FanGraphs 2018 Staff Predictions

And just like that, the winter of our discontent is almost over. Tomorrow, all 30 teams celebrate Opening Day, and their fans with them. But before play begins, we at FanGraphs will observe our annual tradition of attempting to predict what will happen this year, before we commence our other annual tradition of getting some things wrong. Last year was a mixed bag. Astros? Nailed it. Cubs and Dodgers? Aren’t our moms proud! Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger, Rookie of the Year winners? Can’t say we saw that coming.

We gathered predictions from writers across our family of blogs; what follows are the results.

The American League

The American League predictions are marked by their overwhelming sameness. Of the 40 ballots cast, a full 29 have the Astros, Indians, and Yankees sitting atop their divisions come the season’s end. Eight others feature the Astros and Indians but swap in the Red Sox for the Yankees. That isn’t so surprising: we currently project Houston to win 100 games, while New York, Cleveland, and Boston check in at 95, 94, and 93 wins, respectively.

And while the staff and the projections expect the first Wild Card spot to fall to either the Yankees or the Red Sox, there is a bit more wiggle room in the second Wild Card. The Angels receive more total Wild Card and playoff votes and take the prize here, but the Twins aren’t far behind. We might call it the Hey, They Still Have Mike Trout Effect if we enjoyed naming things.

One place the staff diverges sharply from projections? The Blue Jays. Much like our readers, we don’t think much of Toronto’s current 86-win projection, or the second Wild Card spot that goes with it.

And we don’t have much faith in the teams in the middle to surprise either. The Mariners and A’s are projected to win 80 games a piece this year, with the Rangers pegged at 79, and the Orioles and Rays each thought good for 78 wins. Those are all flawed squads — if they were less flawed they’d be expected to win more games! — but they managed just five total votes between them.

Staff Predictions: AL East
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Playoffs
New York 31 8 0 39
Boston 9 21 3 33
Toronto 0 0 5 5
Baltimore 0 0 0 0
Tampa 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: AL Central
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Playoffs
Cleveland 37 0 0 37
Minnesota 3 1 14 18
Chicago 0 0 0 0
Detroit 0 0 0 0
Kansas City 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: AL West
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Playoffs
Houston 38 1 1 40
Los Angeles 2 7 14 23
Oakland 0 0 3 3
Seattle 0 2 0 2
Texas 0 0 0 0

The National League

The National League vote leans similarly toward consensus. Indeed, 28 of the ballots cast have the Dodgers, Cubs, and Nationals winning their divisions. The Nationals appear as a playoff team on every ballot, in one form or another. The Dodgers receive 39 playoff votes. We’re attributing Roger Cormier’s decision to purposely pick against favorites — and thus exclude LA entirely — to be the result of cultivated eccentricity or perhaps an extreme view of Justin Turner’s importance.

A bit more excitement comes in the Wild Cards. Last year’s Wild Card loser, the Colorado Rockies, is expected to miss the postseason entirely. The staff likes the Cardinals a lot and expects the Diamondbacks to return. And almost half the staff expects the Brewers to outperform their modest 79-win projection and make the playoffs, though opinions vary on exactly which spot they’ll occupy. They’re tied with the Diamondbacks in total playoff votes.

The Phillies aren’t expected to be a Wild Card team or challenge for the division, but the eight Wild Card votes they receive here represents a step up from the one (out of 55) they received last year. On the flip side, the staff is unmoved by the prospect of healthy pitching or Adrian Gonzalez, and gives the Mets just four playoff votes. They received 40 last year.

Staff Predictions: NL East
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Playoffs
Washington 39 1 0 40
New York 1 1 2 4
Philadelphia 0 0 8 8
Atlanta 0 0 0 0
Miami 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: NL Central
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Playoffs
Chicago 29 6 1 36
St. Louis 4 17 4 25
Milwaukee 7 7 5 19
Pittsburgh 0 1 1 2
Cincinnati 0 0 0 0

Staff Predictions: NL West
Team Division Wild Card 1 Wild Card 2 Playoffs
Los Angeles 38 1 0 39
Arizona 1 5 13 19
Colorado 1 1 2 4
San Diego 0 0 0 0
San Francisco 0 0 4 4

Individual Awards

Carlos Correa is very good, and Jose Altuve just won, and the reigning NL MVP is now lurking in the AL. But the thing about Mike Trout is that one injury-shortened season (in which he still managed a very nice 6.9 WAR) is not enough to dissuade people that he’s the best player in baseball.

Staff Predictions: AL MVP
Player Votes
Mike Trout 22
Giancarlo Stanton 6
Carlos Correa 4
Jose Altuve 3
Mookie Betts 2
J.D. Martinez 1
Aaron Judge 1
Francisco Lindor 1

Last year, Chris Sale narrowly edged out Corey Kluber in these predictions. Kluber won. This year, Chris Sale narrowly edges out Corey Kluber in these predictions. Will Kluber win again? We’ll find out!

