By MyFM's Jake Archer - The MLB season is almost upon us. We're two weeks out from Opening Day and everything is starting to feel back to normal after a very odd offseason. I think I'm finally ready to make my preseason picks that will undoubtedly be wrong, so here we go...
American League East
1. Boston Red Sox- I've already touched on the fact that I think the Red Sox are going to be very good and surprise some people who are already crowning the Yankees. An improved offense plus a dominant combo of Chris Sale and David Price will lead them to about 95 wins and their third straight division title.
2. New York Yankees*- The Yanks will be good, but I think they have a lot more questions then most people believe. Will Luis Severino fall back to earth? Can Giancarlo Stanton stay healthy and come close to what he did last year? How will Aaron Boone handle the pressure of being a first year manager with such high expectations? It's going to be an interesting year in New York and I have them grabbing the first wild card berth.
3. Toronto Blue Jays- There is a HUGE drop off from the second place team to the third place team in the AL East. We go from legit World Series contenders to three squads that are going to be in some weird, transistional phase or rebuilding mode. The Blue Jays seem to have the most talent of the three and also are probably least likely to have an complete fire sale at the deadline, so I'll take them here.
4. Baltimore Orioles- The Orioles have quite the lineup and can mash with the best of them. However, their pitching staff is in shambles and they'll likely deal Manny Machado to get something for him rather than let him walk in free agency. If they trade Machado, it's a good bet that they'll unload the rest of their impact vets to teams that need them. It's going to be an ugly second half in Baltimore.
5. Tampa Bay Rays- Tampa has already started their sell-off as they got rid of several stars like Corey Dickerson and Evan Longoria. Rays players are voicing their displeasure and I'm sure more moves will be made. Chris Archer figures to be a big name moved sometime in July.
American League Central
1. Cleveland Indians- I wanted so bad to pick against the Indians here but I can't. They've got the best manager in baseball and a scary good starting rotation led by reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. The loss of Carlos Santana to the Phillies hurts and I'm pretty sure Jose Ramirez will never replicate what he did last season, but the offense will still be there and they'll head to another postseason.
2. Minnesota Twins*- I really like the Twins this year and almost had them unseating Cleveland for the division. They made some good under the radar moves and have actually made their team substantially better. I'm a big believer that Jose Berrios is going to be the next great pitcher so I've got him leading them to another October in the second wild card spot.
3. Chicago White Sox- Just like in the East, the drop off from two to three is gigantic. The White Sox likely won't be selling anyone off considering that most of their players are young guys that they are building around. They might be a fun team to watch, with a lot of highly regarded talent such as former Red Sox prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech. It'll be interesting to see just how they do with a young club like this.
4. Kansas City Royals- Yikes, this team that went to back to back World Series and won one of them just a few years ago is now going back to the drawing board. After losing leaders like Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain, it'll be interesting to see what kind of identity this team has. They've got very little pitching and their lineup doesn't exactly inspire so while they won't be AWFUL, they'll be taking a huge step back and possibly trading away more of what is left.
5. Detroit Tigers- Ahh the Tigers, a team that loaded up and never quite made it to where they wanted to go. That actually scares me a lot because they did all of that under Dave Dombrowski, and I don't want Boston to end up being that way. They just do not have a lot of above average players left on their roster and we have no idea what to make of Miguel Cabrera at this point. Personally, I think he's cooked and I think the Tigers could possibly be the worst team in baseball.
American League West
1. Houston Astros- The defending champs just got better and really have no one to challenge them in the division. They added Gerrit Cole to what was already one of the best rotations in the league and they'll be bringing back a lineup of young boppers who are probably only going to improve. They are going to run away and hide with the West fairly early.
2. Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim)- I hate that "of Anaheim" thing so much. Anyway, the Angels are one of the sexy picks to make the postseason this year. I've got them falling just short of Minnesota because although they are improved, we're not exactly talking about reliable guys that they brought in. We have literally no idea what we are getting from Shohei Ohtani (I think he'll be good on the mound and not at the plate), Ian Kinsler is way past his prime and Justin Upton always seems to disappoint somehow. They'll be a really fun team to watch and having a healthy Mike Trout makes things go, but I don't think this is the year for them.
3. Texas Rangers- Finally, we have more of a bunch-up between second and third place. In fact, second through last in the West is pretty even and I wouldn't tell you that you couldn't convince me of any of these teams making a run to get a wild card. The Rangers will get the edge though, because they still have a bona-fide ace which is something the rest of the teams lack. Throw in that they've got a decent lineup and I think Texas actually pushes towards winning rather than concedes and sells at the deadline. They're going to be a real interesting team to watch as well. Tim Lincecum, Matt Bush, Rougned Odor and Joey Gallo all excite me for different reasons and not all of them are good.
4. Oakland Athletics- Don't get me wrong, the Athletics have talent again. I just know very little about them and honestly I'm making this pick because 1.) I don't have faith in Seattle at all and 2.) the A's randomly play well sometimes despite not having household names.
5. Seattle Mariners- Seattle's lineup is pretty good. Seattle's pitching is VERY bad. Felix Hernandez is old and injured and outside of him the next best thing is James Paxton. That should tell you all that you need to know.
Wild Card Game: Yankees over Twins- It's a repeat of last year, and like a million other times. The Yankees always beat the Twins in the postseason, that's just a fact of life. Sonny Gray will outduel Jose Berrios and bring New York to the ALDS.
ALDS: Astros over Yankees- Top-seeded Houston will get the best of the Yanks again, but this time it'll be in a sweep.
ALDS: Red Sox over Indians- It'll be a nice little rematch of the 2016 ALDS but this time the Sox will be the higher seed, allowing them to start in Boston. Sox in a sweep.
ALCS: Red Sox over Astros (MVP: Hanley Ramirez)- This is going to be a battle of the two best teams in the MLB. The 'Stros will look like they have the momentum as they force a Game 7 at home, but Boston will get revenge for 2017 and advance to the World Series to face....
AL MVP: Carlos Correa (Houston)
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale (Boston)
AL Rookie of the Year: Gleybar Torres (NYY)
AL Manager of the Year: Alex Cora (Boston)
AL Reliever of the Year: Aroldis Chapman (NYY)
AL Hank Aaron Award: Mike Trout (LAA)
AL Comeback Player of the Year: Mike Trout (LAA)
AL Executive of the Year: Thad Levine (Minnesota)
Catcher: Gary Sanchez (NYY)
First Base: Jose Abreu (White Sox)
Second Base: Robinson Cano (Seattle)
Shortstop: Carlos Correa (Houston)
Third Base: Josh Donaldson (Toronto)
Outfield: Mike Trout (LAA), JD Martinez (Boston), George Springer (Houston)
DH: Nelson Cruz (Seattle)
Catcher: Salvador Perez (Kansas City)
First Base: Joe Mauer (Minnesota)
Second Base: Jose Altuve (Houston)
Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons (LAA)
Third Base: Adrian Beltre (Texas)
Outfield: Jackie Bradley Jr. (Boston), Kevin Kiermaier (Tampa Bay), Kevin Pillar (Toronto)
Pitcher: Dallas Keuchel (Houston)