The first half of the season has come and gone. Some teams (Dodgers) have all but clinched the division title while others (Orioles, Tigers, Royals) are the opposite. Somewhere between those two extremes we will find heated divisional races and late runs for the Wild Card spots. Big name players will be on the move to contenders. Player awards will be sought after. And last but not least, a team will win it all.
With so much of the season to play, doesn’t it just make sense to make some bold predictions? I think so. Let’s have it.
We have a 110-game winner AND loser
The last team to win over 110 regular season games was the 2001 Seattle Mariners who won 116. Last year, Boston won 108. I think the Dodgers have the best chance to hit the 110 win milestone. They have a loaded roster that you know they are going to add to this trade deadline. The Yankees have an outside shot as they are only starting to get healthier and I will also give the Astros a chance here.
As for the 110 loser. The 2011-14 Astros were the trendsetters of tanking. Throw a few seasons away to ensure high draft picks and the ability to build strength in-house. Now, we have a few teams who are in full-time tank mode in the Orioles, Tigers, and Royals. Last year, the Orioles lost 115 games and they’re currently on pace to lose 112 based on their current win percentage.
Only once in the modern era have we had a 110 game loser and winner in the same season. The first time was in 1909 and the second will be 110 years later.
Cody Bellinger wins the Triple Crown
Miguel Cabrera won the American League Triple Crown in 2012 and before that Carl Yastrzemski won in 1967. The NL has not seen a Triple Crown winner since 1937, but that’s changing this year as Bellinger will end the year leading all National League hitters in average, RBIs, and home runs.
Bellinger is currently second in all of the categories. Expect Jeff McNeil’s and Josh Bell’s respective AVG and RBI numbers to come back to earth while Bellinger hits four home runs in the final week of the season to pass Yelich and win the Triple Crown.
The Astros add a big bat and arm at the deadline
Houston, looking to gain ground in the division and beef up for playoff matchups, are extra active this deadline. They make a huge splash by adding slugger Jose Abreu from the White Sox. The offers on the table were just too sweet for Chicago to ignore dealing the first baseman, as Abreu is no longer on contract at the end of the season.
The Astros won’t stop there. They also add Mets right-hander, Zach Wheeler as a rental to go right behind Verlander and Cole in the rotation. The 28-year-old is coming off his best season ever in 2018. His numbers are struggling this year, but he’s been solid throughout his career and will benefit from a change of scenery.
The NL Central winner has less than 84 wins
The NL Central is currently a logjam of three good teams underperforming and two average teams being average. All of the teams are within fives games of first place. To take this point further, the distance between the last place Reds and first place Cubs is closer than all second place teams to the leaders in the other divisions. That’s insane.
The NL Central will continue to beat each other upside the head and the Cubs and Brewers will each end the year with a 84-78 record. For the second straight year, they will play a 163rd game to determine the division winner with the other team being the wild card. However, the Cubs will be victorious this time.
The last division winner with as few wins were the 2008 Dodgers, also with 84.
The Nationals surge to win the NL East
On Memorial Day, the Nationals were sitting with a 22-32 record, 9.5 games out of first place and a 25.8% chance of making the playoffs (FanGraphs). There were small talks about punting on the year and dealing Anthony Rendon and even Max Scherzer. Good thing they didn’t.
Thanks to an absurd run by Scherzer and Co., they now find themselves in the thick of things with a 75.8% chance of making the postseason. If the playoffs started today, they would be hosting the Wild Card game and they are only 6 games off the division lead.
Scherzer continues to tear through lineups while Rendon, Trea Turner, and Juan Soto push the Nats past the Braves in the division as their pitching staff falters.
Awards, Winners, and Champions
These predictions are certainly not as bold as the others, but let’s see how close these are by year’s end.
- Division Winners: Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Twins, Astros
- Wild Card: Braves, Brewers, Red Sox, Rays
- MVP: Cody Bellinger and Mike Trout
- Cy Young: Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander
- Rookie of Year: Pete Alonso and Brandon Lowe
- Manager of the Year: Dave Martinez and Rocco Baldelli
- World Series: Yankees over Dodgers