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  • Is this the year the Nationals finally break their incredible streak of playoff futility? Will the Cubs make it back? Our writers make their picks.
By SI.com Staff
March 23, 2018

Opening Day arrives on Thursday, which means it's the perfect time for SI's baseball staff to make predictions about who will hoist the championship trophy in October. The Astros return fully stocked after a fantastic 2017 season, but they're not the most popular pick among the SI staff to win it all in 2018. Behold, the predictions that the readership can skewer once we're wrong by season's end.

Tom Verducci

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Diamondbacks, Mets

ALCS: Yankees over Astros

NLCS: Cubs over Diamondbacks

World Series: Cubs in 7: Maybe Giancarlo Stanton will call his shot at Wrigley, the way the Babe did, but the Cubs prevail in a high-scoring series after (another) record year of home runs.​

World Series MVP: Yu Darvish

Ben Reiter

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, Twins

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Cardinals, Mets

ALCS winner: Astros over Yankees

NLCS winner: Nationals over Cubs

World Series: Astros in 7: On last year’s Opening Day, the Astros had one ace, Dallas Keuchel. After adding Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, they now have three, potentially anyway. That they’re even better than they were at any point last season, and quite easily the best team in the league, doesn’t guarantee a repeat, of course. But I think they’ll do it – in the process extinguishing the Nationals’ last chance of winning with free agent-to-be Bryce Harper aboard. Cole, in fact, will have learned to love his slider again, and will be the series’ MVP after winning Game 3 and then putting Washington away in a decisive Game 7.

World Series MVP: Gerrit Cole

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Stephanie Apstein

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, Angels

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Cardinals, Diamondbacks

ALCS: Yankees over Astros

NLCS: Dodgers over Cubs

World Series: Dodgers in 6: This prediction takes a hit with the news of Justin Turner’s broken wrist, but he should be back by midseason. In a middling division, the Dodgers don’t have to do much more than tread water until he returns; once he’s back, they’re the same force as last year—but angrier.

World Series MVP: Clayton Kershaw​

Jon Tayler

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, Twins

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Diamondbacks, Brewers

ALCS: Yankees over Astros

NLCS: Nationals over Dodgers

World Series: Nationals in 7: After two straight years of teams breaking long title droughts, it’s Washington’s time. The Nationals have never won a World Series—hell, they’ve never even won a playoff series in franchise history. But this year’s roster is stacked, with impact bats at every position led by Bryce Harper in what’s likely his final year as a National, a rotation featuring two of baseball’s best starters in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, and a bullpen that for once isn’t a fiery trainwreck. If everyone stays healthy, then D.C. should finally get its champion.

World Series MVP: Daniel Murphy

Jack Dickey

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, Rangers

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Cardinals, Diamondbacks

NLCS: Cubs over Nationals

ALCS: Yankees over Indians

World Series: Yankees in 6: The Yankees—in 2017, a 100-62 team by Pythagorean record and a not-too-shabby 91-71 in real life—landed the reigning NL MVP for a song. The trade has gotten a lot of attention… and perhaps still not enough! They were a win away from the World Series without Giancarlo Stanton. Sure, it’s an open question whether Luis Severino will repeat his performance or Aaron Judge will repeat his, and even with a full season of Sonny Gray in the offing they could still use another starter, and perhaps Aaron Boone will fall flat on his face and wish he had never left Jessica Mendoza’s side. But it’s hard to look at the Yankees right now and see anything other than the sport’s top contender for the championship.

World Series MVP: Giancarlo Stanton

Michael Beller

AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, A’s

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Cardinals, Brewers

ALCS: Astros over Indians

NLCS: Cubs over Nationals

World Series: Cubs in 7: The Astros and Cubs have the two strongest rosters, top to bottom, in the majors. That doesn’t guarantee they’ll meet in the World Series, but it’s where I’ll put my money. A matchup between the two most recent World Series champs would be, on paper, as good as the 2018 season could give us.

Why do I like the Cubs to wrest the crown back from the Astros? They got off a sluggish start last year, suffered through multiple team-wide slumps, endured 47 starts from John Lackey, Eddie Butler and Brett Anderson … and still won 92 games on their way to their third straight NLCS. Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood are rotation upgrades, joining Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. The offense, led by two perennial MVP candidates, is among the best in baseball. The infield defense is likely the league’s best. The bullpen wasn’t so much a true weakness last year as it was gassed by time it got to October. An improved rotation will ease its burden this season, and possibly help turn it into yet another strength. After waiting 108 years for their last championship, Cubs fans will have to wait just two years for this one.

MVP: Willson Contreras​

Connor Grossman

AL West: Astros

AL Central: Indians

AL East: Yankees

AL Wild Cards: Twins, Angels

NL West: Dodgers

NL Central: Cubs

NL East: Nationals

NL Wild Cards: Brewers, Rockies

ALCS: Yankees over Indians

NLCS: Cubs over Brewers

World Series: Cubs in 6: With many of the same key cogs in place from the 2016 championship squad, the Cubs will shake off any remnants of a World Series hangover and make another run to the Fall Classic. Fortified by new additions Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood, Chicago rolls out a strong starting staff that rounds out with Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Kyle Hendricks. In a cruel twist of fate for Dodgers fans, Yu Darvish pitches a second straight World Series and does so dominantly. He takes home series MVP honors after leaving Los Angeles as the Game 7 goat.

World Series MVP: Yu Darvish​

Gabriel Baumgaertner

​AL East: Yankees

AL Central: Indians

AL West: Astros

AL Wild Cards: Red Sox, Twins

NL East: Nationals

NL Central: Cubs

NL West: Dodgers

NL Wild Cards: Cardinals, Brewers

ALCS: Astros over Yankees

NLCS: Dodgers over Cardinals

World Series: Astros in 7: The Astros were baseball's best team last year ... and then they added one of the game's most tantalizing (if inconsistent) arms in the offseason in Gerrit Cole. Carlos Correa is one of the game's ten best players and is just 23 years old while Jose Altuve remains the toughest out in baseball not named Mike Trout. The Astros are the best in the game, and neither the Yankees nor the Dodgers will beat them with sheer firepower.

World Series MVP: Carlos Correa

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