2018 MLB playoff projections: NL Central, AL East each send three teams to playoffs

Opening Day of the 2018 season is roughly a fortnight away, and Alex Cobb and Greg Holland are the last notable free agents left standing. So with all 30 rosters taking shape, it's time to look forward and get idea of how the season to come might unfold between late March and late September. 

To do that, we'll lean on the the SportsLine (@SportsLine on Twitter) Projection Model, which simulates the season thousands of times to arrive at the projected results for each team. Obviously, these are subject to change in the event of injuries, additional signings, or trades. 

First, let's have a look at the American League for 2018 ... 

AMERICAN

LEAGUE

SEASON FORECAST

REST OF SEASON

MAKE PLAYOFFS

POST-SEASON SUCCESS

WINS

LOSS

WIN%

WINS

LOSS

WIN%

WIN DIV

PLAYOFF

ALCS ODDS

LCS%

WS ODDS

WS%

Cleveland Indians

97.1

64.9

60.0%

97.1

64.9

60.0%

91.6%

95.1%

3/1, 25%

29.15%

6/1, 14.3%

13.40%

Houston Astros

94.7

67.3

58.5%

94.7

67.3

58.5%

75.1%

87.1%

5/2, 28.6%

23.69%

5/1, 16.7%

10.03%

Boston Red Sox

94.3

67.7

58.2%

94.3

67.7

58.2%

49.2%

84.8%

5/1, 16.7%

17.66%

10/1, 9.1%

6.58%

New York Yankees

93.0

69.0

57.4%

93.0

69.0

57.4%

40.5%

81.2%

3/1, 25%

17.66%

6/1, 14.3%

7.76%

Toronto Blue Jays

84.0

78.0

51.9%

84.0

78.0

51.9%

8.4%

36.9%

15/1, 6.2%

2.98%

30/1, 3.2%

0.81%

Los Angeles Angels

82.4

79.6

50.8%

82.4

79.6

50.8%

10.6%

29.4%

12/1, 7.7%

2.17%

25/1, 3.8%

0.53%

Seattle Mariners

81.0

81.0

50.0%

81.0

81.0

50.0%

8.2%

24.6%

25/1, 3.8%

2.00%

50/1, 2%

0.70%

Minnesota Twins

80.2

81.8

49.5%

80.2

81.8

49.5%

7.0%

21.6%

12/1, 7.7%

1.69%

25/1, 3.8%

0.38%

Texas Rangers

78.3

83.7

48.3%

78.3

83.7

48.3%

4.4%

14.4%

100/1, 1%

1.73%

200/1, 0.5%

0.57%

Tampa Bay Rays

76.1

85.9

47.0%

76.1

85.9

47.0%

1.2%

9.0%

100/1, 1%

0.43%

200/1, 0.5%

0.11%

Oakland Athletics

73.8

88.2

45.5%

73.8

88.2

45.5%

1.6%

5.5%

100/1, 1%

0.35%

200/1, 0.5%

0.08%

Baltimore Orioles

73.8

88.2

45.5%

73.8

88.2

45.5%

0.7%

5.4%

100/1, 1%

0.28%

200/1, 0.5%

0.09%

Chicago White Sox

71.4

90.6

44.1%

71.4

90.6

44.1%

0.9%

3.0%

100/1, 1%

0.12%

200/1, 0.5%

0.04%

Kansas City Royals

69.2

92.8

42.7%

69.2

92.8

42.7%

0.4%

1.5%

250/1, 0.4%

0.06%

500/1, 0.2%

0.01%

Detroit Tigers

65.4

96.6

40.4%

65.4

96.6

40.4%

0.1%

0.5%

250/1, 0.4%

0.03%

500/1, 0.2%

0.01%


So here's the projected playoff matchups in the AL ... 

  • ALDS: Indians (AL Central champs) vs. AL wild-card winner
  • ALDS: Astros (AL West champs) vs. Red Sox (AL East champs)
  • AL Wild Card Game: Blue Jays at Yankees

SportsLine right now projects a fairly wild race in the AL East, but the Red Sox are expected to hold off the Yankees by a single game or so. The Indians, meantime, claim top seed in the AL for a second straight year. The second wild-card bid is also expected to give us some intrigue, as the Jays, Angels, Mariners, and Twins are all in the mix. On the other end of the continuum, the Tigers are forecast to claim the top overall draft pick in 2019. Congrats!

