The 2018 MLB season will have a lot of interesting storylines so here are 18 storylines (In no particular order) to look forward to this coming season.
#1 SHOHEI OHTANI: CAN THE 2 WAY PLAYER SUCCEED ?
Shohei Ohtani the “Babe Ruth of Japan” will attempt to be a Two Way player: Pitcher and Hitter. It will be interesting to see exactly how the Angels will go about deploying his abilities to maximize his potential.
#2 HOW MANY HOMERUNS WILL THE NEW YORK YANKEES HIT ?
The New York Yankees after acquiring the reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton will be adding even more power to an already potent packed lineup. In 2017 the Yankees as a team hit a league leading 241 homeruns, and now adding Stanton who in 2017 hit 59 homeruns by himself in the albatross canyon that is Marlins Park and now placing him in the much more hitter friendly confines of Yankee Stadium a magical combination can take place. The all time team homerun record in 264 by the 2017 Seattle Mariners. Can the Yankees surpass this mark, can they reach 300 homeruns ? We will find out.
#3 JUST HOW BAD WILL THE MIAMI MARLINS BE ?
The Marlins have traded away what was arguably the best outfield in baseball in 2017. Giancarlo Stanton (6.9 WAR), Marcell Ozuna (4.8 WAR), Christian Yellich (4.5 WAR) and Dee Gordon (3.3). They traded away a collective WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 19.5 (according to FanGraphs). The Marlins are now rumored to be looking to trade J.T. Realmuto which would add another 3.6 WAR to the incredible amount of talent shipped away. The Marlins’ new ownership group has taken things down to a level approaching laughable so we will see just how low it can go in Miami.
#4 CAN THE HOUSTON ASTROS REPEAT ?
There has not been a repeat champion in MLB since the 1999/2000 New York Yankees, can Houston break the trend ? The Houston have a team build around their young position players and solid veteran pitching. Similar to what the Chicago Cubs built in 2016. Everyone believed that the Cubs could repeat as most of their championship squad was returning, much like the 2018 Astros championship team is returning in 2018. The Astros however have not slept on their laurels having continued to push forward and acquired Gerrit Cole from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cole was highly debated leading up to the trade but in Houston Cole need not be an ace, he can slot in as a well above average number 4 starter behind Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. The Astros will have stiff competition but will look to be the first back to back championship in 18 years.
#5 WHERE’S ALL THE MONEY GONE ? WILL THE TOP FREE AGENTS FINALLY FIND HOMES ?
JD Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakus, Jake Arrieta and many many others still need to find homes for the 2018 as Pitchers and Catchers report this week. How long will they remain on the market ? What kind of deals will they take ? And are the owners saving their money for next offseason or just putting it in their pockets ?
#6 CAN MIKE TROUT AND THE ANGELS MAKE THE PLAYOFFS ?
Trout is the best player in baseball and yet outside of Anaheim and the Tri-State Area, Trout is a relatively unknown superstar. This season however that looks to change. With Shoehi Ohtani choosing the Angels as his landing spot the national media will undoubtedly have a much closer eye on this Angels team. That exposure bodes well for the best player in the game. The Angels have made some significant moves to help push this team to further levels. Beyond the pairing of Trout and Ohtani, a breakout season from the defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons, the Angels have now added a couple more guys to help on both sides of the ball. Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler now come into the infield for this Angels team to truly help solidify the defense. Cozart also had a breakout offensive season in 2017 and will look to carry that over into 2018 as well. The Angels will look to push the Astros in 2018 and try to get into the playoffs again.
#7 HAVE THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS DONE ENOUGH ?
The Milwaukee Brewers are “Going For It” in 2018, after trading for Christian Yellich from the Marlins and signing Lorenzo Cain the Brewers have made some big upgrades to their ball club. But is it enough to knock the Cubs off of the top spot in the NL Central. The Brewers were one of the clubs that were in on You Darvish before he ultimately chose to go to Chicago. If the Brew Crew’s offense continues to progress like they did in 2017 they will definitely compete. We will have to just wait and see what else Milwaukee has in store.
#8 HOW WILL NEW MANAGERS DO ?
You get a new manager, and you get a new manager, and you get a new manager (channeling my inner Oprah), 6 new managers will be taking the field in 2018. Of the six only one has previous managerial experience (Ron Gardenhire of the Detroit Tigers). These new managers will be faced with many challenges and critical decisions in a moments notice so we will all want to see exactly just how they will respond.
#9 WHERE ARE THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES, ATLANTA BRAVES & THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX ON THE WIN CURVE ?
These three teams are packed with young talent ready to take the next steps in their development. Now it’s just a matter of which of the succeed. The Phillies have made a couple of moves this offseason signing back Pat Neshek and bringing in Tommy Hunter and Carlos Santana. The Braves brought in some veterans pitching depth in Brandon McCarthy and Scot Kazmir and some infield depth in Charlie Culberson in a deal with the Dodgers this past December. The White Sox have remained pretty quiet thus far but have the best farm system in all of baseball and will look to use that to their advantage this upcoming season. It will be interesting to watch these young ballclubs as the progress this season.
