Spring Training is under way and the 2018 Major League Baseball season is right around the corner. To help bring the new season in, the BaseballMonkey staff has come together and ranked all 30 Major League teams prior to the 2018 season.
30. Miami Marlins
What a difference a year makes. The Miami Marlins lost 4 of the brightest young stars in the game with the departures of Giancarlo Stanton (28), Dee Gordon (29), Marcel Ozuna (27), and Christian Yelich (26). With the loss of 4 key pieces to an offense that ranked 11th in runs scored last season, the Marlins will be looking for players to step up and fill those roles. Veterans Justin Bour, J.T. Realmuto, and Starlin Castro will lead the offense with help from top prospect, Lewis Brinson.
Dan Straily and Wei-Yin Chen headline the Marlins starting rotation, while Kyle Barraclough and Brad Ziegler will look to round out the back end of the bullpen. Sandy Alcantara, one of the pieces Miami received from St. Louis in the Ozuna deal, could step in at some point in 2018 and make an impact. However, with no major upgrades to a pitching staff that had the 26th worst era in baseball last season (4.82), 2018 is not looking bright as of now for the Miami Marlins.
29. Cincinnati Reds
Similar to the rest of the MLB, the Reds were pretty inactive this offseason. Therefore, in 2018, the Cincinnati Reds will rely on the same offense that ranked 14th in runs and a pitching staff that ranked 29th in era (5.17) back in 2017. The hope is that the offense will continue to make strides and the pitching staff stays healthy. The offense is led by one of the best hitters in baseball, Joey Votto. Billy Hamilton, Scooter Gennett, and Adam Duvall will also need to play major roles offensively this season.
ere are a lot of question marks in both the starting rotation as well as the bullpen of the Cincinnati Reds. The entire starting rotation is made up of either injury concerns or pitchers with minimal experience. While there is certainly talent in the rotation, staying healthy and performing remains a question mark. Anthony DeSclafani is back after missing all of 2017; the Reds will need him healthy in 2018 if they wish to build on last season’s performance. Raisel Iglesias is a bright spot in the Reds’ bullpen as he looks to take the next step in 2018 after putting together a solid campaign last year.
28. San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres had the worst offense in baseball last season. Petco Park also remains one of the least hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. The additions of Eric Hosmer, Freddy Galvis, and Chase Headley should breathe some life into the offense in 2018. Wil Myers should have an easier time anchoring the middle of the lineup for the Padres with some more bats around him. If the Padres can get the offense going in 2018, we could end up seeing them start putting up some sort of fight in the NL West.
The pitching staff ranked 22nd in the league last year with a 4.67 era. Luis Perdomo, Dinelson Lamet, and Bryan Mitchell are three names to watch this season as they could all emerge as solid Major League starters. Veteran Clayton Richard will lead the staff as he provides consistent solid innings. The bullpen could be improved in 2018 behind Brad Hand, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen, and submarine pitcher Kazuhisa Makita. When Carter Capps returns from thoracic outlet surgery, he could also be a major contributor to the San Diego bullpen.
27. Pittsburgh Pirates
After 9 years in Pittsburgh, Andrew McCutchen has taken his talents to San Francisco. However, Pittsburgh certainly still has the pieces to have an offense that can outperform their 2017 performance that had them ranked 28th in runs scored. The main pieces in the Pirates lineup are Starling Marte, Gregory Polanco, and Josh Bell. Veterans Josh Harrison, David Freese, and Jordy Mercer will also look to contribute in 2018. If key players can find a way to stay healthy, the offense should improve on last season’s performance.
The Pirates pitching staff ranked 13th in era in 2017 (4.22). The staff will continue to be solid in 2018 behind the leadership of one of the best pitching coaches in baseball, Ray Searage. The rotation is topped by Jameson Taillon, who could potentially have a breakout season. Closer Felipe Rivero will look to continue his dominance from 2017 when he put up a 1.67 era and racked up 88 strikeouts in 75 innings. While there are bright spots to the Pirates pitching staff, it lacks the depth needed to make it elite in both the rotation and bullpen.
26. Detroit Tigers
The Tigers offense was very average last season, finishing 18th in runs scored. When looking at Detroit’s offense on paper, 2018 looks like it will be another average year at the plate. While Nick Castellanos appears to be a rising star, the best years of Victor Martinez (39) and Miguel Cabrera (34) seem to be behind them. Apart from those three bats, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of offense in Detroit’s lineup. Jeimer Candelario is a name to keep an eye on, the switch-hitting 24 year old hit .330 with the Tigers last season in 94 at bats.
