Opening Day Begins MLB Season Set to Be Dominated by Elite Teams

Posted on: March 29, 2018, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2018, 03:01h.

For millions of baseball fans, there’s no better time of year than Opening Day. This year, every MLB team was scheduled to play on Thursday, kicking off the season for the entire league at once.

MLB Opening Day
The defending champion Houston Astros enter Opening Day as heavy favorites to win the AL West, and are one of the top contenders for the World Series. (Alex Trautwig/Getty)

In reality, a few teams will see their seasons start on Friday, as weather cancelled ballgames in Detroit and Cincinnati. But fans across the United States (and Toronto) will get the first look at their new rosters over the next day or so. And while everyone starts in first place with identical 0-0 records on Opening Day, it won’t stay that way for long.

The 2018 MLB season looks to be one where the increasing parity of the past decade might be thrown out the window. A handful of “superteams” appear ready to dominate the race for the World Series this year, with most expects picking the same six teams as their choices to win division titles.

Astros Ready to Repeat

Any discussion of the upcoming season has to begin with the defending champion Houston Astros, who are a 6/1 co-favorite to win the World Series at William Hill. The Astros are the consensus pick to win the American League West, with many people thinking their team looks even better this year.

With Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole topping the rotation for the entire season this year and an absolutely frightening lineup, Houston may well be the best team in the league this season, with only Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels (25/1 to win the World Series) having an outside shot at threatening them for the division title.

The Cleveland Indians (15/2) are nearly as likely to run away with the AL Central. Led by defending Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and a dominant bullpen, the Indians should have more than enough to hold off an improved Minnesota Twins (50/1) squad.

The best race in the American League should come in the AL East, where the New York Yankees (6/1) are a slight favorite over the Boston Red Sox (14/1). The Yankees have added National League MVP Giancarlo Stanton to their already powerful lineup, but are perhaps a little behind the Astros and the Indians when it comes to their pitching staff.

Meanwhile, Boston is a little more balanced after adding JD Martinez to their lineup, though they don’t have the depth of talent New York enjoys.

Dodgers Won’t Settle for Second Again

In the National League, the Los Angeles Dodgers (6/1) come into Opening Day as the team to beat, and are heavily favored to win the NL West title. While the San Francisco Giants (28/1) tried to bolster their chances by signing veteran free agents (at a time when the league as a whole is going much younger), the Dodgers are bringing back more or less the same team that won 104 games and came up just one game short of a World Series title this year, and there’s no reason to think they can’t get back there again.

The Chicago Cubs (9/1) are the clear pick in the NL Central, as their already formidable team was only improved with the addition of star pitcher Yu Darvish. If an upset does happen in the Central Division, it will likely come from the Milwaukee Brewers (28/1), who are more realistically looking to contend for a Wild Card spot this year.

Finally, the Washington Nationals (10/1) continue to be the class of the NL East, featuring youth and talent both in their rotation and throughout their lineup. Their biggest challenge could come from a rejuvenated New York Mets (33/1) roster that suffered through a seemingly endless stream of injuries last year.