#10 WILL THE HOMERUN RATE KEEP RISING ?
In 2017 there were a total of 6,105 homeruns throughout the entire Major Leagues, that’s more than 400 homeruns from the next closest league wide total that came during the 2000 season which was in heart of the “Steroid Era” (5,693 HRs). If this trend continues the homerun rate should rise yet again in 2018.
#11 SENDING CHIEF WAHOO OUT WITH A BANG
It will be a thing of the past come 2019, Chief Wahoo will no longer be on the uniforms or hats of the Cleveland Indians after the 2018 season. So the Indians will try to send Wahoo off with a sweet sayonara and win the World Series. The Indians have boasted one of the best starting pitching rotations in recent memory anchored by one of the games best in Corey Kluber. And like the Cubs and Astros the Indians have a young core of players they will rely on on 2018 to help them achieve this vision. Francisco Lindor & Jose Ramirez are not just two of the best players on the Indians team but in all of MLB. Can the Indians take the next step and find their way to being there last team standing ?
#12 CAN THE NEW YORK METS ROTATION STAY HEALTHY & PRODUCTIVE ?
What was billed as the next Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz the New York Mets had Syndergaard, DeGrom and Harvey. The Mets rotation was suppose to dominate and for a short time they did. Now in 2018 the last year of Harvey in the blue & orange can this trio stay healthy enough to compete for a crown ?
#13 WHO BREAKS THE PLAYOFF DROUGHT FIRST ?
16 seasons for Seattle, 14 seasons for Miami and 11 seasons for San Diego. These are the decade plus long playoff-less droughts that these teams are experiencing. Each team is at a different point on the proverbial “Win-Curve”, with the Seattle Mariners seemingly the closest to competing. The Marlins just started their umpteenth rebuild, and the Padres have a top farm system that could be ready to deploy in the very near future. However, in baseball anything can happen and the question is which of these teams will end their decade plus playoff-less drought first ?
#14 HOW LONG UNTIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF IN SAN FRANCISCO ?
After acquiring two franchise faces from other franchises Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay Rays) and Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) the San Francisco Giants are zagging when everyone else is zigging. The Giants already have one of the older average aged ball clubs in the Majors. However, with adding veterans comes immeasurable amounts of experience. The question will remain can this method bring there Giants back from the 98 loss campaign they had in 2017 ?
#15 CAN THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS BOUNCE BACKS
The Toronto Blue Jays are just one year removed from the playoffs and they are looking to bounce back. Having the core of the team still intact with Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. These three players will be looking to anchor a team that is being counted out before a game has even been played. in 2018 we will finds out if the Blue Jays can fly in the playoffs once more ? (Before Donaldson becomes a free agent)
#16 IS JOSE BERRIOS THE MLB’S NEXT ACE ?
Jose Berrios has only been in the Majors two full seasons and in that time he has shown tremendous improvements. In 2017 Berrios cut down his BB/9, HR/9, HR/FB, FIP and his ERA. Berrios also became more than just a hard throwing right hander for the Minnesota Twins, as Berrios began using his curveball more in 2017. 2018 should continue to see the development of Berrios into baseball next great Ace.
#17 CAN THE NEW YORK YANKEES TRULY CONTEND WITH 2 ROOKIES INFIELDERS ?
The New York Yankees made a big splash in the beginning of the off-season by acquiring the reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, making a already powerful offense even more potent as we discussed earlier in this piece. Now the subsequent price being paid by the Stanton acquisition was the trades of Starlin Castro & Chase Headley (Starting 2nd & 3rd basemen respectively). This leaves the Yankees with Gleyber Torres & Miguel Andujar, 2 rookies with the starting roles on a team ready to contend. The Yankees will be giving these two highly talented & highly touted prospects the chance to prove their merit in Spring Training. The move (or lack thereof) to have these youngsters take over rather than bringing in a ready made veteran player means that the Yankees believe in there young talent. Now it will be up to Torres & Andujar to show that that Yankees made the right call.
#18 WHERE WILL BRYCE HARPER & MANNY MACHADO END UP ?
Bryce Harper & Manny Machado two of the best young players but also two of the most polarizing characters in the game. Harper & Machado have established themselves at the top of the league at their positions. Bryce & Manny in their careers have been considered elite talents they have also succumb to inconsistency (Machado) & injury (Harper) in recent years. However, both players will look to cement their legacies in 2018. As both men are set to become free agents after the season concludes, and both have been rumored and speculated to receive the largest contracts in MLB history. The question will be where they choose to go, how many years they choose to sign for, and how much they will receive ?
The 2018 MLB season will be a historic season. Twist & turns, development & reestablishment, youth & experience the upcoming season will have many storylines. None more prevalent then the ultimate question of who will be crowned the 2018 World Series Champion ? And today that quest begins.