The Tigers had the worst pitching staff in baseball last season (5.36 era). Detroit went out and got Mike Fiers to sure up the back end of their rotation. The Tigers will need two of their young starters to step up and lead this pitching staff. Daniel Norris (24) and Michael Fulmer (24) will need to put together strong years if the Tigers want any hope of contending in 2018. Alex Wilson will need a bounce back season to help anchor the back end of the bullpen.
25. Chicago White Sox
This could be the year the White Sox start turning things around. With Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia anchoring the middle of the Chicago lineup, along with young talents like Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez offering a strong supporting role, the White Sox offense should improve upon their 26th place finish in runs scored in 2017.
Chicago’s pitching staff is young but extremely talented. They will most likely start the season with James Shields and one other veteran in the rotation mix, but young starters Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer, Carlos Rodon, and Michael Kopech could be taking over the staff soon. The White Sox finished 25th in the league in era in 2017 (4.78), expect that number to go down in 2018.
24. Oakland Athletics
The A’s could surprise some people in 2018. They have a healthy mix of young talent and experienced veterans. The Stephen Piscotty acquisition was a great move as well as moving the defensive liability, Khris Davis, to the DH role. Matt Olson is one player to watch this season as he hit 24 home runs in only 189 at bats last season. The A’s defense should improve in 2018 but expect their offense to perform similar to their 17th place finish in runs scored in 2017.
Oakland’s pitching staff is young and talented. With an average age of 25.6, the biggest question mark around the starting rotation is experience. Kendall Graveman and Sean Manaea will lead this young staff in 2018. The hard throwing Blake Treinen will close out games for the A’s in 2018 with help from veterans Yusmeiro Petit and Santiago Casilla. Expect Oakland to potentially have a strong season in 2018.
23. Atlanta Braves
The Braves rebuild is slowly starting to take shape. While they may not see a playoff berth in 2018, they will certainly be a competitive team. The offense is led by one of the most complete hitters in the game, Freddie Freeman. There will be no shortage of youthful talent in the Braves lineup in 2018. Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies, Johan Camargo, and one of the top prospects in baseball, Ronald Acuna will all be fun to watch in the Braves’ lineup.
While the offense seems to be trending upward in Atlanta, there are still question marks surrounding the pitching staff. The Braves will need a bounce back year from Julio Teheran as well as Mike Foltynewicz needing to take the next step forward in his development. Luiz Gohara is a 21 year old left-hander with a fastball that averages over 96 mph and should make an impact in the Braves rotation. Atlanta’s bullpen appears like it will be a strength in 2018. Look for Arodys Vizcaino to have a big season closing out games for the Braves (.199 batting average against in 2017).
22. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays seem to have a solid team lined up for 2018. The bad news, they play in the AL East. The Red Sox and Yankees appear to be stacked this season and it will be an extremely tough fight for a playoff spot. The offense severely underperformed in 2017, due in large part to injuries. A healthy Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki combined with Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales should greatly help an offense that ranked 26th in runs scored in 2017.
The starting rotation for the Blue Jays is led by Marcus Stroman (3.09 era in 2017). Aaron Sanchez is healthy thus far in 2018 and they will need him to contribute greatly if they wish to compete in the AL East. Veterans J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, and Jaime Garcia round out the rotation. Roberto Osuna will look to establish himself as an elite closer in 2018 (83k in 64ip in 2017). The Blue Jays will need to play their best baseball and stay healthy in 2018 if they want a shot at the postseason.
21. Tampa Bay Rays
Similar to the Blue Jays, the Rays are locked in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. The offense of the Rays will need to improve in 2018 if they plan on competing in the AL East. Losing 2017 all-star Corey Dickerson and long-time Ray Evan Longoria, leaves their offense in apparent worse shape than last season. It will be up to Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Duffy, and the rest of the Rays offense to pick up the slack.
The Rays pitching staff is one of the best in baseball. They will be leaning on their staff heavily in 2018 to carry them through the season. Chris Archer has some of the best stuff in the game, while youngsters Blake Snell (25) and Jacob Faria (24) will look to take the next step in their career as they aim to help lead this staff in 2018. Alex Colome and the Rays bullpen will need to be lights out all season if they hope to contend for a playoff spot.