The long wait is over. After a torturous offseason defined not by the free agents who were signed but the free agents who weren't signed, the 2018 major league season has arrived at last.
Spring training has wrapped up in Florida and Arizona. Teams have now scattered throughout the country to begin the regular season, and 15 games are on the slate Thursday. (We'll see how many of those are actually played, though, with rain a factor in several cities, most notably Cincinnati, where the Nationals may have to wait an extra 24 hours to get the season underway.)
We'll have our annual media predictions on the Nats (always a fan favorite) in the morning. For now, I'm subjecting myself to the inevitable abuse that comes from predicting the entire league. I may not be perfect, but I do occasionally get some things right. Check out last year's predictions: I was all over the Astros!
Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments section. Just be prepared for me to go back and re-examine this in November and make fun of you for being wrong. (Because I know you'll be doing the same to me.)
1. Nationals - There are questions (Murphy, bullpen, No. 5 starter) but still best in the East.
2. Phillies (WC) - They're supposed to arrive in 2019. Sometimes teams are a year early.
3. Mets - What are the chances they can stay healthy for six months? Not great.
4. Braves - They do have young talent. But they didn't add to it at all over the winter.
5. Marlins - Seriously, if you live in Miami, why would you pay to go to a game this year?
1. Cubs - Maybe not the juggernaut we thought they'd be, but they're still really good.
2. Brewers (WC) - Made some solid additions to an already improving roster.
3. Cardinals - Ozuna was a perfect addition to the lineup, but they've got no closer.
4. Pirates - Last time they rebuilt, it took 20 years. They really hope it doesn't this time.
5. Reds - Joey Votto: amazing. Cincinnati's pitching staff: not so much.
1. Dodgers - No reason to think they won't win their sixth straight West title.
2. Rockies - Great lineup. Bolstered bullpen. Can the rotation just keep games close?
3. Diamondbacks - Greinke-Ray tandem is fantastic. Loss of J.D. Martinez will be big.
4. Giants - They're trying to make one last run. Might've been smarter to rebuild now.
5. Padres - Congrats on giving Hosmer $144 million. Now, about the rest of your team ...
NL Rookie of the Year: Scott Kingery, Phillies
NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
NL MVP: Bryce Harper, Nationals
NL wild card game: Brewers over Phillies
NLDS: Dodgers over Brewers, Nationals over Cubs
NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers
1. Yankees - Stanton and Judge might hit 130 combined homers in the Bronx.
2. Red Sox (WC) - Sale-Price-Porcello should be a terrific trio. But will it?
3. Blue Jays - They get lost in the shuffle, but they've got the pitching to contend.
4. Orioles - Couldn't withstand loss of Britton last year. Have to try to do it again.
5. Rays - Not the worst team in Florida this season. Which isn't saying much.
1. Indians - People seem to forget they won 102 games last year. This is a super team.
2. Twins - Added some nice pieces after their surprising march to the playoffs in 2017.
3. White Sox - The talent is coming, just maybe not quite yet.
4. Royals - Down market helped them keep some players, but they've fallen back.
5. Tigers - They're starting over in Detroit, and it's gonna be a while til they're back.
1. Astros - No question they're loaded. Can they overcome the defending champ curse?
2. Angels (WC) - It's time for Mike Trout to make the playoffs again.
3. Mariners - Longest postseason drought in baseball reaches its 17th season.
4. Athletics - Who will they trade to the Nats come July?
5. Rangers - Seemed like a team that could contend. They didn't act like it this winter.
AL Rookie of the Year: Michael Kopech, White Sox
AL Cy Young Award: Dallas Keuchel, Astros
AL MVP: Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees
AL wild card game: Red Sox over Angels
ALDS: Indians over Red Sox, Astros over Yankees
ALCS: Indians over Astros
World Series: Indians over Nationals