15 thoughts on “Peanuts and Cracker Jack: MLB 2018

  1. I won’t write anything until after Mitchell sets his picks, but this: Mitchell loves to pick my Phillies at the bottom of the NL East. My guess is not this year, though.

  2. Here are my picks. Unless things get crazy, I think everyone’s going to be correct in their picks this year with some variations in the wild cards. So for once, I didn’t look at anyone’s predictions (not even Kurkjian’s) before making mine.

    AL East
    New York
    Tampa Bay

    AL Central
    Kansas City

    AL West
    Los Angeles

    NL East
    New York

    NL Central
    St. Louis

    NL West
    Los Angeles
    San Francisco
    San Diego

    AL Wildcards: Boston, Los Angeles
    NL Wildcards: New York, Milwaukee

    World Series: Washington over Cleveland

    AL MVP: Carlos Correa
    NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
    AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander
    NL Cy Young: Stephen Strasburg
    AL Rookie: Shohei Ohtani
    NL Rookie: Ronald Acuna

    Commentary later. I have a deadline!

  3. Giancarlo Stanton just hit his first home run as a Yankee. In his first at-bat. Opposite field. This is going to be a great season for the Yankees.

  4. All the contenders from last year have returned: Cubs, Dodgers, Nats, Indians, Astros, Red Sox and Yankees. And unlike in the past recent years, there really seems to be a group of haves and have-nots.

    The Red Sox adding JD Martinez to an already loaded lineup seems ridiculous.

    The Ringer stated that the Indians may have one of the best pitching lineups in history. That’s shocking. Best bullpen in history may not be crazy, but best pitching lineup in history seems crazy.

    The Giants intrigues me a lot. They are an all-star team, but from five years ago. They brought in Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen, and brought back the Panda, adding these guys to the playoff-experienced players of Belt, Brandon Crawford, Panik, Posey, and Pence. Bochy can do magic with these guys especially if they make the playoffs. I think most give them no chance, and that’s probably closer to correct being that they are in arguably the toughest division in baseball with the Dodgers and Diamondbacks and the Rockies. But they will be fun if they make it in the playoffs.

    My Phillies will be much improved (or should be). Their signings of Arieta and Santana don’t really excite me, but their young guys are supposed to be pretty good. Plus they added some arms in the bullpen, which should be better than average this year. Playoff bound baby…

    Of course the talk of the season is Ohtani, the first true two way player since Babe Ruth, and the Yankees with Judge and Stanton. When talking about the Yankees power though, you have to also add Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius. These four could be a defensive front for the Giants (maybe not Gregorius).

    I wrote the above before reading Mitchell’s predictions. He is right that everyone has the division winners the same with the only outlier being whether or not the Red Sox or Yankees will win. I did notice Mitchell has the Giants second behind the Dodgers. I think most people won’t have that, but as I stated above they should have a shot.

  5. Here’s the commentary I said I would provide.

    Don, I completely agree with your assessment of the Giants. They’re going to be an interesting team to watch because they could be horrible or they could contend for a wildcard spot. As you can see, I went with the latter, mostly because I thought I should pick one team in each league to be a surprise wildcard contender.

    The Red Sox vs. Yankees situation is the most interesting, standings-wise. I’m leaning toward the Yankees only because I kind of have an anti-BoSox bias lately. It’s ebbing, now that David Ortiz is finally gone. I really like Jackie Bradley Jr., so I’m really pretty close to getting over my distaste for his team.

    I love this Cleveland team and I love its manager. I love the Astros and I love their manager too. What a competitive top four that is: Yankees, Astros, Indians, Red Sox. It’s a good time to be a baseball fan.

    I have the Angels finishing second in the AL West as my AL surprise wildcard contender.

    Yes, Philadelphia is on the rise; no doubt. I think they’re still a year or two away, as are the Braves. Atlanta has this year’s Kris Bryant, a rookie named Ronald Acuna who’s starting in the minors so the team can delay his eligibility for free agency. He’ll be up mid-season and expectations are ridiculously high. But they were for Bryant and he was amazing.

    The Nationals’ window is closing. Everyone’s saying this is the last year, although I kind of think Bryce Harper will re-sign with Washington.

    Boy, the good teams this season and last are so, so good.

  6. Mitchell,

    When I saw Ohtani as your AL rookie, I was wondering what you knew, because he was supposed to have had a terrible Spring Training. But he has been pretty special so far this season.

    By the way how do you guys treat Ohtani in your fantasy league? If you have him, you can use him as a pitcher and hitter? Or are there two Ohtani’s in your league, one pitcher, one hitter?

  7. Ohtani is having an unreal couple of weeks, but he has to come to earth eventually. Pitchers always have the advantage over hitters the first time through the league.

    Still, I knew he threw hard, and in today’s MLB, throwing hard where you want to is almost guaranteed to succeed, at least moderately.

    The homers were a surprise. He only hit 48 homers across five seasons in Japan, with a .286 batting average. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if he goes over 21 homers this season.

    Good question about fantasy! I haven’t played fantasy for a few years. Now I need to find out what leagues are doing. However, I’m guessing that Ohtani only exists once per league, and owners can play him as a hitter or a pitcher in any given week, but not both. In leagues where you can adjust your lineup daily, it’s only fair that owners can start him as a hitter on non-pitching days, if the software allows it. If it doesn’t, it should.

  8. The Dodgers put Trayce Thompson (Klay’s brother) on the waiver wire a little while ago. The Yankees picked him up, and then recently put him on the wire. The A’s claimed him and signed him just last week.

    Trayce is living in Klay’s house in Oakland. 🙂

    He got his first start in CF last night and robbed Yasiel Puig of a homer. It’s a nice grab, ‘though not exactly spectacular. I like Puig’s doff of the cap as he trots back to the dugout.

    No embed code from MLB (it didn’t add this clip to its YouTube channel), but here’s the link.

  9. Agree. And I don’t think I ever noticed what a nice swing he has. Or maybe it’s the angle.

    Oh, I just remembered that Puig is Thompson’s former teammate. I wonder if that was part of the doffing of the cap. Either way, still cool.

  10. Without actually doing the math, I think the Yanks and Red Sox are on pace to both win over 100 games. I wonder what is the most combined wins they have ever had.

  11. The top AL teams are amazing this year. Just as everyone predicted, the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, and Indians are pretty much just dominating. The Ms have been interesting (although I don’t expect them to keep going like this), and I knew the Angels were going to be stronger than people were predicting, so the wild card is going to be interesting.

  12. Buster Olney asked Tim Kurkjian a few quick questions I wanted to save the answers to.

    Who’s your favorite player you ever covered?
    Mike Flanagan.

    Who’s the best player you ever saw?
    Willie Mays is the best I’ve seen.
    Barry Bonds is the best I’ve covered.

    What’s the strangest story you ever covered?
    That Camden Yards game with no fans in the stands.

    What was the angriest a player ever was at you?
    Rick Burleson asked me not to run something, but I said the editors make that decision. It was an inflammatory story about how bad the Orioles were doing. When the editors ran it, the next day Burleson screamed his head off at me for a couple of minutes. You just have to stand there and take it.

    Who was the toughest manager to interview after a tough loss?
    Gene Mauch.

    Michael Jordan or LeBron James?
    Michael Jordan but when James’s career is done, I will likely have a different answer.

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