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2018 SCOUTING REPORTS

Author:

THE 2016 SEASON saw the end of the Cubs' 108-year curse. In '17, the Astros won the first championship in the franchise's 56 seasons. So what historic breakthrough does baseball have left for '18? The Nationals—né the Montreal Expos, in 1969—have never won a title, and Washington hasn't thrown a World Series parade since the Senators beat the New York Giants in 1924. Why shouldn't the ticker tape flutter down Constitution Avenue this fall?

Washington is riding the wave of a new game, one driven by statistical analysis and defined by power. The Nats can go deep (Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman), throw hard (Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg) and—just as important—spend freely. As the gap widens between the abject tankers and the true contenders, teams like Washington, with its $175 million payroll, will find a more navigable road to October. Which isn't to say winning it all will be easy: The Dodgers can almost match the Nationals, power arm for power arm. The Cubs' lineup is the NL's deepest. The Yankees will bash their way to the AL pennant. But in the end Washington will prevail, thanks to its stars—and, yes, a little luck. Because once the games begin, you can expect surprises, all the way through to the last champagne-stained out of the posteason.

PAYOFF PITCH scouting report entries by Joe Sheehan: One thing to watch for each team. (Yes, even the Marlins.)

OVER/UNDER win totals provided by ODDSSHARK.

Entries written by Gabriel Baumgaertner, Michael Beller, Kenny Ducey, Connor Grossman and Jon Tayler.

FANTASY BREAKOUTS by Michael Beller.

Fantasy projections provided by 4for4 and MLB.com

POSTSEASON PREDICTIONS

AL WILD CARD

ANGELS over RED SOX

AL DIVISION SERIES

ASTROS over ANGELS

YANKEES over INDIANS

AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

YANKEES over ASTROS

NL WILD CARD

METS over DIAMONDBACKS

NL DIVISION SERIES

NATIONALS over METS

DODGERS over CUBS

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

NATIONALS over DODGERS

WORLD SERIES

NATIONALS over YANKEES

HOW THEY'LL FINISH

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

AL EAST

W--L

GB

1. YANKEES

99--63

2. RED SOX

96--66

3

3. BLUE JAYS

83--79

16

4. ORIOLES

70--92

29

5. RAYS

67--95

32

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

AL CENTRAL

W--L

GB

1. INDIANS

98--64

2. TWINS

86--76

12

3. WHITE SOX

73--89

25

4. TIGERS

70--92

28

5. ROYALS

63--99

35

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

AL WEST

W--L

GB

1. ASTROS

102--60

2. ANGELS

89--73

13

3. MARINERS

82--80

20

4. RANGERS

73--89

29

5. A'S

67--95

35

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

NL EAST

W--L

GB

1. NATIONALS

100--62

2. METS

88--74

12

3. PHILLIES

74--88

26

4. BRAVES

73--89

27

5. MARLINS

63--99

37

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

NL CENTRAL

W--L

GB

1. CUBS

95--67

2. BREWERS

86--76

9

3. CARDINALS

85--77

10

4. PIRATES

70--92

25

5. REDS

69--93

26

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

NL WEST

W--L

GB

1. DODGERS

95--67

2. DIAMONDBACKS

88--74

7

3. ROCKIES

84--78

11

4. GIANTS

72--90

23

5. PADRES

70--92

25