Final Win-Loss Predictions for Every MLB Team in 2018
Fear not. They're going to start playing real games in Major League Baseball soon. And plenty of them.
Which leads us to today's objective: Projecting how all 30 MLB teams will fare in the 2018 season.
For some helpful perspective, each team's 2017 record and PECOTA projection for 2018 (courtesy of Baseball Prospectus) will be included. But for the most part, our projections are informed by how teams will be impacted by their general roster strength, their offseason additions and subtractions, age and/or injury red flags, strength of schedule and other factors that influence wins and losses.
We'll go division by division, starting with the AL East.
New York Yankees
PECOTA 2018: 97-65
If it feels like the Yankees did better than a 91-71 record and a second-place finish in the AL East in 2017, that's probably because they enjoyed a 46-30 second half and made it to Game 7 of the American League Championship Series.
The gang's mostly all back for 2018, plus one major addition: Giancarlo Stanton. With him alongside Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and others, a Yankees lineup that led MLB with 241 homers last year is now even more powerful. Factor in a strong starting rotation, an excellent bullpen and a deep farm system they can use for either promotions or trades, and the Yankees are positioned for a truly special year.
Boston Red Sox
PECOTA 2018: 89-73
The Red Sox seemed to crawl to 93 wins and a second straight AL East title last year. Their American League-low 168 homers was a problem. They also missed David Price, who was limited to 16 appearances by an elbow injury.
Well, now Boston has 45-homer slugger J.D. Martinez. His power fits well next to the diverse talents of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers and others. The Red Sox also have a healthy Price to pair with staff ace Chris Sale, with Craig Kimbrel set to once again shut opponents down in the ninth inning. No crawling should be necessary in 2018.
Toronto Blue Jays
PECOTA 2018: 79-83
The Blue Jays took a beating from Murphy's law in 2017, as many of their best players regressed and/or missed time with injuries. Knowing that, it's actually impressive that they were better than .500 for the final five months of the year.
Nw they're a deeper team after netting Curtis Granderson, Randal Grichuk, Aledmys Diaz, Yangervis Solarte, Jaime Garcia and Seung Hwan Oh in a quietly productive offseason. If they do their part while luminaries like Josh Donaldson, Justin Smoak, Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman do theirs, a wild-card berth will be well within reach.
PECOTA 2018: 70-92
The Orioles' track record of outperforming their projections is one reason for skepticism about their PECOTA record. The presence of Manny Machado in the middle of a quality lineup and Alex Cobb in a starting rotation that's gotten deeper in recent weeks are two more.
Still, concerns abound. Baltimore's rotation may be deeper, but it's hard to refer to it as "good." And the team's bullpen may struggle to cover for it until Zach Britton returns from a ruptured Achilles, which may not be until the All-Star break. As such, only so much improvement is in the cards.
Tampa Bay Rays
PECOTA 2018: 83-79
The Rays are going to carry out an experiment with a four-man rotation that's fascinating at worst and brilliant at best. They're trusting their bullpen to occasionally be their No. 5 starter, which feels like a glimpse into the future.
Then again, the Rays don't exactly have the Yankees' bullpen. And then there's the big problem: an offense that finished 14th in the AL in runs last year is missing Evan Longoria, Steven Souza Jr., Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson. That will spell trouble in the run-scoring department, and should ultimately be the reason for the team's inevitable fire sale on the summer trade market.
PECOTA 2018: 96-66
Cleveland isn't in the best shape as Opening Day nears. Michael Brantley and Danny Salazar's struggles against the injury bug are ongoing. Carlos Carrasco, Bradley Zimmer and Brandon Guyer are dealing with their own aches and pains.
Nonetheless, panic is not advised. Corey Kluber and Carrasco (whose foot injury doesn't seem serious) still lead a rotation that set a record for strikeouts in 2017. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen still anchor an excellent bullpen. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez still hold down Cleveland's lineup, which also features a healthy Jason Kipnis and Yonder Alonso as a solid stand-in for Carlos Santana.
It's all enough to conclude: Yeah, the Indians will be fine.
