The 2018 MLB season is fast approaching, and with a new season comes new opportunities. Who will come out on top in each division? Which teams will surprise us at the end of the year?
Here are my division winner predictions for the 2018 season as of January 14th:
AL West Champions: Houston Astros
- Houston remains loaded with young talent and a veteran staff. With the Los Angeles Angels on the rise, they will try to compete in the AL West. However, the Astros have more depth throughout their entire roster. The starting pitching has leadership with Justin Verlander at the helm, along with Dallas Keuchel not far behind. The World Series hangover won't be enough to stop Jose Altuve & Co. as they win their second straight AL West Title.
Runner Up: Los Angeles Angels
AL Central Champions: Cleveland Indians
- The two time reigning AL Central Champions will go for their third consecutive division title. The majority of their lineup has stayed intact. The addition of Yonder Alonso will create more depth. The pitching has been tremendous in recent years, and the Indians ranked first last season in ERA, strikeouts, and shutouts. With Corey Kluber leading the staff, they should have no problem winning the division again.
Runner Up: Minnesota Twins
AL East Champions: New York Yankees
- With the trade for Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees projected lineup may be the best in the American League. The starting staff is led by young gun Luis Severino, followed by newly acquired Sonny Gray and Mashiro Tanaka, and the backside of the bullpen is led by Aroldis Chapman and David Robertson. The Yankees will compete alongside the Red Sox for the division title but should squeeze by them.
Runner Up: Boston Red Sox
NL West Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers
- The 2017 NL Champions were on a rollercoaster during the final two months of the season. The tough NL West will be a tight race with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. However, they may have the most complete team in the National League. The experience and depth of the Dodgers will lead to their sixth straight NL West Title.
Runner Up: Colorado Rockies
NL Central Champions: St. Louis Cardinals
- The Cardinals will be back on top of the NL Central in a tight race with the Chicago Cubs. The rivalry of these two clubs will be back at full swing. The addition of Marcell Ozuna will boost a struggling 2017 Cardinal lineup. The pitching, thanks to ace Carlos Martinez, will carry the team to a division title.
Runner Up: Chicago Cubs
NL East Champions: Washington Nationals
- A weak NL East division is a clean shot for the Nationals to win another division title. Their roster has limited holes with five All Stars: Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Stephen Strausburg and Max Scherzer. Throw in a healthy Adam Eaton and Trea Turner, and the Nats should be able to run away with the division early.
Runner Up: New York Mets
The predictions have four of the six teams repeating their title from the 2017 season. Will there be a dark horse team that comes out of nowhere to win their division? Who will run away with their division early in the year? We are just going to have to wait until the season to find out.