As the calendar turns to April, baseball is back. Fans were treated to a superb Opening Day last Thursday, which featured games from 26 MLB teams. After the inaugural weekend, it is time for some bold predictions about the future of the upcoming season.

1. The Washington Nationals will have the best record in MLB.

While the reigning champions, the Houston Astros, are the popular choice for this year’s best record, the Nationals have an incredibly talented team to match them. The Nationals’ pitching staff is exceptional, anchored by aces Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The offense also has the potential to be dynamic, with Trea Turner and Adam Eaton setting the table for Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy, once he returns from injury. Additionally, the Nationals will have the opportunity to feast on a relatively weak National League East division comprised of a middling New York Mets team, young but still developing Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies squads and the perpetually frustrating Miami Marlins.

2. J.D. Martinez will prove to be a more influential acquisition for the Boston Red Sox than Giancarlo Stanton was for the New York Yankees.

In 2017, the Yankees were second in the American League in runs and first in home runs, so the acquisition of Stanton is a luxury pickup. This season, the Yankees will go as far as their pitching staff will take them, especially in the inevitable games when the Yankees are unable to hit home runs and score runs in bunches. Conversely, though the 2017 Red Sox ranked sixth in the AL in runs scored, they demonstrated meager power numbers: They were last in the AL in home runs and second to last in slugging percentage. Martinez will help immensely in this regard, if he can come close to replicating the 45 homers he bashed in 2017. Additionally, the presence of Martinez should have a trickle-down effect on the entire lineup and will alleviate some pressure on players like outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr.

3. The Chicago Cubs will not win the National League Central.

After the Cubs’ championship breakthrough in 2016, the franchise appeared to be on the brink of a dynasty, as the club will maintain the same core of young position players for years to come. However, this season will be a tougher test for the Cubs, especially for their starting rotation, which suffered the loss of starting pitcher Jake Arrieta. For the Cubs to be truly elite, Jose Quintana must establish himself as an ace, while the perplexing Yu Darvish tries to validate his new $126 million contract and Jon Lester aims to evade Father Time for another year. Furthermore, this season will be a tougher test: The NL Central has gotten more competitive after the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals made significant upgrades in the offseason by adding players like outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcel Ozuna, respectively.

4. The Toronto Blue Jays will be an underdog contender and will make the playoffs as a wild card. 

The Blue Jays will find success because of their healthy pitching and a lineup full of underrated potential. Entering the year, both Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez are healthy and each will have the opportunity to realize their ace-like potential. Additionally, third baseman Josh Donaldson is one of the most underappreciated sluggers in baseball, who should perform exceptionally well in his contract year. Finally, Aledmys Diaz and Randall Grichuk will have the opportunity to re-establish themselves as ascending players who have the ability to jumpstart an offense.

5. The Baltimore Orioles will fall out of contention and will trade Manny Machado at the trade deadline.

After a final unsuccessful run with their prized superstar third baseman Manny Machado, the Orioles will determine that it is time to trade Machado in an effort to expedite their next rebuilding process. Moreover, the Cleveland Indians will be a surprise acquirer, who will view Machado as a final piece in their World Series quest. The acquisition of Machado would be timely, as it would allow the Indians to go all-in during the final year with Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. Furthermore, Machado would upgrade the Indians’ offense as he would slide in at third base, enabling Jose Ramirez to play either right or left field. Adding Machado to an already stacked Indians team would present a daunting matchup for opponents through October.

Jeff Swanson s a junior in the McDonough School of Business. Under Review appears every other Friday.

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