PECOTA 2018: 82-80
The Twins will be without Ervin Santana until May. Jorge Polanco, who enjoyed a second-half breakout in 2017, will miss half the year due to a PED suspension. Miguel Sano may be facing his own suspension pending an investigation into his alleged sexual misconduct.
However, it's not all bad. Byron Buxton is an up-and-coming superstar in a lineup that got a nice power boost from the signing of Logan Morrison. Jose Berrios is a rising star in his own right, and he has nice company in Jake Odorizzi and Lance Lynn. It's not enough for a contender, but it should be enough to save the Twins from a major regression following their surprise season in 2017.
Chicago White Sox
PECOTA 2018: 72-90
Right now, it's hard to look at the White Sox and see a quality team. In fact, they largely resemble the team that struggled to hit (12th in the AL in runs) and pitch (13th in ERA) en route to 95 losses in 2017.
The upside is there, however, specifically in breakout candidates like Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer. And more upside is coming, as it won't be long before Eloy Jimenez adds his power bat and Michael Kopech adds his power arm. Once they're in the mix, the White Sox should finish the year stronger than they started it.
Kansas City Royals
PECOTA 2018: 65-97
Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain both left, yet the Royals' offseason wasn't a total loss. They at least brought back Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar. They also did well to replace Hosmer with Lucas Duda, who's actually the better hitter of the two.
All the same, this is a team beset by shallowness everywhere you look. They have a weak lineup, a weak rotation and a weak bullpen. These things will make it tough for them to get off the ground. Come July, that'll be a cue to deal Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera and possibly Moustakas as well.
PECOTA 2018: 68-94
The Tigers stumbled to the worst record in the American League last year in part because they didn't have J.D. Martinez, Justin Verlander and Justin Upton at the end. They crashed and burned with a 13-41 record after August 4.
Given that the team didn't change much over the offseason, it's hard to have hope for better things in 2018. It becomes even harder to have hope once you realize they may not be done shedding stars. Michael Fulmer and Nicholas Castellanos will be in demand this summer, and both could go if the Tigers sniff opportunities to advance their rebuild.
PECOTA 2018: 99-63
On paper, the 2018 Astros look even better than the team that won 101 games and the World Series in 2017. An offense that was historically great is still mostly intact. A pitching staff that was good to begin with will now enjoy a full year of Justin Verlander and the addition of Gerrit Cole.
And yet, their status as reigning champs is deserving of some concern. The dreaded "World Series hangover" has proven capable of sabotaging even supposed superteams, such as last year's Chicago Cubs. After playing in 18 high-pressure games last October, the Astros could have a similarly difficult time getting going before they ultimately get on track.
Los Angeles Angels
PECOTA 2018: 79-83
There are good reasons to believe the Angels can improve in 2018. Having Mike Trout healthy for the whole year is the biggest. After that, you've got a full year of Justin Upton and the additions of Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler to an infield that already had Andrelton Simmons.
The big unknown is the club's mound staff, specifically in regard to one-time ace Garrett Richards and Japanese wunderkind Shohei Ohtani (who will also make occasional cameos in the batter's box). The bright side either way, though, is that the Angels have plenty of pitching depth. Somehow, some way, their arms will do enough to complement their bats and gloves.
PECOTA 2018: 82-80
If nothing else, the Mariners will be worth watching for their lineup. It's anchored by Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager. It also features an exciting new addition (Dee Gordon) and two young guys with upside (Mike Zunino and Mitch Haniger). Runs and defense shouldn't be a problem.
Alas, it's harder to conjure optimism for their pitching. James Paxton is the best they have, and his injury proneness is no secret by now. Other maladies include a past-his-prime Felix Hernandez and a bullpen that will sorely miss David Phelps. It amounts to a unit that will have a tough time against an AL West that's loaded with good offenses.
PECOTA 2018: 76-86
It doesn't have as many brand names, yet Oakland's lineup is just as good as Seattle's, if not better. At the heart of it are an elite slugger (Khris Davis), three good Matts (Olson, Chapman and Joyce) and one of the better bounce-back candidates in MLB (Stephen Piscotty).
The problem is that Oakland's pitching staff looks even shakier than what's in Seattle. The A's will probably be hunting for capable starters all year, which is bound to put a strain on a bullpen that's good but not great. Until they figure this out, it'll be hard to take them seriously as a contender.
