Predicting the Top MLB Headlines of 2018
In his debut column, TJ Knapp takes a look at some of the potential headlines for the 2018 MLB season. From Albert Pujols reaching a few monumental milestones to the San Francisco Giants potentially returning to the postseason, 2018 is shaping up to be an action-packed year.
With the MLB offseason moving at a snail’s pace, I thought it would be fun to take a poke at some of the top headlines of the upcoming season. Some of these are a little outlandish, others are milestones within reach or scenarios that I’ve deemed at least plausible.
Pujols Joins Elite Company
Albert Pujols has a chance to join two of the most exclusive clubs in baseball history in 2018. The Machine is currently 32 hits shy of joining the elusive 3000 hit club. This shouldn’t be too hard for Pujols to achieve, and I predict that he will reach this milestone sometime in May. Albert will be the 32nd member of the 300 hit club, joining Adrian Beltre and Ichiro Suzuki as the only active members of the club.
Pujols Joins Super-Elite Company
While the 3000 hit club is an elite group that all but assures enshrinement into Cooperstown (As if the 614 homers weren’t enough) the next group Pujols has a chance to join is even more elusive. Only four men in the history of the MLB have recorded 2,000 RBIs (Aaron, Ruth, A-Rod, Anson) and Pujols enters 2018 only 82 short of this monumental achievement. Pujols has recorded at least 82 RBIs in each of the last four seasons so this should be all but guaranteed. However, Pujols will open 2018 at the age of 38 and with Shohei Otani expected to garner a lot of at-bats at DH, Pujols will have to play a lot more first base this year. This milestone is definitely contingent on his ability to stay healthy. Personally, I think he’ll do it and I think it’ll happen sometime in late August or early September.
Ohtani becomes the first Pitcher to participate in Home Run Derby
I didn’t intend for this list to be so Angel-heavy, but what can you do when one guy is approaching two monumental milestones and the other is the most intriguing player in recent memory? If you don’t know about Shohei Ohtani by now then you need to get out from under your rock. We already know how nasty this guy is on the mound but his hitting ability seems to be more of a mystery. We do know that he can hit a ball a through a roof and if he displays this kind of power against major league pitching then he very well could be the first pitcher to ever partake in the derby. How cool would it be to see a derby field that included Ohtani, Harper, Judge, and Stanton?
Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton hit 500-foot bombs in the same game
Ok so this one is a little out there, but why not? Both Judge and Stanton have proved that they have the clout to hit 500-foot dingers, so who says they couldn’t do it in the same game? Maybe even back-to-back? Seeing 1000 feet worth of homers in two swings would be quite the sight. Man do I feel bad for the baseballs in the Bronx this year.
The San Francisco Giants return to the Playoffs
Yes, they finished tied for the worst record in the MLB in 2017 and yes, their outfield combined to hit less than 40 home runs. However, IT’S AN EVEN NUMBER YEAR PEOPLE. I know this streak was already snapped in 2016 but that doesn’t mean the magic is gone forever. The Giants have already added Evan Longoria to solve their woes at the hot corner (sorry Kung Fu Panda) and they seem poised to add at least one more power bat to their outfield. On paper, this team looks way too good to be as bad as they were in 2017.
They still have Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Brandon Belt. Johnny Cueto is a prime bounce-back candidate and they should have a full year from Madison Bumgarner to anchor that rotation. The Rockies and Diamondbacks will be tough to overcome in the Wild Card (let’s be honest, the Dodgers are taking the division) but I think these Giants can do it. The only other NL team that was out of it last year that I can see challenging for a Wild Card spot this year is the Cardinals (maybe Brewers?) but I’m sticking with Buster and the gang to claim a spot in this years postseason.
Rafael Palmeiro gets contract, then suspended for PEDs
Ok so this one is a little outrageous and more so for fun, but would anyone really be surprised?