn’t allow much to get past him since he only allowed 1 passed ball last season. Posey does basically everything very well and that is why he is still the best catcher in the MLB.

Rockies sign Wade Davis to a 3-year deal

The Colorado Rockies made it a priority to make their bullpen better heading into 2018 and it appears that they have done so by signing closer Wade Davis to a 3-year/$52 million contract. Davis has become arguably the best relief pitcher in the MLB since he converted to a full-time bullpen role back in 2014. The Rockies surely realize what he has accomplished in the past few years as this signing breaks the record for the average annual salary for a relief pitcher. Colorado had an improved bullpen last season as closer Greg Holland had a terrific first half of the season. However, Holland fell apart later in the season and he is now a free agent that the Rockies clearly won’t re-sign now that they have acquired Wade Davis this offseason. Davis provides even more stability to the Rockies bullpen that should be improved next season with the addition of Brayan Shaw this offseason as well. The Rockies already have an elite offense and if their bullpen can just be average then Colorado could be a very good team next season. Colorado still needs some pitching help, although this signing provides tremendous stability to the back of their bullpen.

Grade: A+

wade davis

Reds sign Hughes to a 2-year deal

The Cincinnati Reds are looking to improve their bullpen that was one of the worst in the MLB last season and they have upgraded it somewhat by signing veteran right-handed pitcher Jared Hughes to a 2-year/$4.5 million deal. Hughes is a very underrated relief pitcher, but he has proven to be a reliable option out of the bullpen as he has an impressive 2.85 career ERA. We’ll see if the Reds put him in a setup role for the 2018 season as he is probably a better option in that role than what the Reds currently have. The Reds could use him in a middle relief role which they will most likely do since they didn’t give a very big contract. However, Hughes could also slide into the 7th inning setup role for Cincinnati considering the success that he’s had throughout his career. Either way, Hughes should provide the Reds with the much needed stability to improve the Reds bullpen in 2018 after they were only the 27th ranked bullpen in the MLB last season. Hughes isn’t a dynamic pitcher and he won’t strikeout many batters, but it is difficult to argue against his career production and this could be a very good signing for Cincinnati.

Grade: B+

jared hughes

Twins sign Zach Duke to a 1-year deal

The Minnesota Twins added some depth to their bullpen in free agency as they signed veteran left-handed pitcher Zach Duke to a 1-year deal. Minnesota’s bullpen struggled last season as they only finished 22nd with a 4.40 ERA by their relief pitchers. Zach Duke won’t be a big difference maker in the Twins bullpen as he only has a 4.30 career ERA. However, Duke provides Minnesota with some much needed depth in the middle innings and this could be a bargain signing for Minnesota if he can return to the type of pitcher that he was in 2016 when he had a 2.36 ERA. Duke probably won’t make much an impact for the Twins bullpen in 2018, but he does provide a little bit more stability.

Grade: C

zach duke

Yankees re-sign Sabathia to a 1-year deal

The Yankees are maintaining a decent starting rotation heading into 2018 as they have re-signed CC Sabathia to a 1-year/$10 million deal. Sabathia is 37 years old and he clearly isn’t the pitcher that he once was. However, he proved last season that he can still be a productive player as he had an impressive 14-5 record with a 3.69 ERA. Sabathia is the 4th starter in the Yankees rotation which isn’t bad considering the stats that he put up last season. New York still could improve their starting rotation with a more dynamic starter at the front of their rotation, but at least by re-signing Sabathia they will continue to have solid depth. If the Yankees can just receive a decent season from Sabathia then that should help their rotation to continue to be good enough to be world series contenders. New York’s offense should be dynamic especially with the addition of Giancarlo Stanton and if their pitching can just be average then the team should be world series contenders. Sabathia is a 6-time all-star and a Cy Young award winner as well, although he is far removed from that type of production. Overall, if Sabathia can stay healthy and pitch like he did last season then this could be a good signing for the Yankees.

Grade: B+

cc sabathia

Indians sign Alonso to a 2-year deal

The Cleveland Indians have found their new first baseman for the 2018 season as they signed Yonder Alonso to a 2-year/$16 million contract. Alonso will replace longtime Cleveland starting 1st baseman Carlos Santana who left for Philadelphia this offseason. Alonso doesn’t have the track record of offensive success that Santana has, although Alonso certainly has the potential to be a decent solution at 1st base. He had a career-high 28 home runs last season with the Athletics and Mariners, so the Indians are hoping that those stats will be indicative of the success that they are hoping he will have the next couple of seasons. If Alonso plays like he did last season then the Indians could be getting a very good player in the middle of their lineup. However, it is likely that last season could just be a fluke season as he never had more than 9 home runs in a season prior to last year. Alonso at least will fill a major void at 1st base with the departure of Carlos Santana, but the Indians would have just been better off retaining Santana for next season.

Grade: C+

yonder alonso