Staff Predictions: AL Cy Young
Player Votes
Chris Sale 15
Corey Kluber 12
Luis Severino 3
Justin Verlander 3
Chris Archer 2
Gerrit Cole 2
Trevor Bauer 1
Carlos Carrasco 1
Lance McCullers 1

We’re putting our faith in the idea that Shohei Ohtani’s rough spring doesn’t matter too much — which, for a guy who is adjusting to a new league and a new ball, seems like a good bet. Then again, last year, Andrew Benintendi was our overwhelming favorite. Isn’t it nice that we can still be surprised by things?

Staff Predictions: AL RoY

MVP isn’t as settled in the NL as we believe it to be in the AL, though the idea of a soon-to-hit-free-agency Bryce Harper proved alluring to many. Paul Goldschmidt always seems like he should do better in these sorts of things. The idea of Marlins fans having to watch Christian Yelich turn in an MVP performance the season immediately after Giancarlo Stanton did — while both of them wear other people’s laundry — feels deeply unkind.

Staff Predictions: NL MVP
Player Votes
Bryce Harper 13
Kris Bryant 6
Nolan Arenado 4
Corey Seager 4
Freddie Freeman 3
Paul Goldschmidt 3
Joey Votto 3
Anthony Rendon 2
Tommy Pham 1
Christian Yelich 1

I chose Max Scherzer because I know what it is like to have your whole day ruined by your back hurting just a little, and I mostly get to sit down. So Clayton Kershaw’s 2017 makes me nervous. The majority of my colleagues think Kershaw will make me look silly.

Staff Predictions: NL Cy Young
Players Votes
Clayton Kershaw 20
Max Scherzer 8
Noah Syndergaard 3
Jacob deGrom 2
Aaron Nola 2
Jose Quintana 2
Yu Darvish 1
Stephen Strasburg 1
Luke Weaver 1

We like Ronald Acuña a lot, service time tomfoolery be damned. Really, damned. Damn it to hell.

Staff Predictions: NL RoY

So that’s it, that’s the whole season. We look forward to being proven right and wrong, and writing about how and why. We hope you’ll tag along for the ride. Happy baseball!

2018 American League Staff Predictions
Author East Central West WC 1 WC 2 MVP Cy Young RoY
Al Melchior NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Trout Sale Torres
Alec Denton NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Stanton Verlander Torres
Alex Chamberlain NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Correa Archer Calhoun
Andrew Perpetua NYY CLE HOU LAA BOS Altuve Severino Ohtani
Ben Kaspick NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Correa McCullers Ohtani
Ben Pasinkoff NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Trout Kluber Ohtani
Birchwood Brothers NYY CLE HOU SEA BOS Betts Cole Kopech
Brad Johnson NYY CLE HOU SEA TOR Judge Sale Hays
Brandon Warne NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Trout Kluber Ohtani
Brice Russ BOS CLE HOU NYY LAA Trout Sale Ohtani
Carson Cistulli NYY CLE HOU LAA TOR Trout Carrasco Calhoun
Craig Edwards NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Trout Kluber Ohtani
David Laurila BOS CLE HOU NYY MIN Trout Bauer Barreto
Dustin Nosler NYY CLE HOU LAA MIN Trout Severino Jimenez
Eli Ben-Porat BOS CLE HOU NYY LAA Trout Kluber Andujar
Eric Longenhagen NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Lindor Cole Ohtani
Jay Jaffe NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Stanton Severino Ohtani
Jeff Sullivan NYY CLE HOU BOS OAK Altuve Sale Ohtani
Jeff Zimmerman BOS CLE HOU NYY MIN Stanton Sale Torres
Jon Roegele NYY CLE HOU BOS TOR Altuve Sale Ohtani
Josh Shepardson BOS CLE HOU NYY LAA J.D. Martinez Kluber Kopech
Justin Mason BOS CLE HOU NYY LAA Trout Sale Ohtani
Justin Vibber NYY CLE HOU BOS TOR Stanton Sale Jimenez
Kiley McDaniel NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Trout Kluber Andujar
Meg Rowley NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Trout Sale Ohtani
Mike Podhorzer NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Trout Sale Ohtani
Neil Weinberg NYY CLE HOU LAA BOS Trout Kluber Ohtani
Nick Pollack NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Trout Sale Ohtani
Paul Sporer NYY MIN HOU LAA OAK Correa Verlander Jimenez
Rian Watt NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Trout Sale Ohtani
Roger Cormier BOS MIN LAA NYY HOU Trout Verlander Calhoun
Ryan Pollack BOS CLE HOU LAA OAK Trout Sale Andujar
Scott Spratt NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Trout Archer Ohtani
Scott Strandberg NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Stanton Kluber Ohtani
Sean Dolinar NYY MIN LAA HOU TOR Trout Sale Ohtani
Shane Tourtellotte BOS CLE HOU NYY MIN Correa Sale Calhoun
Sheryl Ring NYY CLE HOU MIN LAA Stanton Kluber Ohtani
Stephen Loftus NYY CLE HOU LAA MIN Trout Kluber Ohtani
Travis Sawchik NYY CLE HOU BOS MIN Trout Kluber Ohtani
Trey Baughn NYY CLE HOU BOS LAA Betts Kluber Calhoun

