Opening Day of the 2018 season is just around the bend, and soon enough we'll be enjoying actual, for-keeps baseball. Until then, though, we're left to guess as to what might unfold. When it comes to making such educated guesses, projections are there for those with nowhere left to turn.
Speaking of projections, the SportsLine (@SportsLine on Twitter) Projection Model, which simulates the season thousands of times to arrive at the projected results for each team, is what we usually lean on in this space. Not long ago, we shared . So what's changed since then? Chiefly, the Giants' 2018 outlook because of Madison Bumgarner's injury.
Also notable is that the race for the AL East title has tightened up significantly in the most recent update. Take a look at each team's simulated wins for the upcoming season ...
AL East team
SportsLine projected wins for 2018
So, yes, the Red Sox and Yankees are expected to be neck-and-neck for the AL East title in 2018. SportsLine projection guru Stephen Oh explains this particular dynamic as follows ...
The odds favor New York, but Boston is actually projected for 0.1 more wins. Interestingly, the Yankees are the sim favorite to win the division 46.1 percent to 45.7 percent. So the sims think Boston is barely better overall, but head-to-head New York is better and when there are ties, the Yankees are coming out on top slightly more often.
If you're a fan of either team or just a fan of blood feuds in general, then this is a compelling hypothetical. It's also quite plausible. The Red Sox have claimed the last two AL East titles, but the Yankees are going to be a popular pick to overtake them in 2018. The Yankees of course won an AL wild-card berth last season while underplaying their run differential. They've also added Giancarlo Stanton to the fold and can expect increasing value from their many young talents in place and on the way. But don't sleep on the Sox! They tallied 93 wins a season ago while dealing with diminished offensive production from Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley and Xander Bogaerts and getting just 74 2/3 innings from David Price. In addition to expecting better outcomes on those fronts, they've addressed the gaping hole at DH by signing J.D. Martinez, the best hitter on the market this past offseason. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that each team has a new manager.
While the AL East runner-up figures to slot into one of the two AL wild cards (and, heck, the third-place AL East team will likely be in the running for the second wild card), the stakes are still pretty high when it comes to the division title. Speaking of which, the Red Sox will end the regular season with a three-game home set against the Yankees. If these projections are any guide, that series may just determine who wins the flag for 2018.