By David Mullen
On Oct. 28, the Boston Red Sox completed the inevitable. After a stunning 108-54 season, they beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games during the 2018 World Series to become World Champions for the fourth time this century.
The Red Sox had the New York Yankees chasing them in the AL East until opening up an eight game lead in September. Despite 100 wins, the Yankees finished second in the division and had to play the surprising Oakland Athletics in a one game Wild Card playoff game.
The Athletics, along with the Tampa Bay Rays, were the surprise teams of the American League. Despite a starting pitching staff that was decimated by injuries, the A’s won 97 games. That total of wins was the fourth best in all of baseball, and would have been good enough to win four divisions. The Rays won 90 games, and introduced the idea of the “opener,” where a relief pitcher would open a game, pitch to a specific number of batters or innings, and then be replaced by a starter or long reliever.
The defending champion Houston Astros won the AL East and 103 games, but lost momentum heading into the playoffs when key players like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa came up injured. The Cleveland Indians won baseball’s weakest division, and then made an early exit in the playoffs.
The Texas Rangers were arguably the league’s most disappointing team. The team never gelled and rarely had timely hitting. Manager Jeff Banister lost his job, and the Rangers appear lost for seasons to come.
The Los Angeles Dodgers emerged from a league that at one point looked like no team, except for the upstart Milwaukee Brewers, wanted to win. A record two 163rd games were played to settle the playoff representatives. The young Atlanta Braves knocked off a surprising Philadelphia Phillies and lackluster Washington Nationals, the National League’s most disappointing team or equivalent to the Rangers.
While the Red Sox lifted baseball’s ultimate trophy, let’s predict the players and managers who will also soon be receiving hardware.
American League Manager of the Year — Bob Melvin, Athletics. Despite a slow start, Melvin had the A’s playing the best baseball in the American League in the second half of the season with a cast of no names.
National League Manager of the Year — Brian Snitker, Braves. The Braves were supposed to be a few years away from competing. Snitker led them to a division title this season.
American League Rookie of the Year — Miguel Andujar, Yankees. Andujar, 23, was an unlikely answer to an iffy third base situation when the Yankees began the season. Had he not been injured, the award was Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani’s to win.
National League Rookie of the Year — Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves. Only 20, all eyes were on Acuna Jr. when he was called up to the big club this year. He is a budding superstar.
American League Cy Young Award Winner — Blake Snell, Rays. Snell won 21 games and had a 1.89 ERA for a team no one expected to compete in the strong AL East.
National League Cy Young Award Winner — Jacob deGrom (pictured above, right), New York Mets. Despite playing for a lousy Mets team that failed to give him any run support, deGrom’s 1.70 ERA led all of Major League Baseball.
American League Most Valuable Player — Mookie Betts, Red Sox. Betts is the heart and soul of the Red Sox and his future is unlimited. He led the league with a .346 batting average and 120 runs scored. His defense is superior. While teammate J. D. Martinez knocked in 130 runs and will get some MVP consideration, Betts was the best player in the league in 2018.
National League Most Valuable Player — Christian Yelich, Brewers. While much of the season it appeared that Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs was a lock for this award, a late charge by Yelich has earned him the award. Yelich led the league in hitting and hit for two cycles, including one when he was 6-for-6.
While Boston celebrates, free agents will be switching teams and the Rangers look for a manager, baseball takes a four month break. For some, 2018 will be a season of glory.