2018 National League Staff Predictions
Author East Central West WC 1 WC 2 MVP Cy Young RoY
Al Melchior WAS CHC LAD MIL STL Harper Kershaw Acuña
Alec Denton WAS CHC LAD MIL PHI Freeman Kershaw Acuña
Alex Chamberlain WAS CHC LAD STL PHI Arenado Syndergaard Brinson
Andrew Perpetua WAS MIL LAD CHC ARI Freeman Scherzer Reyes
Ben Kaspick WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Goldschmidt Kershaw Acuña
Ben Pasinkoff WAS CHC LAD STL MIL Bryant Syndergaard McMahon
Birchwood Brothers WAS STL LAD ARI MIL Arenado Weaver Acuña
Brad Johnson WAS STL LAD CHC PHI Pham Darvish Acuña
Brandon Warne WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Harper Kershaw Acuña
Brice Russ WAS CHC LAD STL NYM Bryant Scherzer Acuña
Carson Cistulli WAS CHC LAD STL PHI Rendon Scherzer Crawford
Craig Edwards WAS CHC LAD STL SF Seager Kershaw Acuña
David Laurila WAS CHC COL LAD MIL Arenado Nola Robles
Dustin Nosler WAS CHC LAD MIL PHI Goldschmidt Quintana Kingery
Eli Ben-Porat WAS STL LAD CHC PHI Harper Kershaw Acuña
Eric Longenhagen WAS MIL LAD ARI PIT Rendon Scherzer Robles
Jay Jaffe WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Seager Kershaw Acuña
Jeff Sullivan WAS CHC LAD NYM STL Bryant Syndergaard Acuña
Jeff Zimmerman WAS CHC LAD MIL ARI Harper Kershaw Robles
Jon Roegele WAS CHC LAD MIL ARI Harper Kershaw Acuña
Josh Shepardson WAS MIL LAD CHC SF Yelich Scherzer Acuña
Justin Mason WAS CHC LAD MIL SF Harper Kershaw Kingery
Justin Vibber WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Bryant Scherzer Acuña
Kiley McDaniel WAS CHC LAD STL MIL Harper Kershaw Acuña
Meg Rowley WAS CHC LAD ARI STL Bryant Scherzer Acuña
Mike Podhorzer WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Harper Kershaw Acuna
Neil Weinberg WAS CHC LAD MIL COL Goldschmidt Kershaw Acuña
Nick Pollack WAS MIL LAD CHC ARI Votto Kershaw Brinson
Paul Sporer WAS STL LAD COL PHI Arenado deGrom Kingery
Rian Watt WAS CHC LAD ARI STL Votto Quintana Brinson
Roger Cormier NYM MIL ARI WAS CHC Votto deGrom Acuña
Ryan Pollack WAS CHC LAD STL MIL Seager Kershaw Acuña
Scott Spratt WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Harper Strasburg Acuña
Scott Strandberg WAS CHC LAD STL NYM Bryant Kershaw Acuña
Sean Dolinar WAS MIL LAD PIT ARI Harper Kershaw Acuña
Shane Tourtellotte WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Seager Kershaw Acuña
Sheryl Ring WAS MIL LAD CHC PHI Harper Kershaw Acuña
Stephen Loftus WAS CHC LAD STL ARI Harper Kershaw Acuña
Travis Sawchik WAS CHC LAD STL COL Harper Scherzer Acuna
Trey Baughn WAS CHC LAD ARI SF Freeman Nola Senzel

We hoped you liked reading FanGraphs 2018 Staff Predictions by Meg Rowley!

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Meg is the managing editor of The Hardball Times and a contributing writer to FanGraphs. Her work has appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing and Just A Bit Outside.

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Brian Reinhart
Member
Member

Looking at the rest of his flamboyant ballot, I’m really wondering why Roger Cormier still voted for Trout and Acuña.

sadtrombone
Member
sadtrombone

That must have been an accident.

emh1969
Member
emh1969

Um, it’s Mike Trout. The question isn’t why did Roger Cormier vote for him. The question is why did 18 people NOT vote for Trout??? :) :) :)

DBA455
Member
Member
DBA455

Both people who voted for Houston to lose also voted for Cleveland to do the same. Seems something less than sincere.

rasouddress
Member
rasouddress

I can’t explain away the NL, but he did put the Angels (who happen to possess Trout) as the division winner. Why, I have no idea, but that explains the MVP vote.

Jon
Member
Jon

I think the most interesting thing about his ballot is that he’s betting on the Angels to win the division over the Astros, but on Ohtani (who presumably would play an enormous role in the Angels’ success if they do something that improbable) to not even be good enough to win ROY.