American League East
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Giancarlo Stanton hits 65 homers, as both he and teammate Aaron Judge win this bet for me on their own. Judge loses 30 points of batting average but still goes 50-110-110, as the Yankees break the record for most homers in a season (set by the Mariners in 1997 with 264). Gary Sanchez is a first-round fantasy pick in 2019, even in one-catcher leagues. Didi Gregorius takes a big step back, but Neil Walker goes down as the best fantasy steal among second basemen. Aroldis Chapman finishes with more fantasy value than Craig Kimbrel, while Sonny Gray disappoints. Luis Severino finishes runner-up in Cy Young voting and with more fantasy value than Corey Kluber, while Aaron Hicks goes 20/20.
Chris Sale sports the highest career K% (29.2) ever among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings. He takes home the first Cy Young award of his career in 2018. Hanley Ramirez records 100+ RBI, and J.D. Martinez returns first-round fantasy value. Go draft Eduardo Nunez … Yangervis Solarte and Teoscar Hernandez are interesting deep sleepers in Toronto, while Aaron Sanchez finishes as a top-30 starter.
Brad Brach and Mychal Givens both finish with more saves than Zach Britton, while Kevin Gausman disappoints yet again. Alex Cobb couldn’t have picked a worse spot for his fantasy value, and while Tim Beckham is showing signs of progress, as a Giants fan I’m still OK he was taken ahead of Buster Posey in the 2008 draft. Mallex Smith swipes 40 bags, while Alex Colome is traded into a setup role midseason. The battle for last place in the East should be close, and the Rays may have taken the lead with the loss of Brent Honeywell for the season.
American League Central
Minnesota Twins (Wild Card)
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Jason Kipnis bounces back in a big way and goes down as one of the bigger steals at second base, while Michael Brantley continues to be plagued by injuries. Trevor Bauer is a top-20 starter, and while Francisco Lindor turns in a fine season, it’s not quite as good as Carlos Correa’s. Bradley Zimmer is really fast and has sneaky SB upside.
Miguel Sano erupts for 40 homers and even receives some MVP votes on a Minnesota team that improved during the offseason and benefits greatly from its division. Max Kepler finishes with more fantasy value than Eddie Rosario, while Jose Berrios is a top-20 SP. Addison Reed records more saves than Fernando Rodney, while Byron Buxton goes 30/30. Few players are bigger bargains at draft tables than Logan Morrison.
Jorge Soler ends the year with the most fantasy value among Kansas City outfielders, while Whit Merrifield takes a big step back after last season’s unexpected breakout. The A.L. Central is the most-hitter friendly division in baseball when it comes to parks, and Comerica especially has become sneaky favorable for hitters.
Miguel Cabrera rebounds in a big way and is once again treated as a top-five fantasy 1B in 2019 drafts. Nick Castellanos fails to live up to his ADP, while Michael Fulmer vastly outperforms his … I recently wrote about “Barrels,” which makes Matt Davidson look like an intriguing sleeper. He’s slated to hit cleanup and is currently owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo leagues. Lucas Giolito is a top-30 starter, while Nate Jones is a top-20 closer.
American League West
Los Angeles Angels
Comments/Fantasy predictions: Lance McCullers tosses 180 innings, finishing with more fantasy value than Dallas Keuchel and Gerrit Cole. McCullers is a dark horse Cy Young candidate. Carlos Correa is a top-five overall pick in 2019, ahead of Jose Altuve. Brad Peacock joins the rotation and is a true fantasy difference maker in 2018. The Astros are absolutely loaded.
The Angels lowered their fences and plan on using a six-man rotation, and they should be in the hunt for the last wild card spot until the end. L.A. starts both last year’s worst ranked player in WAR (-2.0) in Albert Pujols as well as its projected leader in 2019 in Mike Trout, who wins his third MVP award. Shohei Ohtani’s poor spring has sent his ADP tumbling, and he’s gone from someone I’ve avoided all month to one of the better buying opportunities leading up to Opening Day. Ohtani does nothing at the plate but pitches well enough to easily win Rookie of the Year, although it’s Garrett Richards who’s the team’s top fantasy starter.
Mike Zunino hits 30 homers, while Felix Hernandez makes a big profit for his fantasy owners. Ichiro Suzuki is one interesting guy…THE BAT projects Matt Olson to hit .216 and Matt Chapman to hit .212. It also calls for a 100 wRC+ for Olson, which would be quite the drop from his 162 last season. Others are more optimistic. One thing I know is that Olson’s 2:24 doubles:homers ratio last year was certainly an oddity … Delino DeShields Jr. steals 50 bases, while Joey Gallo (not to be confused with Jerry Gallo, who’s dead) joins Stanton/Judge in hitting 50 long balls. Over the last three seasons, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington has increased run scoring by 17 percent, which is second only to Coors Field over that span.
NL MVP: Clayton Kershaw
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
NL ROY: Ronald Acuna
AL MVP: Mike Trout
AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL ROY: Shohei Ohtani
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers
ALCS: Astros over Yankees
World Series: Astros over Cubs