1. An Angel will win the MVP award and he won’t be named Mike Trout. This prediction may not seem as bold as it did when I had originally made it before the regular season, but I’m doubling down. Shoani Othani will win the MVP and AL Rookie of the Year Award. He’s off to a blistering start and has been key to the Angels’ early success. He throws high 90’s and touches 100, hits to all fields, has one of the highest exit velocities in all of baseball, and the best part is, he’s fun to watch. He has to come down to earth at some point in time, but I can’t stand when people disregard the early part of the season. Every game and every at-bat counts. You can’t take those Angels wins away from them, and chances are, you can’t stop watching Shoani Othani. With any new player, I get concerned about what happens when scouting reports get fully developed. People will find a way to get him out, batters will figure out what he’s throwing, but until then, he will continue to rake and sit guys down.
2. Both Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton will hit more than 50 home runs. This might not come as a huge shock either, but let’s not act like hitting 50 homers is an easy task, each of these guys did it last year, but that doesn’t mean they will have similar production this year. Already Stanton is having serious problems at the plate. He’s on a record-setting pace for strikeouts during the early stretch of the season. He’s already struck out 23 times, one less than Roger Marris did during the entire 1968 season when he 310 ABs. Comparisons throughout generations are difficult, as the game has changed dramatically and launch angle and fly balls are more valued from hitters than they were in the past, but Stanton looks different than he did last year. There have been analysts that have broken down his swing mechanics and the results are telling. He’s shortened his stride at the plate and opens his hips differently than he did in previous years. This causes two problems, first, he won’t be able to hit the high and tight fastball as effectively as he has in previous years, and second, he will not be able to hit effectively to all fields, making him a more one-dimensional hitter. That being said, I fully expect a professional hitter playing for a team with the resources like the Yankees to get himself sorted out. Stanton is coming from Miami to New York, and the ballpark dynamics couldn’t be more different. I expect a few more of Stanton’s deep flyouts in Miami turn into pole hugging home runs over the short fences at Yankee Stadium.
3. The New York Mets will head to the postseason after winning only 70 games last season. The Mets had a historical injury prone 2017 season which saw 20 players have 28 different DL stints. Those injuries came to key pieces of the Mets roster. OF Yoenis Cespedes spent 80 days on the DL, SP Noah Syndergaard spent 145 days on the DL with an arm injury, SP Matt Harvey spent 79 days, SP Steven Matz spent 113 days,CP Jeurys Familia spent 106 days and OF Michael Conforto spent 48 days on the DL with a freak shoulder injury that occurred when he swung his bat. This season, the Mets are entering the year health, and with the additions of veteran 3B Todd Frazier replacing injured David Wright, 1B Adrian Gonzalez as the bridge to top prospect 1B Dominic Smith, and the return of slugger OF Jay Bruce, the team is poised to take advantage of a weak NL East. The Nationals are their biggest schedule hurdle, but the Mets traditionally have played well against the NL East favorites, already sweeping them once this year, and could feasibly make a run at a Wild Card spot. I still expect the Nationals to win the division, even with their early struggles, but if the Mets stay healthy and their bullpen continues to be among the best in the MLB, then they have every opportunity to make a postseason run. They have three long arms in their bullpen that can bridge the middle innings and both Seth Lugo and Robert Gsselman have been lights out so far.
4. Chris Sale will win the AL Cy Young and Max Scherzer will win the NL Cy Young Award. At this point Scherzer is like Meryl Streep at the Oscars, everyone knows he’s in going to be one of the top two candidates, and it comes as no surprise at this point. Every fifth day you get to watch something special. Scherzer threw over 200 innings (in the National League) and had a 2.51 ERA last season. This year, the 33-year old is off to a hot start, he has a .90 ERA and has struck out 27 batters through 20 innings pitched. Sale, similarly tallied over 200 innings last season and held a respectable 2.90 ERA. This year, he has a 1.06 ERA through 17 innings and has struck out 23 batters. These two are the most dominant arms in the sport and continue to be durable and consistent. So long as they remain healthy, there’s nothing to stop their Cy Young bid.
5. The Texas Rangers will be must-see TV, at least every fifth day. Bartolo Colon and Adrian Beltre in the same dugout. They have more fun playing the game of baseball than anyone else. If you happen to catch the Rangers play some interleague baseball there’s a chance you can see a unicorn. https://www.mlb.com/video/must-c-colons-first-home-run/c-671207583