The 2018 MLB season has been very entertaining thus far as many interesting storylines have emerged. Now just past the all-star game, it’s time for teams to put their heads down and grind to try and earn a playoff position. As of right now, the best team in baseball is the dominate Boston Red Sox with a record of 74-33 (Only team with +70 wins). As the season starts to wind down, JTP has you covered with players and teams to watch plus a prediction coming down the stretch.
Must Watch Teams:
Los Angeles Dodgers: With the recent addition of Manny Machado, the Dodgers have a star studded lineup with all stars at almost every position. Their pitching it lights out with the emergence of Ross Stripling. Kershaw had a relatively slow start to the season but the Dodgers are without question the National League favorites to compete for the World Series.
Philadelphia Phillies: Each of the NL Division races will be decided by less than 2 games, this year’s National League is extremely competitive. The Phillies have been a very pleasant surprise as they’re currently in first place. A strong bullpen combined with good offense has earned the Phillies their 58-47 record with the MLB leading most home wins. Coming down the stretch expect some of the Phillies’ more seasoned players to really come on strong and lead the team.
Boston Red Sox: Without question, the Boston Red Sox have been playing some great baseball, getting excellent productivity from unexpected players throughout the Boston lineup. Another aspect of Boston’s strong play has single handedly come from Chris Sale. Sale has the second lowest ERA in the entire MLB and also leads the league in strikeouts with 207. Should Boston continue on their season long hot-streak, expect them to be playing long into the postseason.
Players to Keep an Eye on:
J.D. Martinez DH, Boston Red Sox: Since coming to Boston this season, it has been an absolute slug fest in Fenway for Martinez. He leads the league in both HRs and RBIs. Every at bat he’s finding the sweet spot of the bat and making smooth contact. J.D. Martinez is arguably the hardest player in baseball to get out.
Freddie Freeman 1B, Atlanta Braves: Freeman is quite simply the most dynamic offensive players in the game. He’s tied for 7th in the league in hits with 124 and is also 17th in the MLB in RBIs. Freeman is electric every at bat and without him the Braves would be no where near the top of the NL East.
Javier Baez 2B, Chicago Cubs: Baez is another player that is a fun player to watch. Both defensively and at the plate, the Cubs infielder will always find away to entertain the crowd. His .295 batting average combined with 21 HRs is a big reason why the Cubs told a 1.5 game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.
While the season is relatively close to ending, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. As mentioned, each of the NL Divisions are very contentious and will definitely come down the final week of games. From looking at the first half of the season, you can’t not like the Red Sox to at least represent the AL in the World Series. As far as the NL, the Dodgers have everything, strong pitching in Kershaw and Stripling, good offense, Machado and Muncy, and lights out relieving in Kenley Jansen. I predict a Red Sox v Dodgers series that ends with LA finding a way to grind out wins and ultimately be crowned 2018 champions of baseball.