Chicago Cubs: USA Today predicts another division title
By Tim Stebbins
USA Today released their annual MLB win total predictions for the 2018 season Wednesday, with the Chicago Cubs pegged to have a great campaign.
Wednesday, USA Today released their MLB win total projections for the 2018 MLB season. If things go as planned, it will be a good season for the Chicago Cubs.
USA Today predicts that the Cubs will once again win their division, finishing with a record of 92-70. Their prediction has the Milwaukee Brewers finishing second in the National League Central at 86-76.
Predictions are a toss-up
Of course, these records are identical to how these two clubs finished the 2017 season, In fact, USA Today predicts no change in the Central division standings from 2017 to 2018.
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For reference, USA Today predicted the Cubs to finish 101-61 in 2016 and 99-63 in 2017, respectively. While the Cubs exceeded this prediction in 2016 (winning 103 games), they came up short in 2017, winning 92 games.
Ultimately, win total projections can go right or extremely wrong. For example, USA Today predicted the Brewers to finish 72-90 last season, fourth in the NL Central. Instead, Milwaukee shocked the baseball world, nearly making the postseason.
USA Today also predicted the Arizona Diamondbacks to finish 74-88 in 2017, fourth in the National League West. The Diamondbacks would go 93-69, clinching a wild-card spot in the National League.
Accurate division winner predictions
One thing that USA Today fared at well last season is predicting division winners, successfully choosing the team that ultimately won each division. They only made three correct predictions of this nature in 2016, however.
Despite USA Today predicting the Cubs to win the division in 2018, competition will surely be tough. The Brewers added outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain in a trade with the Miami Marlins and free agency, respectively.
Yelich and Cain are sure to boost a Brewers’ offense that finished 20th in the MLB in runs in 2017. Yelich, 26, hit .282 with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs in 2017; Cain, 31, hit .300 with 15 home runs, 49 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.
One must not count out the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 either. The Cardinals are coming off of a down year in which they finished 83-79, third in the division.
St. Louis added outfielder Marcell Ozuna in a trade with the Marlins, giving them and the Brewers two of the best outfields in the MLB. Ozuna, 27, surely will boost the Cardinals offense, as he hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs in 2017.
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Predictions have a factual basis, but baseball games are obviously are settled on the field. 2018 is sure to be an interesting year, with intense competition expected for the NL Central division crown.