PECOTA 2018: 75-87
The Rangers should at least have the offense of a contender this year. Adrian Beltre, Joey Gallo, Elvis Andrus and Shin-Soo Choo give them four solid bats to rally around. Nomar Mazara, Rougned Odor and, should he prove capable of playing defense anywhere, top prospect Willie Calhoun bring the upside.
But in keeping with the theme here, there are major questions on the mound in Texas. The Rangers are going with a motley crew of a rotation beneath Cole Hamels, and even he's not a sure thing anymore. A bullpen that pitched to an ugly 4.76 ERA last year doesn't look much better.
PECOTA 2018: 88-74
It's not just PECOTA that's down on the 2018 Nationals. FanGraphs is, too. And the red flags do become clear upon close inspection. Daniel Murphy and Adam Eaton have question marks looming over their knees. Quite a few other guys come with injury and/or age questions.
Even still, the projections exaggerate. Led by Bryce Harper and Max Scherzer, the Nats' lineup and rotation are as stacked as any in the league. And the bullpen problems they experienced for the bulk of 2017 should remain in the past. The guys who solved those (Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler) later in the year are all back for 2018.
New York Mets
PECOTA 2018: 80-82
It's possible to look at the Mets and see a superteam. An offense that led the National League with 224 homers a year ago brought back Jay Bruce, added Todd Frazier and should welcome back Michael Conforto soon. On the mound, beware a pitching staff headed by a healthy Noah Syndergaard.
But while better things should be in store for the Mets in 2018, some issues persist. Those include a one-dimensional offense and a rotation that doesn't have clear answers after Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler were prodigies once, but now they should be trusted about as far as they can be thrown.
PECOTA 2018: 81-81
The Phillies' rebuild isn't quite finished yet. They're in the "let's see what he can do" phase with many of their hitting prospects, and it's unclear how many of their pitching prospects are capable of being long-term contributors.
That said, a quantum leap is in store for 2018.
The Phillies crafted an elite one-two punch when they paired Jake Arrieta with Aaron Nola. Fellow new addition Carlos Santana will be a rock in a lineup that's littered with young talent. Scott Kingery is another young hitter who's waiting in the wings, and his future may involve supplanting the disappointing Maikel Franco at third base.
PECOTA 2018: 76-86
The Braves are in roughly the same boat as the Phillies. Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte form a solid lineup core, and the pending arrival of Ronald Acuna Jr. will make it even better. On the other side of the ball, they have a veritable treasure trove of young arms to draw from.
So why put the Braves below their fellow NL East rebuilder? Partially because of the dead weight they have at third base and right field, and partially because their pitching staff is more about future potential than current ability. Odds are, they won't have a duo as good as Arrieta and Nola.
PECOTA 2018: 65-97
It's, uh, not going to be pretty in Miami this year. Not at Marlins Park, anyway.
Everyone knows the story. New owners came in and traded Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Dee Gordon. Thus did they tear apart an offense that was the Marlins' big redeeming quality in 2017. Elsewhere, a pitching staff that was bad should still be bad.
Mind you, this is an analysis of the team the Marlins have now. Once they get rid of additional trade chips (e.g., J.T. Realmuto, Dan Straily, Justin Bour and Brad Ziegler), they'll be even worse.
PECOTA 2018: 91-71
The 2017 Cubs followed a 43-45 first half with a 49-25 second half, largely on the strength of an offense that averaged 5.7 runs per game. Led by Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras, that offense is still intact.
Chicago's hitters can also catch the ball quite well, which will be of use to a loaded pitching staff. Jose Quintana is in for a full year alongside Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks, and Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood are upgrades in the shoes of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. Throw in a bullpen that looks plenty deep, and the Cubs seem ready to be a well-rounded juggernaut once again.
St. Louis Cardinals
PECOTA 2018: 85-77
The Cardinals won 83 games last year despite not really being good at anything. That should change at least on the offensive front in 2018. Assuming he can pick up where he left off after a career-best 2017, Marcell Ozuna will be the big slugger the Redbirds were missing.
The real question is how the Cardinals will perform on the mound. The upside of guys like Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver and Alex Reyes (who should return from Tommy John surgery in May) is a reason to hope for the best. Even so, this is a list of names that only covers a fraction of the entire ensemble. That's a reason for unease.