And now the National League ...

NATIONAL

LEAGUE

SEASON FORECAST

REST OF SEASON

MAKE PLAYOFFS

POST-SEASON SUCCESS

WINS

LOSS

WIN%

WINS

LOSS

WIN%

WIN DIV

PLAYOFF

NLCS ODDS

LCS%

WS ODDS

WS%

Los Angeles Dodgers

100.1

61.9

61.8%

100.1

61.9

61.8%

89.2%

96.7%

9/4, 30.8%

35.33%

5/1, 16.7%

23.38%

Washington Nationals

98.2

63.8

60.6%

98.2

63.8

60.6%

93.5%

96.3%

7/2, 22.2%

25.58%

8/1, 11.1%

15.35%

Chicago Cubs

95.7

66.3

59.1%

95.7

66.3

59.1%

69.2%

90.2%

3/1, 25%

22.86%

7/1, 12.5%

13.77%

St Louis Cardinals

86.2

75.8

53.2%

86.2

75.8

53.2%

16.2%

52.9%

8/1, 11.1%

6.39%

18/1, 5.3%

2.93%

Milwaukee Brewers

85.4

76.6

52.7%

85.4

76.6

52.7%

13.5%

47.9%

15/1, 6.2%

3.82%

30/1, 3.2%

1.44%

Arizona Diamondbacks

83.1

78.9

51.3%

83.1

78.9

51.3%

6.1%

37.1%

15/1, 6.2%

2.49%

30/1, 3.2%

0.91%

Colorado Rockies

79.4

82.6

49.0%

79.4

82.6

49.0%

2.5%

20.5%

25/1, 3.8%

1.14%

50/1, 2%

0.41%

San Francisco Giants (0-0)

78.2

83.9

48.2%

78.1

83.9

48.2%

2.0%

16.6%

15/1, 6.2%

0.73%

30/1, 3.2%

0.25%

New York Mets

77.0

85.0

47.5%

77.0

85.0

47.5%

2.7%

13.0%

12/1, 7.7%

0.44%

25/1, 3.8%

0.16%

Philadelphia Phillies

74.8

87.2

46.2%

74.8

87.2

46.2%

1.6%

8.2%

50/1, 2%

0.32%

100/1, 1%

0.08%

Atlanta Braves

74.5

87.5

46.0%

74.5

87.5

46.0%

1.5%

7.5%

100/1, 1%

0.39%

200/1, 0.5%

0.08%

Pittsburgh Pirates

72.6

89.4

44.8%

72.6

89.4

44.8%

0.8%

4.9%

50/1, 2%

0.16%

100/1, 1%

0.04%

Miami Marlins

71.7

90.3

44.3%

71.7

90.3

44.3%

0.7%

3.8%

250/1, 0.4%

0.18%

500/1, 0.2%

0.05%

Cincinnati Reds

71.4

90.6

44.1%

71.4

90.6

44.1%

0.4%

3.3%

150/1, 0.7%

0.13%

300/1, 0.3%

0.04%

San Diego Padres

67.0

95.1

41.3%

67.0

95.0

41.3%

0.1%

1.0%

100/1, 1%

0.04%

200/1, 0.5%

0.00%


So here's the projected playoff field in the senior circuit ... 

  • NLDS: Dodgers (NL West champs) vs. NL wild-card winner
  • NLDS: Nationals (NL East champs) vs. Cubs (NL Central champs)
  • NL Wild Card Game: Brewers at Cardinals

As you may have noticed, it says here we'll have the exact same division winners that we had in 2017. Three of the four wild-card sports, however, will see some turnover. In the NL, it's a good race for those wild-card berths, but in the end the NL Central winds up producing three playoff teams, as the NL West did last season. Unfortunately, no division race in the NL is expected to be close. Somewhat surprisingly, the Marlins aren't expected to be the NL's worst team. Instead, the Padres are forecast to put some heat on the Tigers for that top overall draft pick in 2019. 

Beyond all that, SportsLine foresees a Dodgers win over the Indians in the 2018 World Series. Although, it takes the field over any one team to reach -- let alone win -- the World Series. 

Forthcoming? Actual games!

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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