2018 MLB Postseason Underdogs

By Jordan Swofford

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Anyone else feeling anxious for Opening Day?

MLB released their hype video and all I can really say is “whoa”.

So many questions for this year: How many bombs will Aaron Judge and Stanton drop in the same lineup? Will the Yankees and Red Sox renew their rivalry? What remarkable defensive play will we see from Trout this year? How many games can the Astros, Nationals, and Dodgers win this year? And if the baseball gods love us, maybe we’ll see a couple ol’ fashion brawls too.

So who’s ready for a parade of dingers? Lights-out pitching performances? And electric diving plays?

I know I am, and if you’re like me you’re also ready to see which underdogs will breakout in 2018.

Philadelphia Phillies

While the city of Philadelphia is still probably celebrating their Super Bowl win, they could be in for a treat as the Phillies could be competitive for the first time since JRoll was the man back in ’08.

The Nationals have the East locked up for now, but Philly could fly in under the radar and make some noise in the NL possibly sneaking into a Wild Card spot.

One thing the Phillies have in their favor is a weak division outside of Washington. Miami has had a fire sale to end all fire sales. Atlanta is in a rebuilding phase as well. The Mets can’t stay healthy past April.

The Phillies have plenty of young talent. Pitcher Aaron Nola saw significant improvement in his wins and ERA and will continue to blossom into the ace they see him as.

They debuted shortstop J.P Crawford, the organizations top ranked prospect last September, but they also inked 2B Scott Kingery, their number 3 ranked prospect, to a huge multi-year deal that would imply that his call up is coming sooner rather than later this season.

If you are looking for another future MLB All-Star, Rhys Hoskins is the real player to watch in Philly. In his first MLB action, Hoskins hit .259 with 18 homers and had a slugging percentage of .618. He was an instant fan favorite, not to mention he collectively hit nearly 40 homeruns last year between the majors and minors.

They also signed one of the most coveted players on the MLB free agent market this summer, Jake Arrietta, who will give them that postseason and veteran experience they need alongside veteran first baseman Carlos Santana, who hit 23 homers and had a 3.4 WAR, and I can’t forget to mention relief pitcher Pat Neshek, who had a sub-two ERA last season.

This is some serious potential to make noise this season.

Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins were one of my favorite stories last season. In 2017, the Twins became the first team in baseball history to go from 100-plus losses one year to making the postseason the next.

Knocking off the Indians in the AL Central will not be an easy task. Last year that phrase wouldn’t have been up for discussion, but at least this year it seems more plausible than before. Especially after putting some big money into free agency this year in the form of LoMo, Fernando Rodney, Michael Pineda, and Jake Odorizzi.

Those veteran reinforcements join a talented young roster, especially on the position player side. Is this the year Bryon Bruxton becomes the superstar we’re expecting him to be? Last year, at age 24, was his first full season in the big leagues believe it or not and he posted some good numbers .253/.314/.413 with 16 home runs. Definitely wasn’t a Aaron Judge, but his athleticism will make you double take. He was 29 for 30 on stolen base attempts… and the one time he was caught stealing; he beat the throw but overslid the bag

Bruxton joins the offense with veterans like Joe Mauer and Brian Dozer who hit .304 in the second half of the season with 21 bombs. They also have the questionable Sano who reported to camp a little bit overweight after offseason surgery and is facing an MLB investigation. One thing I wouldn’t question is the guys ability to put one out of the ball park after he clubbed 38 last year.

It’s a sneaky good lineup combined with a pitching staff of Jake Odorizzi and Jose Berrios while waiting for the return of Johan Santana in May.

Atlanta Braves

The farm system ranks among one of the best in the big leagues, they have undeniable talent throughout the diamond, and the front office just got a big raise in Alex Anthopoulos.

Much like division foe Philadelphia Phillies, the Atlanta Braves are also on the turn around of the rebuilding process. But will 2018 be the year they turn the corner or should we wait for 2019?

If you haven’t heard my high regards to outfield prospect Ronald Acuna go check out some of my other blogs. The kid hit over .400 in big league camp and he’s only 20-years-old. Enough said, this kid is the future.

They also have some incredible talent up the middle in Dansby Swanson and rookie Ozzie Albies. I didn’t think Swanson could get any better defensively, but one year under the wing of Brandon Phillips put him on a whole ‘nother level. Once Dansby figures out how to swing a wood bat we could be looking at a Jeter reincarnation.

I could be talking about their offense from sun up to sun down, but they also have some great young arms in Sean Newcomb, Lucas Sims, and Max Fried who have shown the world what they can do.

This Atlanta Braves team has the talent, and the youth to honestly do something magical in 2018. Imagining an appearance in the playoffs doesn’t seem as ridiculous as it did in 2017.

Seattle Mariners

If I wrote a blog but didn’t write about the Mariners, is it even a blog?

It’s never easy being a Mariners fan and I know I’ll be cussing and screaming after this MLB Opening Day against the Indians, but damn do I love these guys, and I can speak for the city of Seattle when I say how overdue a postseason is.

The Mariners enter the 2018 season with an offense that could score a lot of runs and a pitching staff that could give up just as many.

They added Dee Gordon this offseason who has been nothing short of electric this spring in centerfield and in the leadoff role.

That also bumps down Jean Segura to the 2-hole, which may be for the best as pitchers will be forced to challenge Seattle’s only .300 hitter with fastballs as Flash Gordon is swiping bases and the veterans Cano, Cruz, and Seager are hitting behind him.

Top to bottom I’m really loving this lineup. Mike Z is finally swinging it like a number 3 overall pick. Mitch Haninger is just a freakin’ dude – expecting a 20/20 year from him. Hopefully Vogelbach takes his spring homer count into the season, if not we also signed All-Star Ryon Healy who i’m also excited about. Ben Gamel and Taylor Motter are gonna bring the flow back to baseball. And of course, the return of Ichimania! Area 51! Ichi-Go!! Ichiro returns to Seattle on his farewell tour and although we’re really not expecting much from him, the 46 year old will surely bring in a few more fans into Safeco.

The King gets his 11th straight Opening Day start and I’m hoping he comes out with a chip on his shoulder after hearing the criticism last year. He’ll be followed by the Big Maple, James Paxton, who was in the Cy Young conversation for a brief time last year, and is ready to take the throne with Felix where he belongs.

That’s enough baseball for one night. It’s 1 AM, I’m fired up thinking about this season. Is it Thursday yet?! LETSGO!
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2018 MLB Postseason Underdogs


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