PECOTA 2018: 84-78
The Brewers had hitting stars last year, but those guys were surrounded by enough scrubs to drag the whole offense down. Enter Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain, who will also help improve a defense that was afflicted by poor glovework in the outfield.
The real question is whether the Brewers will get enough pitching to survive as a contender. Their underrated bullpen will support the cause, but it'll have its work cut out in trying to pick up slack for a rotation that, minus an injured Jimmy Nelson, is shallow under Chase Anderson. Until the Brewers change that, expectations should be kept in check.
PECOTA 2018: 78-84
Even sans Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole, the Pirates are an interesting team. Homegrown players with upside abound on both sides of the ball. There's additional upside contained within their notable offseason additions: Colin Moran, Corey Dickerson and Joe Musgrove.
However, this is a case where it's hard to stretch "interesting" to "good." Pittsburgh's offense will miss McCutchen's bat. And while the Pirates have plenty of live arms, Jameson Taillon seems to be the only one with the goods to step into Cole's shoes.
PECOTA 2018: 75-87
The Reds are only going to take a step toward contention if they put last year's awful 5.17 ERA behind them. A full season of Luis Castillo's electric arm will help, but not that much. Alas, more woeful pitching is in order.
Instead, here's a tip: Watch the Reds for their offense. Joey Votto is among the most gifted hitters of all time, and there's plenty of talent around him. There will be even more after the Reds promote top prospect Nick Senzel, a .315/.393/.514 hitter in two minor league seasons.
Los Angeles Dodgers
PECOTA 2018: 97-65
There are a few reasons to be concerned about the Dodgers as they prepare to defend their National League pennant. Justin Turner's broken wrist tops the list. Then there's Corey Seager's bothersome elbow and the trustworthiness of Clayton Kershaw's back.
It's a good thing that, as usual, they have an absurd amount of depth. That's true not just of their major league roster, but also of a farm system from which Walker Buehler and Alex Verdugo are ready to step in. Like they did between 2013 and 2016, the Dodgers will use a group effort to overcome adversity.
PECOTA 2018: 87-75
The Diamondbacks were a surprise playoff team in 2017 largely thanks to the midsummer addition of J.D. Martinez and the season-long excellence of their starting rotation. So, it wouldn't seem to bode well that Martinez is gone and that Zack Greinke is set to miss Opening Day.
On the bright side, Steven Souza Jr. (health permitting) can be a capable fill-in for Martinez in an offense that will be led by the always stupendous Paul Goldschmidt. On another, Greinke should soon return to lead a pitching staff that should once again thrive on the strength of its best parts. To that end, uber-reliever Archie Bradley is not to be forgotten about.
PECOTA 2018: 78-84
The Rockies should pitch the ball like never before in 2018. Jon Gray is at the head of arguably the most underrated rotation in baseball. And with Wade Davis at the back end of an incredibly deep bullpen, the Rockies have just the thing to keep their starters fresh in the thin air of Colorado.
Ironically, whether the Rockies will hit enough is the big question. Despite Nolan Arenado's and Charlie Blackmon's best efforts, they suffered through one of their worst offensive seasons in 2017. By not making any new additions, they've likely signed up for more of the same.
San Francisco Giants
PECOTA 2018: 83-79
Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria are Giants now. If Buster Posey continues to be himself while Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Mark Melancon, Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence put last year's issues behind them, the Giants will have no trouble rising from the ashes.
But when a team needs this many things to go right, it's at least as likely that things will go wrong instead. The Giants are especially vulnerable in light of their collective age, as few of their key players will play the 2018 season on the right side of 30. It's a recipe for trouble.
San Diego Padres
PECOTA 2018: 73-89
The Padres were better than expected last year, and now they can look forward to new additions (Eric Hosmer and Bryan Mitchell) and full years from in-house products (Jose Pirela and Carlos Asuaje).
However, it took a huge amount of overachieving for the Padres to get to even 71 wins last year. The things they have to look forward to aren't enough to balance the scales. It would be a different story if their top prospects were nearing MLB-readiness, but that's more of a hope for 2019.